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Fetishism is the use of an inanimate object or a specific part of the body for physical or mental sexual stimulation. This sexual behavior is widespread and takes many forms, from benign (a preference for the partner's wearing of lingerie before sex) to vicious (a rapist cutting a lock of hair from the victim for use in masturbation). The disorder characteristics are:

Repeatedly for at least 6 months the patient has intense sexual desires, fantasies or behavior concerning the use of inanimate objects (such as shoes, underwear).

This results in clinically important distress or impairs work, social or personal functioning.

The objects are not used solely in cross-dressing (female clothing in Transvestic Fetishism) and are not equipment intended to stimulate the genitals (such as a vibrator).

Associated Features:

May be employed or undertake volunteer work to enable behavior to be practiced. For example take a job in a shoe shop in the case of a shoe fetish.

Differential Diagnosis:

Some disorders have similar or even the same symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his/her diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis.

Mental Retardation.


The cause of fetishistic behavior as a pattern of sexual gratification cannot usually be explained easily. It is only when these patterns become part of a larger picture, at least in the far more common cases involving a male, such a picture involves typically involves doubts about ones own masculinity and potency and a fear of rejection and humiliation. By his fetishistic practices and the mastery over an inanimate object, which comes to symbolize for him the desired sexual  object, the individual apparently safeguards himself and also compensates some what his feelings of inadequacy.


 Almost always the treatment must be long-term if it is to be effective.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section & Sex Therapy ]:

Cognitive, behavior, and psychoanalytic therapies are used to treat individuals with paraphilia's.

Pharmacotherapy [ See Psychopharmacology Section ] :

Some prescription medicines have been used to help decrease the compulsive thinking associated with the paraphilia's. Hormones are prescribed occasionally for individuals who experience intrusive sexual thoughts, urges, or abnormally frequent sexual behaviors.


DSM Code

302.81 Fetishism

F65.1 Fetishism

Disorder Sheets

Mind (UK)
Granta House
15 - 19 Broadway
London E15 4BQ
Tel : +442085192122
Email: Click Here
Web: Click Here

Recommended Book

Hemingway's Fetishism: Psychoanalysis and the
Mirror of Manhood - Click Here to View



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