DSM-III

In DSM-III, this disorder is called Fetishism

Diagnostic Criteria

A. The use of nonliving objects (fetishes) is a repeatedly preferred or exclusive method of achieving sexual excitement.

B. The fetishes are not limited to articles of female clothing used in cross-dressing (Transvestism) or to objects designed to be used for the purpose of sexual stimulation (e.g., vibrator).

Differential Diagnosis

Nonpathological sexual experimentation

Nonpathological sexual experimentation can involve sexual arousal by nonhuman objects, but this stimulus for sexual excitement is neither persistently preferred nor required.

Transvestism

In Transvestism the sexual arousal is limited to articles of female clothing used in cross-dressing. Although Transvestism could be considered fetishistic cross-dressing, the additional diagnosis of Fetishism should not be made.

DSM-IV

In DSM-IV, this disorder is called Fetishism

For more information, see Paraphilias

The paraphiliac focus in Fetishism involves the use of nonliving objects (the "fetish"). Among the more common fetish objects are women's underpants, bras, stockings, shoes, boots, or other wearing apparel. The person with Fetishism frequently masturbates while holding, rubbing, or smelling the fetish object or may ask the sexual partner to wear the object during their sexual encounters. Usually the fetish is required or strongly preferred for sexual excitement, and in its absence there may be erectile dysfunction in males. This Paraphilia is not diagnosed when the fetishes are limited to articles of female clothing used in cross-dressing, as in Transvestic Fetishism, or when the object is genitally stimulating because it has been designed for that purpose (e.g., a vibrator). Usually the Paraphilia begins by adolescence, although the fetish may have been endowed with special significance earlier in childhood. Once established, Fetishism tends to be chronic.

Diagnostic Criteria

A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the use of nonliving objects (e.g., female undergarments).

B. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

C. The fetish objects are not limited to articles of female clothing used in cross-dressing (as in Transvestic Fetishism) or devices designed for the purpose of tactile genital stimulation (e.g., a vibrator).

DSM-5

Diagnostic Criteria

A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent and intense sexual arousal from either the use of nonliving objects or a highly specific focus on nongenital body part(s), as manifested by fantasies, urges, or behaviors.

B. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

C. The fetish objects are not limited to articles of clothing used in cross-dressing (as in transvestic disorder) or devices specifically designed for the purpose of tactile genital stimulation (e.g., vibrator).

Specify:

  • Body part(s)
  • Nonliving object(s)
  • Other

Specify if:

  • In a controlled environment: This specifier is primarily applicable to individuals living in institutional or other settings where opportunities to engage in fetishistic behaviors are restricted.
  • In full remission: There has been no distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning for at least 5 years while in an uncontrolled environment.

Specifiers

Although individuals with fetishistic disorder may report intense and recurrent sexual arousal to inanimate objects or a specific body part, it is nor unusual for non-mutually exclusive combinations of fetishes to occur. Thus, an individual may have fetishistic disorder associated with an inanimate object (e.g., female undergarments) or an exclusive focus on an intensely eroticized body part (e.g., feet, hair), or their fetishistic interest may meet criteria for various combinations of these specifiers (e.g., socks, shoes and feet).

Differential Diagnosis

Transvestic disorder

The nearest diagnostic neighbor of fetishistic disorder is transvestic disorder. As noted in the diagnostic criteria, fetishistic disorder is not diagnosed when fetish objects are limited to articles of clothing exclusively worn during cross-dressing (as in trasnvestic disorder), or when the object is genitally stimulating because it has been designed for that purpose (e.g., a vibrator).

Sexual masochism disorder or other paraphilic disorders

Fetishes can co-occur with other paraphilic disorders, especially "sadomasochism" and transvestic disorder. When an individual fantasizes about or engages in "forced cross-dressing" and is primarily sexually aroused by the domination or humiliation associated with such fantasy or repetitive activity, the diagnosis of sexual masochism disorder should be made.

Fetishistic behavior without fetishistic disorder

Use of a fetish object for sexual arousal without any associated distress or psychosocial role impairment or other adverse consequence would not meet criteria for fetishistic disorder, as the threshold required by Criterion B would not be met. For example, an individual whose sexual partner either shares or can successfully incorporate his interest in caressing, smelling, or licking feet or toes as an important element of foreplay would not be diagnosed with fetishistic disorder; nor would an individual who prefers, and is not distressed or impaired by, solitary sexual behavior associated with wearing rubber garments or leather boots.

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