Objects of Desire
By Cefelita E. Duldulao
LifeLine: The Advice Magazine

The room smells of jasmine incense. The blue light sets you in the mood as you perfume your hair. Passion begins to burn inside you as you wait.

Suddenly, you see your husband standing before you. Seductively, you take off your silk robe and drop it to the floor. He kneels, picks up your robe. You touch his hair and wrap your arms around him.

To your surprise, he escapes from your embrace, and continues fondling your robe, as if it were the most pleasurable thing to do. In the dark, tears stream down your eyes and you whisper, “Why?”

What is fetishism?

Dr. Randy Misael S. Dellosa, a physician-psychiatrist at Life Change Counseling Center and Psychiatry Clinic says that fetishism is “a strong recurrent attraction towards an inanimate or non-living object.” A person who prefers to make an object his sexual partner rather than a living person is considered someone with a fetish.

Actual cases of fetishism

In the 1980's, an experiment was done in the US where pictures of seductive women were shown to a group of men. Upon arousal, the pictures were replaced by boots. Later, this association conditioned the men to get aroused just by seeing boots.

Since fetishism is a hidden sexual aberration, Dr. Randy claims that is difficult to make studies on the subject matter. Although people with fetishes do not normally go to a therapist, Dr. Randy has encountered patients who are willing to talk about their fetishes. “There are people who perform self sex with a shoe, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are those who feel sexually aroused just by embracing a dilapidated book.”

Dr. Randy adds that attraction to an object comes in different forms. An object of fetish may be sucked, fondled, embraced, and made as if it were a sexual partner. He recalls one teenager who boldly confessed that he collects female underwear. The very act of wearing them gets him sexually excited.

Myths and facts

A common misconception is that people who love to collect objects have fetishes. Dr. Randy clarifies: “A person who is fond of collecting object does not mean he or she has fetishes. One may jut be cultivating an ordinary interest, unless a person finds his collected items sexually gratifying.”

Another misconception is associated with erotic paraphernalia or objects used to enhance sexual intimacy. Vibrator use is not regarded as a fetish, unless the user acquires an obsessive-compulsive nature, preferring the gadget to an actual partner. 

Do you have a fetish?

Dr. Randy cites 3 criteria to determine if an individual has a fetish. First, the desire towards an inanimate object should last at least 6 months. Second, there should be recurring intent of sexual attraction towards the object in the form of fantasies, urges, or behaviors. Third, the sexual attraction must either be distressing for the individual or starts to impair the occupational and / or social functioning of his life.

Furthermore, fetishism is divided into 2 subcategories: “transvestic fetishism,” which means an individual gets sexual arousal from cross-dressing, and “partialism,” where an individual is attracted to just a part of the body (i.e., neck, armpit, etc.).

“Even Santa Claus must have a fetish because he prefers inserting Christmas gifts into women's stockings,” Dr. Randy jokingly adds.

Survey says

•  60% of fetishists are attracted toward clothing materials.

•  20% of fetishists are attracted to rubber (gloves).

•  Others are interested in footwear and leather.

•  At least 2% of all sexual perversions involve fetishism.

•  Fetishism is predominantly a male sexual aberration.


“When a person with fetish comes out in the open, one should not be judgmental.”

Dr. Randy says that a Freudian theory attributes fetishism to strong maternal bonding and unfinished psychosexual development. Dr. Randy does not suggest giving simplistic advice to people with fetishes, as these people need special treatments.

In aversion therapy, doctors try to make the patient associate the fetish with something painful. In severe cases, a patient may be given a minimal electric jolt the moment he is sexually stimulated by an object.

In orgasmic reconditioning, an object is slowly taken away from the individual. When a person starts to feel sexually excited upon seeing real stockings, the object may be replaced by a picture of a woman until the image of the stockings are taken out of sight.

In insight-oriented therapy, the therapist makes the patient recognize how the fetish originated, in the hope that the awareness of the patient will change the behavior.

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