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Welldon, E. (1996). 2 Perversions in Men and Women. Brit. J. Psychother., 12(4):480-486.

(1996). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 12(4):480-486

2 Perversions in Men and Women

Estela Welldon, M.D.

Definition of Perversion

Perversion is normally seen as a condition in which a person does not feel free to obtain sexual genital gratification through intimate bodily contact with another person. Instead, he or she feels ‘taken over’ by a compulsive activity which is subjectively experienced as inexplicable and ‘bizarre’ but which provides a release of unbearable and increasing sexual anxiety. The activity usually involves an unconscious desire to harm others or him/herself. Fantasies about bizarre or perverse actions do not qualify as perversion. True sexual perversion always involves the actual use of the body.

By definition perversion embraces some specific and characteristic features which correspond to a dysfunction of the sexual component of personality development. In some cases perversions may be encapsulated from the rest of the personality so that on the surface the person appears totally normal (Hopper 1991). This is because perversion involves a deep split between genital sexuality as a living, or loving, force, and what appears to be genital sexuality, but is actually pregenital. The pregenitality of perversions poses some intriguing considerations about female sexuality that require further understanding. We are aware that women can obtain full sexual gratification almost ‘accidentally’ and unexpectedly from pregenital activities, for example, the caressing of the body, breast-feeding and even fantasizing.

Neither the International Classification of Disorders nor DSM III R (APA 1987) includes a definition of perversion based on a developmental perspective.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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