Paraphilia Fetish


Paraphilia stems from two Greek words; para=beside and philia=friendship in the context of love. Paraphilia is a biomedical term and was introduced by Wilhelm Stekel in the 1920s, describing a non-normative sexual arousal to objects, situations, events, or individuals. Such arousal may cause distress or serious problems to the Paraphiliac, or to partners and persons associated with her or him.

Paraphilias and fetishes may include;

  • Objects
  • Clothing and fabrics
  • Places, situations, events
  • Sounds, colours, smell
  • Body fluids
  • Body parts
  • Animals
  • Acts and thoughts of humiliation and suffering causing sexual arousal, inflicted on oneself or another person
  • Sexual obsession with children
  • Non-consenting non-suspecting adults

It is unknown how many different kinds of paraphilia and fetish exist; estimated numbers suggest an excess of 500 variations. The origin and development of paraphiliac sexual preferences is unclear, but some sexual and developmental histories suggest a connection between early childhood events and later non-normative sexual arousal.

Some paraphiliac behaviours may offend against the law, namely when acted out against children, against non-consensual persons, animals, or in public places. Please see our LEGAL page for information.


A person who has attached to a specific fetish may experience strong sexual arousal in the presence of that fetish. Many fetishists will experience a distinctly lowered sense of sexual arousal and well-being in the absence of the fetish, with a smaller number of persons entirely depending on their fetish.


The terms sadism and masochism go back to Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch who, in the 1800s, described the unusual sexual preferences which in part became later known as BDSM behaviours.

The acronym BDSM combines bondage and discipline (B&D), dominance and submission (D&S), and sadism and masochism (S&M). BDSM is an erotic preference and a form of relationship, involving consensual methods to increase and deepen pleasure through physical restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy power play. BDSM practise is not exclusively sexual, but may include anal, vaginal and oral sex.

Participants take up unequal but complementary roles. Detailed negotiation and consent of intended activities are essential. Trust plays a fundamental role. Typically, participants playing active or controlling roles are called ‘tops or dominants’, and their counterparts, who have chosen to be controlled, are known as ‘bottoms or submissive’. Individuals who choose to alternate between top and bottom are known as ‘switches’. In longer-term relationships such behaviour is referred to as ‘power exchange’, whereas the term ‘scene’ is preferred in short term encounters.


Safety is of paramount importance. The fundamental principals of BDSM outline that only informed and responsible partners should perform. The term SSC was created in the 1980s, meaning safe, sane, and consensual. This term makes a clear legal and ethical distinction between BDSM, and the crime of domestic violence.

Some participants prefer the term RACK, Risk Aware Consensual Kink, indicating a style in which the individual responsibility is emphasised more strongly, with each individual participant being responsible for his or her own well-being.


Sex Addiction Australia offer sexual counselling for individuals and their partners who experience distress caused by sexual behaviour, non-normative sexual arousal, or fetish behaviour. Call our office for information or booking a confidential consultation (+61) 02 9380 4486 or email