Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian households. As a result, most people dealing with sexual health issues or trying to find information about sex often resort to unverified online sources or follow the unscientific advice of their friends.
To address the widespread misinformation about sex, News18.com publishes this weekly sex column every Friday entitled “Let’s Talk Sex.” With this column, we hope to spark conversations about sex and tackle sexual health issues with scientific insight and nuance.
The column is written by sexologist Prof (Dr) Saransh Jain. In today’s column, Dr. Jain explains the difference between voyeurism and voyeuristic disorder.
Voyeurism can be defined as an interest in observing unsuspecting people as they undress, are naked, or engage in sexual activity. The interest is usually more in the looking than in the person. This condition usually develops in adolescence or early adulthood and is more common in males than females.
Voyeurism itself is not a disorder. When a person is so consumed with voyeuristic thoughts that they become upset, unable to function or respond to their urges regarding a person who has not consented, it becomes a disorder.
Voyeuristic disorder is a type of paraphilic disorder. A paraphilic disorder is a condition characterized by strong and persistent sexual interest, urges, and behaviors typically directed toward inanimate objects or children. Some people with this condition may also have thoughts about harming themselves or others during sexual activity.
Symptoms of Voyeuristic Disorder
The most common symptoms of voyeuristic disorder are:
• Sustained and intense sexual arousal from observing people performing sexual activities
• Getting upset or unable to function due to voyeuristic urges and fantasies
• Engage in voyeurism with a person who has not consented
• This condition often co-occurs with other conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse
• Some people with this condition may also engage in sexual acts on themselves while watching others engage in sexual activity.
Causes of Voyeuristic Disorder
No specific causes have been identified for voyeuristic disorder, but certain risk factors can increase a person’s chance of developing this condition, such as:
• Sexual Abuse
• Substance Abuse
• Sexual Preoccupation
• Can’t have an orgasm
• Mental disorders
Diagnosis of voyeuristic disorder
A doctor or licensed therapist can diagnose voyeuristic disorder. A person must be at least 18 years old before a diagnosis of voyeuristic disorder can be made. This is because it can be difficult to distinguish between the disorder and true sexual curiosity in children.
A medical professional will look for certain things before making a diagnosis, such as:
• Having a recurring and intense desire to watch people
• Experiencing these desires for a period of six months
• Acting on sexual urges with a person who does not consent
• Feeling that these desires are getting in the way of one’s social or professional life
However, people who suffer from this condition are rarely diagnosed until they are caught committing sex crimes as a result of their condition. This is because they are unlikely to share their condition with a medical professional or a loved one. If you notice symptoms of voyeuristic disorder in a loved one, help them get the help they need. Early treatment will prevent the condition from degenerating to a point where the person could commit a sex crime.
Treatment of voyeuristic disorder
Like most other mental illnesses, voyeuristic disorder is treatable. The key is to recognize when you need help, which can be difficult for people with paraphilic disorders. It can be treated effectively with either psychotherapy, medication, or both, depending on the severity of a person’s condition.
Medication to treat depression can be effective in treating voyeuristic disorder by helping to suppress impulsive behavior. Also, your health care practitioner may prescribe medications that lower testosterone that can also be used to treat this condition. A drop in your testosterone levels will also cause a drop in your sex drive, which can help quell voyeuristic tendencies.
Different forms of psychotherapy can help a person with voyeuristic disorder overcome the condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help them learn to control their impulses and understand why their behavior is not socially acceptable. Therapy can also teach them coping mechanisms to overcome sexual urges that are voyeuristic in nature.
The key to coping with voyeuristic disorder is to first recognize that you need help and then reach out. You can start by confiding in a parent, friend, or loved one who will support you and help you get the treatment you need. It is often difficult for people with this condition to recognize that they have a problem that needs to be treated until they get into trouble. Simply talking to them and helping them realize the seriousness and consequences of their condition is a good start in convincing them to seek treatment.
If the thought of voyeurism turns you on, you’re not alone. It’s a pretty common sexual interest. But it is essential to understand that having voyeuristic desires is not a bad thing as long as you fulfill them in a proper way that does not harm or harm anyone else and does not interfere with your daily functioning.
Unless voyeurism involves the consent of all parties, it is both a problem and a crime. If you think you or someone you know may have voyeuristic disorder, talk to your doctor. They can help you get treatment.
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