Definitions of Paraphilias

From William A. Percy
Jump to: navigation, search

For your info.

EJH

Prof. Erwin J. Haeberle
Founder and Director
Archive for Sexology
Humboldt University, Berlin
http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/
Von: Erwin Haeberle <haeberlee@web.de>

Gesendet: Feb 23, 2010 5:43:38 PM
Betreff: Paraphilias

Needless to say, I appreciate and applaud the effort by Ray Blanchard to introduce important distinctions in the hitherto rather loose and confusing DSM definitions of paraphilia.

However, as he himself says, his own definition is not watertight, although he believes that it is better than no real definition, which is what the DSM-IV-TR currently has.

That may very well be true. However, many questions remain. Once again, here is his definition:

A paraphila is “any intense and persistent sexual interest other than sexual interest in genital stimulation or preparatory fondling with phenotypically normal, consenting adult human partners.”

Questions: How intense is intense? How persistent must the persistence be in order to qualify? And what exactly is the preparatory fondling preparing for? Coitus? Anal intercourse? Oral intercourse? Mutual masturbation? Consensual exhibitionism? Watching each other masturbate over long distances per PC cam? (Increasingly popular nowadays!) And what about internet prostitution?

http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/ECE6/html/internet_prostitution.html ff.

and

http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/ECE6/html/electronic1.html

Furthermore:

What is a phenotypically normal adult? Indeed, what exactly is meant by the word adult? Anyone over 18? Over 21? After all, legal adulthood is reached at different ages in different countries. Does anyone want forget such legalisms and establish a special psychiatric adulthood that applies everywhere at all times? If so, what age should one choose?

And more:

Is someone paraphilic, because he falls in love with (i.e. feels an intense and persistent sexual interest in) someone who has all symptoms of Turner or Klinefelter syndrome? Or are these desired partners phenotypically normal ? If they are, what about PAIS or CAIS? Where exactly do you draw the line? Indeed, what is phenotypically normal? Or even more to the point: In all matters sexual, what is normal?

And:

Was the Roman emperor Hadrian paraphilic, because he felt an intense and persistent sexual interest in the 16 year-old Antinous who, as it happened, died at age 20 and thus never reached adulthood? Or did he? Did adulthood begin at 18 in ancient Rome? In that case, was Hadrian’s infatuation paraphilic for the first 2 years of their relationship and then became “normal” for the last 2 years? (But be that as it may, this is one of the greatest love stories of all time.)

What about Romeo and Juliet who fel t an intense and persistent sexual interest in each other and never reached adulthood either? (OK, I guess this one doesn’t count, because both were presumably of roughly the same age.) But what about another teenage couple - Romulo (19) and Jeanette (14)? What about the millions of adult men, who, throughout most of human history, married teenage brides? Paraphilicas all?

I don’t mean to be picky or negative. I just think Ray Blanchard and others, equally careful and serious and driven by the noblest motives, are fighting a lost cause.

I believe the real problem here is the concept of paraphilia itself. There is no way around it: It is and will always remain an essentially ideological, unscientific term. It is not a neutral description of anything, but a negative moral judgement. And it does not help to split it up into paraphila and paraphilic disorder! If I may quote myself from my Critical Dictionary:

paraphilia. (gr. "next to" & "love", i.e. second-class love) …a term now preferred over the older "perversion", "aberration" and "deviation" which have fallen into disfavor as too harsh and ideological. However, the new term does not really represent any intellectual progress, since it also assumes and implies the existence of a "real", "true","natural", and "correct" love (philia) which has sisters of minor rank standing next, behind, or below it, just as the paramedical personnel stands behind or below the "real" doctor. Scientifically speaking, this is an unwarranted assumption. Professionals in any field should clearly and openly state the reasons for their disapproval in each individual case. These reasons will prove convincing in some cases, but in other cases they may very well turn out to be no more than prejudices. (See also "aberration", "deviation", "perversion".)

In other words: Anyone who uses a term like paraphilia thereby claims to know the real, correct philia. The same is true of the word disorder. Again, the speaker claims to know the one and only correct order. Such a claim may make some sense when one talks about the human body and its functions (although, as the case of intersexuality reminds us, even here it can be controversial). However, when it comes to something as complex as human behavior, scientists should leave such moral certainty (better: dogmatism) to the religious authorities.

In conclusion: We in sexology should, once and for all, get rid of the moralistic, prescientific terms paraphilia and disorder. Instead, we should worry about behaviors that cause distress or impairment in the individuals concerned or cause harm to others. Here, we should seek (and I’m sure we will find ) morally neutral, purely descriptive terms , which, in the end will strengthen, not weaken, the authority of psychiatrists and others who might be asked for interventions.

Perhaps something like “erotic interests that may profit from or require therapy”, or “sexual urges that demand control or intervention “ (and then give the reasons!!!). I am not a classicist, but one of our colleagues who is fluid in Greek and Latin could probably come up with an appropriate, snazzy term that would be accepted by the psychiatric profession. Then everybody would be happy, and the present, endless, and often acrimonious debate would come to a harmonious end.

EJH

Prof. Erwin J. Haeberle
Founder and Director
Archive for Sexology
Humboldt University, Berlin
http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/


Erwin Haeberle


show details Feb 24 (3 days ago)

For your info.

-- Prof. Erwin J. Haeberle
Founder and Director
Archive for Sexology
Humboldt University, Berlin
http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/

Von: Erwin Haeberle <haeberlee@web.de>

Gesendet: Feb 24, 2010 7:06:56 AM
An: James_Cantor@CAMH.NET
Betreff: Paraphilias


Thank you for the clarification, although, I am sorry to say, it did not make the matter any clearer to me.

For example, you say that the preparatory fondling is OK, if it leads to coitus and anal intercourse, but it is paraphilic if it leads to oral intercourse or mutual masturbation. The logic of this escapes me.

And, if I understand you right, internet prostitution is also paraphilic. This does not make sense to me, because it is just a new version of a very old business and now quite common. By the way, are you applying the concept of paraphilia here to both the prostitute and the customer?

Your information that no definition of a paraphilic disorder applies to persons wirth a single partner is enlightening, but Ray Blanchard’s definition does not (yet?) say this. Anyway, his definition is that of a paraphilia, NOT of a paraphilic disorder.

Now to the teenage couple Romulo (19) and Jeannette (14): Since he is 5 years older and, according to you, an adult, Blanchard would call him “pedohebephilic“. The same would apply to Hadrian. Please note: Once again, we are speaking here only of Blanchard’s definition of paraphilia, NOT of a paraphilic disorder. This, according to him, is a very important distinction.

And now to the adult men with their teenage brides: OK, one single bride does not count, but what if the man marries 5 of them (happened frequently in the past and is happening today in the US among some Mormon traditionalists)? Paraphilic (pedohebephilic) or not?

And what about Don Giovanni in Mozart’s opera? He chases every skirt he sees, but “sua passion predominante è la giovin principiante”. Does that make him, among many other things, also a pedohebephile?

Finally to the terms “paraphilia” and “disorder” themselves: You prefer to ignore my principal argument, namely that they are essentially ideological and unscientific. Certainly someone did coin the term “paraphilia”, and that someone was F. S. Krauss:

http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/ECE6/html/historical_background_2.html ff.

But, as I argue, it just won’t do. “Paraphilia” and “disorder” are negative value judgments, not objective descriptions of facts. Psychiatrists do not do themselves any favors by adopting such moralistic terms. If they want respect in the future, they’d better look for new, more neutral expressions, and thus my appeal to colleagues in the various classics departments stands: Come up with new, appealing Greek or Latin terms that don’t prejudge the issues before you even look at them!

EJH

Prof. Erwin J. Haeberle
Founder and Director
Archive for Sexology
Humboldt University, Berlin
http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/

Personal tools