If these sexual practices do not cause physical, psychological, economic damage, etc., to the person who practices it or to the people who are involved in the practice. It becomes pathological when it objectively affects the life of the practicing person, those around him or society in general. Example: a sexual sadist is harmless as long as their partners, adult volunteers, participate consensually in the sexual act with the appropriate security measures. It becomes dangerous and parafílico when the sadist is out of control and goes to rape and torture helpless victims.
When those involved are conscious and voluntary people participating in the act in a consensual manner. This, of course, is impossible in some clearly transgressive paraphilias where the object of pleasure of the parafile is never able to give approval and the sexual relationship can always cause damage as in pedophilia, rubbing and somnophilia.
In short, not all non-traditional erotic practice is paraphilia. It becomes as such when it ceases to be healthy and controllable by the individual and when it is obviously destructive and sickly. He who “likes to handcuff his partner to bed from time to time” is not paraphiliac as if he were “incapable of having sex if the person is not handcuffed to bed”.
Different theories have been postulated regarding the possible causes of paraphilia, especially since all types of paraphilias have been registered, some even by objects and clearly non-sexual circumstances.
The sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld considers that sexual attraction always develops based on different individual stimuli of the environment. In this sense, every human being has normal and healthy “paraphilia” or “fetishes” like a heterosexual man who prefers blonde women over redheads or toward fat ones over thin ones, and vice versa. These sexual patterns can include not only physical aspects but objects – clothing, lingerie, uniforms, etc. – for Hirschfeld the fetish becomes pathological when one of these individual objects is overestimated, for example, the shoes.
The psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott considered the origin of fetishes and paraphilia in the transitional object. The possession of a transitional object is normal and healthy in almost all human beings during childhood, but in some cases it becomes sexual. In any case, the theory of psychoanalysis considers that any childhood trauma can have an impact on the unconscious that later would result in a neurotic or perverse practice; It is the projection of the libido.
For some behaviorists paraphilia and fetishism are the product of classical conditioning, when a person is exposed to a specific sexual practice by associating it with an object, subject or circumstance in such a way that sexual gratification is associated with this conditioning. That is, in a similar way as Ivan Pavlov gets a dog to associate the sound of a bell with food and this makes the dog salivates, a fetishist is someone who is conditioned to believe that lashes in the back produce sexual pleasure.
The theory that paraphilias arise due to sexual abuse is not fully proven and is considered colloquial. The idea that all pedophiles were abused when they were children is not fully proven, although correlations have been found between people who suffered sexual abuse and then repeated this abuse in others. Even so, not all abusers were abused, nor do all abusers become abusers.
However, psychoanalysis postulates that childhood traumas can generate later pathological behaviors, through a psychic mechanism that they call repetition compulsion and that could explain the origin of some paraphilias.
Some psychoanalysts even postulated theories regarding the correlation between sexual stimulation and traumatic at certain stages of psychosexual development with certain paraphilias, for example, sadomasochism would be in relation to the anal phase, since sadomasochism finds pleasure in control and anal phase is that where the child gets erotic enjoyment by managing to control his body (in general, toilet training is the evolutionary task that is installed as a metaphor for any control), and so on.