What You Think You Know About Sexual Fetishes Is Probably Wrong

What You Think You Know About Sexual Fetishes Is Probably Wrong

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.

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Psychological Characteristics Of The Adult Baby/Diaper Lover Fetish Community

Psychological Characteristics Of The Adult Baby/Diaper Lover Fetish Community

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).

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Sex Question Friday: Are Some People Born With Fetishes?

Sex Question Friday: Are Some People Born With Fetishes?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who was curious about the origin of sexual fetishes:

“Are we born with fetishes or are they things that we learn and develop throughout our lives?”

Good question! Over the years, I have heard many people claim that fetishes and other unusual sexual interests must be inborn because these urges tend to emerge very early in life and people feel that they do not have any choice or conscious control in the matter (much like sexual orientation). However, I personally don’t buy the idea that people are “born with” very specific and highly unique sexual interests in things like rubber, pantyhose, or feet, and I’m not aware of any research to suggest that this is likely to be the case. Scientists have not identified a foot fetish gene, or a gene for any other fetish for that matter--and although I can't say with any certainty if they ever will, I wouldn't hold my breath. Instead, I would argue that a person is more likely to be born with a generalized predisposition to developing fetishes, as opposed to being born with a specific fetish. Also, regardless of one’s predispositions, some research suggests that fetishes can potentially be learned by just about anyone under the right circumstances.

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Bug Chasing and Gift Giving: The Underground Culture Where HIV Is Fetishized

Bug Chasing and Gift Giving: The Underground Culture Where HIV Is Fetishized

A new porn film entitled Viral Loads has earned quite a bit of attention for its graphic depictions of guys who are eager to give and receive HIV through man-on-man sex. I know some of you may be wondering how anyone could possibly find the prospect of contracting an incurable and deadly virus like HIV sexually arousing, but it turns out that there is a small subculture among men who have sex with men for whom HIV is fetishized. Before I go on, let me be perfectly clear: this is a small subculture and it is not a reflection of how the broader community of gay and bisexual men feel about HIV.

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Why Do Men Have More Unusual Sexual Interests Than Women?

Why Do Men Have More Unusual Sexual Interests Than Women?

The term “paraphilia” literally means “beyond typical love.” As a result, it has become the word of choice among psychologists to describe a wide range of unusual sexual interests. However, it is important to note that just because someone has a paraphilia, it does not necessarily mean that they have a psychological disorder. Paraphilias are generally only regarded as clinically significant to the extent that they are distressing to the individual or cause harm to others.

Numerous clinicians have concluded that paraphilias are more common among men than they are among women, largely because it is rare for women to visit psychiatrists and psychologists for problems associated with unusual sexual interests. However, there has been very little research to date on paraphilias outside of clinical contexts that shed light on the nature of this sex difference. As a result, it is unclear if men in general open to more unusual sexual interests and, if so, why. A new study published in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment sought to provide the answer.

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A Top 10 List Of Readers’ Sexual Fantasies: Fetish Parties, Forests, Science Fiction, And More

A Top 10 List Of Readers’ Sexual Fantasies: Fetish Parties, Forests, Science Fiction, And More

Research has found that sexual fantasies are common for people of all genders and sexual orientations. However, there is a lot of variability in what people fantasize about. As some evidence of this, let’s look at a sampling of sexual fantasies submitted by readers of The Psychology of Human Sexuality. If you would like to submit your fantasy for potential inclusion in a future Top 10 List, check out the Reader Survey tab at the top of this page where you can report your information anonymously and participate in a brief sex survey. Thanks to all who submitted for this edition!

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Strange Sex: Tales Of Sexual Arousal From Stinging Insects

The buzz on the Internet last week was the story of a Swedish man who supposedly died after having sex with a hornets’ nest. According to various media reports, the man’s pubic hair and semen were found inside the nest and he had been stung 146 times, leaving his body so swollen that he looked like “a beached whale.” After making the rounds in the international media, it was discovered that the story was a hoax perpetrated by News Sweden, the Swedish equivalent of The Onion. What may surprise you, however, is that this story isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds because there are indeed some people in this world who derive sexual arousal from stinging insects.
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A Look At The Risky Practice Of “Penile Incarceration”

A fascinating case study entitled “Penile Incarceration Secondary to Masturbation with a Steel Pipe” was recently published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Based on the title alone, I knew I had to blog about it. As it turns out, men have been “incarcerating” their penises for more than 250 years, sometimes resulting in rather unpleasant consequences and inventive “jailbreaks” [1].

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Sex Question Friday: Why Are So Many Straight Men Into Transsexual Porn?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader of the blog who was curious about why so many heterosexual men are pleasuring themselves to pornography featuring transgender and transsexual performers.

I run a porn blog and I keep getting messages from men wanting to see tranny / shemale porn.  I'm assuming these men are all straight-identifying, but maybe that's just my gay-identifying bias.  I'm wondering what, if any studies or knowledge is out there about men who are attracted to and watch this kind of material or even look for them in real life?  It does absolutely nothing for me, but this particular fetish is unavoidable if you frequent any kind of porn social network and it seems a lot of people are into this.  What are your thoughts?  Why might this be a turn-on for some, and what does it imply, if anything, about their sexuality? 

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Sex Question Friday: My Boyfriend Likes Wearing Women’s Stockings. Is He Gay?

Sex Question Friday: My Boyfriend Likes Wearing Women’s Stockings. Is He Gay?
Every time I tell someone what I do for a living, they take it as an opportunity to get some free sex and relationship advice. I don’t really mind because this is what interests me after all. Not only that, but the questions I get asked serve as great fodder for the blog! One of the most interesting questions I’ve been asked lately came from a woman I met at a party who was very concerned that her boyfriend might secretly be gay. Below, I provide a recap of her story and a more elaborated version of my response.
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A Top 10 List of Unusual Sexual Behaviors

Paraphilias are one of the most fascinating topics in the field of human sexuality. In case you are not familiar with the term paraphilia, it refers to any unusual form of sexual expression. Some of the most common paraphilias include fetishism, in which people become sexually fixated on non-living objects or specific body parts, and sadomasochism, in which people experience sexual arousal in response to giving or receiving pain. A huge number of paraphilias have been identified. In fact, one source puts the number at 547 [1]!

Of course, many of these behaviors are exceedingly rare and most of them have not received much in the way of research attention. It is also important to point out that paraphilias are not necessarily disorders that require treatment. Paraphilias only become clinically significant to the extent that they cause distress to the individual or involve victimization of others. In this article, I’d like to share some of the most interesting, but lesser known paraphilias that I have ever read about.

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Sex Question Friday: Why Do Some People Have Fetishes?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer sex questions submitted to me by actual college students. This week, we’re talking about fetishes. Fetishes refer to cases where an individual’s sexual desires and behaviors hinge upon a specific object, such as shoes or feet. Contrary to popular belief, having a fetish isn't necessarily problematic. It only becomes a problem when desire for this object creates persistent personal distress (in other words, a fetish isn't considered a clinical "problem" unless the individual is bothered by it or finds that it interferes with their ability to develop and maintain relationships). People can have fetishes for virtually anything, from the conventional (e.g., silk panties and leather boots) to the unusual (e.g., dirt and cars). It is perhaps no surprise that the most common question people have about fetishes is how they develop in the first place, hence the following question submitted by a reader:

"Why do some people develop strange fetishes?"

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