In addition, many patients with paraphilias do not cooperate with physicians, who may have considerable difficulty making an accurate diagnosis of other disorders that may also exist.
A diagnosis of exhibitionism follows a somewhat different pattern from the standard procedures for diagnosing most mental disorders.
People who exhibit pedophilia , which is also characterized as a paraphilia, have abnormalities in brain imaging studies that are similar to those observed in imaging studies of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder .
Disruption of dopamine and serotonin (both nerve signaling molecules) pathways is implicated in many of these disorders.
One expert in the field of treating paraphilias has suggested classifying the symptoms of exhibitionism according to level of severity, based on criteria from the DSM-III-R (1987): The incidence of exhibitionism in the general population is difficult to estimate because persons with this disorder do not usually seek counseling by their own free will.
Exhibitionism is one of the three most common sexual offenses in police records (the other two are voyeurism and pedophilia).
Single case studies have suggested some effectiveness of drugs used to treat bipolar disorder in treating exhibitionistic behaviors, implying a potential link also to bipolar disorders.A second complication of diagnosing exhibitionism is the high rate of comorbidity among the paraphilias as a group and between the paraphilias as a group and other mental disorders.In other words, a patient in treatment for exhibitionism is highly likely to engage in other forms of deviant sexual behavior and to have depression (an anxiety or substance-abuse disorder).The disorder appears to have its onset before age 18.Like most paraphilias, exhibitionism is rarely found in men over 50 years of age.Some exhibitionists are aware of a conscious desire to shock or upset their target; while others fantasize that the target will become sexually aroused by their display.Some psychiatrists disagree about whether exhibitionism should be considered a disorder of impulse control or whether it falls within the spectrum of obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCDs).Definition Description Causes and symptoms Demographics Diagnosis Treatments Prognosis Prevention Resources Exhibitionism is a mental disorder characterized by a compulsion to display one’s genitals to an unsuspecting stranger.The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , also known as the DSM-IV-TR, classifies exhibitionism under the heading of the “paraphilias,” a subcategory of sexual and gender identity disorders.A thorough workup in a clinic for specialized treatment of sexual disorders includes the following components: Exhibitionism is usually treated with a combination of psychotherapy , medications, and adjunctive treatments.Several different types of psychotherapy have been found helpful in treating exhibitionism: There are several different classes of drugs used to treat the patient with exhibitionism and the other paraphilias.