Friday, December 5, 2008

Paraphilia: Levels of festishism

Fetishism is best understood as a continuum of behaviour ranging from Partialism as the base level to High level fetishism. Stekel (1964) describes ‘partialism’ as a mild preference for certain kinds of sexual partners, sexual stimuli or sexual activity. Not exactly a true fetish but instead a liking towards the object.

The second level is described as low intensity fetishism where a stronger preference to certain kinds of sexual partners, sexual stimuli or sexual activity is evident. Normal sexual relationships continue but may incorporate the object of attraction in foreplay.

In Level 3, or Moderate Intensity fetishism the specific stimuli is essential for sexual arousal and sexual performance. With moderate intensity fetishism the male fetishist may concentrate on the object (e.g. high heeled shoes) with such focus as to make the object the key feature of the sexual interest and activity (Caprio, 1967; Flugel, 1930, cited in Rossi, 1990a). Menninger, also referred to in Rossi (1990b), considered the unconscious mind capable of substituting various parts of the body for the genitals. Hence individuals became sexually excited and ultimately gratified by the contemplation of caressing of the foot, toe, sock or shoe.

In Level 4, or High Level fetishism (Gebhartt, 1994) specific stimuli replace the need for the sexual partner to be present.

Caprio FS 1967 Variations in sexual behaviour New York: Citadel Press.
Gebhardt PH 1994 Fetishism and sadomasochism In Gammon L & Makinen M Female fetishism: a new look London: Lawrence & Wishart p 38.
Rossi WA 1990a Foot and shoe fetishism : part one Journal of Current Podiatric Medicine 39:9 9-23.
Rossi WA 1990b Foot and shoe fetishism : part two Journal of Current Podiatric Medicine 39:10 16-20.
Stekel W 1964 Sexual aberrations New York: Grove Press
Thompson B Soft core London: Cassell

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