Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for practitioners, researchers, and students in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

There has been some confusion in recent questions about the term paraphilia. In most questions and answers, including my own, paraphilias have been seen as disorders that might require treatment.

But are paraphilias disorders?

share|improve this question

The DSM-5 does not list all paraphilia as a disorder! According to the DSM-5,

The term paraphilia denotes any intense and persistent sexual interest other than sexual interest in genital stimulationor preparatory fondling with phenotypically normal, physically mature, consenting human partners.

What the DSM-5 does list are paraphilic disorders:

A paraphilic disorder is a paraphilia that is currently causing distress or impairment to the individual or a paraphilia whose satisfaction has entailed personal harm, or risk of harm, to others. A paraphilia is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder, and a paraphilia b itself does not necessarily justify or require clinical intervention.

In the diagnostic criteria set for each of the listed paraphilic disorders, Criterion A specifies the qualitative nature of the paraphilia (e.g., an erotic focus on children or on exposing the genitals to strangers), and Criterion B specifies the negative consequences of the paraphilia (e.g. distress, impairment, or harm to others). In keeping with the distinction between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders, the term diagnosis should be reserved for individuals who meet both Criteria A and B.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, this is a useful reference. I hope you are linking to it from the relevant question. – Artem Kaznatcheev Jan 31 '14 at 17:55

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.