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We hear this word thrown around all the time. It typically conjures up images of leather, latex, and thigh-high boots being adoringly worshiped by a chain-clad submissive. But how accurate are these images? What does it really mean to have a fetish, and perhaps more importantly, is having a fetish unhealthy?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), the official handbook of all psychologists and psychiatrists, a fetish is classified under the larger heading of “paraphelia.” A paraphilia is a “distressing and repetitive sexual fantasy, urge, or behavior that occurs for a significant period of time and interferes with either satisfactory sexual relations or every day functioning.” Now a fetish is broadly defined as, “the use of an inanimate object or parts of the human body as a stimulus to achieve sexual arousal or sexual satisfaction.” My old abnormal sexual psych teacher used to always add that the fetishized object or body part had to be either physically present or imagined in order for the individual to become sexually aroused and/or that sexual arousal was inevitable while in the presence of the fetishized object.
Phew, did you get all that?! Because this definition is so fascinating in its various implications, I’m going to break it down a little.
1) You must not like the fact that you have a certain sexual fantasy, urge, or behavior and/or it must be interfering with your normal everyday life.
For example, say your fetish is feet, to take a common one. If you’re perfectly happy that feet turn you on every time you see them, and it’s not interfering with any other aspect of your life – you can control yourself at the beach even though there are thousands of naked feet around – you don’t have a paraphilia, but you may still have a fetish.
2) The fetishized object or body part must be physically with you, or at least in your imagination, in order for you to get sexually excited.
So, if your feet-liking is really a fetish it would be impossible for you to become aroused if your partner’s feet were hidden without at least fantasizing about feet. If you can make it through a sexual encounter successfully without having to see, smell, taste, or think about feet then it’s not a “real” fetish. (I can see some of your disappointed faces from here!)
3) Finally, only inanimate objects or isolated body parts qualify as a fetish.
That means every time someone says they have a behavior-based fetish – vampires, golden showers, whippings – they’re wrong. The whip can be a fetishized object, but the actual whipping? Nope, can’t be a fetish.
Is Your Odd Little Kink Unhealthy?
The only time a professional in the psych world will ever say your “unusual” turn-on is a true mental disorder is if you don’t like the fact that this thing turns you on, if it is causing you to mess up at work, if it is making it difficult or impossible to have a meaningful relationship, or if it is causing other emotional/mental/internal anguish (often leading to depression).
There are a few exceptions to these rules, such as pedophilia, because the psych world has decided some sexual inclinations infringe too heavily upon the rights of others and will cause harm to society as whole.
Otherwise, if you’re happy with your sexual proclivities and are functioning perfectly fine in other aspects of your life, don’t worry that you get excited every time someone whips out an eraser from their pocket. Go out and buy yourself all kinds of erasers and set them up around your bed when you want to set “the mood.” Sure your lover might think you’re a little strange, but isn’t it our harmless unique oddities that makes the world so wonderful?
Think You’re a Fetish Expert Now? Test Your Amazing New Abilities:
Mr. E has a pair of sunglasses he asks his lover to wear every time they have sex. If his lover refuses, he fantasizes about them wearing sunglasses instead. Every once in a while, when the moment is just too hot, he forgets about how much he like sunglasses during sex and focus on something else completely. Sure, he gets an immediate bolt of electricity to his groin when ever someone drives by wearing a pair, but he just smiles and continues on his way.
Does Mr E have a sunglass fetish? Does he suffer from a paraphilia? I think you can handle this all on your own…
Do You Appreciate a Good Fetish Theme? Check Out These Edgy Things:
- Fantasy Restraint Kit
- Lovers Prisoners Kit
- Butterfly Effect – Vibrating Waterproof Nipple Clamps
- Fetish 101
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