The Truth About These "Abnormal" Sexual Behaviors

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Surprising no one, psychiatry is lagging behind reality: According to a new study published in The Journal of Sex Research, several sexual desires that psychiatrists classify as "paraphilic," or abnormal, are, in fact, common.

The study discovered that, of 1,040 Quebeckers representative of the general population, 46.5% are interested in at least one of the eight sexual behaviors that the DSM-5 labels anomalous. So many were interested in voyeurism (35%), fetishism (26%), masochism (19%), or frotteurism (26%), the urge to make (usually unwanted) physical contact with people in public spaces, that it doesn't seem to make sense that these four are classified as "unusual." A third of survey subjects, meanwhile, had actually engaged in a paraphilic behavior at least once.

"These facts suggest that we need to know what normal sexual practices are before we label a legal sexual interest as anomalous," lead researcher Christian Joyal, PhD, explained in a statement. "Some paraphilic interests are more common than people might think, not only in terms of fantasies, but also in terms of desire and behavior."

Interestingly, men and women displayed similar levels of interest in fetishism and masochism. The study also found that masochism was connected with greater sexual satisfaction. So, the results back up what we already believed: As long as it's safe, sane, and consensual, you do you — and don't let the DSM-5 tell you otherwise.

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