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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Whether homosexuality should be described as one among many paraphilic sexual interests or an altogether different dimension of sexual interest has long been discussed in terms of its political and social implications.
The present article examined the question instead by comparing the major correlates and other features of homosexuality and of the paraphilias, including prevalence, sex ratio, onset and course, fraternal birth order, physical height, handedness, IQ and cognitive neuropsychological profile, and neuroanatomy. Although those literatures remain underdeveloped, the existing findings thus far suggest that homosexuality has a pattern of correlates largely, but not entirely, distinct from that identified among the paraphilias. At least, if homosexuality were deemed a paraphilia, it would be relatively unique among them, taxonometrically speaking.
Is homosexuality a paraphilia? In the science of sexology, this is a fundamental question for understanding human sexual interests; however, fetish vs paraphilia also exist authors interested in the question because of perceived political implications. Atypical sexual interests remain highly stigmatized in Western society, especially in the United States. Homosexuality, more than any other atypical sexual interest, has achieved greater social acceptance over time, and advocates for other atypical sexual interests—BDSM, cross-dressing, diaperism, etc. Thus, thinking of paraphilias as merely another sexual orientation suggests the conclusion that everyone with an atypical sexual interest should benefit from greater tolerance.
Conversely, there exist groups, typically conservative religious groups, who claim that only mainstream, non-paraphilic heterosexuality is acceptable, making any distinctions among other sexual interests entirely moot.
Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, questions of rights fall outside the purview of science. People deserve respect and civil rights regardless of the scientific classification of their sexual interests. Whether homosexuality is a paraphilia can be addressed by defining those terms as desired. That is, because the field has not yet identified any objective, observable characteristic by which to draw the line between sexual interests that are paraphilic and those that might be called euphilic i. The fetish vs paraphilia would exclude homosexuality as a paraphilia, and the latter would include it.
Another and perhaps a more fruitful approach to the question is to compare the various correlates and associated features of homosexuality with those of the acknowledged paraphilias. If when considering these various features—prevalence, sex ratio, onset and course, fraternal birth order, physical height, handedness, IQ and cognitive neuropsychological profile, and neuroanatomy—homosexuality falls within the range typical of the paraphilias, then one would more reasonably deem homosexuality another member of that same family.
If, however, homosexuality repeatedly lacks or falls at the extremes of the range of those features, then homosexuality would more logically be classified as distinct from the paraphilias. Many overlapping and often inconsistent terms have been used in describing atypical sexual interests and many terms that seem clear within one context are ambiguous in another. Because the present article spans several literatures and multiple contexts, the terms appearing in the cited literature are largely replaced with the following terms and definitions.
Although some phrases become wordier, the increased precision they provide is of greater importance for the present purpose. Predominant sexual interest in the opposite sex. For emphasis, the term applies both to interest in adults as well as to children of the opposite sex—Men sexually interested in adult women and men sexually interested in prepubescent girls are both heterosexual.
This usage contrasts with many common contexts, in which the interest in adults is pd. Predominant sexual interest in persons of the same sex. As with heterosexuality, the term applies both to interest in adults and fetish vs paraphilia of the same sex. Predominant sexual interest in children of either sexeither prepubescent typically under age 11early pubescent typically ages 11—14or both. Predominant sexual interest in adults of either sex Blanchard et al.
Predominant sexual interest in adult males. Thus, a gay man is an androphilic male and most women are androphilic females. Predominant sexual interest in adult females. Thus, the great majority of men are gynephilic males and lesbians are gynephilic females. As noted already, euphilia refers to typical, as opposed to paraphilic, sexual interests.
Thus, the question being addressed in this article is whether homosexual persons are euphilic. The scientific study of correlates and other associated features of sexual interests is very incomplete. Although some findings have been pursued and replicated by multiple investigators, many have not.
Thus, the data and their implications must be deemed preliminary at best. Also, researchers did not choose which features to investigate in order to answer the question being pursued here. Rather, they were chosen to answer theoretical questions within their own contexts. That is, there undoubtedly exist other, still unexplored features that could eventually reverse the pattern revealed by the data currently at our disposal.
The prevalence of atypical sexual behaviors is notoriously difficult to estimate—some extraneous factors can inflate estimates, whereas others fetish vs paraphilia deflate them.
Because the stigma of homosexuality and the paraphilias would reasonably reduce the of people who admit to them, and because Western societies have become much more accepting of homosexuality than of the paraphilias, one cannot discern to what extent differences in reported prevalence might reflect differences in stigma rather than in genuine frequencies. Conversely, there exist people who engage in sexual behaviors outside their genuine, enduring sexual preferences: Same-sex sexual behavior especially during puberty and adolescence does not always reflect an underlying preference for same-sex partners over opposite-sex partners, and engaging in exhibitionism, for example, does not always reflect an enduring, underlying preference for exhibitionism over coitus.
The prevalence of the paraphilias is virtually unknown and might reasonably be called unknowable, given the many practical difficulties in making such an estimate. Some attempts have been made to estimate the frequency of some paraphilic behaviors, but these must be interpreted very cautiously: As already noted, some unknown proportion of people who engage in any given sexual behavior do so for reasons other than to express a genuine sexual preference. In a representative survey of 18—60 year-olds in the general population of Sweden, 1. It is not known what proportion of these persons would also have endorsed regularly engaging in cross-dressing for sexual arousal, however.
In the same survey, 3. Of them, Of the whole sample, 7. Thus, overall, the of people who engage in homosexual behavior at some point during life may approximate the of people who engage in a seemingly paraphilic behavior at some point during life, but the lower of people who genuinely and enduringly prefer homosexuality to heterosexuality cannot, as yet, be meaningfully compared to the of people who fetish vs paraphilia and enduringly prefer one or more paraphilic expressions to non-paraphilic ones. Homosexuality has been shown fetish vs paraphilia to occur more frequently among men than in women: 1.
Interestingly, in men, homosexuality is more common than is bisexuality whereas, in women, bisexuality is more common than is homosexuality e. In contrast with the approximately ratio of homosexuality in men versus women, paraphilia appears to be a phenomenon exclusive to males, with only very few exceptions.
Although no meaningful census can be conducted for paraphilic individuals, neither clinics, forensic institutions, nor social clubs for paraphilic enthusiasts report any substantial of female paraphilics. Sexual masochism appears to be unique among the paraphilias in the relative frequency of female practitioners: Breslow, Evans, and Langley surveyed subscribers to and advertisers in a periodical catering to individuals interested in masochism or hyperdominance.
Interestingly, the women who report having paraphilic interests also report homosexual interests much more frequently than do women in general. This invites the interesting speculation that whatever neurodevelopmental processes masculinize an otherwise female brain to manifest male-typical sexual interests may also predispose it to male-typical sexual disorders.
The very large difference in the sex ratios of homosexuality versus any paraphilia suggests that homosexuality and the paraphilias are distinct phenomena; however, there is at least one other plausible interpretation. Although male homosexuality seems an obvious analogy to female homosexuality, there is actually no basis at all for asserting that homosexual men are homosexual for the same reasons that homosexual women are homosexual: Male homosexuality is associated with an entirely different set of correlates and therefore etiological contributors from female homosexuality.
It is therefore possible that male homosexuality is a paraphilia, whereas female homosexuality is not. Other than by being sexual, the most salient feature on which male homosexuality and the paraphilias resemble each other is their lifelong nature—starting in childhood and being immutable despite all efforts to convert them to conventional sexual interests.
There have periodically been claims of successful conversion of homosexuality to heterosexuality e. Similarly, reports of adult-onset paraphilias e. Interestingly, many paraphilics recall events from early childhood during which they became and then remained fascinated with the object s or behaviors of their future sexual interest e.
In other words, homosexual men have more older brothers, on average, than do heterosexual men. The of younger brothers has no consistent effect; neither older nor younger sisters has any consistent effect; and there does not appear to be any association between female homosexuality and birth order of any type.
Because a female fetus has no Y-chromosome and produces no such proteins, the progressive sensitization occurs during the gestation of only a male fetus. That prediction has subsequently been borne out in a large-scale study of adopted children Bogaert, None has thus far been associated with a birth order effect. Blanchard et al. No ificant difference in fraternal birth order was detected between the heterosexual pedohebephiles and the heterosexual teleiophiles, despite that a ificant difference in fraternal birth order was detected between the heterosexual pedohebephiles and the homosexual pedohebephiles.
As noted by Blanchard et al. Information about fraternal birth order in autogynephilia can be gleaned from studies of men with gender dysphoria—biological males who seek fetish vs paraphilia sex reasment and other interventions for bodily feminization. The latter three types collectively called the nonhomosexual type all exhibit autogynephilia Blanchard, bwhereas the homosexual type instead exhibits childhood gender nonconformity and other features common among ordinary gay men. In all three studies, the homosexual males seeking sex reasment had a ificantly greater fraternal birth order than the autogynephilic males seeking sex reasment.
Raboch and Raboch retrospectively examined data from men who attended a Czech sexology clinic between and The groups comprised: exhibitionists, pedophilic men victim age and sex unreported, but presumably prepubescent children of either sex57 offenders against males under age eighteen and presumably pubescent fetish vs paraphilia adolescentsexual aggressors against women, and men with a sexual dysfunction.
Neither the exhibitionists The pedophiles Although the analysis in that article provided equivocal with regard to homosexuality and fraternal birth order, a subsequent re-analysis confirmed the presence of the effect in that dataset Blanchard, Although both studies detected a ificant fraternal birth order effect, a sizeable portion of the samples had committed offenses against male children.
It is therefore unclear whether the fraternal birth order effect emerged because of the homosexuality in the sample rather than because of any other paraphilic interests among the offenders.
Considered together, the fraternal birth order effect appears to be a phenomenon pertaining to male homosexuality, but not the paraphilias. In homosexuality research, physical height has been studied to test the sex-reversal hypothesis of homosexuality—that homosexual sexual interest is one result of more generally incomplete sexual dimorphism emerging during development.
Multiple studies have been carried out in both small and large samples, fetish vs paraphilia have provided only mixed. There has also been a report in which androphilic men were 1. Lesbian women have been reported to be 1.
The association of pedophilia and hebephilia with physical height has been studied as part of investigating whether men with those erotic age preferences suffered adverse conditions during childhood or in utero development. Factors such as poor nutrition, pathogen exposure, or economic circumstances retard normal growth and result in lower than average physical height e. These studies have revealed a more consistent deficit in height, approximately 1. The other paraphilia for which quantitative data have been reported is autogynephilia. Although both studies reported the nearly identical difference in mean height, both studies also reported heights that were substantially shorter, in absolute terms, than the studies that compared non-transsexual homosexual males with non-transsexual heterosexual males.
This may reflect sampling error, but it might also reflect to some extent a self-selection bias: The participants in the Blanchard et al. It is conceivable that taller persons are less likely to pursue permanent sex reasment, fetish vs paraphilia the anticipation that their greater height would hinder their ability to be perceived as female. This would leave the remaining surgical applicants to be shorter, on average. A meta-analysis of height in homosexuality is beyond the scope of the present article, but such a study might provide an interesting and important clarification.
Thus, considered collectively, there is evidence that some paraphilias might be deficient in height, but only mixed evidence that male homosexuality is associated with shorter stature. Handedness reflects brain organization specifically, cerebral dominance and offers a window into prenatal brain development. Although there exist natural left-handers who may inherit left-handedness genetically, non-right-handedness which includes both left-handedness and ambidextrousness can also be caused by perturbations of cerebral development Bishop, That is, the androphilic men were shifted more towards the male-typical direction relative to the gynephilic men.
The gynephilic women i. Interestingly, the for the androphilic men run counter to what the brain-sex theory of homosexuality would predict: Both homosexual groups showed more of the male-typical trait than did straight men. It is interesting to speculate whether two prenatal mechanisms might be in play: one being a perturbation that increases non-right-handedness in each group and one that increases sexual atypicality.
In lesbian women, both mechanisms would increase the odds of non-right-handedness whereas, in gay men, these mechanisms might partially offset each other. Rates of non-right-handedness have also been reported in male sexual offenders against children Bogaert, and in phallometrically assessed pedophilic men Cantor et al. Because the androphilic and the paraphilic men have both shown elevated rates of non-right-handedness, these might seem to suggest that both groups match on this characteristic; however, the effect sizes thus far reported for these groups differ by an order of magnitude and would more reasonably be described as a large difference in this feature.
IQ scores and profiles of relative cognitive strengths and weaknesses have long been used to provide insights into brain function.Fetish vs paraphilia
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