What Is A Paraphilia?

Malin and Saleh (2007) report that the debate continues as to whether paraphilias are best conceptualized as sexual disorders unto themselves, or are simply a special kind of obsessive disorder, anxiety disorder, or even addiction disorder. Paraphilia is not a term used in the Kink community; however, as a clinician, you will see that Kink communities will often lump paraphilias with the term Kink or fetish. According to Malin, H. M., and Saleh, F.M., (2007), it has been estimated that some fifty paraphilias that have been identified and described in the research literature.  Anil Aggrawal (2009) compiled a list of 547 terms describing Paraphilic sexual interests. He cautioned, however, that not all of these paraphilia has necessarily been seen in clinical setups. This may not be because they do not exist, but because they are so innocuous they are never brought to the notice of clinicians or are dismissed by them. Like allergies, sexual arousal may occur from anything under the sun, including the sun (Aggrawal, 2009). This means it is essential to have a keen knowledge of what to look for when it comes to sexuality and eroticism in your patients. Additionally, Aggrawal’s statement is normalizing the concept that eroticism is individualized.

In a typical medical or counseling practice, a healthcare provider will rarely come in contact with an individual who desires treatment for their paraphilia unless the paraphilia has begun to impair their life in some way. In my clinical practice, I have seen a direct request to address the paraphilia when it has affected the patient’s health, affected their relationships, or affected them legally. This is an opportunity to discuss the objectification typical of paraphilias versus the relationship connection in Kink. That is an integral part of this work.

Exhibitionism chalk icon. Nude body exposure. Pervert in open coat. Deviation and perversion. Inappropriate erotic behaviour. Paraphilia. Mental disorder. Isolated vector chalkboard illustration


Aggrawal, A. (2009). Forensic and medico-legal aspects of sexual crimes and unusual sexual practices. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

H. Malin & Saleh, F. (2007) Paraphilias: Clinical and forensic considerations. Psychiatric Times. Retrieved from http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/forensic-psychiatry/paraphilias-clinical-and-forensic-considerations

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