Erotic Target Location Error

Paraphilic infantilism

Erotic target location error (ETLE) is a term coined in 1993 by sexologist Ray Blanchard, referring to having a sexual preference (or very strong sexual interest) in features that are somewhere other than on one’s sexual partner(s). When one’s sexual arousal is based on imagining one’s self in another physical form (such as an animal, an infant, or an amputee) the erotic target is said to be one’s self, or erotic target identity inversion.

The best known examples of erotic target identity inversions are biological males who experience sexual arousal in response to imaging themselves as women (called autogynephilia), but there has also been at least one reported case of anatomic autoandrophilia (a woman’s tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of herself as a man). Autogynephilia can be associated with gender dysphoria and Gender Identity Disorder, discontent with one’s biological sex and the desire to under surgery for sex reassignment and permanently take on a role and life of the other sex. A male with sexual arousal based on temporarily taking on the appearance or role of a woman is called ‘transvestic’ fetishism.

In a letter to the editor of ‘The Journal of Sex Research,’ San Francisco-based physician and activist Charles Allen Moser discounted the existence of ETLE. He noted that, ‘there is is nothing wrong with creating or expanding a classification system of sexual interests’ and that ETLE ‘pathologizes nonstandard sexual expression.’ Moser’s view is that all sexual phenomena should be removed from the DSM.

Whereas ‘acrotomophilia’ refers to the sexual preference for amputees, ‘apotemnophilia’ refers to sexual arousal in association with having an amputation. Apotemnophilia can be associated with the strong belief or desire that one’s external body is mismatched to one’s true nature, a phenomenon called ‘body integrity identity’ disorder, and the desire to undergo surgery to remove a limb. People who temporarily adopt the role or identify of an amputee have been called ‘disability pretenders.’

Whereas ‘zoophilia’ refers to the sexual preference for animals, ‘autozoophilia’ refers to sexual arousal in association with being an animal. Autozoophilia can be associated with the feeling or belief that one is less than 100% human or that one is an animal trapped in a human body, a phenomenon called species dysphoria.

Whereas ‘pedophilia’ refers to the sexual preference for children, ‘paraphilic infantilism’ refers to the sexual interest in being a child. The sexual attraction to plush animals is ‘plushophilia,’ whereas the sexual attraction to being or changing one’s body to have plush features is ‘autoplushophilia,’ and sexual arousal from temporarily resembling a plush animal is ‘fursuitism.’


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