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A Discussion of Sexual Fetishism and Masochism

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

He was married with two small children and had a full time job.

It soon emerged that Mr. had a serious problem that was interfering with his life and that of his family. Mr. G. liked to cross dress in women’s clothing, including wearing women’s underwear. Even when he did not fully dress in women’s clothes, he wore undergarments which, at times, stuck out beneath his shirt and pants so that it was visible to neighbors and strangers.

He remembered that, as a small boy, his mother liked to dress him in girl’s clothes and makeup. If that was not bad enough, she would also whip, spank and humiliate him at every opportunity. He actually grew up believing this was normal.

As a boy, he continued to cross dress without his mother’s prompting. This continued into adolescence when he discovered that it was sexually exciting for him to cross dress. He started to frequent department stores where, with great excitement, he would shop for and purchase women’s underwear, telling sales people that it was for his mother or girl friend.

As a married man, his wife joined him in his sexual fantasies that included acts of sadism. Incredibly, she would dress in men’s clothes during their love making while wore women’s undies and she would act out a scene in which she was physically punishing him. This excited them both. The problem was that their children were aware of strange noises coming form their bedroom.

Mr. G’s neighbors became suspicious of his transvestism. Among other things, his children were teased and humiliated and the family was often the recipients of disgusting and threatening mail.

Mr. G.’s sexual and masochistic  symptoms were extremely chronic. However, he was made more aware that his symptoms were bringing shame on his children because he was not keeping his cross dressing private. His rationale was that he never went out dressed in women’s clothes. Yet, he admitted to wearing women’s undergarments in public, from time to time.

More aware of how his behavior was affecting his children, he stopped shopping in department stores and cross dressing. He and the family soon moved away and I lost track of his progress.


These cases are difficult to treat because they are chronic in nature and share a lot in common with the addictions as a result of the pleasure involved and the reinforcing nature of sexual pleasure.

Some of the techniques practitioners use are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Behavior Modification, and Medications, usually the anti depressants in order to dampen the impulsive nature of the urges.

Treatment takes a long time, a lot of patience and real dedication on the part of the patients afflicted with these problems.

It is important to caution the reader that sexual behavior and taste is extremely varied. Therefore it is not fair to label some sexuality as sick or abnormal unless the sexual behavior:

1. Is detrimental to life and limb. For example, asphyxiation, is sometimes used in masturbation and often results in death.

2. Involves children and minors (They are not able to give consent).

3. Involves adults who are not consenting

4. Invades the privacy of non consenting people, such as voyeurism.

5. Any type of force against the will of another person, such as rape.

Within the privacy of their bedroom, two consenting adults who are not bothering anyone else, can engage in the types of sexual activity that gives them pleasure.

Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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