A Theory About the Variety of Human Sexual Behavior

Richard A. Gardner*

Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth ...
Genesis: 1:28

I have found the missing link between the higher ape and civilized man: It is we.
Konrad Lorenz

Man becomes civilized when his animal impulses are tamed, subdued and transcended by his social nature.
Abba Eban

ABSTRACT: Dawkins's theory of gene transmission is extended and applied to develop a theory about the variety of human sexual behavior.  According to this theory, the many different types of human sexual behavior, including the paraphilias, can be seen as having species survival value.  These atypical sexual behaviors all, in some way enhance the general level of sexual excitation in society and therefore increase the likelihood that people will engage in sexual activities that lead to procreation.  Basic differences between men and women can also be understood with this theory.  The political nature of the DSM-III-R, particularly in regard to homosexuality and pedophilia, are discussed as they relate to this theory.

I have never felt completely comfortable with the terms natural and unnatural when they apply to human sexual behavior.  In a sense, one could say that any form of sexual behavior that can be exhibited by a human being must be considered natural in that it is part of the human repertoire.  Generally, the term unnatural has been applied to those variations that have been considered unacceptable to a particular social group.

In a somewhat grandiose fashion, each society considers natural (in compliance with God's [or nature's) purposes) those particular forms of sexual behavior that are widely practiced and accepted and deems unnatural (at variance with nature's [or God's] purposes) those forms of sexual behavior that are atypical and/or by social convention "wrong," "bad," "disgusting," etc.  Sometimes sexual behavior that does not lead directly to procreation has been subsumed under the unnatural rubric.  As I hope to demonstrate, even those forms of sexual behavior that do not lead immediately to procreation may still serve nature's purposes and thereby not warrant being excluded from the list of the so-called natural forms of human sexual behavior.

Gender Differences in Mating Patterns

In order to appreciate fully the theory I propose, it is important first to understand my concept of the origins of gender differences in mating patterns.  I believe that there is genetic programming for women to be more passive, coy, and seductive, and for men to be more assertive and aggressive in the courtship process.  Although social influences certainly play a role in such patterns, I believe the genetic factors are the more important.  I recognize this is an unpopular thing to say at a time when male/female egalitarianism is very much in vogue; yet, I believe I have good arguments to support my position.

No one can deny that up until the 20th century men were primarily the hunters and fighters (protectors and warriors).  Women, in contrast, were primarily the child rearers.  I am making no judgments regarding whether this was good or bad or right or wrong, only that it was the reality of the world up until the 20th century for the vast majority of people.  Of course, there were and still are occasional societies in which this principle did not hold, but these exceptions do not in any way detract from the validity of my generalization.  (There is always an island in the South Pacific that will demonstrate any point — in support or in refutation.)

Those men who were genetically strong in the hunting/fighting functions were more likely to survive than those who were not.  Those who were weaker in these functions were less likely to have food for survival and/or the capacity to protect themselves from their enemies.  Consequently, their genes were not as likely to have been passed down to subsequent generations.

Also, those who were weak in these areas were less likely to attract women, in that women tend (then and now) to consider as desirable mates men who exhibit a high capacity for providing food, clothing, and shelter for themselves and their children and high capability for protecting the potential family from enemies.  This is another reason why the genes of men who were weaker in these areas were less likely to survive in the genetic pool.

Similarly, women who were stronger in the child-rearing realm were more likely to be viewed by men as desirable mates and their genes, as well, were more likely to be passed down to their progeny.  The greater aggressiveness of the male was not simply confined to hunting and warring; it was also used in the service of mating.  More aggressive men, then, were more likely to be successful in acquiring mates.  And so we have another factor favoring the selective survival of more aggressive men.

Youngsters today of both sexes carry within them these genetic programs.  Although we human beings are less beholden to our instinctual drives than are lower animals, we are still affected by them.  A bird, for example, during the mating season, may have no choice other than to go through the mating ritual of its species.  We humans have procreative urges, but we are not required to mate in any particular season, nor are we compelled to follow rigid mating patterns of behavior.  However, this does not preclude our being programmed for such mating patterns with the resultant pressure for their expression.

There is another factor operative in gender differences in mating patterns.  This relates more directly to reproductive capacity.  It is a principle of Darwin's theory of natural selection and survival of the fittest that each species generally produces far more offspring than can possibly survive.  Those particular forms that are most adaptable to the environment in which they have been born are more likely to survive and perpetuate the species.  Those that are less adaptable to the particular environment will generally die off.  This is the central element in the Darwinian theory.  If one examines this further, one finds that there are two factors operative here: quantity and quality.

With regard to quantity, the number of offspring produced is far greater than can possibly survive in a particular environment.  With regard to quality, the quality or type of offspring that is most adaptable to the specific environment is most likely to survive.  Accordingly, one must consider both quantity control and quality control.  Furthermore, with regard to quantity, the general thrust is for an organism to produce as many offspring as possible, i.e., the greatest quantity possible — most often far more than can possibly survive.  With regard to quality, the general thrust is to select, narrow down, and restrict survival to those forms that will adapt best to and survive in a particular environment.  The two processes of control, then, are antagonistic.  The quantity control factors work toward the survival of the greatest number of offspring.  The quality control factors operate to reduce and/or limit the number of offspring that will survive.  Those forms that ultimately survive represent a balance of these two antagonistic forces.

In many forms of life, one of the sexes is specifically designated to provide quantity and the other quality.  Often, it is not difficult to determine which sex is primarily involved in which function.  This is certainly the case for the human being.  Men are clearly the ones involved in producing the greatest quantity of offspring, whereas women are the quality controllers.  If one were to simply view human beings as baby factories, whose main purpose is to perpetuate the species (a not absurd view), and if one were to ask which sex is more likely to produce a high quantity of offspring, it is clearly the male.

If a man were to devote his whole life to the procreative process, it is reasonable that he could father one to two babies a day, providing, of course, he was provided with women who were in the fertile stages of their menstrual cycles.  Therefore, the male is reasonably capable of fathering 500 babies a year.  We know that we could start using males for this purpose at about the age of 13 or 14, but we do not know the upper age at which such utilization would no longer be possible.  There are men in their 90s who have viable sperm.  But let us, more practically, end the male's fecund period at 75, because most men do not live beyond that age, and older men are less likely to father 500 babies a year.  Accordingly, it is reasonable to say that the average male has a fecund period of 60 years.  Fathering 500 babies a year for 60 years would enable a man to father 30,000 babies. (I am not addressing myself here to practicality, only to the issue of maximum possible reproductive capacity if one were to make use of men and women for this purpose.)

In contrast, if a woman were to devote her fecund life to being a baby factory, she could reasonably reproduce one child a year from age 13 to about 56 (the oldest "proven" age at which a woman has been demonstrated to give birth).  This will give her approximately 40 to 45 babies.  Accordingly, it is reasonable to conclude that the male is very much the one capable of producing the greatest quantity of offspring.

What I have said thus far relates purely to biological capacity.  The next question relates to the actual behavior of each of the sexes regarding the procreative process.  The potential for being a reproductive factory is there, but in practice individuals generally have other things to do with their lives besides fornicating and propagating.  And probably the most important of these other functions is child rearing.  If no concern is given to the protection of the young, then babies will not survive and there would be no point to devoting one's Iife solely to manufacturing them.

This brings us to quality control, the second step necessary for species survival.  It is here that women have played the more formidable role.  In order to carry out this function, it behooved women to be more circumspect with regard to mate selection.  Those who were so, were more likely to be chosen as mates and more likely to pass their stronger childrearing genes down to their offspring.

Men, I believe, have been programmed to crave sex indiscriminately with large numbers of women, i.e., to impregnate as many women as possible.  From the roving bands of men in perpetual heat, a woman must select the man who is most likely to remain around after impregnation and serve the role of food gatherer and protector.  In order to realize this important goal, women do best to be less impulsive with regard to gratifying indiscriminately their sexual urges — in order that they assess more objectively a potential father of their children.  Women who were slower in sexual arousal were more likely to be judicious in mate selection and, therefore, more likely to survive.  They were more likely to select men who would provide food, clothing, shelter, and protection.

Accordingly, I believe that the average (I did not say all) present-day woman is slower in sexual arousal than the average man.  Once aroused, however, a woman is more likely to attempt to maintain an ongoing relationship with her mate.  In contrast, the average (I did not say all) present-day man is quicker in sexual arousal than the average woman.  Once gratified, he is less likely to be desirous of maintaining the relationship.  Most women would confirm this statement in that the most common complaint single women have is that men are less interested in "commitment" (the in-vogue word for this phenomenon) than are women.

The old saying is applicable here: "Men are looking for girls, and girls are looking for husbands."  Men are on the prowl.  They are not only out hunting for prey to kill and eat, but hunting for female prey to serve as sexual companions.  I believe that if one were able to create a printout of the average adult male's sexual thoughts throughout the course of the day, they would be formidable, especially printouts associated with day-to-day experiences in which the individual is not fully preoccupied with work.  One would find that sexual thoughts would be associated with a large percentage of the man's encounters with females from the teen period and upward.  These would involve some kind of sexual encounter.  Secretaries, stewardesses, nurses, receptionists, waitresses, and the wide variety of other women that men inevitably encounter in the course of their day become stimuli for such sexual fantasies.

Some confirmation of this "fantasy" of mine is found in Shanor's (1978) study in which he found that men between ages 12 and 40 think of sex an average of six times per hour.  But the distribution over age ranges is not even.  Between ages 12 and 19 the frequency is 20 times per hour (approximately once every three minutes).  Things slow down somewhat after that, so that between ages 30 and 39 it is four times an hour.

In short, most men are extremely promiscuous (if not physically, at least psychologically).  The main difference between those to whom this label is applied and those to whom it is not relates to the degree to which the man overtly tries to gain gratification for these urges.

From the roving bands of men in heat, the woman must reject the large majority or else she will find herself impregnated by a man who has already gone on to the next cave or condo.  She is much more concerned with relationships.  This phenomenon is one of the factors involved in women having greater orgasmic capacity than men.  Although the woman is more likely to need caressing and tender overtures to be aroused, once aroused she is more likely to remain aroused longer.  The male reaches his orgasm and immediately goes into a refractory period ("zonks out," falls asleep).  The majority of women have the potential for multiple orgasms.  This serves the purpose of enhancing procreative capacity.  Her multiple orgasmic capacity enables her to "hang in there longer" and ensure that the male who is slow to ejaculation is likely to be sustained in his interest and involvement.

Finally, what I have said here is one explanation for the fact that men are generally more likely to be sexually excited by visual stimuli, whereas women are more likely to respond to tactile stimuli.  The roving bands of men spot their prey at a distance and can get excited merely at the sight of a woman.  This is in part a derivative of their hunting functions and it also enlarges the potential population of sexual partners.  This phenomenon also explains the fact that it is the men who stand around peering lasciviously at women, whereas it is far less common for women to do this as obviously and exhibitionistically as men.  Many years ago there was a popular song entitled, "Standing on the Corner, Watching the Girls Go By."  And it was not women who were standing on the corner, but men!

Women, in contrast, need caressing, tenderness, and reassurance that the man will remain around for supplying food and protection for herself and her children.  This is one of the reasons that men are more likely than women to be sexually aroused by visual pornographic material.

Dawkins's Theory of Gene Survival and Transmission

I wish to emphasize that the theory proposed below may very well have been thought of previously by others.  Although I have not either read about nor heard about it from others, it rests heavily on one proposed by Dawkins (1976).  In fact, one might consider my theory an extension of Dawkins's applied specifically to the various forms of human sexual behavior.  This theory, as is true of Dawkins's, rests heavily on Darwinian theory — especially the concepts of natural selection and the survival of the fittest.

My theory, like Darwin's and Dawkins's, does not address itself to such ultimate questions as those related to the forces (entities, God, etc.) that created these principles and might very well be involved in their implementation.  It does not concern itself with how atoms and molecules got to be here, nor with the origin of the principles that govern their interactions, both simple and complex.  Rather, it concerns itself with the implementation of these entities and principles and the physical manifestations of their interactions — from the simplest to the most complex levels, from the earliest to the most recent.  Nor does it concern itself with the ultimate purpose(s) of all of this, considering the fact, for example, that all life on earth will ultimately perish and that all forms of sexual behavior — both the "natural" and the "unnatural" varieties — will no longer serve any purpose, at least on this sphere, which we call Earth.

It is well to begin at the beginning, which (as Maria in "The Sound of Music" said) is a very good place to start.  This sphere, like many other celestial bodies in the universe, began with its complement of elements, among which were to be found carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen — the fundamental building blocks of life.  Under the influence of environmental conditions (both influences emanating from the sun as well as those in the intervening space) simple molecules formed by atomic union.  Most important for the purposes of this discussion were water (H20), carbon dioxide (C02), methane (CH4), and ammonia (NH4).

After exposure to ultraviolet light and electric currents (probably related to primordial lightning), more complex molecules were formed — especially amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.  Scientists have been able to reproduce such transformations in a flask by subjecting the aforementioned simple molecules to ultraviolet radiation and electric currents.  Laboratory simulations of the chemical conditions on earth before the beginning of life (as we know it) have produced organic substances such as purines and pyrimidines, which are the building blocks of the genetic molecule DNA.

One can readily envision, then, a primordial "soup" in which the simpler and more complex molecules floated.  The main method of production (or "creation") of the more complex molecules was the exposure of the simpler ones to the environmental conditions conducive to their formation.  This method of formation of complex molecules depends upon the influence of external forces and, presumably, without their presence there would be no creation of the more complex forms.

The next step was the one in which certain molecules exhibited the capacity to reproduce themselves, a process that Dawkins (and others certainly) refer to as replication.  The method that appears to have been most successful (in fact; it appears to be the only one on Earth that we know of) was the one used by the DNA molecule.

This molecule, made of segments that are to be found floating around in the primordial soup, reproduces itself by absorbing onto itself from the surrounding mixture those particular building blocks that correspond to those already strung on its helical (spiral) chain.  The original molecule serves as a mold or template.  It attracts corresponding smaller molecules from the soup, each free molecule attached to its own kind on the original model.  Ultimately, this results in the formation of a clone of the original DNA molecule.  In the next step the two strands separate: Voilą, reproduction!  Each new strand then becomes a model for further replications, thus producing geometric growth in population.

If all the DNA molecules were cloned from the original, there would be few errors.  However, with this kind of geometric progression, in which each new DNA molecule becomes a template for the reproduction of itself, there is a greater likelihood that "errors" or alternative forms may result, each of which may also survive.  We have, then, the introduction of variety.  Some of the forms have a greater likelihood of survival than others, depending upon the internal stability of the molecular chain.

Ultimately, the free-floating smaller molecules in the primordial soup become scarce as they are used ("eaten up") in the formation of the larger DNA molecules.  Some sort of competition, then, arises as the DNA molecules compete with one another for the ever scarcer simpler radicals.  The next step, according to Dawkins, was basically the phase of cannibalism.  Because of the scarcity of free-floating smaller molecules in the primordial mixture, the DNA strands began breaking off segments of their neighbors in order to be provided with "food" for the replication process.

The next step — and this was an extremely important one — was the formation by DNA molecules of protective coatings, a physical wall that served as a kind of armor that protected the DNA strand from being cannibalized by its neighbors.  These entities (DNA strands, surrounded by protective shells) are basically what we are talking about when we discuss viruses.  The protective shell is necessary for the survival of the internal core of DNA.  Dawkins refers to this entity as a "survival machine," and this is the term he uses for all subsequent living forms, the function of which is to provide a housing for DNA molecules, especially with regard to their protection.

The next step involved the union of different types of DNA strands (which I will now call genes) to combine their efforts in the service of enhancing the likelihood of survival of the protective coating.  Each could serve a different function and thereby increase the likelihood of survival over those with less complex mechanisms for adaptation in the primordial soup.  We see, then, the formation of the simplest cells in which the genes are clustered together in the nucleus and the survival wall being represented by the surrounding cytoplasm and cell membrane (for animals) or cell wall (for plants).  Obviously, we are describing here one-cell animals and plants.

The next step in the evolution of living forms was the bringing together of individual cells into colonies.  Here different parts of the colonies could perform different functions — enhancing, thereby, the chances of the DNA surviving.  Those cells that were able to live together as colonies, each performing separate but unifying functions, would be at an advantage over those cells that floated about in isolation.

Dawkins then continues:

A major branch of survival machines, now called plants, started to use sunlight directly themselves to build up complex molecules from simple ones, reenacting at much higher speed the synthetic processes of the original soup.  Another branch, now known as animals, "discovered" how to exploit the chemical labors of the plants, either by eating them, or by eating other animals.  Both main branches of survival machines evolved more and more ingenious tricks to increase their efficiency in their various ways of life, and new ways of life were continually being opened up.  Subbranches and sub-subbranches of survival machines evolved more and more ingenious tricks to increase their efficiency in their various ways of life, and new ways of life were continually being opened up. Subbranches and sub-subbranches evolved, each one excelling in a particular specialized way of making a living: in the sea, on the ground, in the air, underground, up trees, inside other living bodies.  This subbranching has given rise to the immense diversity of animals and plants which so impresses us today.

Every survival machine, then, can be viewed as a colony of DNA strands surrounded by successive layers of protective mechanisms.  Its purpose, however, is not simply to protect the genes from cannibalistic destruction, but to provide mechanisms for the reproduction of the DNA strands.  Here we are talking about the methods by which the particular form of life enables the DNA strands to pass down from generation to generation, each time ridding itself of the housing in which it temporarily resides and providing itself with a new and temporary survival machine. Dawkins states:

Another aspect of the particulateness (sic) of the gene is that it does not grow senile; it is no more likely to die when it is a million years old than when it is only a hundred.  It leaps from body to body down the generations, manipulating body after body in its own way and for its own ends, abandoning a succession of mortal bodies before they sink in senility and death.

Although the gene itself is in a constant state of equilibrium with surrounding atoms and smaller molecules available for its replication, its basic structure and appearance is always the same.  It can be compared to a skyscraper that periodically and continually replaces its bricks with others provided externally.  Both new bricks and old bricks are essentially immutable in that atoms do not "grow old."

Each cell has the information necessary to re-create the whole survival machine.  Furthermore, it has the power to influence various parts of the survival machine, especially with regard to the protective mechanisms necessary for survival and the mechanisms necessary for reproduction, i.e., transmission of DNA replications from one temporary survival machine to the next and so on down the generations.

The millions of' different kinds of plants and animals are testimony to the wide variety of survival machines that have evolved over eons.  All the cells, all the tissues, all the organ systems, and all the plants and animals that incorporate DNA molecules share in common this one principle: the protection of the genes and their transmission to the next generation.

The human brain is but one example of such a system.  It is one of the latest and most complex examples of a part of the housing machine that protects the DNA as well as enhances the likelihood that it will be transmitted to the next generation.  Although designed by and in a sense controlled by DNA, it has a certain autonomy of its own in that it exerts some influence over the automatic control that genes have over the survival machine, especially with regard to the time of expression of the protective and procreative forces.  For example, lower animals appear to have no choice but to perform their specific mating patterns at prescribed times and places.  We have the ability to suppress somewhat these cravings, but still are often obsessed with and sometimes even enslaved by them.

As mentioned, Dawkins's theory could be considered the inevitable extension of the Darwinian theory.  The major determinant as to whether a particular survival machine will indeed perform its functions is related to the efficiency of the mechanisms devised for protecting DNA and enabling it to transmit its replications down to form the next generation of survival machines.  There is selective survival of those machines that are most likely to perform these functions in a particular environment, and there is selective failure to survive (and thereby destruction of DNA) of those housings that are less capable of survival in the particular environment in which the genes find themselves.

The Application of Dawkins's Theory to Human Sexual Variety

There is no problem applying Dawkins's theory to adult heterosexuality.  We can view the human body as the survival machine for our sperm and ova, which are basically housings for our DNA.  The sexual act is the step by which DNA replications are transmitted to the next generation of housing machines (our children).

All the things we do in our lives can be viewed as steps toward this end.  Just about every activity of our daily lives, throughout the 24-hour cycle, can be viewed as attempts to either protect and preserve our DNA or as a step toward its transmission.  Every meal we eat, every breath we breathe, every penny we earn, every bit of work we do, can easily be considered part of this grand plan.  When we sleep, we are recouping and saving up our energy for the next day's round of survival activities.  Other activities, which might initially be considered exceptions to this principle, on careful inquiry may very well be found to be related.

Everything we learn has the potential to serve us in the enhancement of our capacity to survive, either immediately or remotely.  Purely scientific inquiry, although initially unrelated, might ultimately find practical applications that serve human survival.  What about art and music?  Here again they might not initially appear to fit this scheme.  However, art is used to enhance female and male attractiveness (in clothing styles and cosmetics) and the artist, in part, wants to impress the lady of his choosing.  ("You must come up to my place sometime and view my etchings.")  Or, the artist may wish to earn money, again in the service of providing himself (herself) with food, clothing, and shelter — which all serve in the survival of the temporary machine in which the genes are housed.

Music can serve similar purposes, for both musician ("She will certainly love me when she hears the music I have created") and the listener ("I love him for the music he has created").  Pleasure, like sleep, is necessary for us when we need to recoup our energies.  When I try to think of examples of human endeavor that might not fit under this grand rubric, I am unable to do so.  Accordingly, I will stop giving examples that support the theory and go on to a discussion of the forms of sexuality that do not initially appear to do so.

The atypical forms of sexuality — those that may not initially appear to serve the purposes of procreation — all have a genetic and an environmental contribution.  The genetic contribution may very well be the result of "gene error," the kind of error that brings about a form of atypical sexual behavior.  If a mutation is not of survival value, it is not maintained for long in the genetic pool and the housing in which it is incorporated is destroyed by natural processes (both the housing and the DNA within decompensate and in many cases are "eaten by worms").  The kinds of atypical human sexuality discussed here are not in this category because the human beings who exhibit these variations have definitely survived.

The combination of genetic predisposition and environmental influences varies.  Therefore, in some individuals the genetic loading may be very high, so much so that little, if any, environmental contribution is necessary for the quality to become exhibited.  In others the genetic contribution may be low, or even nonexistent; however, environmental (especially family) influences are so formidable that the sexual pattern becomes the primary mode of expression for that individual.  These two examples are the extremes and all individuals who exhibit the particular sexual behavior can best be viewed as lying at some point in between these two extremes.

I am in full agreement with Freud's (1905) theory of the "polymorphous perversity" of the human infant.  The infant will exhibit every form of sexual activity known to humanity.  Each society suppresses those forms that it considers unacceptable and allows expression of those that it considers acceptable.  However, residua of the unacceptable variations often press for expression and may be found in various aspects of adult sexuality, both typical and atypical.  All, however, are natural if one is to define the word as a sexual form of behavior that exists in human beings, regardless of the particular society's attitude toward that specific mode of sexual expression.

There is good reason to believe that most, if not all, children have the capacity to reach orgasm at the time they are born.  Certainly, infnts in the first few months of life may rub their genitals as they lie on their abdomens and their associated facial expressions are strongly suggestive of orgasm.  There are people who claim that they cannot remember a time when they did not masturbate.  And not all of these people have been sexually abused as children.

Like all things in this world, there is a bell-shaped curve, and the age at which people first experienced orgasms also lies on a bell-shaped curve.  Most people would date their first orgasm to the pubertal period, but there are many who can go much further back.  It is reasonable to assume that there is a small fraction of the population who, without any particular external stimulation (sexual molestation or otherwise), normally experienced high sexual urges in early infancy and found relief through masturbation.  (Recently, sonograms have shown baby boys holding their penises in utero.)  This, too, is "natural" and this, too, lends credibility to my belief that children are not only naturally sexual but that they may be the initiators of sexual activities.  Although these overtures do not initially serve procreative purposes, they ultimately do because the child who is sexually active at an early age is more likely to be sexually active in adolescence and thereby provide his or her DNA for the next generation of survival machines.

The common childhood game, aptly called "You-Show-Me-Yours-and-I'll-Show-You-Mine" is yet another example of childhood sexuality.  Certainly curiosity plays a role in such games.  Parents begin teaching children, at a very early age, that certain parts of their bodies are to be strictly covered up and not to be exposed to others.  Such prohibitions, of course, engender enormous curiosity, a curiosity that can be satisfied by voyeuristic/exhibitionistic games.  But the games often go beyond the visual level and frequently involve touching, even with sexual excitation and intent.  We see here the influence of DNA already at work.  I suspect (but I am not certain) that boys are more interested than girls in these games because of the aforementioned high visual loading to their sexual interest.

Another example: Little children often play with their genitals, even to the point of orgasm.  Furthermore, it is common for little girls to smell their fingers after such play and they will often find the odors enjoyable to sniff.  Generally they will be taught by their mothers that such a practice is unacceptable.  Boys smelling their fingers after touching their genitals is less common, but is the analogous practice.  This olfactory gratification is much more highly developed in lower animals for whom scents play an important role in sexual activity.  Residua of this phenomenon certainly exist in human adults.  We recognize it as "normal" for men to enjoy cunnilingus, a part of which pleasure comes from the olfactory stimulation that such activity provides.  And women as well (again, in many segments of our society) enjoy immensely this activity.  Here again, we see the residua of a childhood form of sexuality expressing itself in adult heterosexual behavior.

Moreover, orgasmic pleasure may very well be the most intense known to the human being.  The craving for this gratification is extremely strong and, of course, is the driving force behind the procreative process.  The reduction of high sexual tensions and the craving for orgasmic gratification is DNA's main method of bringing about human reproductive activity and, by extension, its passage to the next generation.

Another example: All agree that infants enjoy immensely the breast feeding experience.  Mothers in our society are encouraged to express deep involvement in this practice and are permitted to speak about how psychologically and physically pleasurable breast feeding is.  However, few women will speak openly about orgasmic gratifications associated with the breast feeding of their infants.  It is more acceptable to describe breast stimulation pleasure as part of adult heterosexual activities.  It is also acceptable to describe physical pleasure in association with a male partner's breast sucking as part of foreplay.  I am not claiming that most women experience orgasms when breast feeding their infants.  I am only claiming that some women do, and that more probably would if they were to overcome the social inhibitions against such gratification.

Women's potential for pleasurable response to breast feeding serves important biological purposes.  It increases the likelihood that she will breast feed her child, increasing thereby the likelihood that her progeny will survive.  It increases the likelihood that she will want to breast feed subsequent babies, either her own or those of others.  It produces in general a heightened level of sexuality, keeps the sexual juices flowing (not only the milk), and increases thereby the likelihood that she will have heterosexual sexual encounters.  It increases also the likelihood that she will enjoy her breasts being sucked by adult males during heterosexual encounters.  Her pleasure, which is a residuum of both her own breast feeding in her own infancy (via projective identification with her breast feeding infant) and the pleasurable sensation provided by the sucking of her breasts, enhances the mans pleasure (via her excitation).  Residua of the man's breast feeding gratifications in his own infancy also contribute to the pleasure experienced by the man when engaging in breast sucking during the heterosexual encounter.  These residua, one in each of the parties, enhance the likelihood of copulation and thereby the passage of DNA to the next generation.

It is important to understand that I am making no value judgments on any of these sexual activities.  Each society does this and our society is no exception.  My purpose is to present a valueless explanation of these activities.  The reader should recognize that I, as a product of the society in which I live, have my biases, prejudices, etc. but these arc irrelevant to this discussion.

The Paraphilias of DSM-III-R

At this point I address myself to each of the forms of atypical sexuality described in DSM-III-R (American Psychiatric Association, 1987).  These are the forms of atypical sexuality that are considered by the DSM-III-R nomenclature committee to be manifestations of psychiatric disorder.  It would be a naive reader who is not appreciative of the fact that there is not a disorder here that was not considered the norm in some other society at some time and some place.  This list, therefore, represents the beliefs and even the biases of the nomenclature committee.

One confirmation of this point is the fact that homosexuality was considered a bona fide disease in DSM-II (American Psychiatric Association, 1968) and the previous DSM (American Psychiatric Association, 1952) (which has no number and is now retrospectively sometimes referred to as DSM-I).  The authors of DSM-III (American Psychiatric Association, 1980) took the position that if a person is homosexual and wishes to change his or her orientation, then the individual might then be considered to be suffering with a psychiatric disorder and might thereby be justifiably treated for such.  To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time in the history of medicine that patients themselves make the decision regarding whether or not they have a disease.  The homosexual person, then, who was seeking treatment under DSM-III criteria had to "enter through the back door" to qualify for a diagnosis under this system.

In DSM-III-R homosexuality is not even listed as a disorder per se.  However, if one looks up the word in the index, there is a reference under the very last of the list of sexual disorders: "302.90 Sexual Disorder Not Otherwise Specified."  Here are listed sexual disorders that are not to be found listed in any of the previous categories.  Three examples are given, the third of which is: "Persistent and marked distress about one's sexual orientation."  It is only here that a homosexual person — who is distressed about his or her sexual orientation — can justifiably be considered to have a disorder.  It is of interest that the just-quoted lines are the very last ones in the section on sexual disorders.

To carry the back door analogy further, the homosexual person who is entering treatment under the DSM-III-R provisions must creep through a little trap door that is cut into the back door (the kind that a dog might use).  Enough said about the vicissitudes, biases, and unreliability of DSM-III-R.  I suspect strongly that DSM-IV (which is scheduled for publication in 1993) will have yet another set of theories regarding atypical sexuality.

A paraphilia is defined as a form of sexual expression that is atypical or "off the beaten track."  It is a sexual activity that is found on a parallel track (thus the prefix "para" [Greek: besides]), but is still a form of lovemaking (thus the word "philia" [Greek: love]).

DSM-III-R considers the paraphilias to be "sexual disorders," which is a more recent term for "diseases."  I will address myself to each of the paraphilias, in the order in which they appear in DSM-III-R and comment on each, especially with regard to the aforementioned theory.  I will give particular attention to the issue of the "justification" for such atypical sexuality, especially with regard to the question of its function and purpose if it does not serve the immediate aims of reproduction and species survival.  DSM-III-R emphasizes that the paraphilic label is justified when the activity is the primary or one of the primary sources of sexual gratification of the individual.  The label might not be justified if it exhibits itself only rarely and is a minor part of the person's sexual repertoire.  The committee uses the six-month cut-off point for a duration that justifies the diagnosis but, I am certain, recognizes this as somewhat artificial.

Furthermore (and this is important), for each of the paraphilias there is included an important diagnostic proviso: "The person has acted on these urges, or is markedly distressed by them."  Therefore, if an individual is preoccupied with such urges, but has not acted on them or is not markedly distressed by them, then they would not be considered manifestations of a disorder.  This presents us with problems, especially from the point of view of a therapist who may be consulted regarding treatment.  These are strange kinds of disorders indeed.  They are disorders if acted on, but not disorders if not acted on.  They are disorders if the person is distressed by them, but not if the person is comfortable with them.

Most would agree that a person who is preoccupied with suicidal thoughts, but who has not acted out on them, warrants a diagnosis and treatment.  For the paraphilias, however, there appears to be an exception to this principle.  Also, the issue of distress presents problems for the consultant who is being asked to make a decision whether or not a disease is present.  Most would agree that a person who is not distressed by homicidal thoughts is still suffering with a disease.  Here again we have the problem attendant to the patients making the decision regarding whether or not a disease is present.

These problems lend confirmation to my belief that the nomenclature committee has had significant difficulties with the paraphilias, especially with regard to the question of whether or not they are indeed diseases (or, to use the committee's euphemism, "disorders").  Such ambivalence is relevant to my theory about the etiology and purposes of the paraphilias.

My main point is that each of the paraphilias do, in a way, serve the purposes of species survival and are therefore part of the natural repertoire of humanity.  They serve this end by their ability to enhance the general level of sexual excitation in society and thereby increase the likelihood that people will involve themselves in activities that are more directly contributory to the reproductive (and, by extension, species survival) process.  I recognize that for each of the paraphilias there are a wide variety of psychodynamic mechanisms that may be operative in producing the behavior.  However, it is not my purpose here to discuss these in detail.  Rather, I will only discuss those psychodynamic aspects that pertain to the aforementioned theory.

Exhibitionism is defined as:

Over a period of at least six months, recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving the exposure of one's genitals to an unsuspecting stranger.

Although exhibitionism is primarily a male characteristic in its "raw form" (that is, as exhibited by "flashers"), it exists in women in more subtle form.  Seductive gesturing, provocative dancing (not necessarily by burlesque queens and go-go girls), and hysterical behavior generally involve some degree of exhibitionistic sexuality.  Accordingly, when one considers these common forms of female exhibitionism, the behavior is much more common among women than men.

Although the flasher may wish to startle and gain a sense of power and importance, much more than arouse sexuality, there is still that element operative in this clearly sexual act.  And although the exhibitionistic woman may want flattery and attention, more than sexual gratification, the activity is still a form of foreplay and may very well lead to more overt sexual activity.  For both sexes the behavior is designed (at least in part) to produce sexual hormone secretions into the bloodstream of the observer and enhance thereby the likelihood of sexual activity and reproduction.

We have strict rules in our society regarding when and where one can be sexually exhibitionistic.  Furthermore, exhibitionism is more acceptable in women than in men.  The principle is well demonstrated by the old observation: If a woman undresses in front of a window, a man in the street looking at her may be charged with being a voyeur ("peeping Tom").  In contrast, if a man undresses in front of a window and a woman in the street looks at him, he may be charged with exhibitionism (indecent exposure).  These differences in social attitude notwithstanding, exhibitionism serves survival value in that it provides visual stimuli that result in the kinds of hormonal secretions that may result in procreation.

Fetishism is defined as:

Over a period of at least six months, recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving the use of nonliving objects by themselves (e.g., female undergarments).

The fetishes are not only articles of female clothing used in cross-dressing (Transvestic Fetishism) or devices designed for the purpose of tactile gental stimulation (vibrator).

Here, too, the same principles hold.  Often the object may be used in place of "the real thing" when sexual encounters with humans ate not available.  The fetishistic object may become the symbol of the human sexual object and bring about the same degree of excitation.

Fetishism not only serves the purposes of sexual release, but also lessens the likelihood of the sexual organs "drying up."  The practice thereby keeps sexual cravings alive and increases the possibility of reproduction.  Even the person who may fear sexual encounters at that point, and uses the fetishistic object as a substitute, is keeping himself or herself in the pool of sexually craving individuals and thereby increases the likelihood of species survival.  Here again we see the principle that some of the fetishistic objects (such as vibrators) are borrowed from normal sexuality but are considered pathological when they are used in preference to the interpersonal type of sexual experience.  I trust that the DSM-III-R committee did not consider the use of vibrators per se to warrant the diagnosis of fetishism and recognized that their use as a "sexual aid" is "normal."

Frotteurism is defined as:

Over a period of at least six months, recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving touching and rubbing against a nonconsenting person.  It is the touching, not the coercive nature of the act, that is sexually exciting.

These are the people who rub up against others in subways, buses, elevators, and other crowded places.  They are people who are considered to be getting their "cheap thrills" in a socially unacceptable way.  Once again, men are far more likely than women to be involved in this paraphilia and, once again, they are most often the initiators.  This is consistent with the male being genetically programmed to play the more aggressive role in mating pattern rituals.

Women, however, cannot be considered to be completely free of this disorder. As every frotteur knows, there are a certain fraction of women who will not immediately recoil and withdraw, and thereby get across the message that they have no wish to participate in this activity.  In spite of "rejections" by the majority of women, there are still enough around who will go along with the secret game and thereby gratify their own frotteuristic cravings without suffering social stigma.

I once interviewed a man who was a frotteur and who claimed that approximately 25% of all the women against whom he rubbed his penis responded.  Most allowed him to masturbate himself against them, using the motions of the moving vehicle as the cover-up for their own more active participation in the process.  Some even rubbed their vulvas against him, thereby gratifying themselves as well.  On a few occasions the activity ultimately resulted in their going off together for a sexual encounter.  Frotteurism also serves survival purposes.  It increases the general level of sexual excitation and thereby increases the likelihood of sexual reproduction.

Pedophilia is defined as:

Over a period of at least six months, recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 or younger).

The person is at least 16 years old and at least 5 years older than the child or children in A.

Note: Do not include a late adolescent involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old.

It is obvious that the DSM-III-R nomenclature committee had great difficulty with this definition.  The requirement that the person be "at least 16 years old" presents problems if a 15½-year-old boy has a sexual experience with a 5-year-old girl.  Although he has satisfied the requirement that there be at least a 5-year age difference between the two, he would not be considered a pedophile by this definition.  In contrast, the jury before whom he is tried for this act (and for which he might get life imprisonment) might very well consider him to be a pedophile.  Actually, the DSM-III-R committee is not alone here.  There is no good definition of pedophilia.

Whatever definition one uses, there are loopholes.  One must make exceptions, such as the DSM-III-R committee did.  If one uses the dictionary definition, i.e., a sexual act between an adult and a child, one is immediately confronted with the problem of what constitutes an adult and what constitutes a child.  Does adulthood begin at puberty, at 16, at 18, at 21?  All of these ages (and others) have been used at various times by different societies (and even within the same society) as a cutoff point for the definition of adulthood.

If one wants to use puberty as the point of differentiation, there are still difficulties.  If a postpubertal 13-year-old has sex with a prepubertal 11-year-old, is that pedophilia?  Most would say no.  If a postpubertal 11-year-old has a sexual activity with a prepubertal 13-year-old, is the younger one then considered to have sexually molested the older?  Again, we see that there is no end to the complications with any of these definitions.  All of them attempt to define the parameters of unacceptability (whether psychiatric/diagnostic or legal/criminal) and all fail.

Basically, the definition of a pedophile for a psychiatrist is what the nomenclature committee of the American Psychiatric Association considers to be a pedophile for that particular edition of DSM.  And the definition by the legal system is not only the one recorded in the statutes of the particular state (and there is great variation), but what the jury decides is pedophilia on the basis of the evidence presented at the accused's trial.

Pertinent to my theory here is that pedophilia also serves procreative purposes.  Obviously, it does not serve such purposes on the immediate level in that children cannot become pregnant nor can they make others pregnant.  However, the child who is drawn into sexual encounters at an early age is likely to become highly sexualized and crave sexual experiences during the prepubertal years.  Such a "charged up child" is more likely to become sexually active after puberty and more likely, therefore, to transmit his or her genes to his or her progeny at an early age.

The younger the survival machine at the time sexual urges appear, the longer will be the span of procreative capacity, and the greater the likelihood the individual will create more survival machines in the next generation.  The ideal then — from DNA's point of view — is for the child to be sexually active very early, to have a highly sexualized childhood, and begin the time of puberty.  This increases the likelihood that more survival machines will be produced for the next generation.

Sexual Masochism is defined as:

Over a period of at least six months, recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving the act (real, not simulated) of being humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer.

Sexual Sadism is defined as:

Over a period of at least six months, recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving acts (real, not simulated) in which the psychological or physical suffering (including humiliation) of the victim is sexually exciting to the person.

Sexual masochism is intrinsically associated with sexual sadism.  In fact, the two together are often referred to as sadomasochism.  Accordingly, the two will be discussed together.

Clearly, sadomasochism allows gratification of hostile impulses for the sadist.  The motives for the masochist are not so obvious, but from the psychological point of view the individual is gaining some kind of gratification.  For some people masochism alleviates their guilt over sexual expression.  Punishment can assuage guilt.  Some people need the punishment afterward, and some before, and some at the time of the guilt-provoking act.  Masochism may relate to identification with masochistic models, the feeling that this is the best that one can get, that more benevolent relationships would not be possible, and other psychological mechanisms that are beyond my purposes here.

Sadomasochism may also have survival value.  Sexual courtship patterns in our society have often been compared to a "hunt."  The man, traditionally more assertive (there is some genetic programming here, although environmental factors are certainly operative), seeks his "prey," the woman.  If successful, he may consider himself to have made a "conquest."  The woman's role is generally one of passivity, coyness, and seductivity in which she lures the man to approach her and make sexual advances.  (Again, genetic factors play an important role, although environmental ones are certainly operative.)  Domination enters here and, in extreme cases, rape.

Therefore, we see a continuum from the normal courting pattern of female passivity and male aggressivity to the more aggressive forms of sexual approach and domination, with a culmination in rape — the extreme example of domination.  Every point on this continuum increases the likelihood that the woman will engage in a sexual act and thereby procreate.

Our society encourages women to be seductive, coy, and enticing and encourages men to be forthright, aggressive, and pursuing.  The more coercive elements enter into the male's behavior, the greater the likelihood our society will condemn him.  The theme of pursuit and domination, however, is widespread.  Many years ago I read a survey in which women were asked about their favorite movie scene.  The one that took first place was a scene from "Gone with the Wind" in which Rhett Butler, overcome with sexual passion and frustration, grabs Scarlett O'Hara, picks her up in his arms, and runs up the stairs into the house and presumably up to the bedroom.

We accept this as normal, but we will not accept more coercive elements.  This reflects society's repression of the animal within us: a male animal who has the potential for rape and a female animal who, by merely a small extension of permissible attitudes, may become masochistic — thereby gaining sexual pleasure from being beaten, bound, and otherwise made to suffer.

It may very well be that for some masochistic women, allowing themselves to be beaten into submission is the price they are willing to pay for gaining the gratification of receiving the sperm.  When less aggressive partners are not available, partners who don't take the domination factor too far, they will accept sperm from a sadistic individual, rather than not have any sperm at all.

I am placing no value judgments on these behaviors.  Rather, I am trying to explain the purposes of certain forms of sexual behavior which are found in every society and which are dealt with differently by each society, and even by the same society at different times.  Their ubiquity is a testament to the fact that they are natural, i.e., they are part of the human repertoire.  We should not let our revulsion and condemnation of them interfere with our ability to understand them. In fact, it is through such understanding that we will be in a better position to decide how to deal with these atypical forms, both from the psychiatric and legal points of view.

Transvestic Fetishism is defined as:

Over a period of at least six months, in a heterosexual male, recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving cross-dressing.

The previous comments about fetishism are applicable to transvestic fetishism.  In this form of fetishism the objects that cause the sexual arousal are not only female clothing, but cross-dressing, a particular use of female clothing.  As noted in the DSM-III-R definition, these men are usually heterosexual, are sexually aroused by wearing female attire, and are thereby more likely to engage in heterosexual activities — increasing thereby the likelihood of procreation and the passage of their DNA down to the next generation.

It may come as a surprise to learn that the majority of transvestic fetishists are heterosexual.  Certainly, there are homosexuals who wear female clothing as a way of attracting men for sexual purposes.  However, these people are different from transvestic fetishists.  Female impersonators are probably the most well-known examples of transvestic fetishists.  With rare exception, they are heterosexual.  It is of interest that DSM-III-R does not have a pathological category for homosexual men who cross-dress, but only heterosexual men.  This is just one of the paradoxes that is to be found in DSM-III-R, a paradox that derives from the diagnostic problems attendant to removing homosexuality from the list of psychiatric disorders.

Voyeurism is defined as:

Over a period of at least six months, recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving the act of observing an unsuspecting person who is naked, in the process of disrobing, or engaging in sexual activity.

Voyeurism is much more common in men than women.  This is not surprising since men are much more likely to be excited by visual stimuli than women.  It is the men who stand on the street corner leering at the women passersby.  It is men who are much more likely to be sexually excited by pin-up magazines, pornographic movies, and videotapes.

As mentioned above, this phenomenon relates to the hunter qualities that are much more apparent in males than females.  Traditionally, men were the hunters and protectors.  It was they who went out to kill animal prey and thereby provide food for their families.  Hunting involves (and even requires) visual surveillance.  And hunting animals for food is akin to hunting women for procreative purposes.  Similar male attributes are involved.  It is reasonable to speculate that there was a selective survival of men who were visually powerful and who were good at hunting prey for food and females for procreative purposes.  We see here, then, an overlap with the domination element applicable to the understanding of sadomasochism.

DSM-III-R then lists seven other paraphilias that are not only less common, but would probably be considered more pathological than the aforementioned.  They all share in common, however, their capacity to enhance sexual arousal and to thereby increase the likelihood of heterosexual experience.

Telephone Scatologia (Lewdness)

The man who involves himself in telephone scatologia (lewdness) is clearly trying to arouse a woman.  (It is rare for women to engage in this kind of activity.)  Although one may claim that the man so involved is basically afraid of women (and this is probably the case), he is still getting sexually aroused by the practice, even though the arousal often culminates only in masturbation.  There are occasions in which the woman is receptive and the overture ultimately results in heterosexual activities and therefore procreation.  But even when this aim is not realized (certainly more often the case), the man is still keeping his "juices flowing" and preventing them from drying up and thereby removing himself from the heterosexual potentially procreative scene.

Necrophilia (Corpses)

One could argue that necrophilia cannot possibly serve procreative purposes.  I am in agreement that a dead woman is not going to conceive a child, but this is only half the story.

Obviously, a man who must resort to having sexual intercourse with dead bodies has serious difficulties in his ability to relate well to live human beings.  (Again, it is not my purpose here to discuss in detail the many possible psychological factors that are operative in each of these activities.)  Yet, the necrophiliac is still keeping his juices flowing and increasing, thereby, the likelihood of heterosexual involvement with a person who is more likely to conceive.  (For obvious reasons, necrophilia is almost unknown in females.)

Partialism (Exclusive Focus on Part of Body)

The factors operative here are very similar to those operative in fetishism.  For reasons peculiar to that individual, a particular part of the body becomes the primary source of gratification.  However, this symptom is not a strange one, considering the fact that all men (and to a lesser extent women) engage in it to a certain degree.

Men's breast fetish is probably the most well known example of this phenomenon.  This preoccupation stems, in part, from the fact that the breast is the first "sex object" of the male (at least according to Freudian theory) and we live in a society in which breasts are indeed worshiped.  Furthermore, we enhance the importance of these organs (which are basically bags of fatty tissue intermingled with milk ducts) by social conditioning.  Covering them, under most circumstances, makes them more alluring, seductive, and therefore objects of interest.  There are men who are similarly turned on by buttocks and vulvas.  Women are far less likely to exhibit this symptom.  This is in part related to their being less aroused by visual stimuli and more aroused by caressing, cuddling, and activities that ensure the kind of depth relationship that will increase the likelihood that the lover will stay around after conception and provide protection for themselves and their children.

Zoophilia (Animals)

Zoophilia, which is reputed to be a traditional activity among farm boys, also provides for sexual release when other outlets are not available.  It may also be attractive to those who may have fears and inhibitions regarding overtures to females who are more unpredictable than animals regarding their sexual receptivity.

Contrary to popular opinion, zoophilics do not generally have sexual intercourse with animals; rather, their main source of gratification comes from hugging, cuddling, and talking — in a manner similar to a child with a pet.  The zoophilia then represents a fixation at an earlier level of psychosexual development.  Although progeny are obviously not possible from such relationships, the individuals engaged in such zoophilic activities might be considered to be getting practice for more appropriate partners for the purposes of evolutionary survival.

Coprophilia (Feces)

Once again, one cannot ascribe immediate survival value to this practice.  It is a derivative, however, of the polymorphous perversity of children who have to learn that touching their fecal eliminations and then putting their fingers (or feces) in their mouths is generally viewed in our society as a disgusting practice.  Here, too, this enhancement of sexual stimulation increases the likelihood that the individual may turn to others and thereby contribute to the procreative process.

To the best of my knowledge, most people who are involved in coprophilic activities do not actually engage in putting feces into their mouths (although a small percentage do); rather, the activities most often involve defecating on one's "loved one."  The term also refers to the partner who becomes sexually excited by being defecated upon.  Coprophilia is also related to sadomasochism in that the person who enjoys this activity is often involved in a sadomasochistic act with domination/submission and hostile release ("shitting on someone").

Klismaphilia (Enemas)

Anal stimulation in itself can provide sexual pleasure.  Most people enjoy the gratification of a "good bowel movement," although it is not considered proper to talk about it in most circles.  Furthermore, deep anal penetration, beyond the anus, can produce stimulation of the pubococcygeal muscles, which play an active role in orgasm for both males and females.  Hence, an enema can be to the anus what the vibrator is to the vagina.  Association of the enema with mothers who provided them in childhood may play a role in producing this type of sexual behavior.  What is important here is the fact that this kind of stimulation may serve as a prelude to heterosexual intercourse and thereby contribute to procreative purposes.

Urophilia (Urine)

One could argue that urophilia cannot possibly serve procreative purposes.  There are children who continue wetting their beds — beyond the time when they should be "trained" — because they like the warm feeling the urine gives them when first passed.  Of course, when it gets cold, they change their attitude about this practice.  Here, again, the most common activity is not drinking urine (but a small percentage do), but urinating on the "lover."  And there are those who become sexually excited by being urinated upon.  This practice is analogous to coprophilia and relates to sadomasochism.  Once again, the arousal may serve as a part of foreplay and ultimately result in procreative sexual acts.

Further Comments on the Paraphilias

It would be an error to conclude that I view the paraphilias to be primarily, if not exclusively, genetically determined biological variants.  Although I believe there is a genetic loading for the paraphilias, I also believe that environmental factors are extremely important in bringing about such behavior.  In fact, I believe environmental factors play a more important role in the development of the paraphilias than in the development of homosexuality, which, as is discussed below, warrants being listed as one of the paraphilias.  I say this because of the bizarreness of many of the paraphilias, a bizarreness which is akin to the kinds of "craziness" that justifies placement in DSM-III-R.

Many of the paraphilias are developed in an attempt to avoid intimacy, e.g., fetishism, telephone scatologia, partialism, zoophilia, and necrophilia.  Others clearly allow for the release of hostility, which may be a more important factor than the sexual act that is serving as a vehicle for such gratification, e.g., sexual sadism, coprophilia, urophilia, and klismaphilia.  Others derive from feelings of inadequacy, e.g., voyeurism, exhibitionism, sexual sadism, and pedophilia.

Obviously, the psychodynamic factors operative in each of the paraphilias are quite complex and it goes beyond the scope of this article to discuss these in detail.  Even the aforementioned outline is an oversimplification in that there is much overlap and complexity to the many psychodynamic factors operative in each of the paraphilias.

One could argue that psychodynamically determined sexual inhibitions (which may contribute to the development of paraphilias) result from psychological problems that work against the expression of the primary sexual goals of DNA.  Accordingly, one could claim that the very existence of the paraphilias weakens my theory.  My response is this: Each of the paraphilias may be viewed as an atypical variant, as a mutant that does not primarily serve the purposes of procreation, but that may survive anyway because it can contribute (admittedly in an inefficient way) to the primary DNA goals.

Similarly, the psychological inhibitions that interfere with DNA's primary expression also work against its goals, but not completely so.  The fact that some forms fail to live up to the high standards put down in the optimum configuration of genetic programming does not negate the theory.  My reasoning here is similar to that which holds for the sexual dysfunctions (see below) in which there are failures of genital functioning, which may then interfere with the procreative process. The presence of these weaknesses or abnormalities does not negate the theory.

Sexual Dysfunctions

The sexual dysfunctions are essentially forms of pathology in which there is some inhibition and/or impairment in the individual's capacity to engage in heterosexual intercourse.  A psychogenic component is considered to be important in bringing about such disorders, but physiological factors may also be operative, especially in the presence of physical disease.  These include impairments in sexual desire, aversion to sexuality, impairment in the ability of a man to attain or maintain an erection, a man or a woman's inability to achieve orgasm, premature ejaculation, dyspareunia (pain on sexual intercourse), and vaginismus (vaginal spasm on penile entry).  Clearly, all of these difficulties interfere with the likelihood of procreation and thereby warrant being included as disorders or "diseases."

Obviously, they do represent a failure in the fulfillment of the individual's capacity to achieve this important goal.  The presence of these disorders in no way weakens my theory in that there is no biological function (all of which have survival value) that may not be compromised by some disease process.

Should Homosexuality be Listed Among the Paraphilias?

As mentioned above, the last DSM-III-R section on the sexual disorders allows for the diagnosis of homosexuality (as a sexual disorder) through the "little doggie door," a subsection of the "back door" of the sexual diagnoses.  I, myself, would include homosexuality as one of the paraphilias, whether or not one considers any or all of them to warrant placement in DSM-III-R (I believe that political factors, much more than scientific, determined its strange and somewhat confusing placement in the manual.)

The argument, however, that homosexuality is "unnatural" because it does not serve procreative purposes is not valid.  It certainly is a natural variant, is within the potential of all human beings, and to the best of my knowledge has appeared in every society.  Furthermore, as I will elaborate below, it also serves the procreative aims of the species, although not directly.

There are some who claim that the purpose of homosexuality is similar to that of nonreproductive variants that are to be found in many species.  Worker ants would be an example.  They play an important role in the survival of the ant colony, but are not actively involved in the reproductive process.  The argument is also proposed that homosexuals serve artistic purposes in that they are traditionally more artistically sensitive (art, literature, dance, theater, etc.).  This theory never rang true for me in that these activities are very recent developments in the history of the human race and would not explain the existence of homosexuality at earlier times and the survival of genes that may very well predispose people to this type of sexual variation.

Although the homosexual genetic loading may very well have arisen as a mutation (as may have been the case for other paraphilias for which there is a high genetic loading), it has survived.  There is great variation among mutations with regard to their survival capacity.  Some mutants are incompatible with life and the particular form dies in utero.  And there are a wide variety of diseases that are manifestations of mutations that can be lethal at any age and at any stage of life.  If the mutation allows survival beyond puberty, then the individual is likely to transmit the mutant genes down to the next generation.  Medical science may contribute to this process by allowing for the survival of certain mutations that in earlier centuries might not have survived to the pubertal level of development but, as the result of modern medical techniques, are doing so.  This is just another example of the fact that medical progress may often be a mixed blessing.

Another theory to justify homosexuality is that it serves the purposes of population control.  Although this theory has more to justify it than the one that holds that homosexuals serve artistic purposes, it also does not set well with me.  Nonreproductive variants usually serve some purpose, a purpose that is readily recognized.  This does not appear to be the case for homosexuals.

We are certainly witnessing a population explosion that is becoming ever more serious, and even dangerous.  There is no question that we will ultimately have to provide more effective methods of population control than exist at this point.  The longer we allow population to grow geometrically, the greater the weight one will have to give to this theory of the purpose of homosexuality.  Perhaps at this point, when the dangers are not as grave, it is a less compelling theory.  But acceptance of it must presuppose considerations (by DNA or some master planner) that go very much into the future.  And this does not appear to be the way DNA works.  It is very much oriented to the here-and-now for the purposes of immediate transmission to the next survival machine.  Impulsivity and pleasure-of-the-moment considerations appear to be much more pertinent factors in its behavior than considerations of some remote future event.  It is for these reasons, as well, that I am not significantly enthusiastic about the population-control theory of homosexuality

Homosexual genetic programming has survived not only because we have not routinely killed all homosexuals (although certain societies have attempted to do so), but because homosexuals have not confined themselves sexually to people of their own sex, but have engaged in heterosexual activities as well.  In fact, it is safe to say that the vast majority of homosexuals have had some heterosexual experiences.  It is also a fact that male homosexuals are typically highly sexualized individuals, much more so than the average male heterosexual, and are well known for their "promiscuity," i.e., their strong need for frequent sex with a large number of sexual partners.  Male homosexuals also will typically date the onset of their strong sexual urges to earlier periods of life than heterosexuals (Kinsey et al. 1948; Tripp, 1987).  Homosexuality; then, if my theory is correct, serves the purpose of heightening the general level of sexual activity and increases the chances, thereby, that such individuals may involve themselves in heterosexual activities as well.

Homosexuality also increases the likelihood that children will become involved earlier in sexual activities, increasing thereby the likelihood of their becoming actively sexual in the postpubertal period.  I am referring here to the homosexual who is also a pedophile (again, much more common in males than females).  Like his heterosexual pedophilic counterpart, both contribute to the likelihood that children will become active heterosexual adults.

When I presented the above theory to a colleague of mine, Dr. Jonathan Greene, he suggested that homophobia may also have survival value.  Homophobes are revolted by homosexuality and may actively attempt to constrain their behavior.  In extreme cases they may even attempt to eliminate homosexuals entirely.  One traditional explanation for homophobia given by psychoanalysts is that homophobes are basically uncomfortable with their own unconscious or dimly conscious homosexual urges.  By eliminating homosexuality they protect themselves from the stimulation of their own "latent homosexual impulses."

I do not deny that this may certainly be a mechanism in some (if not many) homophobic individuals.  And, I do not deny that there are probably other psychological mechanisms operative in this aversion.  Nor do I deny social influences that teach that homosexuality is an undesirable and even disgusting form of sexual expression.  However, Greene has a good point in that homophobia has survival value in that a society cannot tolerate ubiquitous homosexuality.  To do so would threaten its very survival.  On a very primitive level, then, the battle between homosexuals and heterosexuals is a battle for DNA survival, even though homosexuality — in a more indirect way — does ultimately contribute to DNA survival.  It is an inefficient method, however, and a society has to limit the degree to which it can tolerate inefficient methods of reproduction.  And all paraphilias are inefficient when compared to the traditional heterosexual reproductive modes.

One could argue, then, that homosexuality justifiably belongs among the paraphilias.  It certainly satisfies the basic requirement for such inclusion, namely, that the sexual behavior is atypical (practiced only by a minority of individuals in our society) and that it does not directly serve procreative purposes.

One could also argue that all of the paraphilias (whether or not one wants to include in them homosexuality) should not be included in DSM-III-R because the manual is devoted primarily to diseases.

Although the term disorder is used, insurance companies still consider these variations diseases or illnesses.  Exclusion of the paraphilias might deprive paraphilic individuals of the opportunity for insurance coverage if they want treatment for them.

Should we therefore consider the insurance companies to be the final arbiters with regard to whether or not a behavioral manifestation warrants inclusion in DSM-III-RDSM-III-R deals with this question somewhat obliquely by stating that in addition to the paraphilic behavioral manifestation, the individual must be "markedly distressed" by the desire to engage in the sexual practice.  This, then, brings us back to the problem of patients making the decision whether or not the disease in fact exists.  As a physician I would like to believe that a disease exists in its own right, separate from whether or not the patient considers it to exist and separate from whether or not an insurance company decides to provide coverage.

One could argue that something must be seriously deranged in a man who would prefer to have intercourse with a dead body in comparison to a beautiful young woman.  One could argue that there must be something seriously wrong with a man who would spurn sexual intercourse with an attractive and receptive young woman and, in preference, put his penis into the anus of another man.  When we say that "something is wrong with" a person who engages in certain activities, we are basically saying that the individual is suffering with a psychiatric disorder.

One could argue also that the probable genetic predisposition factor, a factor related to a mutation, also argues for the paraphilias to be considered psychiatric disorders.  There are other psychiatric disorders that are considered to have a genetic basis, e.g., bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  These certainly are "natural" in that they are to be found in nature, yet they are still considered to be diseases (or, euphemistically, "disorders").

It is a strange paradox that pedophilia is included as a paraphilia, but not homosexuality.  If an adult's primary source of sexual gratification is an individual of the same sex, the behavior is not considered to warrant inclusion among the paraphilias (or anywhere else in DSM-III-R).  However, if the adult desires sex with a child (whether of the same or opposite sex), that behavior is considered to warrant inclusion among the paraphilias.  This paradox lends confirmation to my previous statement that the exclusion of homosexuality from DSM-III-R has much more to do with political than psychiatric considerations.

Another paradox derives from DSM-III-R's exclusion of homosexuality, namely, its considering cross-dressing among heterosexuals to be a disorder (Transvestic Fetishism) but not a disorder if the individual is homosexual.  Therefore, if a homosexual cross-dresses to entice and excite another homosexual, that is normal.  If a heterosexual engages in such behavior he or she has a disorder.

An even more important paradox is the inclusion of the Gender Identity Disorder of Childhood.  There is an enormous body of research that demonstrates compellingly the high correlation between childhood gender identity disorder and homosexuality during adulthood.  Some of the more well known studies are Bell and Weinberg (1978); Bell, Weinberg, and Hammersmith (1981); Bieber et al. (1962); Green (1985, 1987); Money and Russo (1979); and Zuger (1970, 1976, 1984).  Friedman (1988) provides an excellent review of these studies and states, "At present, I believe that this is the only correlation between psychopathology and homosexuality that may be taken as an established fact."

We see here a strange inconsistency in DSM-III-R.  An effeminate boy is considered by DSM-III-R to be suffering with a disorder.  Yet, when this same boy becomes an adult homosexual (a highly likely outcome), he no longer is considered to have a disorder; rather, his atypicality is viewed as a normal human variant.  Again, I believe that political considerations, far more than psychiatric, have brought those who have made this decision to this inexplicable and even absurd inconsistency;

Although I could argue both ways, my preference is that all the paraphilias (including homosexuality) be included in DSM-III-R as paraphilias and, like bipolar depression and OCD, be considered diseases (or disorders) per se.  I would exclude the proviso that the individual has to have distress in order to justify the diagnosis.  The fact is that the person is not going to go into treatment if he or she does not suffer distress, the DSM-III-R statement notwithstanding.  Atypicality, per se, has traditionally been a justification for inclusion in a list of psychiatric disturbances.  There are societies in which paranoia and hallucinations are the norm.  There are others in which catatonic people may be worshiped and/or considered to be invested by divine spirits.  As Shakespeare's Hamlet put it: "There's nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

Because atypical sexuality is "bad" in our society and because people who exhibit such behavior are going to have difficulties in our society, even though often (but not always) unjustified, we must make special provisions for dealing with them, both in the legal and psychiatric professions.

Concluding Comments

I present here a theory that attempts to bring together a wide human sexual phenomena and provide a common explanation for what may initially appear to be different disorders.  Although each of these types of human sexual activity has its own set of causes (both genetic and environmental), they share in common the thread that they all potentially serve the ends of procreation (directly or indirectly), and therefore specifically the transmission of DNA down to the next survival machine.

Freud (1930), in his Civilization and Its Discontents, points out that society must suppress and repress sexuality if any constructive work is to be done.  If all individuals were free to indulge themselves in any form of sexual encounter, we would have little time to involve ourselves in the constructive work necessary for the survival of society.  Gibbon (1776-1788) considers widespread licentiousness to have been an important factor in the decline of the Roman Empire.  The biblical story of God's destructions of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah is certainly (at least) a metaphor for the same phenomenon.  It may very well be true, as well, that intrafamilial sex, especially, had to be suppressed because of the rivalries it engendered.

Certainly most people in our society (sexual revolution notwithstanding) view sex as a special kind of relationship.  This is especially true of women, who are much more oriented to the emotional relationship element in sex.  Women are much more oriented toward sexual exclusivity.  The opposite side of the exclusivity coin is jealousy.  Men, too, are not free from such jealous feelings, especially when another man has sexual opportunities with a woman with whom they are enamored.  If it is true that such feelings are of ancient tradition and may have even existed in primitive times, then taboos against incest might have arisen in order to protect people from the devastating effects on the family of such jealous rivalries.  Inhibitions have a way of spreading, often to areas that were not part of the central focus at the time of their origin, and this is what might have happened with regard to the widespread sexual inhibitions that we observe in Western society today.

It is unlikely that inhibitions against incest arose from the appreciation that inbreeding may bring about the clinical expression of recessive genes and thereby produce an increase in maladaptive forms.  First, this is a relatively late development in our understanding.  In fact, it is probable that the relationship between sexual intercourse and pregnancy has only recently become understood, and this is especially likely to have been the case in societies in which a wide variety of sexual practices were engaged in at all ages.  Furthermore, when a family is relatively free of undesirable genes, inbreeding can be beneficial in that it preserves the "purity" of the strain.  I am certain that a wide variety of other factors have been involved in the development of sexual inhibitions, but it is beyond the purposes of this paper to discuss them.

The main reason paraphilias are much more common in males than females relates to the aforementioned theory in which men are primarily involved in the quantity-control aspect of reproduction and women in the quality-control aspect.  The biologically programmed "promiscuity" of men easily spreads to their being far less discriminating with regard to the receptacle into which they are willing to deposit their sperm.  Accordingly, receptacles that may not immediately bring about an increase in the population may still be used, so pervasive and compelling are the urges.  The obsessive-compulsive nature of the male sexual drive, and the over-representation of males in the paraphilic population enhances the credibility of my theory

The presentation of my theory would not be complete without some discussion of masturbation.  One could argue that it does not support the theory because this widespread practice serves absolutely no procreative function.  In fact, it can be viewed as a "waste" of sexual urges because it does not lead to the transmission of DNA into the next generation of survival machines.  I could argue even further that it defeats DNA's purposes in that it allows for a reduction in sexual drive and therefore lessens the likelihood of the immediate quest for procreation.

These arguments notwithstanding, I believe that masturbation also serves DNA's purposes.  It keeps the juices flowing and thereby contributes to the prevention of disuse atrophy of the reproductive apparatus.

More importantly, it serves DNA survival in another way.  It allows for the release and gratification of sexual tensions and cravings so that the individual may be free to direct attention to other survival considerations such as the acquisition of food, clothing, and shelter.  Without this form of release, individuals might be continually in a state of excitation and frustration and thereby be unable to devote proper attention to other activities necessary for the survival of the temporary housing machines.  The genitals do not exist in isolation from the rest of the body.  They require nourishment and protection.  The survival machine cannot merely focus on providing opportunities for the copulatory organs to perform their function.  Rather, it must also direct itself to other necessary matters that keep the genital organs in good health, functioning properly, and protected from danger.  Such activities are not likely to be accomplished effectively and efficiently if the housing machine is distracted significantly by unsatisfied sexual cravings.

I have been particularly careful to avoid making any judgments about these atypical forms of human behavior.  Many societies, however, have been unjustifiably punitive to those who exhibit these paraphilic variations and have not given proper respect to the genetic factors that may very well be operative.  Such considerations might result in greater tolerance for those who exhibit these atypical sexual proclivities.  My hope is that this theory will play a role (admittedly small) in bringing about greater sympathy and respect for individuals who exhibit these variations of sexual behavior.  Recognizing that they do play a role in species survival may contribute to some alteration in this unfortunate attitude.

It would be an error to conclude that I am condoning all of these forms of sexual behavior.  Each one must be considered in its own right with regard to the judgments one passes on them.  An important determinant of my own judgments relates to the coercive element, especially when the coerced person is weaker and/or younger.  Although pedophilia may ultimately serve nature's purposes, it is still a form of exploitation of an innocent party.

Sadomasochism may also serve the purposes of the survival of the human species, but it is basically a form of cruelty we could well do without.  We differ from lower animals with regard to the development of the human brain, which has the capacity to suppress and repress those forces that press for indiscriminate reproduction of DNA and its passage down the generations from one survival machine to another.  Also, consideration must be given to the social attitude toward a particular variation.  It is a disservice to guide children along an atypical developmental track (especially when there is no evidence that their genes are propelling them along that path), because they will predictably suffer for their atypicality.

I am not suggesting that we submit to every social prejudice.  What I am suggesting is that we try to educate society to be less prejudiced and to be less condemning of those with paraphilias, especially those that do not cause harm to younger and/or weaker individuals.


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* Richard A. Gardner is a psychiatrist, author, publisher, and lecturer at 155 County Road, P.O. Box 522, Cresskill, NJ, 0762-0317.  This selection is taken from his 1992 book, True and False Allegations of Child Sex Abuse: A Guide for Legal and Mental Health Professionals (Currently Out of Print), Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics[Back]


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