Dear Ibby, Can you get rid of a fetish?

Dear Ibby, Can you get rid of a fetish?

SexMarch 04, 2015

Man. I wish it were that easy. Watching Bill Murray movies would be so much easier for me and everyone within a five-foot radius of my quivering lower body.

However, the very nature of fetishes dictates that they're hard to get rid of. A fetish, as it's clinically defined, is an object or situation that must be involved in a person's sexual interaction in order for them to get off. Fetishes transcend desire into the territory of necessity, and without that object or situation present, a fetishist will not be able to become aroused. This is typically accompanied by neural wiring that singularly connects the brain's orgasmic areas to a particular fetish, as well as memories that may rationalize why that fetish exists.

This differs from a fantasy or a kink, which an item, activity or situation that really, really turns you on, but is not necessary for the enjoyment of sex.

Knowing and understanding the difference between the two, and figuring out whether you have an actual fetish or just a really strong hard on for balloon popping, will help you figure out how to address it.

... Only I don't think you should get rid of it. Not at all.

Fetishes are totally okay things to have. Many people have them. Between 2-4 percent of Americans are fetishists, meaning there are around 90 million other people going through the same things you are. You are not even sort of alone.

They're really nothing more than juicy little idiosyncrasies a person that make them more interesting and fun. So as long as your fetish doesn’t hurt anyone (non-consensually) or involve coercive behavior, own that shit. Your fetish part of who you are and you can use it to explore the world, find a community, and explain and express your personality. Not all of us are so lucky to be blessed with a sexual proclivity that helps us do those things.

And yes, I realize that me giving you a pep talk about how fetishes are lovely and you should be proud of yours doesn't answer your question, which I'm still going to answer. I just want you to know that a fetish is a good thing to have.

Now.

 

Fetishes can be both glued to your DNA and present at birth, or revealed and shaped by your environment. But regardless of their origin, fetishes are not easy to get rid of.

Because people who have them are often neurologically wired to associate that one, particular erotic thing with climax and are not satiated by anything else, an actual re-training of the brain may be necessary in order to dissolve — or at least dilute — a person's fetishistic habits.

There are certain drugs and behavioral therapies that can retrain your brain. There are pharmaceuticals that block reward or pleasure-enhancing hormones like dopamine or testosterone that can help, but this is usually only used in the cases of chemical castration pedophiles and rapists. There aren't many viable trials of these on people with non-harmful fetishes, probably because that would be unethical as fuck, but the pleasure pathways work similarly across most fetishes, so it would make sense that it's biologically possible that these same drugs would work on your boot-clad foot obsession.

There are also behavioral approaches like masturbatory reconditioning, in which you create new sexual turn-ons by fantasizing about, and masturbating to, different things than your fetish so that you brain learns to associate other things than hentai dragon cock as rewarding.

There's aversion therapy, which links a previously sexually gratifying stimulus or behavior with an averse or unpleasant sensation such as pain, nausea or fear (although some of you might like that), and cognitive therapy that can help you understand where the fetish came from and how to live with it productively. It's not fun, but it can work.

Also, I’m not a psychologist, but I do know that the less taboo something is, the less it lends itself to fetishization.

So, if you have something you really, truly want to get rid of, find a place in the world — be it online or in person with some kind of group — where that fetish is normal. Boring, even. That might be really hard, but if you have a common fetish like S&M, going to a bunch of S&M meetings and conventions might make you realize your fetish isn’t really a covert and clandestine thing at all and you might lose interest in killing i… or it might just make you like it more and you’ll have found yourself a supportive S&M community.

Either way, you win.