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Paraphilic Disorders

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Paraphilic Disorders describe strong sexual drives that include unique desires for certain types of partners or activities.


What are Paraphilic Disorders?

The Paraphilic Disorders cause problems in people’s lives when their sexual focus detracts from intimacy, leads to physical harm, or breaks the law. Several of the disorders in this category that create the biggest problems – people committing crimes and endangering others – include Pedophilic Disorder, Voyeuristic Disorder, Frotteuristic Disorder, and Exhibitionistic Disorder. In these cases, the targets of people’s sexual interests are either non-consenting adults or children who are too young to be able to give consent. People with Pedophilic Disorder sexually abuse children, while those with Voyeuristic Disorder delight in secretly watching others. Frotteuristic Disorder covers people who rub against other unsuspecting people sexually, and Exhibitionistic Disorder drives people to expose themselves to others.

The story with the other disorders in this category is a bit different. The acts included in these disorders are not illegal and are much less frequently problematic. In fact, the vast majority of people with these types of preferences do not have disorders at all and have perfectly healthy relationships. These are only termed “disorders” when they bring up other problems in people’s lives.

These disorders are Sexual Masochism Disorder, Sexual Sadism Disorder, Fetishistic Disorder, and Transvestic Disorder. The first two include people who prefer that their sexual encounters include either receiving or doling out (respectively) a degree of pain or humiliation. People with Fetishistic Disorder have a powerful sexual focus on non-reproductive body parts or other inanimate objects, and those with Transvestic Disorder enjoy dressing in the clothes of the opposite gender as part of sex. Again, just liking these activities does not mean you have a disorder. It’s only a disorder if doing these things somehow interferes with other parts of your life.

Who gets Paraphilic Disorders?

Men and Youth

All of these disorders occur much more frequently in men than in women. Additionally, most people first recognize they have these sexual preferences when they enter adolescence.

Early Sexual Experiences

Exposures to different sexual material early in life may imprint certain desires or aversions on to people. They redirect regular sexual development into new and unique patterns that may become Paraphilic Disorders later in life.

Personality and Mood Disorders

People with Paraphilic Disorders frequently suffer from a number of other psychiatric disorders. Personality Disorders, like Antisocial Personality Disorder, are common. Major Depressive Disorder appears often as well as many anxiety disorders.

Types of Paraphilic Disorders

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