Can paraphilias be treated?

The answer to this question is complex and non-offending paraphilias remain under-researched. But it also depends on what is meant by ‘treatment’.

The concept of treatment often has medical connotations of disease and cure. Within the medical model, for some diseases the treatment goal is cure so that the person lives without the problem, whereas for other diseases a more realistic treatment goal is to focus on containing and managing the problem, so that the person can live ‘with’ the problem. In the case of sexual preferences, it is debated as to whether someone who has an unusual preference is disordered.

Not everyone with an unusual sexual preference will considered themselves to have a disorder or disease. Some will regard this as something they have had for as long as they can remember and as a part of them that they do not expect to change. Some will see the issue as society’s problem, not theirs, and will not consider it necessary to change.

If you are reading this self-help guide, it is likely that you are at least to some degree concerned about your sexual thoughts and/or behaviour. You will therefore probably be seeking to get help with changing these feelings/behaviours, or with managing the distress that they cause you to experience.

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