What do paraphilias consist of?

What do paraphilias consist of?

Paraphilia is considered to be unusual patterns of sexual behavior in which the source of pleasure is found in some object, situation or person. We could define them as sexual behaviors in which desire, excitement or pleasure depends on unusual elements.

It is a term that comes from the Greek and is formed from the union of “for”(Next to) and“philia" (to love).

Most paraphilias are classified as harmless, although there are exceptions as some may cause physical and / or psychological damage in some of the participants. The paraffilic is because:

  • Look for the risk, as this causes sexual arousal.
  • You need to feel the power, in most paraphilias the person feels above the other individuals and with the ability to do what he wants.

Sexual disorders will be considered when these behaviors are absolutely necessary to achieve sexual arousal and become an impulse hard to control for the individual. They are usually more frequent among men than in women. The difficulty is that there is no consensus to establish a precise limit between what would be unusual sexual interest and paraphilia. There is even a debate about whether any of those considered paraphilias should appear in the diagnostic manuals or not.

Whether a behavior is considered or not paraphilic depends on the prevailing social conventions, for example, oral sex or masturbation were once considered paraffinic behaviors, for this reason a definitive list of paraphilias cannot be made.

To sum up, not every unusual erotic practice is considered paraphilia. To be considered as such, it must cease to be a healthy and controllable practice by the individual who performs it. In addition, they must be behaviors not accepted by most of the population, they can even be criminalized if people who have not given their consent are involved or there is a clear abuse of power as in the case of pedophilia.

That does not mean that “unusual” sexual behavior by adults under their consent performed on an occasional basis should be considered paraphilia. Many couples perform paraphilic practices in bed and it is still a sexual game. The problem is when for a person it is the only way to feel sexual pleasure. Depending on the degree of affectation in the sexual life of the person, they may be considered mild (if the individual rarely expresses or manifests it), moderate (more explicit but controlled behaviors) or serious (when they become obsessions).

Types of paraphilias

Paraphilias can include, from various human and non-human objects, actions to inflict suffering on himself or another individual and involve people who have not given their consent to voluntarily participate in the sexual act.

Although there are countless behaviors that could be defined as paraffilic, in the following list we will summarize the most common;

  • Pedophilia: The source of sexual pleasure comes from an undeveloped child. It is one of the most punished paraphilias in our society since it can leave strong consequences in its victims.
  • Exhibitionism: It is the public exhibition that a person makes of his genitals deliberately, the person who carries it out intends to cause fear or surprise to others and that reaction is what causes his excitement. It is another of the paraphilias penalized by law.
  • Fetishism: In this case the person obtains sexual pleasure through objects that belong to another person, such as intimate clothing or shoes. A variant would be transvestite fetishism, in which the person disguises himself as the opposite sex. It is a very common and socially accepted paraphilia.
  • Grouping: It consists of rubbing the most intimate parts with other people without their consent, as if it were an accident, it is frequent that it occurs in very crowded places such as in public transport.
  • Masochism / Sadism: The person gets great pleasure from being attacked or humiliated by their partner, their opposite would be sadism.
  • Voyeurism: They are individuals who like to see other people performing the sexual act or like to observe naked people or in their erotic activities. They have no interest in going to places where nude is allowed, such as nude beaches; It is the forbidden situation and the risk to be discovered that excites them. These people usually accompany the observation of others with masturbation which allows them to reach orgasm.
  • Zoophilia: It is when looking for pleasure with animals, there may be intercourse, oral sex or simply generate pleasure with mere contact. It seems to be more frequent in rural areas and in socially isolated individuals.

These are some of the most common paraphilias, but not the only ones. The list is almost infinite, since it depends on the human imagination.


AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION (APA). (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-V-TR. Barcelona: Masson.