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What is a Paraphilic Disorder?

A paraphilic disorder is a sexual perversion that a person requires to experience arousal and orgasm. Paraphilic disorders can range from nearly normal behavior to behavior that is destructive or hurtful only to a person’s self or to a person’s self and partner, and finally to behavior that is deemed destructive or threatening to the community at large.

Paraphilic disorders include pedophilia, voyeurism, frotteurism, exhibitionism, sexual sadism, sexual masochism, fetishism, and transvestism. The diagnosis of a paraphilic disorder requires that the individual has experienced intense and recurrent arousal from their perversion for at least 6 months and has either acted on the paraphilic impulse or has experienced marked distress, interpersonal or job-related difficulties.


Paraphilias seem to be largely male conditions. More than 50 percent of all paraphilias start before age 18. Individuals with paraphilia frequently have three to five different paraphilias, either occurring concurrently or at different times in their lives. This pattern of occurrence is especially the case with exhibitionism, fetishism, sexual masochism, sexual sadism, transvestic fetishism, voyeurism, and zoophilia. The occurrence of paraphilic behavior peaks between ages 15 and 25 and gradually declines.

Mental Health Library Sources:

Information included in all topics of the Mental Health Library comes from the Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-5 and Kaplan & Sadock’s Concise Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry. Complete diagnostic and treatment information may be found within these publications.


Information within the Mental Health Library is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis purposes. Rather, it is provided as a public educational service to make people aware of mental health conditions. Please consult a qualified mental health professional for a diagnosis of any suspected mental health illness.

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