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.
It turns out that people can develop fetishes for virtually anything, which has led many sex scientists to wonder where these sexual interests come from in the first place. For a review of what the research has found, check out the video below from our friends over at ASAP Science. Among other things, they review what animal studies have taught us about the development of fetishes (something you can learn more about here), as well as the role of conditioning processes (which you can learn more about here).
Watch more videos on the science of sex here.
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Image Source: 123RF/Piotr Marcinski
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