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The main feature of Fetishism consists of intense sexually arousing fantasies involving the use of non-living objects (e.g., female undergarments) for a period of at least 6 months.

The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

This Paraphilia is not diagnosed when the fetishes are limited to articles of female clothing used in cross-dressing, as in Transvestic Fetishism, or when the object is genitally stimulating because it has been designed for that purpose (e.g., a vibrator).

Among the more common fetish objects are women's underpants, bras, stockings, shoes, boots, or other wearing apparel. The person with Fetishism frequently masturbates while holding, rubbing, or smelling the fetish object or may ask the sexual partner to wear the object during their sexual encounters.

Usually the fetish is required or strongly preferred for sexual excitement, and in its absence there may be erectile dysfunction in males. Usually the Paraphilia begins by adolescence, although the fetish may have been endowed with special significance earlier in childhood. Once established, Fetishism tends to be chronic.

    Diagnostic criteria summarized from:

    American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.


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