The psychology behind sexual impulses

Study shows sexual fetishes can be learned 'like languages'

The spectrum of sexual impulses and fantasies is vast.

In a peer-reviewed paper, sex psychologists Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, Elsa Almas, and Kaethe Weingarten advocate a new approach to understanding sexual fetishes that may be deemed unusual or uncommon. 

The paper, based on work by esteemed sex psychologist John Money, compares sexual turn-ons to learning a language.

It argues that as you might learn a language, you can also learn a sexual turn-on or fetish. 

Nichi Hodgson, sex expert, former dominatrix and spokesperson for pleasure accessories brand Ooh by Je Joue, told The Independent: “Traditionally, a fetish is an object, or body part, that someone needs present in order to experience sexual arousal.

"Many fetishes are routed in childhood experience. As a former dominatrix, I used to get people coming to me for spanking and caning because they'd received corporal punishment at school, often in a completely un-erotic context.

"They'd ended up eroticising the experience as a means of processing the discomfort around it but also because the buttocks and anus contain hundreds of nerve endings that can create arousal in a situation that would otherwise be as divorced from sex as any other aspect of school life. 

“Many people can't explain their fetishes though; instead they just know they exist. Feet are a good example. There's actually a scientific theory that says there's some cross-wiring in the brain of foot fetishists - the areas of the brain that are associated with the genitalia and the brain are next to one another."

Ms Hodgson explained that as long as fetishism is part of a healthy and consensual sex-life, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with exploring it. 

“There's nothing innately destructive about fetishism," he said.

"If it predominates all sexual activity, it can become a problem as most partners have a broader repertoire than just spanking, say. But if it's incorporated into consensual and shared-idea sex, it's just another quirk of human sexuality. 

“The trick is to work it into the sex you already have and it will cease to matter if it's a fetish or not.”

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