The MSD Manual suggests the prevalence of exhibitionism in men is merely 4%. This figure is even lower among women. The numbers also indicate male exhibitionists make up approximately 30% of all male sex offenders.
But it is important to have a look at what lies beneath the numbers. Psychology Today estimates more than 80% of apprehended exhibitionist do not engage in physically aggressive sexual activities.
In fact and according to the American Psychiatric Association, “Exhibitionism is a type of paraphilia associated with intense, recurrent sexual urges, fantasies and behaviours that involve public exposure of one’s genitals to an unsuspecting stranger (s).
The description goes to emphasize the condition may last for at least 6 months and causes impairment or distress for the victim.
Interestingly and as you will come to note in the various case examples I will outline; the majority of the people who exhibit exhibitionism do not meet the clinical criterion for suffering under a paraphilic disorder.
You will find out that for a disorder to meet the clinical criterion, someone’s condition must either cause clinical distress, impaired function or cause harm to other people. Additionally, the victim must have showcased the condition for more than six months.
However, most exhibitionists will hardly seek physical sexual contact with unsuspecting stranger. Let’s have a look at the case of Phil the Truck driver as documented in John W Morin and Jill S. Levenson’s “Sexual Deviance 2nd Edition”
Phil was only 36 when he was arrested after a boy spotted him masturbating in his vehicle in a parking lot. The boy was fifteen and Phil admitted in his prognosis that he’d masturbated. Only that he claimed the boy did not see his penis because it had been covered by his shirt.
Phil was charged with lewd exposure and he was more than angry because he thought he had nothing to do with the boy; who walked over to the side of his car and began looking. Phil also admitted he was used to masturbating in his car, 2 – 5 times a day.
Going by the definition of exhibitionism, it is unfair that Phil was diagnosed with the Exhibitionist disorder. It also turns out there are several reported exhibitionist cases.
Medical researchers analyzed these cases and came up with the following diagnosis conceptualization. Exhibitionists display their private parts without making sexual attempts towards a relationship.
Others who practice the act as their means of sexual pleasure and replace normal sexual intercourse. Some used exhibitionism as a prelude to sexual intercourse and made it a tool for inciting female strangers into sex. And a final group who due to the fear of engaging in sexual intercourse, used exhibitionism as a substitute for sexual intercourse.
According to a study by Psychologist Anytime, Anywhere half of all exhibitionists in the United States are married. The study notes female exhibitionists are prevalent in workplaces where their condition can be exploited for money.
These include clubs and joints where they engage in topless dancing and strip clubs. Again, researchers suggest most of the people seeking clinical help for sexual exhibitionism are those whose condition already has or is affecting their relationships.
Besides, the victims of the disorder might not seek professional help on their own unless the condition brings conflict between them and their loved ones.