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Paraphilia is a poorly-defined term applied to nonstandard sexual interests, including pedophilia. It has been a category of mental disorder in the DSM since DSM-III; previous editions used the more prejudicial if synonymous label "sexual deviation."[1] The DSM-IV defines paraphilias as featuring "recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors generally involving 1) nonhuman objects, 2) the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one's partner, or 3) children or other nonconsenting persons that occur over a period of at least 6 months." John Money, who popularized the term, told Paidika in 1991 that "paraphilia" has no connotation of pathology.[2]

Gisela Blelbtreu-Ehrenberg views paraphilias -- having "forbidden" or "atypical" thoughts -- as a resurrection of the 18th and 19th century concept of moral insanity.[3] Charles Moser has argued vigorously for the removal of all paraphilias from the DSM. The construct of paraphilia is a "pseudoscientific attempt to regulate sexuality," according to Moser.[4][5] Frederick Suppe has similarly argued that the DSM's classification of paraphilias is without empirical grounding and "merely the codification of social mores."[6]


  1. DSM-II
  2. Geraci, Joseph and Mader, Donald (1991). "Interview: John Money," Paidika, 7, p. 4.
  3. Blelbtreu-Ehrenberg, Gisela (1988). "The Paedophile Impulse: Toward the Development of an Etiology of Child-Adult Sexual Contacts from an Ethological and Ethnological Viewpoint," Paidika, 3, p. 36.
  4. Moser, C. (2001). "Paraphilia: A Critique of a Confused Concept," in P. J. Kleinplatz (ed.), New Directions in Sex Therapy: Innovations and Alternatives, pp. 91-108.
  5. Moser, C. & Kleinplatz, P.J. (2005). "DSM-IV-TR and the Paraphilias: An argument for removal," Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 17(3/4), pp. 91-109.
  6. Suppe, F. (1984). "Classifying sexual disorders: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association," Journal of Homosexuality, 9(4), 9–28.