Healthy Living

Bill Cosby’s Potential Somnophilia ‘Fetish’ Is No Excuse. Here’s Why.

07/16/2015 12:50pm ET | Updated December 19, 2016
Gilbert Carrasquillo via Getty Images

by Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor | July 15, 2015 06:58am ET

Allegations that comedian Bill Cosby drugged and raped multiple women since the 1970s have brought a controversial psychological term to the surface: somnophilia, a fetish for sex with a sleeping person.

The definition is straightforward enough — somnophilia is sometimes known by the nickname Sleeping Beauty syndrome. But use of the term is quite different in psychology and in the legal system. In fact, sexual fetishes, or paraphilias are a hot-button topic in the psychological community.

"Paraphilias and things like sexual sadism are not really used by psychologists and therapists," said Anna Randall, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist who practices in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. "We don't generally diagnose somebody with that." [Hot Stuff? 10 Unusual Sexual Fixations]

The Women Who Have Accused Bill Cosby Of Sexual Assault