Paraphilia is the term given to sexual behaviour that is often extreme and differs from the “norm”. Those who suffer with a paraphilia will find that they are unable to become sexually aroused or reach orgasm unless they fantasise about or engage in sexual activities that are seen as abnormal.
Paraphilias are more common in males than in females, and differ from individual to individual. The act or object involved in the paraphilia that an individual suffers from is normally set and does not change. Examples of the subjects of paraphilias can involve specific objects or people (such as underwear, animals or underage children) or specific sexual acts, such as masochistic behaviour or self-exposure. An individual is said to have a paraphilia if they are so reliant on a particular act or object that they find it hard to achieve sexual gratification without it.
The subjects of paraphilias vary, with some more common than others – but with almost every subject being one that the majority of society will see as unusual or even shocking. They also include activities that are illegal.
The most common forms of paraphilia include paedophilia (sexual activity that involves a minor, normally aged 13 or younger), exhibitionism (exposing of the genitals in public or to strangers), voyeurism (obtaining sexual gratification from watching sexual or nonsexual activities of those who are unaware that they are being watched) and frotteurism (rubbing one’s genitals against another, unsuspecting individual for sexual gratification). Others are less common, and include sexual fetishism (gaining sexual pleasure from inanimate objects), sexual sadism (deriving pleasure from inflicting pain, suffering or humiliation on others), sexual masochism (deriving pleasure from being forced to suffer or being humiliated) and transvestic fetishism (dressing as a member of the opposite sex). There is a further category named Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified, which includes other paraphilias involving obscene phone calls, urine, faeces, dead bodies and enemas, among others.
Many of the behaviours exhibited by those suffering from paraphilias are illegal, and those who are receiving treatment for their paraphilia can often find themselves the subject of legal action because of their condition.
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