Fast Five Quiz: Sexual Interest Disorders (Paraphilias)

Steve Soreff, MD


December 19, 2022

The DSM-5 has sought to clarify the often complicated definition of paraphilia. It distinguishes atypical sexual interests from paraphilic disorders. Most individuals with atypical sexual interests are not considered to have a mental disorder. Examples of atypical sexual interests include recurrent sexual fantasies, consensual nonmonogamy, and polyamory. Polyamory is having multiple sexual relationships with the consent of all people involved.

In contrast, according to the DSM-5, diagnosis of a paraphilic disorder requires either (1) that the sexual interest must produce distress that does not stem only from societal disapproval or (2) that the sexual desire (or behavior) is associated with another individual's distress, injury, or death or desire to engage in sexual behaviors with unwilling persons or those unable to provide consent. Although distinguishing atypical sexual interests and true mental disorders can be challenging, it is considered vital for appropriate and effective care and management.

Learn more about characteristics of paraphilic disorders.


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