People who are sexually attracted to animals are often referred to as "zoophiles" in the psychological literature. Zoophilia is something that has long been considered a paraphilia, meaning an uncommon sexual interest. Although zoophilia is something that most people have heard of before, very little research exists on the subject. So what do we know about the psychology behind zoophilia anyway?Read More
Incest, usually defined as sex between close blood relatives, is one of the most pervasive sexual taboos across cultures. Many different theories have been advanced to explain this taboo, but perhaps the most common is that we evolved to avoid incestuous relations because inbreeding increases the odds of health problems in any offspring produced.
So just how risky is incest anyway?Read More
People can develop sexual fetishes for virtually anything. For example, some people are turned on by feeding others or watching them eat, others are turned on by drinking or coming into contact with various bodily fluids (such as breast milk), and yet others are turned on by wearing or using diapers.
I’ve received countless questions about these and other fetishes from readers. In fact, fetishes are one of the more common topics people ask me about. As I’ve listened to all these questions over the years, I’ve noticed that folks seem to hold a lot of pre-conceived notions about fetishists. For example, people largely assume that it's impossible for fetishists to enjoy “normal” (translation: non-fetish) sex and, further, that they're incapable of having healthy relationships. As it turns out, however, these stereotypes just don’t hold up when you look at the research.Read More
Fetishes are sexual desires that hinge upon specific objects (like boots or panties), non-sexual body parts (like feet or armpits), or bodily fluids (like urine or breast milk). Though many fetishes strike people as being "strange" or "weird," it's important to note that having a fetish doesn't necessarily mean that one has a psychological disorder. Indeed, fetishes only constitute clinically significant problems to the extent that desire for the fetish object creates persistent personal distress (e.g., interfering with one's ability to establish a desired relationship) or results in harm to others (e.g., when someone resorts to theft in order to obtain their fetish object). What this means is that, contrary to popular belief, most people with fetishes are perfectly psychologically healthy.Read More
Psychologists and psychiatrists use the term paraphilia to refer to an unusual sexual interest. More specifically, paraphilias are recurrent desires for uncommon sexual objects or activities. Although hundreds of desires have been described as paraphilias at one time or another, there are only eight specific paraphilis that are listed in the current version of the DSM (the psychiatry bible): fetishism, transvestism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, frotteurism, pedophilia, masochism, and sadism (see below for definitions).
Though these interests have long been thought to be rare, very little data exists that can speak to their prevalence in the general population. In fact, almost all of the research conducted on these topics so far has been limited to clinical samples, which doesn’t really give us much sense as to how many people might have had these interests at one time or another. However, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers some insight.
Paraphilia is the term psychologists and psychiatrists use to refer to any unusual sexual interest. It’s important to note that an unusual interest is not necessarily harmful and it's not necessarily a sign that the person who has it is mentally disturbed either. Indeed, the mental health community makes a clear distinction between having a paraphilia (an unusual sexual interest) and a paraphilic disorder (an unusual sexual interest that is non-consensual in nature and/or that is seriously distressing to the person who has it).
Hundreds of paraphilis have been identified over the years, with some sources putting the number at over 500.Read More
Paraphilia is a very general term used by psychologists to refer to any kind of unusual sexual interest. The number of desires that have been deemed paraphilic has grown substantially over the years to the point where hundreds of things have now been classified as unusual turn-ons. As it turns out, though, a lot of these desires aren’t so uncommon after all. In this article, we'll take a look at three specific sexual desires that are typically considered to be paraphilic, but that are actually quite common in terms of the number of people who have fantasized about them before.Read More
People can develop fetishes for virtually anything. Most commonly, though, we're talking about a specific body part (like feet or toes) or an object associated with the body (like boots, underwear, or stockings). However, in addition to body parts and clothing, people can develop fetishes for bodily fluids. For example, some people are sexually aroused by urine (also known as urophilia), a topic I've previously written about here. Another bodily fluid that some people have a fetish for is breast milk (also known as lactophilia), which is what we're going to focus on today.Read More
For the last two weeks, I’ve been inundated with both reader questions and requests for media interviews on a topic I’ve rarely been asked about before: urophilia, which refers to being sexually aroused by urine. Initially, most of the inquiries were looking for comment on why a certain high-profile public figure allegedly has this sexual interest, and I was not about to get involved in that—I’m not in the business of commenting on the rumored sexual proclivities of celebrities or politicians. However, the questions I'm getting now have shifted away from attempts to understand a specific person and toward a more general curiosity about the prevalence and psychological origins of urophilia. These are the kinds of queries I’m much more inclined to answer. So, here’s what we know.Read More
Financial domination (or findom, as it's known for short) is an uncommon sexual interest in which people--usually men--find it arousing to be "forced" to give their hard-earned money to a dominant partner who will do with it as they please. The guys who part with their dough are often referred to as "cash slaves" or "pay pigs" and what they're really getting off on is the fact that they're giving up power and letting someone else control them. There's not necessarily even any sex involved in these relationships because the arousing part is the feeling they get from having someone else in control of their finances.Read More
Masochists are people who find certain types of pain--such as biting, spanking, and flogging--to be sexually arousing. It has long been thought that finding pain to be a turn-on is an atypical desire. In fact, psychologists formally classified masochism as a paraphilia (i.e., an unusual sexual interest) long ago, lumping it in the same category as fetishism, exhibitionism, and voyeurism. However, recent research suggests that masochism isn't so rare after all. As some evidence of this, a recent survey of over 1,500 Canadian adults found that more than one-third of women and more than one-quarter of men reported having fantasized about being spanked or whipped before (learn more about this study here).Read More
Psychologists use the term paraphilia to refer a wide range of unusual sexual interests, including—but not limited to—exhibitionism, voyeurism, sadism, masochism, and fetishism. Because sexual desires and behaviors that fall under the paraphilia umbrella tend to be widely misunderstood, I thought it would be worth taking a closer look at some of the key things scientists have learned about them.
1.) Having a paraphilia does not necessarily mean that you have a psychological disorder.Read More
In this TEDx talk, forensic psychologist Luke Broomhall explores the importance of thinking differently about how to prevent child sexual abuse. In the United States and many other countries around the world, treatment for pedophilia is generally only available to those who admit to having downloaded child exploitation material or having abused a child. But what about those pedophiles who haven't acted on their sexual urges and want help controlling them? If we created services that could reach pedophiles who are at risk of offending before they act, could we then prevent numerous children from being sexually victimized? Check out the video below to learn more.Read More
Scientists and physicians have documented a number of fascinating sexual curiosities over the years, such as people who experience orgasms originating in their feet and men who are allergic to their own semen. One of the more interesting ones I’ve ever come across is a phenomenon known as sexually-induced sneezing, which is exactly what it sounds like. Here's what we know about it.Read More
Sigmund Freud once argued that human beings are "polymorphously perverse," meaning that we have the potential to develop a sexual interest in virtually anything. Yes, we all know that Freud had his share of wacky ideas over the years; however, this wasn’t one of them. In fact, if I’ve learned anything over the course of my career as a sex educator and researcher, it’s this: if you can think of it, there’s probably someone out there who’s sexually aroused by it.Read More
In my line of work, I’m always learning about new and unusual sexual desires. One of the most intriguing ones I have ever come across is vorarephilia, which has been described as “the erotic desire to consume, or be consumed whole and live by another person or creature” . That’s right—we’re talking about people who derive sexual arousal from the thought of literally eating (or being eaten by) someone or something. There isn’t much research out there on this topic, but I happened to see a presentation on it at the International Academy of Sex Research conference earlier this month. In this post, I’ll share a few of the most interesting findings from it.Read More
Feederism has been described as "a fat fetish focused on erotic eating, feeding, and gaining weight." There are two basic types of people who exist in this fetish culture: feeders and feedees. Feeders are people who derive sexual pleasure from feeding other people and watching them gain weight. In contrast, feedees are people who derive sexual pleasure from being fed by others and gaining weight. Feederism is considered to be a paraphilia (i.e., an unusual or uncommon sexual interest); however, the jury is still out on whether it represents its own unique sexual interest, or whether it is best considered a variant of some other established paraphilia(s). For instance, some psychologists have argued that feederism has characteristics that overlap with morphophilia (i.e., sexual attraction to a specific bodily characteristic--in this case, fatness) and with sadomasochism (i.e., sexual arousal associated with physical and/or psychological pain, often involving themes of dominance and submission--in the case of feederism, there are usually elements of power/control and humiliation).Read More
BDSM (which stands for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism) is a widely misunderstood set of sexual practices. There are a lot of myths and stereotypes out there about both the people who are into BDSM, as well as what it is that they do sexually. Unfortunately, popular media depictions of BDSM (e.g., Fifty Shades of Grey) have only served to reinforce many of these misconceptions. In light of this, here's what you really need to know about BDSM according to the science.Read More
Twenty years ago today, one of the most unusual and fascinating studies of animal sex I have ever come across took place. It was an observational study of the world’s first known case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck. Click here to read a summary of it that I wrote a few years ago. Believe it or not, this write-up is the single most popular blog post I have ever written and it has been read hundreds of thousands of times. Forget human sex--you guys are clearly more interested in reading about dead duck sex than anything.Read More
Sexual fetishes consist of recurring sexual fantasies, urges, and/or behaviors that center around nonliving objects, body parts, and secretions. People can develop fetishes for a wide range of things, including (but not limited to) feet, shoes, and dirty underwear (to learn about some of the more unusual sexual fetishes ever documented, click here). In this article, we’re going to look at one specific type of fetish: autonepiophilia, also known as paraphilic infantilism and Adult Baby Syndrome. A few cases of autonepiophilia have been reported in the psychological literature to date, which typically involve adults who derive sexual gratification from engaging in infant-like behavior. This may include acting like a baby, being taken care of like a baby, and/or wearing and using a diaper (not because they need to, but because they want to).Read More