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Smear: symptoms, causes and treatment of this paraphilia

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We go by bus and suddenly we notice that someone is rubbing their genitals against us. We walk through the crowd and feel our buttocks touch. Although it may not seem like it, these are relatively common situations in our day to day, which are a crime.

Although most of those who carry out this type of behavior do so without suffering any type of mental problem, in some of these cases the person who carries out said touching and friction is a smearist. In this article we will briefly see what is smear and why does it occur.

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Smear as paraphilia

Smear or frotteurism is one of the disorders classified as paraphilia or disorders of sexual orientation, a group in which those disorders are grouped in which there are repetitive and continuous fantasies and sexual impulses in which there is a non-consensual relationship or in which one of the parties cannot consent, that the only reason for arousal is the use of objects or that humiliation or suffering of one's own or others is required to obtain gratification sexual.

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These desires, impulses or fantasies generate discomfort or deterioration in some vital area in the subject who suffers them.

In the case of smears, we are dealing with a paraphilia in which the subject presents for at least six months intense fantasies related to the fact of rubbing, rubbing or touching someone against or without the will of the victim. It is the idea of ​​maintaining physical contact and the surprise and reaction generated in the victim that awakens the individual's libido. To be considered as such, it is necessary that you have carried out the practice in real life or if these fantasies generate discomfort or limitation.

In general, the memory of this event is used as material to masturbate later, although in some cases they seek to achieve the climax during the situation itself (through masturbation, it is not often that there is a real attempt to have sex with the person affected). The rubbing is usually directed to the genital area or areas related to sexuality like breasts or buttocks. The subject who carries it out can use any part of his body to rub it, and it is common for the rubbing to use hands or genitals.

It is necessary to bear in mind that the excitement due to physical contact or friction with one's partner or even involuntary friction with strangers is not included within this paraphilia, being necessary that the subject be carried out actively and voluntarily by the friction with unknown persons who have not given their consent to it. The implementation of the fantasies of a frotteurista is a crime against sexual freedom in many countries, being able to carry jail sentences.

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General characteristics of the smear

The smearist is usually a male who initiates his activity during adolescence, usually decreasing his behavior from the age of twenty-five. It is not uncommon for these to be individuals with a shy personality, with a high level of frustration and a feeling of inferiority.

Although you can have a partner and have normative relationships with her, it is not uncommon for the subject to only obtain sexual gratification and getting excited by practicing this paraphilia, being the only type of stimulation that offers sexual gratification.

Usually acts in crowded places and situations, in which it is easy to escape and go unnoticed. Typical examples are nightclubs, public transport, traffic lights and crosswalks or shopping streets.

Possible causes

The cause of the existence of this and other paraphilias is not fully known, although different models are proposed that try to explain their origin.

Frotteurists are often people with poor communication skills and feelings of inferiority, with which in some cases they resort to this type of practice as an attempt to make up for their deficiencies by performing risky acts. This idea is reinforced due to the fact that although it is the physical contact itself that produces the arousal, as with the exhibitionists, many frotteurists also enjoy the surprise or displeasure reactions of their victims.

One of the possible explanations offered is based on the effect of exposure to behavioral models similar during childhood, acquiring and learning the behavior that in some cases they have suffered themselves. In this way they could have been sexually abused, being forced to touch an adult.

From a behavioral perspective, the possibility that we are facing a conditioned behavior is raised: at a given moment of great sexual arousal, produced a friction with a stranger or unknown, the subject attributing the excitement to the friction and later consolidating through said practice association.

Another theory, which would account for the fact that in some of these subjects the performance of friction has a compulsive, is McConaghy's theory of behavioral termination: the presence of stimuli associated with the practice of friction causes a high level of anxiety to appear that the subject needs to resolve by practicing rubbing. So that this tension does not reappear, the subject begins to replicate the behavior.


As with other paraphilias, the treatment of frotteurism can be carried out using a variety of tactics. It must be borne in mind that except in those cases in which guilt or discomfort occurs, generally the paraphilic individual does not usually present for consultation of their own free will, so it is expected that there is resistance to the treatment. It is necessary to make the patient see the need and advantages that her participation may entail.

It is first necessary to analyze the fantasies of the subject and to what the subject attributes his behavior, if it gives it any meaning or what circumstances lead him to carry out said practices. Knowing the significance of the act is of great importance in order to be able to work it through the modification of beliefs and cognitive restructuring, at the same time that the subject can express possible conflicts that have led him to do so.

Likewise, techniques such as the modification of the paraphilic sequence are usually used, in which it is intended to introduce alterations in the sequence of acts that the individual performs to carry out the touching so that the final result is incompatible with the touching.

  • You may be interested: "The 10 most used cognitive-behavioral techniques"

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.

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