Sexual Deviation

Sexual deviation is any sexual activity outside the scope of what is currently conventional. It is known medically as paraphilia. Views of what is conventional can change pretty quickly. For this reason, any list of deviant practices will, to some extent, be a reflection of the prevailing view of what is expected.

Warning:  Explicit Content


Paraphilias are emotional disorders with sexual behaviours or impulses, distinguished by intense sexual fantasies  with an urge that keep coming back. 

The desires and behaviours may involve unusual objects, activities, or situations that are not usually considered sexually arousing by others.  

The word paraphilia derives from Greek; para means around or beside, and philia implies love. 

It is probably most helpful to look at deviant behaviour as practices that lack the mutuality, affection and tenderness which lie at the heart of conventional sexual rela­tionships. On this basis, the vast majority of people would regard the follow­ing as deviant, and a total of eight Paraphilias are listed in the DSM V :

1. Paedophilia: Sex with children.

2. Sadism: Inflicting cruelty for sexual arousal.

3. Masochism: Experienc­ing cruelty for purposes of arousal. Masochism is 20 times more common in women than men; paraphilias are almost exclusively diagnosed in men.

4. Exhibitionism: Undesired exposure of the genitals (usually male).

5. Fetishism: Recurrent sexual arousal interest in an inanimate object.

6. Transvestism: Obtaining pleasure by wearing clothes of the opposite sex.

7. Voyeurism: Watching the sexual activity of others.

8. Telephone scatology: Making obscene telephone calls.

9. Frotteurism: Rubbing your manhood, against women, in crowded places.

10. Coprophilia: Sexual plea­sure in being defecated on.

11. Urophilia: Sexual plea­sure in being urinated on.

12. Bestiality: Sex with animals. The research found that the most common paraphilia interest amongst men is often voyeurism and fetishism.

However, many people who suffer from one paraphilia have more than one deviant.

What causes sexual deviation?

In general, people who engage in deviant sexual behaviour have, for some reason, failed to develop mature sexuality.

Freudian psychologists stress the importance of a fail­ure to resolve the Oedipal crisis (desire of the infant to eliminate and take the place of the parent of the same sex) and an uncon­scious male fear of castration. Other psychol­ogists emphasize that children who are sexually abused may adopt such behaviour themselves or are more likely to become adult victims of abuse.

Sadism results from a repressed hostility to parents or others in authority, the inability to cope with feelings of disgust or shame associ­ated with sex, feelings of inferiority, and a view of relationships distorted by ideas of dominance.

Exhibitionists are often men who feel unsure of their masculinity or their ability to engage in satisfactory sexual inter­course. They see success in terms of disgusting or frightening the victim and, if this happens, become sexually excited and may masturbate. Telephone scatology is a common variant of exhibitionism.

With fetishism, sexual interest centres on an object belonging to another person, often women's underwear. Fetishists will frequently prefer contact with the object to have a connection with  its owner, and then use the thing for masturbation. 

Transvestism in definition, The practices, especially of those assigned males at birth, of wearing clothing usually associated with a different sex for psychological or sexual gratification.

Transvestism usually begins in childhood or adolescence and, once the individual has progressed to independence, they may reach the point of dressing permanently as a member of the opposite sex.

Most transvestites are hetero­sexual and have normal sexual relationships. The motives vary. Some merely feel more relaxed in their preferred clothes; others derive sexual excitement from them.

In voyeurism, sexual arousal is obtained by secretly watching people undressing or having sexual intercourse. Obser­vation is accompanied by masturbation. Voyeurism often starts in childhood and tends to become a habit.  Most voyeurs are isolated, lonely people.

Frottage is usually prac­tised in densely packed crowds, with the frotteur rubbing his genitals against a woman's buttock or thigh.  Most frotteurs are sexually inadequate people who are unable to develop more fulfilling sexual relationships.

Views on behaviour

Human behaviour is almost bewilderingly varied, so that it is much more helpful to look at motivation and the emotional content of relationships than to become concerned about forms of behaviour that have been classified in a particular way. If you and your partner value sex as a source of great happiness and as an expression of adult love and joy, principally in a genuine and long-term relationship, the question of deviation is unlikely to be relevant.

However, any practice which involves an unwilling victim or physical injury to the self or others is socially undesirable and likely to be criminal. If you feel strongly drawn to such behaviour, you may well have suffered psychologically in your formative years. Seeing a doctor or other mental health­care professional should lead to a sympathetic appraisal of your problem and a voluntary referral for further treatment.

How is sexual deviation diagnosed and treated?

By its nature, sexual devi­ation is usually hidden. Diagnosis often follows the detection of a deviant act or prosecution for an offence, such as incest.  Treatment is often challenging, and success depends mainly on the person's wish to change existing behaviour. The onset of the behaviour early in life makes the outlook less suitable, as does an absence of guilt or regret. 

Treat­ment may involve psychotherapy (treatment through discussion with a mental health-care profes­sional) to give insight into the causes of the deviation and help overcome them. In some cases, behaviour therapy (treat­ment concentrating on acquiring new behaviour patterns) may prove effective.

When should I see my doctor?

Sexual deviants are often aware of their abnormal­ity. If you repeatedly experience deviant urges and fantasies, you should certainly see your doctor. 

What will the doctor do?

After talking to you about your history, the doctor may offer you a referral for treatment by an expert in psychosexual disorders.

Is sexual deviation dangerous?

Sadomasochistic behaviour is sometimes carried too far, leading to death which may even, at the time, be intended. The other deviations offer no danger to life, but may lead to prosecution or have a grave social disadvantage.

Sexual Masochism

Individuals with this disorder using the act for real, not simulated. Thereby, being humiliated, beaten, or otherwise made to suffer in order to achieve sexual excitement and climax. These acts may be limited to verbal humiliation, but they may involve being beaten, bound, or otherwise abused

Masochists may act out their fantasies on themselves by such acts as cutting or piercing their skin or burning themselves. Or they may seek out a partner who enjoys inflicting pain or humiliation on others. Activities with a partner include bondage, spanking, and simulated rape.

Sadomasochistic fantasies and activities are not uncommon among consenting adults. In most of these cases, however, the humiliation and abuse are acted out in fantasy. The participants are aware that the behaviour is a "game" and actual pain and injury is avoided.

A potentially dangerous, sometimes fatal, masochistic activity is autoerotic partial asphyxiation. With this activity, a person uses ropes, nooses, or plastic bags to induce a state of asphyxia (interruption of breathing) at the point of orgasm. This is done to enhance orgasm, but accidental deaths sometimes occur.

Sexual sadism involves illegal activities such as rape, torture, and even murder, in which case the death of the victim produces sexual excitement. It should be noted that while rape may be an expression of sexual sadism, the infliction of suffering is not the motive for most rapists, and the victim's pain generally does not increase the rapist's sexual excitement. 

Rather, rape involves a combination of sex and gaining power over the victim. These individuals need intensive psychiatric treatment and may be jailed for these activities.


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