What Is Paraphilia? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

 Some people exhibit abnormal sexual behaviors. Today, we’ll discuss what is paraphilia; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What Is Paraphilia? 

Paraphilia is abnormal sexual impulses and behaviors comprising strong sexual urges and fantasies that keep coming back. The sexual behaviors and urges would be around unusual situations, activities, and objects that others don’t consider sexually arousing.

When it comes to performing sexually, paraphilias and fantasies are important for a person. But it also becomes the main source of distress. Paraphilias would cause problems in their career, social, and personal life, and other people call them “perverted” and “kinky.” Abnormal sexual behaviors can have severe legal and social consequences.

Commonness of Paraphilia

According to an estimate, paraphilias are roundabout 20% more common among men than women. Researchers don’t understand the reason for this disparity. Various disorders that fall under the category of paraphilia have got a link with aggressive behaviors, and the other disorders aren’t harmful and aggressive. However, some types of paraphilias are criminal offenses like frotteurism, sadism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, or pedophilia.

Having paraphilic behaviors and fantasies doesn’t mean that the person has a mental condition. If the fantasies and behaviors aren’t severe and dysfunctional in any way; they aren’t disturbing the healthy and developing relationships of a person, then they aren’t criminal offenses. However, those fantasies and behaviors would be limited to intercourse with your partner and masturbation.

Behaviors of Paraphilia

Some of the behaviors that fall under the category of paraphilia are as follows;

Voyeurism (Peeping Tom)

It’s a type of disorder that comprises of having sexual arousal by noticing the non-consenting and unsuspecting person that is engaging in the sexual activity, unclothed, or undressing. Such behaviors would result in the form of masturbation by the voyeur. However, the observer or voyeur doesn’t have any type of sexual contact with the person while peeping.


Transvestic fetishism is a type in which heterosexual men dress as women to achieve sexual pleasure. Sexual arousal doesn’t mean the involvement of the real person, but it comprises of fantasizing that the person is a woman. However, some men with this condition only wear the undergarments of women, and the others put on the whole dress of females, including their makeup and hairstyle. Cross-dressing won’t be a problem unless it becomes necessary for a person to achieve sexual climax and pleasure through it.

Sexual Sadism

Sexual sadism comprises persistent fantasies that the person achieves sexual pleasure by inflicting pain, physical, and psychological suffering on the partner. Minor aggression or rough sex in this condition is acceptable and normal. Sometimes, sexual sadists find partners that would engage with them in sadistic activities.

Sexual sadism becomes illegal when it takes the form of murder, torture, and rape where the death of the other person gives them sexual pleasure. It’s important to mention here that rape falls under the category of sexual sadism, but it’s not the motive of the rapist to inflict suffering and the sufferings of the victim don’t amplify the sexual pleasure.

Sexual Masochism

It’s a type where a person uses the act of suffering, beating, and humiliation as a way to achieve sexual pleasure. It can be in the form of abuse, bound, beating, or limited to verbal humiliation. The masochists burn, pierce, and cut their skin as a way to achieve sexual pleasure. They would look for the person that would humiliate them and inflict pain on them to fulfill their fantasy.


Pedophilia comprises sexual behaviors, urges, and fantasies to commit illegal sex with young children. The age of children could be 13 years old or younger. The behavior comprises forcefully performing the sexual act on the child, fondling and touching the genitals of the kid, making the child watch the abuser masturbating, and taking off the clothes of the child. Pedophilia is a felony and a criminal action, and it would cause the perpetrator imprisonment.


It’s a type of condition where the sexual urges of the person are on rubbing and touching the genitals against the body of the unfamiliar and non-consenting person. Often, men rub their genitals against the body of women in public and crowded places. Such acts of frotteurism are illegal.


Fetishism is a type where the sexual urges of the person have relevance to non-living objects, and they achieve sexual pleasure by touching or wearing them. The objects could be lingerie, underwear of women, shoes, rubber clothing, and underwear. The object would replace the sexual activity, and if the partner is willing and they would combine both. When fetish becomes the main element of their sexual desire; then such people avoid sexual relationships.


Exhibitionism as the name implies is the person exposing one’s genitals to an unfamiliar person or strangers. Such people also go by the name of flashers, and they do so to impress, surprise, or shock their victims. However, this type has restricted the exposure of genitals without making any harmful advances. The type of indecent exposure is illegal.

Causes of Paraphilia 

Researchers don’t exactly know the precise cause of paraphilia. Some experts think it happens due to childhood sexual abuse or any type of traumatic experience in childhood. However, others believe that the objects become the source of sexual around when you use them repetitively in the sexual activity. People with paraphilia often have difficulty developing healthy sexual and personal relationships with others.

Many people develop paraphilias in their adolescence years and continue this condition in their adulthood. The frequency and intensity of the paraphilic fantasies vary from person to person, and it reduces with age.

Treatment of Paraphilia

The treatment plan for paraphilia often comprises psychotherapy and counseling to work on the behavior of the person. The medication would help you to decrease the number of behaviors and fantasies and lower the compulsiveness. Sometimes, doctors prescribe hormones to manage the occurrence of abnormal sexual behaviors.

Conclusion: What Is Paraphilia? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is paraphilia; its various types, behaviors, causes, and treatment; we have realized that paraphilias could badly impact a person’s life. If you’re exhibiting any of the behaviors, then you should consult with the therapist and work on the treatment plan.