What is an exhibitionistic disorder

Exhibitionism: causes of this sexual paraphilia

Last update: 20th September, 2018

The Diagnostic and statistical guide to mental disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association describes eight typical paraphilias and seven non-specific paraphilias. Typical paraphilias include fetishism, voyeurism, pedophilia and masochism, as well as exhibitionism.

However, a corresponding inclination or even an interest in one or more of the above categories does not in itself constitute a disease. That is, the fact that a person feels a desire or has an intense sexual fantasy with regard to an object or or a practice, is not a problem in and of itself. The whole thing becomes a problem if the paraphilia is a functional disorder and causes emotional conflicts in the person concerned, or if it is exercised against persons who need special protection - especially children.

What is exhibitionism?

Exhibitionism is the exposure of one's genitals to a stranger in order to achieve sexual arousal. Incidentally, this also occurs when the exhibitionist mentally anticipates the situation, which can be compared to masturbation.

This practice involves a modification of the sexual act, as the feeling of pleasure is achieved by showing the genitals. Most of the time these third parties are women or children. On top of that, later attempts are rarely made to maintain sexual activity with the stranger. This means that exhibitionists are not generally at an increased risk of serious sexual offenses such as rape.

Why do some people enjoy blank drawing?

Exhibitionism usually develops during puberty. In addition, many practicing exhibitionists are married men. However, their marriages are usually contradictory. Exhibitionists tend to continue their behavior over time and up to 50% of offenders are warned or punished more than once.

The causes of exhibitionism lie in misguided learning processes. In this paraphilia is an appropriate stimulus that should evoke sexual activation of the individual is replaced by an inappropriate one. As already indicated, this usually happens during puberty. Later Experiences during fantasies and masturbation can reinforce this misallocation in the sense of conditioning.

In addition, there are factors that predispose an individual to exhibitionism, such as difficulty establishing a sexual relationship or lack of self-esteem. This is why exhibitionists are often shy people who have a hard time building relationships with women. For some exhibitionists, paraphilia is expressed when they experience emotional crises even though they have a normal level of socio-cultural intelligence.

On the other hand, exhibitionists are usually not dangerous individuals. They usually do not abuse their victims. On the contrary, most of them react insecurely and run away when their "offer" is reciprocated. It is their wish to surprise their victims and to provoke reactions of fear, but also of disgust or curiosity. That way, they can experience a sense of dominance. They hate ridicule or indifference.

The feeling of exhibitionism is the look at the naked body in the mirror and the thought: "If someone visits me now, I have no time to get dressed ..."

General criteria and compulsive factors in exhibitionism

According to DSM There are two criteria for diagnosing exhibitionistic disorder:

  • Recurring and exciting sexual fantasies, sexual impulses, or behaviors during which the genitals are shown to a stranger who is not expecting it
  • Fantasies, sexual impulses or behaviors that cause clinically significant discomfort or impairment in social, professional or other areas of life

Although there aren't many studies on the subject, doctors believe that the exhibitionist or "flasher" is unable to complete certain stages of children's sexual development. You could also say that those who practice exhibitionism suffer from a certain sexual immaturity. It may sound paradoxical, but it is believed that the average exhibitionist suffers from feelings of inferiority and lack of self-acceptance or relationship problems.

Something that has been studied and validated is that the exhibitionist shows himself to strangers because of his strong, compulsive desire. He is also aware of the need to surprise, influence or impress the viewer. Most people who suffer from this paraphilia have anyway Ideas, thoughts, impulses or images in your head, that they find intrusive or inappropriate. These cause them fear and also significant inconvenience. In that regard, it is this emotional discomfort that leads the exhibitionist to neutralize these compulsive thoughts by exposing himself to an unknown person in public.

Treatment of exhibitionism

Changing paraphilic behaviors usually requires multimodal intervention. One who corrects what has been learned so far through classical and social conditioning. In addition, basic schemes of the cognitive structure of the individual should be changed.

Psychologists work to redirect pleasure to other, more appropriate sexual fantasies. The treatment of exhibitionism is usually based on psychotherapeutic interventions, which mainly work with behavioral and cognitive techniques, and on the administration of pharmaceuticals, the use of hormones or certain medications.

While it is not possible to eliminate the desire to be exposed, therapy can make this desire functional, by working on the compulsive and disturbing act, as well as the guilt that sexual impulse usually arouses.

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