This entry is submitted by Brent Concklin, MA, LMHC
Although generally accepted as a valid term in the world of paraphilias, foot fetish is actually a false notion.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders IV TR [(the manual used by mental health professionals to determine a psychological diagnostic criteria)], fetishism is defined as “recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the use of nonliving objects (e.g., female undergarments).”
The key word here is nonliving.
That would disqualify a foot, assuming it is alive at the time, as an object of fetishism by definition.
And for those wondering, it is not only the DSM-IV TR that defines fetishism as such. The World Health Organization’s ICD-10 also defines fetishism as, “Reliance on some non-living object as a stimulus for sexual arousal and sexual gratification.”
Many fetishes are extensions of the human body, such as articles of clothing or footwear. But not feet!
What then, diagnostically speaking, is a sexual fascination with feet? This actually falls under the DSM-IV TR category of “Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified,” and is known as partialism.
Partialism describes a paraphilia with “exclusive focus on part of the body.”
Having a sexual interest in feet, one would be partial to the foot as a means of sexual excitement. The ICD-10 does not have a specific diagnosis like partialism; however the behavior can be classified as “Disorder of sexual preference, unspecified.”
So, whether the APA or the WHO is governing your diagnostic adventures, one cannot really have a “foot fetish.” In spite of these facts, the use of the term “foot fetish” will undoubtedly perpetuate in our sexual culture. But now, you know the truth and can be a hit at your next cocktail party!
Brent Concklin is a licensed psychotherapist in Tampa, FL. He is a Ph.D. candidate in clinical sexology at the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists. He is married with two boys ages 6 and 2.