Sexual deviation (parapathy, paraphilia, parerosia, sexual paresthesia) refers to the basic concepts, meaning any deviation from the norm in sexual behavior, regardless of its manifestations and nature, severity and etiological factors. This concept includes both sexual disorders in the sense of deviations from social norms, and sexual disorders in the sense of deviations from medical norms.
In the medical literature, including even in the sexological, there is still no unity in the terminology and definition of sexual disorders, which causes misunderstandings and prevents mutual understanding. Some authors identify the concepts of deviation and sexual perversion (perversions), which is wrong. Sexual perversion is only a separate form of deviation, qualified by categories of medical pathology, while the concept of deviation also includes sexual deviations, which are not pathological in the medical sense. Thus, every perversion is a kind of sexual deviation, but not every deviation is sexual perversion.
In accordance with the concept of individual differences, many sexual actions, behaviors and experiences are characterized by great diversity. This is due to the enormous diversity and uniqueness of the human personality, which is formed under the influence of various factors throughout its development. Sexual activity and the ability to experience sexual experiences change in the course of personal development in different periods of life – childhood, maturation, maturity, aging and aging.
Burger-Prinz, Giese (1976) argue that a huge variety of ways of sexual behavior and experience within the limits of the norm is not properly evaluated, as well as the extreme plasticity of sexual life in general is underestimated. This flexibility is the reason that it is easiest to foresee and determine forms of behavior that deviate from the norm,
In comparison with those that fit within its boundaries. This follows from the fact that the more sexual behavior deviates from the norm, the less there is the opportunity to change it, that is, it manifests itself in a depleted, “frozen” form, which is expressed both in sexual preferences and in “technique” interpersonal sexual actions. Thus, the normal development of a person is characterized, in particular, by the variety of individual ways of achieving sexual pleasure, and its ways are diverse not only in terms of manifestations, but with respect to the influence of numerous causal factors that are not always realized by man.
If in the approach to sexuality the consistent medical model of thinking dominated, then against the background of a bright mosaic of various forms of sexual activity, it would be possible to distinguish such varieties of it that bear the features of pathology. They are inherent primarily sexual perversions. In this case, it would be possible to consistently identify the sexual activity that fits within the limits of the norm, identified with concept of health, and pathological, unhealthy and, thus, deviant sexual activity. The consequence of such a separation would be the isolation of sexual perversions that would be considered in the categories of the disease and subjected to appropriate treatment, while all other forms of sexual activity (other than pathological) would be considered normal and acceptable, as is the case with all other forms of human Activity. In this case it would be necessary to solve only the question of the criteria for the pathological sexual activity, which would violate human health and development.
It should be emphasized that the specificity of sexopathology will also manifest itself in this, since the criteria for assessing the disease states in the sexual sphere may differ from those commonly used in medicine. There is no doubt that in the category of medical pathology, perversions that cause damage to one’s own health (severe mutilation in masochists) or the health of another person (pronounced sadism) should be included. But even they are characterized by certain differences from states defined as diseases. The concept of the disease (except for some psychoses) includes not only damage to health, but also suffering, subjectively felt by a person. With the described distortions, damage to health can also be caused, but it accompanies with masochistic or sadistic acts not suffering, and pleasure. Suffering can occur after a sexual impulse, in assessing its consequences.
In the field of sexuality, in addition to the medical model, what is normal or abnormal is decided by the system of norms (primarily moral) that prevail in society. Thus, the wide range of preferences and forms of sexual behavior of a person is spread by the social system of restrictive measures that determines Acceptable and unacceptable, normal and abnormal. The public system of restrictions is much more rigid than the medical model. She is includes, in addition to pathological sexual activity, undesirable in health, many types of sexual activity, not characterized by pathological features, but undesirable from the point of view of moral norms and the entire system of values that are mandatory in a given society.
Thus, between forms of abnormal sexual behavior that violate standards defined in terms of health protection and the forms of sexual behavior considered within the framework of the norm and accepted by society, remains a large group of forms of behavior, although not considered pathological in health categories, but are undesirable from the point of view of social norms, primarily mandatory for all morality. It is these forms of sexual behavior that unite the notion of sexual deviations, which means that they deviate from the norms of behavior accepted by society as desirable, corresponding to morals and a system of values, that is, viewed as “normal”. At the same time, “forms of behavior are considered” abnormal ” unacceptable both from the point of view of social norms, and from the point of view of health, and they are defined by the general concept of sexual deviations.
From what has been said above, it follows that the number of sexual deviations (which constitute a much larger group of sexual deviations than perversions and other pathological forms), and indirectly, the number of sexual deviations determines the attitude of society toward sexuality. The more liberal this attitude is, the more it approaches a medical model that identifies undesirable forms of sexual behavior only with detrimental health. The consequence of the liberal attitude of society towards sexuality is the reduction in the frequency of cases of sexual deviations (and thus of deviations in general), which in the end could be completely eliminated, and as the varieties of sexual deviations, only pathological forms of sexual activity would remain. The harsher the society relates to sexuality, the more quantitatively becomes a group of sexual deviations, primarily due to the increase in the scale of the group of sexual deviations. This is, in particular, the result of increasing discrepancies between the “abnormality” boundary defined by the medical model and the boundary defined by the social model.
In this sense, it can be argued that the concept of sexual deviation is relative and inherent in a particular society. The forms of sexual behavior considered by one society (primarily from the point of view of the norms of morality and law adopted in relation to sexuality) as deviant, in another society (or in the same society, but at another time) can be considered within the limits of the norm, and On the contrary. Thus, by studying the prevalence of sexual deviations in a particular society (it goes without saying that it will be different in different societies), one should pay attention to the nature and origin of social norms restricting sexual life, as they determine the number of forms of sexual behavior considered as deviant .
It should be emphasized that some modern authors, in comparison with their numerous predecessors, who consider all sexual deviations as manifestations of disease and biological degeneration, fall into the opposite extreme, believing that all sexual deviations (and thus their pathological forms) are due solely to social assessments , From which it would follow that there are no forms of sexual behavior that would be “on their own” deviant. This view is extreme and unacceptable, since it ignores the quite obvious fact of the existence of pathological forms of sexual activity, independent of the normative assessments of society, just as it occurs in all forms of human activity and existence.
The society establishes not only the numerical prevalence of sexual deviations (through appropriate moral and legal assessments of certain forms of sexual behavior), but also influences their importance, significance, forming certain attitudes towards sexual deviations. These settings can be very diverse: from asignificant degree of tolerance, tolerance for certain forms of behavior, considered as deviant, up to the most severe penalties, including torture and the death penalty. In accordance with the degree of hostility of society in relation to deviant forms of sexual behavior, their significance for society, as well as for persons characterized as deviant, is determined. In this aspect, we are talking not only about the attitude of society to sexuality, but about the problem of the level of tolerance of society as a whole.
In societies with a high level of tolerance, the existence of people with sexual deviations is not burdened by significant difficulties. True, they are regarded as persons of deviant people and accordingly refer to them, but the repressive level in relation to them in this regard is insignificant. They are more likely to be considered as people of a “different kind” who have certain “quirks” bordering on “mutilation,” but they are not prosecuted for that reason and do not evoke hostile feelings. In such a society, the importance of the presence or absence of traits of sexual deviation is practically small and confined to the sphere of assessments, without persecution. The situation is different in societies with a low level of tolerance, in which any evaluation from the category of “otherness” entails the use of repressive measures of various kinds: from neglect and feelings of compassion, ridicule and mockery up to the most severe forms of discrimination and persecution, Physical punishment and the death penalty.
The existence of persons with sexual deviations in such a society is extremely difficult. If social norms define very broad limits of deviant forms of sexual behavior, a situation arises when which deviation acquires significance not only from the point of view of the individual existence of deviant persons in the social environment that pursues it, but also becomes a very important problem throughout the society. In addition to a multitude of other factors, a secondary role plays a major role in this, that is, the appearance of pathological features in deviant persons, not due to their sexual inclinations, but to existence in a society that rejects, offends, oppresses and persecutes them. In such a society, the notion of deviation is identified with such intimidating concepts as immorality, dishonor, sin and crime. A person with sexual inclinations, having deviant features, being brought up in such a social environment, himself assimilates such assessments, which subsequently lead to the emergence of intrapsychic conflicts due to the inconsistency of his sexual inclinations with his own relation to them.