Show Mobile Navigation
Weird Stuff |

Ten of the Strangest Paraphilias Ever Documented

by Selme Angulo
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

A paraphilia is an interest in an object, situation, or type of person that has a sexual root and is atypical. You’ve certainly heard of some of these in your life already—like with necrophilia, which is the arousal and interest in corpses and dead bodies. Perhaps shoe fetishism may come to mind, too. (Any Married… With Children fans out there? Looking at you, Al Bundy!) Others, like pedophilia, are obviously completely objectionable and disgusting. However, not every paraphilia is despicable like those examples. In fact, some out there are just… weird.

In 2008, sexual studies scholar Anil Aggrawal compiled a list of 547 terms describing various paraphilias. In turn, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) has drawn a distinction about which ones are paraphilias (in other words, atypical sexual interests) and which ones are paraphilic disorders (as in, interests that have a desire to act something out on a non-consenting or distressed person). It’s that first group of strange arousals and fetishes that we’ll focus on today.

In this list, we’ll go through ten of the weirdest and most bizarre paraphilias ever documented by sexual researchers and behavioral health experts. You probably haven’t heard of many (or most) of these, um, unique interests. We certainly hadn’t before compiling this list. But as it turns out, everybody has their “thing,” right? And as long as they’re not hurting anyone else, well, to each his own, we suppose.

Related: 10 People Who Suffer From Strange Phobias

10 Chrematistophilia

Chrematistophilia is taken from the Greek stem word “chrematistes,” which means “money-giver” or “money-trader,” and is then finished off with the -philia suffix. But when used that way in English, it doesn’t just mean somebody who loves to give away money. Specifically, it means somebody who gets sexual arousal from being robbed by another person. Really? There is an arousal inherent in some people in being robbed? Come to think of it, would those people be willing to spare us a few bucks?

Now, you may know the word “kleptomania,” which involves the uncontrollable urge to steal items. Its sister word, “kleptolagnia,” is a paraphilic disorder in which people seek sexual arousal through stealing things, committing theft, or even breaking and entering into homes. That one is still pretty weird, but at least we can understand it a bit in the sense that the commission of the crime must deliver an intense amount of adrenaline to the person doing it. In turn, that adrenaline gives off a euphoric and vibrant feeling in the body, at which point, well, there you go. But getting off on being robbed?! Really??[1]

9 Dendrophilia

How much do you like trees? Sure, we all love a nice leafy canopy that provides shade, keeps us cool, and gives us a nice little bit of nature, even in the middle of the city. But do you like trees as much as dendrophiliacs like trees? Dendrophilia (also sometimes known as arborphilia) literally means the “love of trees,” and it’s exactly as weird and, um, unique as it sounds.

People who have dendrophilia are sexually attracted to trees in some cases or, in other cases, are sexually aroused merely by being in the presence of them. For some, this means actually having sexual contact with trees. For others, this means seeing trees as phallic symbols. Artists throughout history have used dendrophilic themes in that way to make plenty of interesting and bizarre art.

For many dendrophiliacs, the act of having sex with a partner in a forest or a garden can be stimulating enough that it scratches their proverbial itch. Other people simply get their kicks by hugging, talking to, and even worshiping trees. Those “tree hugger” references come from somewhere, after all.

But for others, simply being in the presence of trees in an adult situation with a consenting partner isn’t enough. For these people, they have to actually involve the tree in their desires. And, uh, we’ll let you take the lead on imagining what that means. Yeah. Bet you’ll never look at a tree the same way again![2]

8 Fictophilia

If you’re reading this list, you no doubt like to read. And in a world gone digital and video-focused, we appreciate that. Something tells us you like to read even more than just lists and factoids on the internet, though. Perhaps you are a fan of books—be they classic novels, historical non-fiction works, self-help stuff, or even some of the more popular and contemporary YA and romance genres.

But while you may love to crack open a good book and settle in on the couch to read it, do you fall in love with the characters you read about? Do they become an unending obsession in your mind and soul? That’s the landscape that fictophiles must deal with when they first fall in love with their favorite characters.

Fictophilia is the paraphilia in which a person finds themselves romantically and/or sexually attracted to fictional characters in books, movies, television shows, and other forms of media. For many fictophiles, the ability to fall in love with a fictional character offers them endless ways to fantasize about what it would be like to date, marry, and spend a life with that “person.” And since the character obviously isn’t real, all the fantasies can be just that—the ideal thoughts and dreams about the relationship if it were true.

With the rise of young adult literature and various intense romance genres, especially through the self-publishing boom of the last decade, fictophiles have been on the upswing. Many psychologists and mental health professionals are starting to look more critically at people who fall down this rabbit hole while reading about their favorite fandoms. So, the next time you open a book and dive into its story, just remember to keep yourself at arms’ length from falling in love with the characters![3]

7 Hybristophilia

Why This Woman Fell in Love With a Convicted Killer on Death Row

We’ve already covered chrematistophilia on this list and marveled at how some people can gain a sexual attraction to the act of being robbed. But what about hybristophilia? This is a paraphilia in which a person becomes sexually attracted to people who commit crimes. Its root word is the Greek “hubrizein,” which roughly means “to commit an outrage against someone.”

It may seem strange to think that somebody could be attracted to criminals, but this paraphilia is actually a relatively common and well-known one—even if you didn’t know the actual word until right now. After all, think about all the women who are attracted to serial killers and other criminals who commit high-profile crimes. Ted Bundy, anyone?

After these men get locked up for their crimes, hundreds of women come out of the woodwork to write them fan mail and hope that they will gain the attention of these bad boys. It’s so common that psychologists and pop culture experts alike have taken to calling it “Bonnie and Clyde syndrome.” Sometimes, those women are even able to marry the serial killers, murderers, and other criminals that they fall in love with through letters and long-distance correspondence.

That’s certainly strange, but we wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just cut out the middleman on this one. Get the chrematistophiles and the hybristophiles together and see if they can find common ground with their diametrically opposed arousals, you know? It’s worth a shot. And at the very least, doing so would cut the criminals out of the mix![4]

6 Mechanophilia

I’m SEXUALLY Attracted To My Car | Objective Love | Channel 4

Mechanophilia, which is sometimes also known as mechaphilia, is the arousal over and sexual attraction to machines. This can include things as simple as bicycles, but it very often involves things with engines—think helicopters, airplanes, motorcycles, and cars.

That last one is the most common, especially in the United States car-dominated culture and with souped-up sports cars and luxury vehicles alike. People get turned on by hearing the engines roar and feeling the vibrations of the machines underneath them as they ride along in the powerful device. Some people even take it a step further than that.

In very rare cases, a person’s mechanophilia can be so strong that they can, um, become intimate with the machine itself. While that’s rare, it’s also remarkably notable because it’s extremely weird and unsettling. Mechanophilia is apparently so bad (and surprisingly so common?) that it is specifically cited as an illegal activity in many jurisdictions. People get arrested on mechanophilia allegations all the time!

To those of us who are normal, the idea of doing the deed with the cold metal of a machine is strange and off-putting, to say the very least. But it’s not so for the most intense gearheads out there. In fact, companies have developed sex toys that closely resemble gears, pistons, and other machine parts simply to attract this customer base that is neck-deep in mechanophilia.[5]

5 Oculolinctus

Eyeball Licking: Please Don’t

Oculolinctus is maybe the strangest paraphilia on this list. And as you’ve read through it so far, you’ll know that this is really saying something. Basically, oculolinctus is sometimes known as “worming.” It’s the paraphilic practice of licking eyeballs… for sexual gratification. Yes, we can’t believe we really typed out that sentence.

As you might expect, eyeball licking is kind of a concerning activity from a health perspective. The human tongue is coated with a ton of microorganisms and saliva that is not meant to be spread into an eyeball. When licked, the eye can encounter major infections, including conjunctivitis, herpes, chlamydia, corneal ulcers, and even corneal abrasions. Plus, unseen bacteria on the tongue can actually create microscopic cuts on the eye, which can then get infected and fester. Ew!

About a decade ago, it was rumored that oculolinctus was extremely common in Japan. As the story went, Japanese people supposedly enjoyed the practice of what they called “Gankyū name purei.” That was written out in the characters 眼球舐めプレイ and known in its English translation as “eyeball licking play.”

Media outlets all over the English speaking world reported on this supposed trend spreading quickly in Tokyo and around the rest of Japan. Thankfully, it (mostly) turned out to be a hoax. But there are eyeball lickers out there, of Japanese origin and otherwise. And they’re always looking for a new eyeball to lick. Any volunteers?[6]

4 Plushophilia

Plushies are all the rage right now. The super-soft stuffed animals seem to have blown up in popularity in just the last few years with kids and adults alike. They are sold in nearly every pharmacy, grocery store, and every other general place where you can buy a little bit of everything. And people of all ages have come to love them for their incredibly soft form and smooth, pillowy comfort. But some people like them a little TOO much. And those people are called plushophiles.

Plushophilia is, weirdly enough, a paraphilia in which people are sexually attracted to those stuffed toy animals. Many plushophiles actually take that to a crazy level, going so far as to modify their stuffed toys by adding holes in them. We’ll leave it to you to guess what those holes might be used for. No comment on that from us.

Now, it should be noted that plushophilia is technically a different thing than the fetish some people get from dressing up as furries. That’s sort of a separate fetish interest, according to the experts. The plushophiles among us really just like those stuffed animals for what they are.

Some people talk to them (and believe that they talk back). Other people make up intricate backstories for the non-living animals and create entire family hierarchies. And, yes, there are those who, um, modify their stuffed toy friends to allow for a bit more of an intimate interaction when they feel so inclined. Which, hey, we’re not here to judge! We’re just sharing facts.[7]

3 Sthenolagnia

Sthenolagnia is the paraphilia focused on muscles and muscle worship. Now, you might say, “Wait a minute, aren’t muscles just a thing that many normal people find attractive and want to see on their partner’s body?” And, yes, you’d be correct. But sthenolagnia goes a bit further than that.

Specifically, sthenolagnia involves literal muscle worship. That is, the worshiping partner with the paraphilia will often touch, lick, suck, and otherwise caress the muscles of the other partner in a way that is sexually arousing. That style of worship, as it is defined by experts, can even go so far as the paraphilic partner being put purposely into wrestling choke holds and other awkward and sometimes very painful positions.

This allows the other partner to then feel the strength and power behind the muscles that are rippling across the body. And size matters here, too. Most often, the person who is the sthenolagile is much physically smaller and weaker than the person with large muscles and is worshiped for it. So, if you’re a very small person who can find a large, muscle-bound partner to fall in love with (or vice versa), good for you![8]

2 Telephone Scatologia

Telephone scatologia is when a person uses profane or overly sexual language on an unwanted telephone call to a stranger. Think of it like a crank call, but with the dial turned up to about a million. And the people doing it are getting off on using such filthy and dehumanizing language when they call the unsuspecting and innocent receiver.

So, while it’s shocking to the person answering the phone on the other end and hearing the horrific words and messages, the person doing the calling is enjoying the oral assault and getting some serious pleasure out of it. Sick, twisted stuff—but at least it’s limited to phone calls and never crosses over to real-world situations involving physical harm, right? Well, not exactly.

Criminologists and behavioral health experts are really interested in the spread and development of telephone scatologia as a paraphilic disorder because it most often tends to be done by younger men. Sometimes, they are as young as teenagers, and others are in their early 20s. Either way, they are outsiders and outcast men who exhibit loner qualities and other concerning traits that make them more likely to commit violent acts as they get older.

The hope is that if they can be identified early on after committing less harmful acts of telephone scatologia, experts may be able to step in and intervene with healthy coping mechanisms and therapy. Regardless, this is definitely a very scary paraphilia, not only for the contents of the phone calls but also for the risk of the callers stepping up their violence to real-world acts in the future.[9]

1 Xenophilia and Allophilia

Heard of xenophobia? For those who may not know, that is the fear or distrust of foreigners. Xenophobia tends to be quite a buzzword in the modern age as inevitable discussions of immigration policy affect many countries, including the United States, Canada, and much of Western Europe. But if there is xenophobia out there (with the “-phobia” suffix the big note), surely there must be xenophilia, too, right? Yes, there is! Xenophilia is the love for or attraction to foreign people, their customs, and their cultures.

It is more heavily pronounced in places like the United States or other nations where many foreigners immigrate to start their new lives. In the US and these similar nations, a certain subset of locals and natives will essentially worship the newcomers and want to respect or even “try on” the foreign cultures they bring onto their newfound soil. It is often area-specific, too.

Take the ancient Romans, for example. They were xenophilic to the ancient Greeks, specifically in the areas of art, music, and philosophy. They thought the Greeks did those things better and loved ’em for it! However, when it came to military might, the Romans believed themselves to be the best in that department.

Xenophilia is closely related to another paraphilia, too: allophilia. Specifically, allophilia is the fetishization or arousal that comes up regarding outgroup members. This isn’t always foreigners, necessarily. Allophilia can happen with minority groups of all kinds that are born in and native to a specific society or culture. However, it occurs when an outgroup’s members possess positive characteristics different from the ingroup, and members of that ingroup make it their whole thing to essentially worship and fawn over the outsider.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen