Sexual Fetish and Paraphilia
Fetish: “An object of unreasonably excessive attention or reverence: made a fetish of punctuality. Something, such as a material object or a nonsexual part of the body, that arouses sexual desire and may become necessary for sexual gratification.”
Paraphilia: “Any of a group of psychosexual disorders characterized by sexual fantasies, feelings, or activities involving a nonhuman object, a nonconsenting partner such as a child, or pain or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner. Also called sexual deviation.”
Sexual fetishes are various and can range from everything such as simple leather and bondage through to rubber chickens. Whilst fetishes used to be considered wholly deviant, some fetishes have taken on a social and even commercial acceptability with fetish items sold openly in high street shops such as Anne Summers without raising too many eyebrows.
Bondage, domination, submission and masochism have taken on a more acceptable form, with many clubs such as Torture Garden holding public events, and body modification/piercing has taken on its own subcultural ethic. With increasing normalisation, some participants do not even consider these things to even be a fetish.
Psychological explanations for fetishes involve “imprinting” – in that at critical times of development, the child is exposed to certain stimuli which coincide with sexual imprinting.
A fetish is not a choice, but rather it exists as a neurological imprint.
Now, most people enjoy their fetishes and these can be a minor part of sex play, with or without a partner. However, some fetishes can become problematic depending on their acceptability, legality and moral implications. Some are problematic in that the person does not wish to have them.
Some examples of fetishes and paraphilias I have treated include an obsession with dogs penises, cross-dressing, “flashing”, obsession with rape imagery and stories, lizards (!) and auto-erotic asphyxiation.