Are the sexual interests and behaviors of Quebec residents abnormal? 

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), sexual interests fall into two categories: normal (normophilic) and anomalous (paraphilic). But a new survey finds that a number of legal sexual interests and behaviors considered anomalous in psychiatry are actually common in the general population. So they may be abnormal, yet they are still common. Which is yet another way DSM-5 has suspect value, even as a glossary of psychology.

The survey in The Journal of Sex Research of 1,040 Quebec residents was on the phone and online. Unsurprisingly, since it's a survey, the scholars confirmed their hypothesis. "Overall, nearly half (45.6%) of the sample subjects were interested in at least one type of sexual behavior that is considered anomalous, whereas one third (33%) had experienced the behavior at least once. These facts suggest that we need to know what normal sexual practices are before we label a legal sexual interest as anomalous. Some paraphilic interests are more common than people might think, not only in terms of fantasies but also in terms of desire and behavior," explained Professor Christian Joyal, professor in the Department of Psychology at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.

"The main goal of the study was to determine normal sexual desires and experiences in a representative sample of the general population," explained Joyal. The researchers used a professional survey firm to ask men and women who are representative of the general population about their experiences with and desire to engage in sexual behavior considered abnormal by the DSM-5. 

Out of the eight types of paraphilic behavior listed in the DSM-5, four (voyeurism - 35%, fetishism - 26%, frotteurism - 26% and masochism - 19%) are neither rare nor unusual when it comes to the experiences or desires reported by men and women.  So 26 percent of you in Quebec need to be careful on a crowded metro system.

The researchers also found a statistically significant relationship between an interest in sexual submission and an interest in other sexual activities, suggesting that the desire to engage in masochism is significantly associated with more diverse sexual interests.

"In general, it is true that men are more interested in paraphilic behaviors than women. However, this doesn't mean that women don't have these interests at all. In fact, women who report an interest in sexual submission have more varied sexual interests and report greater satisfaction with their sex lives. Sexual submission is therefore not an abnormal interest," explained Joyal.

Overall, the authors believe that a distinction must be made between paraphilic sexual behavior, paraphilias, and paraphilic disorders. "A paraphilic disorder refers to sexual acts that involve non-consenting partners or that cause suffering or confusion in the person who engages in the behavior. The paraphilia may be absolutely necessary in order for the person to achieve sexual satisfaction. A paraphilia is not a mental disorder but rather a sexual preference for non-normophilic behavior, whereas paraphilic behavior is non-preferential and only engaged in from time to time. At the same time, this study strongly suggests that some legal paraphilic behaviors are far from abnormal, contrary to what is suggested by the DSM-5.

"We have reasons to believe that this study's results which are based on Quebec's population can be applied to the population of North America and Europe as well."