Friday, March 19, 2010

Paraphilias as Kink: Healthy or Unhealthy?

Will you be surprised to read that my answer is, "It depends"?

The observation stems from a conversation my beloved and I had about paraphilias. It's Dr. Kafka's preferred term, part of "Prudence"s ill-considered advice to the mother of the young man with the latex fetish.

Our conversation started from my telling her about the prior post. Elderly parents are presenting management issues around health care and it became obvious how many control issues my mom exercises over my dad. She recently decided on the timing of some surgery for him and it became apparent that after 50 years of living together, he can't decide for himself.

I commented to my beloved that I seem to be working out my control issues in a much more ritualized fashion, with my interest in submission and control in sexual relationships. This got us to talking about how things have changed for me, from "this is who I am" to "this is something I like to do in relationships.". That's a big change, about which more later, unless I've already written about it.

This got me to my shrink, who I liked, and Kafka, who I didn't like when he was my shrink, and it got us talking about paraphilias. Figuring out where thy come from seems pointless. One can imagine FMRI studies that might illustrate how they're "caused" by brain chemicals "leaking" from one are to another adjacent areas of neural activity interfering with each other, but that's entirely conjectural not so interesting.

What's more interesting is the role paraphilias can play in a relationship. It's basically the old question thatcomes up in a bunch of relationships where one person has a paraphilia: the other person asks, "are you relating to me, or to the boots, corset, latex, leather, whatever?"

The answer, I think, is that it depends on how that partner relates to the fetish item. By example: if she wears boots because they make her feel attractive or sexy, and I have a passion for boots and can't keep my eyes or hands off of her, then WE are having a relationship, and boots are part of that. If she, out of the goodness of her heart, wears boots because she knows it will make me happy, and I have the same reaction and can't keep my eyes or hands off of her, I'm not relating to her, I'm relating to the boots. It could, at the extreme, be practically anyone wearing the boots.

For it to be a functional "good" situation, there's a three way relationship happening: us to each other and each of us to the item.

To bring this full circle to the young man with the latex glove fetish, like a person with any unusual sexual interest, it may make his life more complicated, or it may limit his voice of (satisfying) partners, but it may well make his life more interesting. And as there is no "magic pill" to cure him, his process of understanding himself and his partner is more likely to make for a satisfying life, if you believe Thoreau that "an unexamined life is not worth living."


春天來嚕 said...
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雅雯雅雯 said...
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于名于倫 said...
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