Mr X comes to my office and immediately begins the session by explaining to me that he is fine but that the only thing that leads him to consult me is that he has trouble finding a person to agree to give him or sell his shoes. He hopes that by coming to see me, I’ll be open-minded enough to sell him mine … with details: flat shoes if possible, because the heels can hurt.
This example allows me to approach the subject in a concrete way, while allowing you to understand the sufferings that it generates in the fetishist person alone and / or his partner and the tracks which exist to leave this painful mechanism and to regulate the process of pleasure.
What is fetishism?
Initially, fetishism refers to a practice of worshiping a fetish, an object of worship. But in sexology, this practice consists in taking pleasure by focusing on a part of the body, or on an object, or on a particular subject.
The particularity of this practice is its exclusive and indispensable character for the fetishist person. In other words, without the exciting object, this person can not take pleasure. She is not excited by sex but by her fetish, to the detriment of everything else.
This obsession is part of the family of paraphilias, defined by the DSM V as “the set of disorders of sexual preference characterized by the search for sexual pleasure with a partner or an inappropriate object, or in abnormal circumstances. ”
It is important to note that even if the vast majority of people appreciate certain areas of the body or some held at their partners, this does not make them fetishists. Because for the vast majority, these elements are not essential for pleasure (although highly appreciated).
Some examples of fetishism
- The parts of the body: chest, buttocks, feet, neck, legs, …
- The materials: latex, lace, leather, satin, velvet …
- Types of people: thin, obese, elderly, pregnant women, …
- Clothing and underwear: skirts, shoes, leggings, uniforms, corsets, thongs, garters, …
- Some accessories: glasses, hairstyles, lipsticks, …
You will understand: everything can be the object of worship but it takes a real fixation on this object, for at least 6 months, so that we can talk about fetishism as such.
If we take the situation of Mr X, it is indeed fetishism since he had pleasure only in contact with women’s shoes. He told me then that “we could present him the most beautiful women on the earth, it did not give him any effect, unless he could see their feet.” The shoes were then an extension of these feet that made it so effective. And, you can well imagine, I have not of course acceded to his request to give him or sell my shoes …
It is more the impact of this practice that hurts rather than the practice itself. Indeed, the conjugal and intimate relationship will depend on the possible acceptance of the partner in the face of this fixation on a single element, putting aside all the rest to take pleasure.
It can also affect the social or professional life of the person, by its obsessive and compulsive nature. If so, these people usually do not dare to talk about it, for fear of the judgment of the entourage, rejection or stigmatization. They often remain alone with their fears and doubts, the feeling of prohibition is accentuated and the vicious circle continues its way because, the more it is forbidden, the more it is exciting, and the more it is guilt.
Therapeutic support with a psychotherapist or sexologist may help the fetishist alone or / and his partner:
- By creating a benevolent space, guaranteed by professional secrecy, the person can deposit his suffering, safely;
- In trying to understand why and when this fixation was installed;
- By advising and managing to extend the sources of pleasure, to move away from the object of their fixation and to avoid repetition compulsion.
Tips from a sexologist!