Paraphilia: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Paraphilia refers to an emotional disorder that is characterized by sexually arousing fantasies, urges, or behaviors that are recurrent, intense, and cause significant distress or interfere with important areas of functioning. The behaviors must last for at least 6 months for a diagnosis of paraphilia. There are many different kinds of paraphilias.

Signs and symptoms of paraphilia can include preoccupation to the point of obsessiveness that may intrude on the person's attempts to think about other things or engage in more conventional sexual activity with an age-appropriate partner. Other symptoms can include depression or anxiety that is temporarily relieved by engaging in paraphilic behavior.

Cause of paraphilia

The cause of paraphilia is not well understood but may involve a combination biological, psychological, and social factors.

Other paraphilia symptoms and signs

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Obsessive Preoccupation That Intrudes on One's Attempts to Think About Other Things or Engage in More Conventional Sexual Activity with an Age-Appropriate Partner


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.