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J Psychiatr Pract. 2001 Nov;7(6):391-403.

The paraphilic and hypersexual disorders: an overview.

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  • 1Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York State Psychiatric Institute, NY 10032-2695, USA.


In this article, the first of a two-part series, the authors present reasons for considering the paraphilic and hypersexual disorders together and provide an overview of these disorders. The DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for paraphilias are reviewed, and proposed criteria for hypersexual disorders are presented. The question of whether the paraphilic and hypersexual disorders should be considered within the spectrum of obsessive-compulsive disorders is considered. The authors then review the epidemiology of these disorders, and discuss some implications of recent sexual predator legislation. The authors discuss the etiology of the paraphilias and hypersexual disorders, and consider the role of endocrinological function, findings from brain imaging and neuropsychological testing, findings from primate research, the monoamine hypothesis, the imprinting hypothesis, social learning theory, the concept of courtship disorder, the role of obsessive-compulsive elements, psychodynamic theories, and genetic factors. The phenomenology of the paraphilias and hypersexual disorders is discussed, including the tendency for multiple paraphilias to co-occur, the lack of a specific offender profile, the predominance of males among those with paraphilias, the incidence of a history of victimization in individuals with paraphilias and compulsive sexual disorders, the onset and course of both types of disorders, and the lack of internal motivation for change in individuals with paraphilias and hypersexual disorders. The authors then discuss disorders that commonly co-occur with paraphilias and compulsive sexual disorders, including mood disorders, substance abuse and dependence disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and impulse control disorders, and personality disorders. The second article in the series will discuss the clinical assessment and the behavioral and psychopharmacological treatment of these disorders. A guide for clinicians and patients on where and how to find specialized clinicians and treatment resources in the United States will also be provided.

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