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Zoophilia: causes, symptoms and treatment

Zoophilia: causes, symptoms and treatment

May 23, 2022

The passion, the flame, the desire, the attraction ... these words refer to the experience of sensuality and sexuality.

This experience or the absence of this is a very important aspect of the human being. Even at the academic level, authors such as Sigmund Freud have investigated the importance of the libido as one of the fundamental elements (in its case the most important) of the psyche and human behavior. Human sexuality is broad and complex, having a great diversity in the type of stimuli that provoke the desire of individuals. You may like one person or another, awaken the desire certain characteristics that others dislike or may even motivate us to try to maintain relationships in ways different from those we normally use.


Regardless, as a general rule the object of desire or what we are attracted to is a human being with enough physical and psychic ability and maturity to establish relationships. However, there are people whose experience of sexuality includes an object of atypical desire, in some cases even illegal and harmful to themselves or to others. Within this group we can find people who maintain carnal relationships with living beings from other animal species than humans: people who practice bestiality .

Recalling concepts: paraphilias

As we have mentioned, sexuality is a complex and varied dimension. But there are people whose object of desire is strongly restricted to one aspect , wishing or performing sexual practices with living beings or inanimate objects that either do not consent or do not have sufficient capacity or maturity to make the decision to consent, or whose sexual activation depends on the presence of pain or humiliation of their own or the other person . These people suffer from the type of disorders known as paraphilias.


This type of disorder occurs continuously over time and causes a high level of discomfort in the person, having recurrently strong sexual fantasies that include acts or actors that the subject or society rejects. And even in cases of paraphilias in which people do not have discomfort, the fact of having a restricted object of desire causes them to see part of their life limited.

Some of these paraphilias they also mean damage or abuse towards other beings, as happens with pedophiles or, in the case at hand, zoophilics . That is why, although they do not cause harm to the person who expresses this behavioral behavior, they are considered paraphilias, problems that need to be treated with professional help.

The zoophilia as a paraphillic disorder

One of the best-known paraphilias is bestiality or zoophilia. This disorder of sexual inclination supposes the existence of a consistent sexual attraction over time towards other non-human animals. Also called bestialism in cases where the subject consumes his fantasies, This disorder has serious effects on those who suffer it. Specifically, they tend to be subjects who are ashamed of the acts they commit, causing feelings of anxiety and discomfort (which can cause the recidivism of the act as a method to alleviate this anxiety), in addition to facilitating a continuous deterioration at a social and even work level.


The level of attraction and being the object of desire can be very variable. There are zoophilic people who have a fixation with a specific species and others who are attracted to different species . It must be borne in mind that some zoophilic practices are carried out in substitution before the impossibility of accessing the object of true desire, this being the people. However, the zoophilic subject does tend to have a greater preference for non-human beings.

In addition to this, we must bear in mind that zoophilia is a practice punishable by law in multiple countries (including ours, Spain), due to the abuse that is committed with the animal in question. The maintenance of sexual relations with animals can also cause the transmission of severe diseases, with the appearance of sexually transmitted infections such as lymphogranuloma venereum and other alterations that can cause great problems in the quality of life of the person. Also, physical injuries may be caused during the act both in person and in animal, as well as behavioral alterations after intercourse.

Possible causes of zoophilic behavior

Although its exact prevalence is not known (those who have paraphilia do not usually admit it), this disorder classified as unspecified paraphilia is not frequent in the general population. The mechanism that causes a human being to establish in beings of other species his object of sexual desire is not yet known .

As with the rest of paraphilias, it has been proposed that it may be due to a casual association between sexual and animal arousal.This association would be the product of chance or the sublimation of affective needs, and in the case of repeated practice, it could become a disorder and a fixation in the other being, that would culminate identifying it as an object of desire.

Zoophilic practices tend to occur in isolated areas that are difficult to access, usually in rural areas. In this type of environment human contact can be very limited, while access to livestock and other animals is relatively simple. This is one of the common characteristics among people with zoophilia: loneliness and isolation. Another common feature in these subjects that could help explain the problem is the presence of a low level of social skills, which cause a high level of frustration and that in some people may cause the need to vent the unsatisfied desire and the psychic malaise.

If to all this is added the emotional union that exists between a domestic animal or farm and its owner or the person who takes care of them, it is possible that the person feels a special connection that can lead to a sexual desire principle, and even humanize the animal . This theory would be supported in this case. In addition, many individuals with this problem indicate that animals give them a higher level of affection and loyalty than other people.

Apart from this, Some cultures and beliefs may facilitate the presence of this disorder , and in certain mental disorders, behaviors of this type may appear secondarily.

Treatment of zoophilia

The treatment of a paraphilia such as zoophilia is complex and subject to debate. Many of these patients believe that zoophilic practices do no harm to anyone, equating their situation with that of other collectives historically persecuted, alleging an alleged misunderstanding based on prejudice. But nevertheless, in the case of zoophilia, the animals in question do not have the capacity to give or deny consent to copulation, with which in practice zoophilia is a violation of these.

Another reason why treatment is complicated is that most subjects suffering from zoophilia hide this fact, due to shame or fear of social judgment. The simple fact of accepting therapy means recognizing that you have a problem in that sense.

One of the best ways to treat this problem would be through psychological treatment. Taking into account that people with zoophilia they are usually lonely individuals with little social contact , an effective treatment would be based on helping the subject to increase their self-esteem and their relational skills with humans, the analysis of their fantasies and what elements of these are appetizing and induce sexual arousal. From all this it would be possible to focus and redirect the subject's drives.

It is a complex but possible process through psychotherapeutic work, attending to the behavioral and cognitive sequences of the individual and working both on enhancing normative sexual arousal and on deserotising the hitherto desired object.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
  • Belloch, Sandín and Ramos (2008). Manual of Psychopathology. McGraw-Hill. Madrid.
  • Cáceres, J. (2001). Paraphilias and violation. Madrid: Editorial Síntesis.

Zoophilia (Medical Condition) (May 2022).


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