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Fetishistic disorder

Scott F Martin, MD
Stephen B Levine, MD
Section Editor
Robert Segraves, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD


Fetishistic disorder is one of the numerous forms of sexual disorders classified as paraphilias. Fetishistic disorder is characterized by a distressing and persistent pattern of sexual arousal involving the use of nonliving objects or specific, nongenital body parts. In clinical usage, the term “fetish” delineates an object, such as an item of clothing or the partner’s foot, which is used by an individual to attain sexual arousal and orgasm. Persons with sexual fetishes may need to be touching, smelling, or looking at their unique object, or engaging in fantasy about it, in order to function sexually, either alone or with a partner.

In the revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnosis and Statistical Manual (DSM) from the fourth to fifth edition, fetishism was renamed fetishistic disorder [1]. The diagnosis was broadened to include partialism, in which patients attain sexual arousal through the use of specific, nongenital parts of the partner’s body (eg, a foot). There has been relatively little research on fetishism/fetishistic disorder. In the absence of clinical trials, treatment is based largely on clinical experience.

This topic addresses the epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical characteristics, course, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of fetishistic disorder. Evaluation and management of other sexual and gender identity disorders are discussed separately. (See "Evaluation of male sexual dysfunction" and "Treatment of male sexual dysfunction" and "Sexual dysfunction in women: Epidemiology, risk factors, and evaluation" and "Sexual dysfunction in women: Management".)


The incidence and prevalence of fetishistic disorder in the general population are not known. It is not clear whether the rarity of fetishistic disorder as a presenting complaint represents a low prevalence or a lack of reporting by people with the condition.

Research on fetishism/fetishistic disorder has recently focused on the specific diagnostic criteria needed to define this condition as a disorder, and exploring the prevalence in subsets of the population.


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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Tue Dec 30 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2014.
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