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Understanding fetishism

We all know people with fetishes, or have heard of fetishes. But what does it really refer to when it comes to love and sexuality?



The Internet user proposes a simple and very clear definition on the sexual fetishism. It would be a "sexual excitation provoked by the presence of an object (glove, sticky...), by a part of the body (feet, navel...) by a material (latex, leather...) or by a situation. These elements are normally not erotically significant" (the Internet user, 2021). Moreover, the term of fetishism comes from the Portuguese feitiço, which means "artificial, spell, bewitchment".

Descartes liked women who squint, Rousseau liked severe women. One has a passion for boots, the other for fine lingerie.

Numerous articles on the web evoke this phenomenon of "different love". A couple therapist and psychiatrist even confided in the media The World on the subject by explaining the fascination for the feet. The feet being the object of fetish desire par excellence.

For him, the fascination for something, i.e. fetishism, is relatively associated with sexuality. The latter is defined by the professional as "a set of behaviors [...] learned in the course of our education and in the course of the constitution of our personality" (Le Monde, 2011). Therefore, some individuals have a different relationship to sexuality than the majority of others. Their personal histories and early sexuality have highlighted particular conditions that influence how they subsequently obtain their sexual arousal. In fact, some are aroused by objects, materials, situations or body parts.

From a health blog, health passportfetishism would be classified among the disorders of sexual preference in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health ProblemsThe "fetishism" is placed between the "sadomasochism" and the exhibitionism.


Examples of fetishism

After mentioning the feet, we could also talk about other sources of fascination:

  • Body: breasts, nose, mouth, braided hair, body volume, smell ;
  • Objects: handkerchiefs, shoes, panties, uniforms;
  • Materials: leather, latex, fur.

Fetishism can therefore take different proportions and different forms.


Is it a disorder?

The fetishism would come from the events of the childhood mainly situated between 4 and 6 years. In any case, they seem to find their origin at this time. This phenomenon is considered a "pathology", which can be harmful to the person who experiences it. It is sometimes difficult to live with an almost perverse sexual fascination, which makes the person concerned suffer.

To compensate for this, a real follow-up exists today for those who want it, but the treatments are not very effective. It is possible to undergo psychiatric treatment, psychotherapy or cognitive therapy.