Fetishism – Symptoms, Causes, Types Of Fetishes And Treatments.

The term fetishism was coined at the end of the 19th century, it has its origin in the Portuguese word feitico, which means “obsessive fascination.” There is a degree of fetish arousal in most normal people who find particular bodily characteristics attractive, however fetish arousal is generally considered a problem when it interferes with normal sexual or social functioning and where arousal is impossible without the fetish object.

What is fetishism?

It is a sexual fixation on a non-living object or a non-genital body part, among the most common non-living fetish objects are boxer shorts, bras, stockings, shoes, boots or other clothing for women.

Fetish disorder can be a multisensory experience, including holding, tasting, rubbing, inserting, or smelling the fetish object while masturbating, or preferring that a sexual partner use or use a fetish object during sexual encounters. In the observed treatment-seeking samples, this disorder occurs almost exclusively in men; women generally do not exhibit this disorder, and more information is needed to determine whether it occurs to a significant degree within the female sex.

Many people who self-identify as fetish practitioners do not necessarily report a clinical deterioration in association with their fetish-associated behaviors, such individuals could be considered to have a fetish but not a fetish disorder, clinically significant distress or impairment is required to diagnose it. functioning as a result of the fetish. It falls within the general category of paraphilic disorders , which refers to intense sexual attraction to any object or person outside of genital stimulation with consenting adult partners.

Symptoms of fetishism

The sexual acts of people with fetish disorder characteristically focus exclusively on the fetish object or part of the body. Non-fetishists may become repeatedly aroused by a particular body part or object and make it part of their sexual interaction with another person, but they do not notice it.

In general, the person with fetishism can only become sexually aroused and reach orgasm when the fetish is used. In other cases, a response may occur without the fetish, but at a diminished level, when the fetish object is not present, the fetishist fantasizes about it.

Diagnostic criteria for fetishism include:

  • Staying for a period of at least six months, the person has recurrent and intense fantasies of sexual arousal, urges or behaviors that involve non-living objects (such as women’s underwear and shoes) or a highly specific focus on non-genital body parts.
  • Fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause significant distress or affect social, occupational, or personal functioning.
  • Fetish objects are not clothing used in cross-dressing and are not designed for tactile genital stimulation, such as a vibrator.
  • People with fetish disorder may seek employment or volunteer work to enable their behavior, for example a job in a shoe store in the case of a shoe fetish.

Causes of fetishism

Paraphilias, like fetish disorder, usually begin during puberty, but fetishes can develop before adolescence, no cause based on this disorder has been conclusively established.

Some theorists believe that fetishism develops from early childhood experiences, in which an object was associated with a particularly powerful form of sexual arousal or gratification. Other learning theorists focus on later childhood and adolescence and the conditioning associated with the activity of masturbation.

Behavioral learning models suggest that a child who is a victim or observer of inappropriate sexual behaviors learns to imitate and is then reinforced by the behavior, compensation models suggest that these individuals are deprived of normal social sexual contacts and therefore they seek satisfaction through less socially acceptable means.

In the much more common cases involving men, the patterns suggest that the causes arise from doubts about one’s masculinity, potency, and fear of rejection and humiliation, for their fetishistic practices, and dominance over an inanimate object, the individual can safeguard himself and also compensate for some of his feelings of inadequacy.

What are the most common fetishisms?

On foot

A foot fetishist will become sexually aroused by touching, smelling, tasting, kissing, or manipulating a person’s feet, ankles, or fingers, or by having other people perform these actions on their own feet. Some foot fetishists may also enjoy walking, or using their feet to manipulate their own or their partners’ genitals, or having their genitalia manipulated to orgasm by someone else’s feet. Some foot fetishists may be content to touch or touch their feet or in rare cases, use them as a footrest.

In the same way that a normal person can be woken up by naked genitalia, foot fetishists get turned on by the sight of feet. Of course, there are a variety of fetishes, each with its own properties and ‘likes’ that are not necessarily shared by all foot fetishists, some may prefer bare feet, while others prefer clothed feet, some may favor feet. arched, while others may favor flat feet.

There have been a variety of explanations proposed for the development of a foot fetish. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran suggests that the link between the feet and sexual arousal is the direct result of the feet sharing the same sensory cortex as the genitalia. Another theory suggests that the shape of the foot is clearly phallic, and can be seen to replicate the female or male genitalia, or the shape of a female body. A third theory states that the feet and the genitals are in the same visual window, and when looking at one, the other will also be in view.


It is a sexual attraction to tight and stretchy fabrics that people wear or, in rare cases, to the garments themselves, where the person is turned on when they dress, or they see their sexual partners dressing in tight fabrics, or they fantasize about such situations . Alternatively, these fetishists can create fantasies about skin-tight wearers such as acrobats, dancers, gymnasts, contortionists, athletes, or swimmers.

Lycra fetishism can even expand into comic book or movie reenactment settings where characters are portrayed wearing spandex suits, these settings usually involve a damsel in distress, a villain, and a superhero coming to the rescue.

Some extreme cases consider wearing a full body set that covers the entire body with material, including the fingers and toes. One theory about lycra fetishism is the idea of ​​a “second skin” that clothes give a person, one that a fetishist wants to obtain or wants to eliminate.

From urine

It is where urine is involved in sexual activities and for sexual pleasure, this paraphilia is also known as urolagnia. People with urolagnia may find pleasure in urinating in public places, urinating in other people, urinating, or even drinking their own or someone else’s urine. Others simply prefer to watch these activities, these practices are sometimes called “golden shower” or “water sports”.

Other varieties of urolagnia can include arousal from normal urinary activity, such as bed-wetting, wetting pants, or, in more extreme cases, a diaper fetish or arousal from infantilism.

Of shoes

For the majority of men, this is a fetish and for some women. High heels turn against a lot of people, while a pretty good shoe that a man wears turns some women on, the idea of ​​having sex with nothing but shoes or heels turns them on a lot.

Although the shoe fetish is more common in men than women, there is a reason why it is so attractive to men and it is because there are so many erotic images around high heels that they have become a symbol of girl power. and aggressiveness, from the desire of men.

From the ears

There is nothing that excites the sex drive more for many people than a soft kiss with the lips on their ears.


Colors are another common fetish found among men, as for example you can see a woman dressed in blue or red and instantly get turned on.

Hair related

Also known as trichophilia, having a hair fetish is quite common, just seeing it anywhere: chest, head, armpits, legs and face, causes arousal. For example, in both the Jewish and Islamic religions, a woman’s hair is considered erotic, that is one of the reasons why it is kept hidden from the outside world.

Women with magnificent manes have proven to be one of the main attractive features, even men go bald to retain their attractiveness to women.


This is also common and is seen as the most perverted as sometimes obsessed men are caught picking up underwear from clothing lines just to satisfy their fetishes. Some people experience sexual arousal from wearing certain types of underwear, other people experience sexual arousal when observing or manipulating certain types of underwear worn by another person or seeing someone putting it on or taking it off, which may later fall under acts of voyeurism.


Common among men, navel fetishism is another type in which a particular body part becomes the primary locus of sexual desire, often making the navel equal to the partner. However, he is mostly under sadomasochism.

Body piercings

Because most find ecstasy in pain, body piercing can be a common fetish. Although this appeals more to the younger generation, many older people have been seen to have this fetish.


A fetish tattoo is one that can go both ways – you get turned on by getting tattoos or seeing tattoos on someone else. Once again, we are dealing with something that was once taboo, especially in women, and something that is known to cause pain, satisfying the masochistic need in people.

What are the treatments of fetishism?

Fetish fantasies are common and should only be treated as a disorder when they cause distress or impair a person’s ability to function normally in their everyday life.

Fetishism tends to have a continuous course that fluctuates in intensity and frequency of impulses or behavior throughout the course of life. As a result, effective treatment is usually long-term, treatment approaches have included various forms of therapy ( traditional psychoanalysis , hypnosis, cognitive and behavioral therapy ), as well as drug therapy (SSRI, androgen deprivation therapy). Some prescription medications help decrease the compulsive thinking associated with paraphilias, this allows concentration on counseling with less distraction from paraphilic impulses.

A class of drugs called antiandrogens can dramatically lower testosterone levels temporarily and have been used in conjunction with other forms of treatment for fetish disorder, this drug reduces sexual desire in men and reduces the frequency of mental images that arouse sexually.

The level of sex drive is not consistently related to paraphilic behavior, and high circulating testosterone levels do not predispose a man to paraphilia.

The treatment of fetishism generally involves some method of aversion therapy, but unfortunately this type of medical care has a low success rate, since it is done by introducing other stimuli to the subject and through one of two ways. The first is done by applying negative stimulation, such as shock, while the patient views or discusses the fetish images to create a negative connotation in the brain. The second form is called “orgasmic reorientation,” which aims to realign the patient with a more “normal” sexual tendency.

The cause of the low success rates is that the treatment is usually imposed on the patient because he feels he has no real reason to change. Those with fetishism are often able to control or satisfy their needs in a private way that will not interfere with everyday life or cause unnecessary problems. Those who do seek change may find group therapy or psychoanalysis to be more helpful than these previous methods.

Reconditioning techniques focus on immediate feedback that is given to the patient so that the behavior changes immediately. Masturbation training could focus on separating pleasure in masturbation and climax from deviant behavior.

Relationship counselors can try to reduce dependency on the fetish and improve communication with the partner using techniques such as sensory focus, partners can agree to incorporate the fetish into their activities in a controlled, time-limited way, or reserve only certain days to practice fetishism. If the fetishist cannot sustain an erection without the fetish object, the therapist might recommend orgasmic reconditioning or covert sensitization to increase activation of normal stimuli (although the evidence base for these techniques is weak).

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

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