People have many different tastes and, of course, this is also reflected in sex. What attracts people sexually can be very diverse or can occur in very striking and unconventional situations.

Paraphilias are unusual patterns of sexual behaviour where the source of pleasure may be an object, a particular situation or a particular type of person. Thanks to the media and works such as “50 Shades of Grey” by E. L. James, the general knowledge about them has been increasing.

They have also been the subject of controversy, especially in the field of psychology and psychiatry, as there has been discussion about whether they should be considered as pathological behaviour.

Although some paraphilias involve crimes, such as voyeurism and pedophilia, most of them are not harmful and are part of human sexual diversity .

What are the most common paraphilias?

There are an infinite number of paraphilias, practically one for every situation or object imaginable. The following are the most common ones.

1. Exhibitionism

It is about feeling pleasure when exposing the genitals to strangers in an unexpected way . Showing one’s intimate parts without warning creates a situation of sexual gratification for the exhibitionist.

This practice, which involves crime, is more common in men than in women, and has been linked to the fact that they were raised in a strict environment and have an unassertive and shy personality with poor social skills.


Fetishism is defined as the set of behaviors, fantasies and sexual needs in which the use of an inanimate object is required to feel pleasure . Some of the most common objects among fetishists are shoes, lingerie, leather and rubber.

Anything that is done with the object and generates sexual pleasure is considered a fetish, such as stealing it, masturbating with it, or simply watching it. This paraphilia has become so common that there are specialized websites where you can acquire objects to satisfy the fetish.

3. Froticism

Implies feeling sexual pleasure when touching the genitals of an unknown person and that she has not consented to it.

It is more common in men than in women and is a behavior that involves sexual harassment. Smear artists may take advantage of situations where there are large crowds of people, such as on public transportation or on busy streets, and rub up against their victims.

4. Pedophilia

It is defined as the strong desire to have sexual relations with a minor , especially one who is less than 14 years old. Those who engage in this criminal behaviour benefit from the inequality of power that exists between the child and the adult.

The profile of the child sex abuser has been linked to a difficult childhood, in which he was a victim of this type of violence, especially by a family man. However, it is important to bear in mind that not all people abused in their childhood will end up being paedophiles when they reach adulthood.

5. Sexual masochism

Sexual masochists take pleasure in situations where they are physically and psychologically humiliated, beaten, tortured and tied up. It is more common in women.

6. Sexual sadism

If masochism is the heads, sadism is the cross of the same coin . This paraphilia involves feeling sexual gratification in the face of humiliating, dominating and torturing another person in a non-simulated way.

Sadomasochistic practices are among the most common and require that they be carried out in a consensual manner and according to the degree of intensity that those who carry them out agree upon beforehand.

The most common scenarios include flogging the victim’s buttocks and back, tying with ropes or bondage, and nipple and genital torture.

7. Transvestite Fetishism

It is common in heterosexual men and is defined as feeling sexual pleasure when dressing the other gender .

It should be noted that transvestite fetishism and transvestism are not the same thing. The latter term refers in a more general sense to dressing of the other gender. Thus, transgender people and drag-queen do cross-dress but not in a fetishistic way, since they do not do so for sexual pleasure.

8. Voyeurism

Involves the sexual enjoyment of observing a naked person , without them being aware that they are being spied on. This paraphilia implies a crime against the intimacy of others.

To be considered as voyeurism, it is necessary that the observer has planned it and has done it several times. To have seen a naked person and to have enjoyed it but unintentionally would not be considered paraphilic behavior.

9. Partialism

It consists of feeling sexual pleasure towards a specific part of the body, with the exception of the genitals . It is similar to fetishism, but the nuance between these two paraphilias is the fact that in one the object of pleasure is inanimate, while in the other sexual pleasure is felt for something that is in the body of a living person.

Partialism is quite common and can manifest itself in multiple ways depending on which part of the body feels pleasure: podophilia (feet), oculophilia (eyes), maschalagnia (armpits), nasophilia (nose), alvinophilia (navel)…

10. Necrophilia

Necrophiliacs are sexually attracted to corpses , both human and animal. This preference is considered pathological and implies a crime of being performed.

A famous case of necrophilia is the case of Carl Tanzler, who was able to exhume the body of the woman in his life and have sex with her.

11. Urophilia and coprophilia or scat

In the case of urophilia, the object of desire is urine, either by ingesting it or being wet with it (golden rain). Touching, seeing, and hearing someone urinate can be enough of a stimulus to generate sexual gratification.

Coprophilia is a paraphilia practically identical to urophilia, except that the object of pleasure is the stool and everything related to it.

12. Bestiality

Zoophiles fantasize about or even perform sex with animals . This type of sexual attraction is common to find in rural areas.

13. Knismolagnia or tickling

It involves all those erotic activities in which making or receiving tickles generates pleasure . It is considered a paraphilia as long as the tickling acts as an element to reach orgasm.

14. Choking or breath control play

It consists of feeling pleasure when one intentionally restricts one’s breathing , either on oneself (autoerotic asphyxiation) or on one’s partner. It is one of the most dangerous as it can involve accidental death from hypoxia.

15. Gerontophilia

Is the sexual preference for people who are older , or whose age is noticeably older than that of the gerontophil.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 5th edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2013
  • Flores Colombino, A. (2002). Paraphilias and sexual variants. Editorial AyM.