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Voyeurism is a disorder of a psychosexual nature where the person gets sexual gratification and pleasure from observing naked genitalia or bodies, or from watching other people perform sexual acts. A voyeur is most often not in view of those that they are observing. There also exists a secondary type of voyeurism that involves the listening to of conversations that are erotic, though it is only considered voyeurism when the people being listened to are not aware that the voyeur is listening in. The person that is being observed is most often a stranger to the voyeur. The voyeur is usually not looking to have actual sexual contact or interaction with the person that they are observing.

If the voyeur is seeking an orgasm, they usually achieve it through masturbation. This masturbation can occur either during or after the act of observation, where they rely on the memory of the observation to achieve sexual arousal.

Paraphilias, Psychiatric Diagnosis, and Criminality
All types of voyeurism are a kind of paraphilia. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association, paraphilias are intense and recurring sexual urges and fantasies that usually involve objects, the humiliation or suffering of a sexual partner or oneself, or minors or other persons who are non-consenting. Paraphilias are considered abnormal behavior that can have a severely negative impact on the mental health and emotional well-being of the persons who suffer from them. However, paraphilias can vary in intensity, and many people are able to function normally.

Many jurisdictions have statutes and laws that make voyeuristic behaviors a crime, but these statutes vary widely in what constitutes criminal voyeurism. Most jurisdictions have specific prohibitions against videotaping or photographing another person without consent when that person is in their home or another place where they can reasonably expect privacy.

The Causes of Voyeurism
There does not exist any professional consensus for the source or cause of voyeurism. Most of the experts suggest that the root cause is an accidental or random observation of a naked person, someone in the process of undressing, or of people engaged in sexual activity. The initial arousal is then sought out through purposeful attempts to repeat the experience.

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