A paraphilia is a sexual desire, orientation or behavior you engage in, or want to engage in that is illegal, or causes harm to yourself or others. Many people feel immense shame when they realise they have a paraphilia and many people do not want to cause harm or break the law, but they also struggle with their desires. There is help and understanding available for you.
What are and are not Paraphilias?
Consensual adult kinks and Fetishes are not paraphilias.
A kink is a sexual or erotic desire or behavior that includes different types of stimulation and activities from the mainstream ides of 'usual' sex. They are engaged in by adults who all want to be involved in the activity. This can include (but is not limited to):
BDSM (bondage, Discipline, submission, masochism) frequently includes restraints, impact, role play, and power dynamics.
Voyeurism (enjoys watching consenting people undress, masturbate or have sex)
Exhibitionism (enjoys being consensually observed in sexual activities)
Ropes, bondage and restraints (using restraints during sex, or using ropes/restraints as an erotic artform.
Role play- sometimes called scenes- where the individuals involved take on other characters, pretend to have certain characteristics or play out a pre-agreed fantasy.
Age play- consenting adults role playing different ages/power dynamics and nurturing roles that cross into sexual experiences.
Water-play- sexual arousal from playing with urine and urination.
Others can include: financial domination, humiliation, cuckolding, consensual non-consent (rape fantasy), food play/feeding, foot play or foot fetish, latex/leather/lingerie fetishes, sensation play (wax, feathers, whips, ice etc...) and furry sex (being dressed as an animal/cartoon animal during sex)
A paraphilia is sexual desire, orientation or behavior that is either illegal or causes harm to yourself or others. The history of paraphilias is contentious, as things that used to be labelled a sexual disorder are now acknowledged to be a part of the healthy spectrum of sexual desire (for example being homosexual or crossdressing).
It is important to distinguish between consensual sexual play between adults, and perhaps less mainstream sexual or erotic desires that do not cause harm to others, from those that really need to be addressed.
What are common Paraphilias?
Some of the activities that are included in paraphiliac disorders can be seen in the kinks and fetishes categories, the difference is that the eroticism is derived from non-consenting adults, or involve children, or illegal activities.
Voyeuristic Disorder- Sexual gratification from observing non-consenting and/or non suspecting adults.
Exhibitionism Disorder- exposing yourself or yourself in sexual activities (EG sex/masturbation) to non consenting adults.
Frotteuristic Disorder- Sexual pleasure from rubbing yourself against non consenting adults or their property.
Sexual Sadism Disorder- non consensual causing of pain and suffering and humiliation to non consenting adults.
Pedophilia- Sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children
Hebephilia- Sexual attraction to pubescent children who are not fully sexually developed.
Necrophilia- Arousal from sex/erotic contact with a dead body
Zoophilia- Arousal from sex/erotic contact wit animals
For the American Psychiatric Association DSMV updates on Paraphilias see here
Pedophilia, Hebephilia & Ephebophilia
Sexual attraction to children is one of the most damaging of sexual attractions in our society. Acting in any way on an attraction to a child does cause harm to the child and it also causes harm to the adult actor, further increasing their sexual desires and preferences.
Pedophilia is when an adult has a strong and persistent sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. This means that you are sexually aroused by the idea/sight/interaction with the bodies of children who have not developed any secondary sex characteristics- that is they have not gone through puberty. These children are typically between the ages of 0-10 years old. Generally speaking a pedophile will have a specific age range within that group that they are most interested in.
Hebephilia is when an adult has a strong and persistent sexual attraction to pubescent children. A pubescent child is in the process of growing into an adult, but is not yet fully grown into their adult secondary sex characteristics. These children are most often between the ages of 11-14 but ages vary for puberty onset.
Ephebophilia is when an adult has a strong and persistent attraction to post-pubescent children. That is the children have developed primary sex characteristics but are not fully grown adults either by legal age or physical/psychological development. These children are typically between the ages of 15-17 years.
Chronophilia itself is not a paraphilia. Chronophilia is when an adult has a very narrow age range that they are attracted to. Amongst pedophiles this is very common. While most adults fall in love and can stay sexually attracted to their partners through the aging process, someone with chronoplhila ceases to be sexually attracted to someone once they are outside of a specific and narrow age range. Chronophilia can include being attracted to only people in specific and narrow adult age ranges (ie: 20-23 years, or 65-69 years).
A non chronophilic pedophile/hebephile/ephebophile, is an individual who does experience attraction to and sexual desire for children, but they may also experience attraction to adults as well. They may be sexually attracted to their age appropriate partner, but also be sexually attracted to children.
Opportunistic Offenders and Child Molesters
An opportunistic offender or child molester may not necessarily be attracted to children. Rather they may be attracted to violence, subjugation, non-consent, or sex under any opportunity regardless of the age or consent of the victim. These people may have another paraphilic disorder such as Sadism, or they may have a personality disorder such as ASPD, or they may have an impulse control disorder- or a combination of these.
For ease of communication in this information, reference to Pedophilic disorder here will refer to pedophilic attraction, hebephiliac attraction and ephebophilic attraction.
Some people know that their sexual attraction and desires are harmful to children and do not want to cause any harm to children. They are aware that their desires are illegal, and ethically wrong, and they strive to control themselves by limiting their time with children, and avoiding stimulation that piques their arousal (child abuse material for example). Virtuous pedophiles are very brave individuals and need support, as they do not choose to have the attractions they experience, and deeply want to be law abiding citizens. A virtuous pedophile who has chronophilia (does not have sexual attraction to age appropriate adults as well), may not have any opportunity to have sexual relationships at all. As well as this they may find it very difficult to seek help and support with their mental health due to fear of being exposed, hated vilified or arrested. Virtuous pedophiles need and deserve support and care.
Some people with Pedophilic disorder may well know that their sexual actions towards children cause harm, and they either feel unable to control their behaviours or are not concerned about how their desires and acting on them will effect the child. Sometimes an offender will convince themselves that acting sexually with a child is an appropriate form of love/affection, or that the child wont remember or that the child will benefit from it. These people are considered sexual predators or offending pedophiles. An offending pedophile may or may not have been picked up my the criminal system, and therefore may or may not be a registered sex offender. Offending Pedophiles also need help to learn how to control their desires and actions through programs and mental health support. An offending pedophile, whether charged with an offence or not should seek help from a Forensic Psychologist.
Types of Offences against Children
There are many forms of offending against children, some include:
Incest- sexual contact with children in your family.
Grooming- creating a relationship with a child (and sometimes their family) in order to gain physical and psychological access to them and to control their responses to the abuse.
Molestation- engaging in any sexual behaviour with a child including touching, viewing, exposing yourself, rape.
Child abuse material (CSM)- Commonly known as Child pornography. CSM does harm children. In its most violent form CSM involves the rape and molestation of children being filmed and distributed. In 'softer' forms it may include images/films of children dressing, showering etc, or cartoon or animated depictions of children or underage people being sexual or being sexually abused. These depictions to harm children, as they unlawfully sexualise them and increase the risk of harm against them.
Help for people with Paraphilias
Generally people who have a paraphilia will need to seek help from a forensic phycologist and/or a psychiatrist to properly address their needs and minimise the risks of you offending against a person. You are welcome to contact me and see me for an initial consultation, and after I am able to understand your specific Paraphilia and how it effects you, I can let you know how it may be best to proceed.
Please be aware that I may need to report any disclosure of violence or abuse before you come to see me. While I wholeheartedly commend you for seeking help, there are legal frameworks I work within.
Help for Virtuous Pedophiles
If you suspect you have pedophilic desires or attractions and are aware that this is damaging to you and others- the best thing you can do is seek help. I understand it is very difficult to reach out for help and assistance with this particular issue. While i welcome you to contact me for assistance please be aware that I may need to report any disclosure of abuse or violence or intent.
There are some resources below for you to have a look at:
The ECSA Project (Eradicating Childhood Sexual Abuse)