Fetishism: Symptoms and Description of this Paraphilia

Fetishism is a paraphilia, or a disorder of sexual arousal. Fetishism is characterized by the use of an inanimate object or a specific part of the body for physical or mental sexual stimulation.

Symptoms of Fetishism

The symptoms of fetishism, summarized and paraphrased from the DSM-IV TR (2000: American Psychiatric Association), require:

  • For a period of at least 6 months, the patient has intense sexual desires, fantasies or behaviours involving the use of inanimate objects (such as women’s undergarments).
  • This behaviour causes clinically important distress or impairs work, social or other important areas of personal functioning.
  • The fetish objects are not limited to articles of female clothing used in cross-dressing (as in Transvestic Fetishism) or devices designed specifically for tactile genital stimulation (e.g., a vibrator).

Often, the individual requires the fetish object(s) to become sexually aroused and is unable to become aroused without it.

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