8 Things You Should Know About Fetishism
The American Psychiatric Association’s (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) defines fetishism as a paraphilia in which an individual recurrently experiences intense sexual arousal from using or viewing a nonliving object or a specific nongenital body part (APA, 2000). In other words, a person with this disorder becomes sexually aroused and gets satisfaction from touching, holding, looking at, or smelling objects that are not ordinarily considered to be erotic (i.e., shoes, underwear, etc.). In some cases, the fetish object is necessary for the person to become aroused and to reach orgasm. This can lead to difficulties in intimate relationships because the fetish object often takes precedence over the partner’s body.
2. What is fetishism?:
Fetishism is a mental disorder characterized by sexual fixation on non-human objects or body parts. The object of interest is typically something that is not normally considered to be sexual in nature, such as shoes, lingerie, or leather clothing. In some cases, the object may be necessary for the person to become aroused and to reach orgasm. This can lead to difficulties in intimate relationships because the fetish object often takes precedence over the partner’s body.
3. Causes of fetishism:
The exact cause of fetishism is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of psychological and environmental factors. Some researchers believe that early childhood experiences play a role in the development of this disorder. For example, if a child is frequently exposed to sexually stimulating material (such as pornography), he or she may become more likely to develop a sexual fixation on that type of material later in life. Additionally, some people may develop a fetish after having positive experiences with certain objects or body parts (such as being comforted by a soft teddy bear). It is also possible that fetishes are learned through social conditioning (such as seeing others get aroused by certain objects).
4. Symptoms of fetishism:
The primary symptom of fetishism is sexual arousal and satisfaction from using or viewing a nonliving object or nongenital body part. The object of interest may be necessary for the person to become aroused and to reach orgasm. This can lead to difficulties in intimate relationships because the fetish object often takes precedence over the partner’s body. Other symptoms may include:
-Spending large amounts of time thinking about the object of interest
-Using the object of interest during sex (e.g., putting on lingerie before intercourse)
-Keeping collections of objects that are associated with sexual arousal (e.g., watching pornography featuring people wearing the types of clothing that are arousing)
-Attempting to incorporate the object of interest into everyday activities (e.g., carrying around a shoe that smells like the feet of someone who is arousing)
-Experiencing anxiety or depression when unable to obtain the object of interest
5. Diagnosis of fetishism:
There is no one test that can diagnose fetishism. Instead, diagnosis is based on a psychological evaluation and self-report measures. During the evaluation, the mental health professional will ask questions about your sexual history and fantasies. He or she will also ask about any other mental disorders you may have (such as anxiety or depression). Additionally, the mental health professional will want to rule out any physical causes of your symptoms (such as a medical condition that is causing pain during intercourse).
6. Treatment of fetishism:
The goal of treatment is to help you manage your disorder and reduce the negative impact it has on your life. Treatment typically involves cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or medication.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you to identify and change the thoughts and behaviors that are associated with your disorder. For example, if you have a fetish for lingerie, you may be taught how to view lingerie in a more realistic light (i.e., as something that is not necessarily sexual). You may also be taught how to reduce the amount of time you spend thinking about lingerie and how to reduce your arousal in response to lingerie.
Medication may be used to treat any underlying mental disorders (such as anxiety or depression). Additionally, medication may be used to reduce sexual urges and fantasies.
7. Prognosis of fetishism:
The prognosis for fetishism is generally good. With treatment, most people are able to reduce the negative impact that their disorder has on their life. However, it is important to note that treatment does not cure fetishism. Rather, it helps you to manage your disorder and live a fulfilling life despite your disorder.
8. Prevention of fetishism:
There is no known way to prevent fetishism. However, early detection and treatment of any underlying mental disorders (such as anxiety or depression) may help to reduce the risk of developing this disorder. Additionally, increasing public awareness of fetishism may help to reduce the stigma associated with this disorder.
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