Paraphobia or the Fear of Sexual Perversion

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Paraphobia, or the fear of sexual perversion, is a relatively complicated phobia. Some people fear that they are perverted while others worry about the perversions of others. Paraphobia is often, though not always, rooted in cultural or religious upbringing.

One of the reasons that paraphobia is so complex is that the definition of perversion is extremely loose. At various times and in various cultures, homosexuality, transvestism and any number of sex acts have been considered perverted. Yet in most modern societies, these and other behaviors are considered perfectly normal and acceptable. The lack of a clear definition for perversion that crosses all cultures and backgrounds makes paraphobia an intensely personalized fear.

It is important to note that phobias are never diagnosed unless the fear causes difficulty in everyday life. If two people who agree on their personal boundaries and comfort zones marry or form a relationship, they may be perfectly happy throughout their lives. Difficulties may arise, however, if your definition of perversion is different than your partner's, or if you find it tough to form relationships at all due to your fear.

Symptoms of Paraphobia

A true phobia – as opposed to a fear – often leaves sufferers overcome by physical symptoms. If someone is truly paraphobic, they may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Irrational fear of sexual perversion
  • Terror
  • Panic
  • Dread
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth

Combating Paraphobia

If your fear causes problems in your daily life, it is important to address it with a compassionate and nonjudgmental therapist. If you feel that your cultural or religious background may play a role in your fear, you may want to meet with a trusted religious adviser as an adjunct to mainstream therapy.

Keep in mind that it is never acceptable for your partner to force you to participate in activities that make you feel uncomfortable, or to make you feel bad about your decision not to participate. Likewise, it is unacceptable for you to harshly judge your partner for an interest in expanding the range of sexual activities (provided that the suggested activities are legal and not harmful). If you are currently in a relationship, it is essential that you and your partner use open communication and mutual respect to come to an understanding. Many couples find that seeing a therapist together is a helpful step in learning to accept and balance their individual needs and desires.

Working through paraphobia is a delicate and sensitive process that may take some time. With hard work and an understanding therapist, however, there is no reason for your fear to control your life.

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Article Sources
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  • American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.