Women exposing themselves for attention, could be a disorder

Exhibitionistic disorder is a condition marked by the urge, fantasy, or behavior of exposing one’s genitals to non-consenting people, particularly strangers. For women, it is about getting attention while for men, it’s a sexual behaviour to gain pleasure

Women exposing themselves for attention, could be a disorder

Karan and Reema Panjwani (names changed) were puzzled with the way their daughter, Priya was behaving when she grew up to be 17-years-old. She was this funky and cheerful teenager who had a peculiar problem.

The Panjwani’s came knocking at the doors of Dr Avinash Desousa, consultant psychiatrist at Sion Hospital and founder-trustee of De Sousa Foundation. Priya’s problem was not a common one.

“The parents were obviously worried about this deviant behaviour wherein Priya had a peculiar interest in exposing herself but she wasn’t indulgent in any sexual activity. I treated her with medications and they stopped coming for follow-ups. But six months ago, they came back to me saying that Priya had gone abroad to study and joined a strip club there. The minute the parents came to know about it, they got her to me,” added Dr Desousa.

When you see someone exposing themselves on the road, you would generally perceive them to be crazy, but that isn’t necessarily the case

Last week, My Medical Mantra had reported the case of Mayur Kadam (name changed), a fruit seller who changed his profession due to this peculiar illness. ‘Exhibitionism’ is a kind of sexual disorder that gave Kadam, a 24-year old man the sexual pleasure by exposing his private parts to an unsuspecting woman.

It’s a disorder that is most commonly found in men. However, city doctors proved that though the disorder is more commonly found among men, it cannot be absolutely struck-off among women.

Exhibitionism is a disorder that can be a symptom of a larger behavioural disorder or it can be a disorder on itself. For women, it is about getting attention while for men, it’s a sexual behaviour to gain pleasure,” added Dr Desousa.

Take the case of Angela B. (name changed). She was a foreign model who was brought to Dr Priyanka Mahajan, psychiatrist at Masina Hospital with a distinct problem. She was found by the Bandra Police running across the road with no clothes on her body.  “She was staying at a place Bandra for a modelling assignment,” said Dr Mahajan.

The model, on hospitalization and further probing was found to have a history of anorexia. Anorexia is an emotional disorder that generally causes a person to believe that the person is fat and hence needs to lose weight. “The case was unusual because it wasn’t only about exhibitionism but also about a severe case of body shaming. Exhibitionism can be combined with more disorders,” added Dr Mahajan.

The trouble here is the vulnerability that a woman may have to undergo in such a case. “I haven’t met any woman who suffers from exhibitionism. But I think it will make her very vulnerable and it will be dangerous,” said Dr Parul Tank, consultant psychiatrist at Asian Heart, Mumbai and Fortis Hospital who is also the head of psychiatry department at Rajawadi Hospital.