Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Riverside

UC Riverside Previously Published Works bannerUC Riverside

Why the Paraphilias? Domesticating Strange Sex


Paraphilias (e.g., pedophilia, fetishism) are said to be virtually ineradicable once established. The authors propose that the motivational state known as the Zeigarnik effect, according to which interrupted tasks are better recalled than completed tasks, may provide understanding of this process, especially its later addictive-compulsive quality. Reasoning from Zeigarnik-type research, the authors predict a relation between early sexual arousal, its frustration, and subsequent events associated with such arousal. The paraphilias are thus seen as an unusual by-product of a normal adaptive process, that is, a tendency to privilege the recollection of unfinished over finished activities. The authors discuss why paraphilias are associated nearly exclusively with males, and why paraphilic tendencies are apparently quite rare in traditional societies. They also propose new research on the processes and outcomes entailed by the Zeigarnik effect, such research including, but not being limited to, sexuality.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View