Abnormal Sexual Psychology/Preface

Abnormal Sexual Psychology

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Paraphilia and SocietyEdit

I started writing this book when I was in college, in 1986, with five other psychology students and Dr. Earl Harper, who was a researcher involved in studying paraphilias. This was when DSM-III was in use, and the revision had just come out.

Dr. Harper was concerned about the lack of research into the actual structure of paraphilia, especially it's effects on mental health and the larger psychocultural issues surrounding how paraphiliacs were treated. Of the six students helping him, four of us had at least one paraphilia. I was the only one who had multiple paraphilias, plus other problems.

Originally, this was a supplemental text he was designing for a PSYC 6 - Abnormal Psychology class. However, he worked more on trying to find various theories that would fit problems with what he saw as bilaterial shifts in how the brain interpreted arousal. The entirety of his theories, which were interesting but undocumented and relied too much on a subset of DSM-III that is no longer supported, do not appear in this book.

What does appear is the extremely solid and detailed groundwork we developed to have a fundamental understanding of exactly what paraphilia is, and what effects it has on mental health. This book is a primer to this specific aspect of abnormal psychology. It is usually glossed over in lower level college classes due to the nature of it being distasteful to some people. Research is hindered due to the fact that some people will never admit publicly to some of the more extreme paraphilias. Some of them are criminal, or even inimical to human ideas about what is decent.

This text is intended to give a reader with no serious background in abnormal psychology a good understanding of what paraphilias are, how the DSM-IV treats them, and what relationships they have with our present day culture and psychological and mental health. It draws no conclusions, and should be used only as a textbook and not as a guide. For those with no background in psychology, the tone and terminology used are kept as non-clinical as possible without compromising accuracy.


In medias res : Earl Harper, 91st Infantry, Professor of Exploratory Psychology, Cornell

Vos doctus mihi subsisto.