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a pathological deviation in sexual desire or in its satisfaction.
Perverted sexual desire may be directed toward a wrong entity, including oneself (autoerotism), individuals of the same sex (homosexuality, both male—including pederasty—and female—lesbianism), minors (pedophilia), blood relatives (incest), animals (zoophilia, bestiality), and dead bodies (necrophilia). Sexual perversion may also be manifested by the desire to wear clothing of the opposite sex (transvestism), to view sexual intercourse or exposed sexual organs (voyeurism), or to expose oneself to persons of the opposite sex (exhibitionism). Sexual perversion may involve a desire for objects—for example, a male may desire a female braid, handkerchief, or slipper—that stimulate the individual sexually (fetishism). In other forms of sexual perversion, sexual satisfaction is achieved only by treating one’s partner violently (sadism) or, conversely, by suffering pain (masochism). Sexual perversions can sometimes occur along with a normal sex life. Sexual perversions should be distinguished from sexual deviations, which are not pathological departures from generally accepted forms of sexual behavior, for example, most cases of masturbation.
Sexual perversions are often situationally caused obsessions whose mechanism of origin is the formation of a conditioned response when sexual excitement coincides with sexually indifferent stimulation (for example, in fetishism, exhibitionism, sadism, or masochism). Early sexual excitability and tendency to form inert conditioned responses are contributing factors to such a perversion. Some cases of male and female homosexuality and of transvestism are ascribed by some to congenital pathology resulting from hereditary causes or to disorders of sexual differentiation of the fetus in the intrauterine period. Sexual perversions may also be caused by certain neural and mental disorders (for example, encephalitis, brain damage, or schizophrenia) and by endocrine and other disorders.
The treatment of sexual perversions depends on the causes. Psychotherapy, hormonal preparations, and neuroleptic agents are used. Proper sex education and a continuous campaign against perverting influences are important for preventing sexual perversions.
REFERENCESKrafft-Ebing, R. Polovaia psikhopatiia. St. Petersburg, 1909. (Translated from German.)
Popov, E. A. “O klassifikatsii polovykh izvrashchenii.” In Problemy psikhiatrii i psikhopatologii. Moscow, 1935.
Sviadoshch, A. M. Zhenskaia seksopatologiia. Moscow, 1974.
Sex Offenders. New York, 1965.
Marmor, J., ed. Sexual Inversion. New York, 1965.
A. M. SVIADOSHCH