How to Know About and Understand Sexual Disorders (Paraphilias)

Paraphilias are sexual disorders that last for a period of at least 6 months which alters or affects the normal sexual functioning of a person. These sexual acts are considered deviant or a "disorder" because they are essential for normal sexual functioning. Without these acts, a person cannot function optimally on a sexual level. It is sometimes normal for people in these categories to possess multiple paraphilias.


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    Look out for urges, acts or fantasies that involve inflicting physical pain or suffering on the other. This is sometimes referred to as Sadism. Sadistic behavior may range from mild pinching and whipping to the more extreme forms of severe cruelty towards partners. Sometimes the most extreme forms of Sadistic sex may involve mutilation and murder. Many sex offenders have been guilty of this in varied situations.
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    Be aware of adults who show fantasies or acts of sexual contact with little or younger children. These types are called Pedophiles. Pedophiles may victimize their own children, stepchildren or those outside the family. Sexual abuse of children is common and public awareness of this issue is of paramount importance. The effects of sexual abuse can be lifelong and is characterized by self loathing, shame and powerlessness.
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    Be conscious of those who frequently touch or rub against a non consenting person. People with urges, acts or fantasies of such nature, usually are sexually excited by the touching. This behavior is termed frotteurism. A diagnosis is made when the person has acted on the urges or is significantly distressed by them.
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    Be on the lookout for those men who achieve a heightened sexual arousal by presence of a fetish such as female undergarments etc. Most men find female undergarments stimulating and arousing. This does not constitute a disorder. However this act becomes a disorder if the item of clothing or any other fetish item becomes necessary for attaining an erection, or must be present for stimulation during sexual intercourse. In simple terms the person finds the presence of such items necessary or else sex cannot take place.
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    Take note of those who aspire to wear feminine attire for pleasure. This is an intense sexual arousal obtained through transvestic fetishism. This entails wearing clothes appropriate to the opposite gender. Although some homosexuals cross dress, most transvestites are exclusively heterosexual and married. These people often cross dress only for the function of sexual arousal and masturbation. Please note that there are people who do this without need for pleasure, this is the proper use of the term crossdresser.
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    Realize that there are people out there who love to watch an unsuspecting person undress or engage in sexual activity. This form of "peeping" also known as Voyeurism. Observation alone produces sexual excitement and the person often masturbates during this "peeping" session. The typical voyeur is not interested in watching his girlfriend or wife, but most cases involve incidents with strangers.


  • The rates tend to be higher in males than in females.
  • Many paraphilias begin in early teenage or adolescent years and are not necessarily associated with major psychiatric problems.
  • There are many forms of treatment or therapy available for the various types of paraphilias, depending on the magnitude and severity of the condition.

Sources and Citations

  • Adapted from
  • Understanding Abnormal Behavior.David Sue. 9th edition.Wadsworth.Boston. USA.

Article Info

Categories: Reproductive Health