This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 16 table of contents.


Exhibitionism ("flashing") is the most common paraphilia. Nearly all people arrested for exhibitionism are male. Perhaps this is because certain subcultures accept exhibitionism as normal for women and provide them with professional outlets such as exotic dancing.

What is the most common paraphilia? How can exhibitionists be discouraged?

Exhibitionism accounts for a third of sex offender arrests. The typical exhibitionist begins in his 20s and exposes himself to a woman aged 16 to 30. About half report no gratification from the act itself, but they value the shocked reaction of the woman and use the incident as a basis for later fantasy during masturbation. If a woman pays no attention to an exhibitionist or tells him he is foolish or disturbed, it ruins the erotic quality of the event.

What are typical results of therapy with exhibitionists?

Exhibitionism does not respond well to therapy. Recidivism (backsliding or getting arrested again for the same reason) is common with exhibitionists (Allgeier & Allgeier, 1984). Women usually find exhibitionists "annoying and weird" rather than dangerous (Rosen & Hall, 1984). However, exhibitionists often have a history of other disorders such as pedophilia (sexual attraction to children) that might not be so harmless.

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