How Many People Have Experimented With BDSM Before?

How Many People Have Experimented With BDSM Before?

BDSM has long been deemed a paraphilia—meaning an unusual sexual interest—by psychologists and psychiatrists. The classification of BDSM as a paraphilia implies that it’s likely to be a pretty rare sexual practice in the overall population. But is that really the case? Just how many people have ever had a BDSM experience before?

This question has been difficult to answer with any degree of certainty because, historically, nationally representative sex surveys haven’t routinely inquired about BDSM. As a result, we’ve had to base most of our knowledge on the results of convenience samples, which aren’t representative of the population and therefore don’t tell us as much about actual prevalence rates. However, a recent national US sex survey offers useful insight.

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The History of Obscene Telephone Calls

The History of Obscene Telephone Calls

People have been making obscene telephone calls for almost as long as the telephone has been in existence. In recent years, however, they have begun to change form, as digital communications have offered several new ways of achieving the same goals, while maintaining more anonymity. 

A recent paper in the Archives of Sexual Behavior traced the history of obscene telephone calls and the people who make them. Below, I share some the timeline and some of the key takeaways from this review.

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Can Pedophilies Change?

Can Pedophilies Change?

The mental health community has long been interested in developing treatments for persons who are attracted to prepubescent children with the goal of preventing sexual offenses. In fact, if you search for “pedophilia treatments” or “pedophile therapy” on Google Scholar, you’ll get thousands of hits.

Numerous treatment approaches have been tested, with many focusing on finding a “cure.” For example, some studies have explored use of aversion therapy, in which something unpleasant (such as a very bad smell) is paired with child stimuli with the goal of reducing pedophilic desires. Others have looked at orgasmic reconditioning, which involves thinking about or speaking aloud socially appropriate fantasies while masturbating to orgasm in an attempt to learn new fantasies that are pleasurable. 

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3 Sex Fantasies That Are More Common Than You Think

3 Sex Fantasies That Are More Common Than You Think

Paraphilia is the term psychiatrists and psychologists use to refer to any type of unusual or “non-normative” sexual interest. The number of sexual fantasies that have been deemed paraphilic has grown substantially over the years to the point where hundreds of things have now been labeled as unusual turn-ons. As it turns out, however, a lot of these fantasies aren’t so uncommon after all.

Here are three specific sexual fantasies 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.

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“Unusual” Sexual Fantasies Are A Lot More Common Than You Might Think

“Unusual” Sexual Fantasies Are A Lot More Common Than You Might Think

Psychologists and psychiatrists use the term paraphilia to refer to unusual sexual interests. In other words, a paraphilia represents a desire for an uncommon sexual object or activity. Hundreds of different paraphilias have been described at one time or another; however, there are only eight specific paraphilias listed in the current DSM: fetishism, transvestism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, frotteurism, pedophilia, masochism, and sadism.

While these interests have long been thought to be rare, little data exists regarding their prevalence in the population at large. In fact, the vast majority of the research conducted on these topics so far has been limited to clinical samples, which don’t really give us much indication as to how many people might have these interests at one time or another. However, recent research suggests that they’re far more common than previously thought. 

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Why Are Some People Sexually Attracted To Animals?

Why Are Some People Sexually Attracted To Animals?

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? 

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How Many People Have "Unusual" Sexual Desires?

How Many People Have "Unusual" Sexual Desires?

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.

 

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Disability Desires: People Who are Aroused by the Idea of Becoming Physically Disabled

Disability Desires: People Who are Aroused by the Idea of Becoming Physically Disabled

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.

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Three Sexual Fantasies That Are More Common Than You Think

Three Sexual Fantasies That Are More Common Than You Think

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.

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4 Theories on the Origin of Sexual Masochism

4 Theories on the Origin of Sexual Masochism

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).

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Is Asexuality a Sexual Orientation?

Is Asexuality a Sexual Orientation?

In a forthcoming issue of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a special section will be devoted to articles that address “the puzzle of sexual orientation.” I’ve been able to read a few of the articles so far, and it’s shaping up to be nothing short of fascinating! As such, I plan to cover at least a few of the articles here on Sex & Psychology. In fact, I’ve already covered one of them, which focused on the link between men’s height and their sexual orientation (read it here).

Today, I’m covering an article that addresses asexualityThis paper, co-authored by Drs. Lori Brotto and Morag Yule, was designed to explore the controversy over the nature of asexuality. This is something people have been debating for years. Some have argued that it’s a mental disorder, others have called it a sexual dysfunction, some think of it as a paraphilia (i.e., an unusual sexual interest), and yet others consider it a sexual orientation. So what does the research say? Let’s take a look.

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5 Things You Should Know About Unusual Sexual Interests And The People Who Have Them

5 Things You Should Know About Unusual Sexual Interests And The People Who Have Them

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.

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Macrophilia: Sexual Attraction to Giants and Giantesses

Macrophilia: Sexual Attraction to Giants and Giantesses

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.

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Vorarephilia: The Erotic Desire To Literally Eat (Or Be Eaten By) Someone Else

Vorarephilia: The Erotic Desire To Literally Eat (Or Be Eaten By) Someone Else

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” [1]. 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.

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Feeder Fetishes: The World Of Erotic Eating And Weight Gain

Feeder Fetishes: The World Of Erotic Eating And Weight Gain

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). 

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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: Why Are Some People Aroused By Sexual Humiliation?

Sex Question Friday: Why Are Some People Aroused By Sexual Humiliation?

A reader submitted the following question: 

“I wanted to inquire into a ‘strange’ fetish where the man likes his woman to convince him he has undersized manhood. ‘Small penis humiliation’ as it's known. Why is this arousing for some men?”

Thanks for this interesting question. While I have heard of small penis humiliation before, unfortunately, there isn’t any research focusing on it specifically (at least not yet). As far as I can tell, this term is one that seems to be restricted in use primarily to porn websites. However, what I can do is tell you what the research on sexual humiliation more broadly has to say.

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How Common Are Sexual Sadism and Masochism?

How Common Are Sexual Sadism and Masochism?

Results from the latest Reader Survey are in and, as usual, they’re absolutely fascinating! The most recent survey inquired about experiences with what have traditionally been considered paraphilic behaviors (i.e., sexual behaviors that are unusual or uncommon). Although this survey asked about a variety of paraphilic behaviors, what I want to focus on here are readers’ experiences with sexual sadism and masochism. Before we get to the results, let me first clarify that when I say “paraphilic behaviors,” I do not mean “disordered behaviors.” The fact of the matter is that you can have an uncommon sexual interest and still be a perfectly healthy person.

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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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Sex Question Friday: What Exactly Is A Voyeur?

Sex Question Friday: What Exactly Is A Voyeur?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know more about voyeurism.

What can you tell me about voyeurism? When does it become stalking and are men more prone to it than women?

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