Courtship Disorder Theory of the Paraphilias

Courtship Disorder theory has been proposed as an etiological explanation for three frequently co-occurring paraphilias—voyeurism, exhibitionism, and frot-teurism—and preferential rape, defined as preferred arousal to coercive sex, based on the assumption that they are fundamentally related (103). In this theory, normal sexual interaction has four sequential phases: (1) finding a partner; (2) non-physical interaction; (3) physical nongenital contact; and (4) sexual intercourse. Voyeurism is viewed as a disturbance in the first phase, exhibitionism as a disturbance of the second, frotteurism of the third, and preferential rape as a disturbance of the fourth phase. Although this theory has logical appeal, it is not clear from the research whether specific paraphilias tend to co-occur with statistical consistency, or whether, as has been asserted, individuals with one paraphilia suffer from an underlying deficit that predisposes them to the development of others (104).

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