Paraphilias Symptoms

(Also Known As: Paraphilia Symptoms, Paraphilic Symptoms, Sexual Abuse Symptoms)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What are the Symptoms of Paraphilias?

The common symptoms seen with paraphilics are the recurrent abnormal sexual urges, fantasies and behavior which are not transitory. The patterns of these urges do not change and are often difficult for the paraphilics to consciously control their sexual acts. The condition is often manifested in imagery that may exist through sexual fantasies, which may be associated with erection or orgasm in sexual behavior or masturbation.

Solo masturbation is usually manifested as hypersexual if it occurs many times a day. The sexual acts may also involve illegal acts, which make paraphilics reluctant to acknowledge acts to a partner.

Paraphilia acts usually involve unwilling participants, children, animals and inanimate objects. Because there are extensive numbers of paraphilia types, the symptoms manifested are usually variable. The symptoms seen from paraphilias usually occur periodically when the paraphilic is stressed. The persons with paraphilia have distorted thoughts about their behavior such as believing other people or strangers desire their action or attention. They may also believe that their act is for the good of the victim and often fantasize about sexual relations with others. 5 The symptoms of paraphilias are often hidden and undetected unless the person is caught committing the act itself. The following are common paraphilia conditions with its associated symptoms: 6


  • Exposure of genitals to unsuspecting strangers
  • Feel the need to surprise, impress and shock their victims.
  • The act is limited to the genital exposure with no other harmful acts towards others.
  • The actual sexual contact with their victims is rare.
  • An exhibitionist may also masturbate while exposing himself or while fantasizing exposing himself.
  • The act of exposure and masturbation may be categorized as indecent exposure therefore is also considered illegal.


  • The focus of paraphilia act is touching and rubbing the genitals against the body of non-consenting individuals.
  • A male paraphilic usually rubs their genital area against a female in a public location.


  • Exhibits sexual urges associated with non-living objects.
  • The person is sexually aroused by touching or wearing the object.
  • The fetish may replace the sexual activity with a partner or they may also integrate the sexual activity with a willing partner.
  • Sexual relationship is often avoided once the fetish becomes the only object of the person’s sexual desires.
  • Partialism is a related disorder to fetishism where there is a sexual arousal by a body part such as buttocks, feet or breast.


  • Manifests fantasies, behaviors, and urges with illegal sexual activity
  • The act is committed with a pre-pubescent child who is younger than 13 years old.
  • The behavior consists of undressing the child and making them watch the pedophile masturbate.
  • It also involves touching and fondling the child’s genitals and forcing them to have sexual acts with them.
  • Pedophiles are sexually attracted to children alone and not with adults.
  • The sexual act of pedophiles is often limited to their own children and close relatives while others goes to the extent of victimizing other children.
  • Children also often experience threats against disclosing the act to others.
  • Pedophilic acts constitute rape and are punishable by law.

Sexual Sadism

  • The act of sexual excitement is derived from inflicting either psychological or physical sufferings that includes terror and humiliation to a sexual partner.
  • Extreme cases of sexual sadism involve rape, torture, and murder (where the death produces the sexual excitement).
  • The act of rape that gives pain to the victim and giving the paraphilic power over their victims provides a satisfying sexual excitement.
  • This form of paraphilia requires intensive psychiatric treatment.

Sexual Masochism

  • Involves fantasies, behavior and urges of being humiliated and beaten or made to suffer to achieve sexual climax and excitement.
  • The act may be limited to verbal humiliation or may extend to physical abuse.
  • The masochist usually acts out their fantasies to their self such as cutting, burning themselves, or piercing their skin.
  • Masochists may also seek out partners who will enjoy inflicting pain or humiliation on others and usually engage in sexual activities involving bondage, simulated rape, and spanking.
  • A dangerous act of sexual masochism involves autoerotic partial asphyxiation where ropes, plastic bags, and nooses are used to induce asphyxia, or interrupted breathing, at the point of orgasm. Accidental deaths often occur with this act.


  • The sexual act is done by heterosexual males by dressing like females to produce their desired sexual arousal.
  • The sexual arousal of a transvestite does not involve a partner but there is the fantasy that the individual is the female partner as well.
  • Dressing up like a female may consist of wearing only a piece of female clothing or some men may find that being fully dressed up as a female with make up and female hair style more exciting.


  • This is commonly called “peeping Tom” since the paraphilia is sexually aroused by observing unsuspecting persons who are undressed or engaging in a sexual activity.
  • The paraphilia is associated with masturbation where no sexual contact is done by the voyeur.

Could You Have Paraphilias?

Paraphilias Topics

Related Conditions

Anxiety Disorder NOS – Pathological Fears, Chronic Anxiety, Depression, Stress, Fatigue, Exhaustion
Gender Dysphoria (Gender Identity Disorder) – Gender Dysphoria, Transgender, Transvestism, Transsexuality
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Anxiety, Intrusive Thoughts, Depression, Obsession, Compulsive Behavior, Anxiety
Personality Disorder NOS – Changes in Personality and Behavior, Pervasive Behavioral Deviation, Inflexible Personality
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Anxiety, Traumatic Events, Stress, Depression, Psychological Trauma
Schizophrenia – Abnormal Perception of Reality, Hallucinations, Paranoid, Delusion, Disorganized Thinking and Speech
Sexual Addiction – Unmanageable Sexual Behavior, Hypersexuality, Sexual Dependency, Sexual Compulsivity