Fast Facts About Paraphilia

Fact 1: Paraphilia is a sexual desire that is considered abnormal.

Individuals with a paraphilia experience sexual arousal from fantasies, behaviors, or objects that are outside of the mainstream range of sexual interests. Sometimes paraphilias are referred to as sexual deviancy or sexual perversion. Paraphilias are considered by some medical professionals to be emotional disorders or a type of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Fact 2: Paraphilia affects people from all walks of life.

People with paraphilias come from all walks of life. They cross all socioeconomic, educational, gender, age, and cultural lines. Although most paraphiles are male, a small percentage are female.

Fact 3: The causes of paraphilia are not always clear.

A common belief about paraphilia is that it occurs when someone associates a feeling of sexual arousal with an experience or object, although there are other theories as to the causes of paraphilia. Research is continuing on whether there are any biological correlations with paraphilia, such as brain structure.

Fact 4: Not all paraphiles sexually offend against others.

Paraphiles who sexually offend against others may display distorted cognitive skills, emotional deficits, or other problems such as anger management or obsessive thinking.

Fact 6: Treatment can help prevent a paraphile from offending.

Individuals with a paraphilia can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy and other approaches that focus on addressing inappropriate beliefs and attitudes, cognitive and emotional deficits, and a lack of self-regulation skills. As is true of any therapy, treatment is most effective when it is designed around risk-needs-responsivity principles. This requires providers to structure treatment around the individual’s risk to reoffend; address skill-building needs such as prosocial thinking, interpersonal skills, and anger management; and tailor interventions to match the individual’s learning style (responsivity).  

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