Fetishistic Disorder

“Fetishism” is derived from the Portuguese word feitico, which means “obsessive attraction.” Fetishistic Disorder is characterized by intense sexual attraction to inanimate objects or body parts that are not traditionally regarded as sexual, as well as clinically significant distress or impairment. Undergarments, boots, gloves, rubber products, and leather clothes are all common fetish objects. Feet, toes, and hair are body components related to Fetishistic Disorder conditions. It is normal for the fetish to involve inanimate items as well as body parts (e.g., socks and feet).


Form fetishes and media fetishes are the two categories of inanimate object obsessions. The shape of the object, such as high-heeled shoes, is crucial in a form fetish. The material of the object, such as silk or leather, is important in a media fetish. Inanimate object fetishists frequently gather their favorite inanimate thing.

It is far more frequent in men than in women; in fact, the DSM-5 suggests that it occurs almost exclusively in men.

Fetishism is a type of paraphilic disorders that refers to excessive sexual attraction to any object or person other than genital stimulation with consenting adult partners. Because fetishes exist in many typically developing individuals, a diagnosis is only provided if there is personal discomfort or impairment in social, occupational, or other significant areas of functioning as a result of the fetish.  

Fetishistic Disorder

Fetishistic Disorder

Fetishistic Disorder vs Fetishism:

While both entail sexual pleasure from non-living object(s) or non-genital body part(s), Fetishistic Disorder causes severe suffering or impairs daily life functioning. Impairment can appear in a variety of ways. Sexual dysfunction can emerge in love partnerships because some people are not responsive to their partner’s obsession. Individuals with Fetishistic Disorder may also prefer solo sexual activities related to their fetishistic preference(s) even if they are currently in a pleasant and rewarding relationship. As a result, some people may not participate in appropriate sexual relationships with their partners which can lead to relationship problems. Some people go on to commit crimes motivated mainly by their fetish(s), such as theft/burglary or taking inappropriate photographs (e.g., up the skirt photographs in cases where the individual is having an underwear fetish).

Symptoms of Fetishistic disorder:

The primary symptom of Fetishistic Disorder is repeated and strong sexual arousal caused by the use of nonliving items or a highly specialized focus on non-genital bodily part(s), manifested as thoughts, impulses, or acts. A person suffering from it may experience guilt and discomfort as a result of the abnormal focus of their sexual desire.

Other symptoms of Fetishistic Disorder tend to involve:

• Repeated and strong sexual arousal from inanimate items or non-genital body parts that lasts at least 6 months
• These sensations produce clinically substantial discomfort or impairment in social, occupational, or other critical areas of functioning
• Fetish items are not confined to articles of clothing worn by cross-dressers (which would rather be classified as Transvestic Disorder).
• Fetish items are not confined to things or equipment created expressly for genital stimulation (e.g. sex toys, such as vibrators or dildos).
• Sexually active individuals may occasionally feel attracted by items or traditionally non-sexual bodily parts, but this attraction would not be classed as a mental disease in the absence of fixation and mental discomfort.

Causes of Fetishistic disorder:

Fetishes usually appear around the start of puberty. Some theories argue that fetishistic desire develops as a result of an object or body part’s relationship with a person’s initial sexual arousal or masturbation experiences. There is no solid proof that Fetishistic Disorder is caused or triggered by anything.

Effects of Fetishistic disorder:

Common impacts of Fetishistic Disorder include the following:

  • It frequently causes guilt
  • Emotional conflict and the fear of being judged
  • Isolation
  • Talking honestly in your relationship
  • Your partner can feel inadequate

Diagnosis of Fetishistic disorder:

A diagnosis of Fetishistic Disorder must meet the following criteria: 

  • Recurrent and strong sexual arousal with non-living items or a very particular concentration on non-genital body part(s) that is evidenced through thoughts, desires, or behaviors for at least 6 months.
  • Fascinations, sexual desires, or behaviors produce clinically substantial suffering or impairment in social, vocational, or other crucial areas of functioning.
  • Fetish objects include items of clothes used in cross-dressing (as in Transvestic Disorder) and gadgets expressly developed for tactile genital stimulation (e.g. vibrator).
  • The DSM-5 divides it into subgroups based on the individual’s fetish (body part(s), non-living object(s), or others). It also indicates if a person is presently in a controlled setting or in complete remission.

Treatment of Fetishistic Disorder:


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and cognitive restructuring techniques are used by therapists to detect and change ideas and behaviors. To lessen interest in fetishistic things, they also use aversion therapy or guided visualization. CBT has been found in studies to be an effective treatment for Fetishistic Disorder when combined with medication therapy.


Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac/fluoxetine can assist with co-occurring mental disorders like anxiety or depression by reducing sex urge. Many persons who use SSRIs will have sexual adverse effects, including a loss of desire in sex. Reduced sex desire can assist with the impulsivity associated with fetishistic behaviors and thoughts.