Somnophilia – (A guide to this paraphilia)

In this brief guide, we are going to talk about Somnophilia

What is Somnophilia?

Somnophilia is a type of paraphilia. This is when someone gets aroused by having someone unconscious around them. 

People with this paraphilia may not seek to hurt others. 

They are usually able to have regular lives if the urges are being satisfied in a consensual scenario.

However, if these urges cannot be controlled then the individual must seek treatment. 

But before we get more into it, we should talk about certain points that will bring you more clarity around this topic.

A different type of intimate disorder/paraphilia is called Dacryphilia.

What is a paraphilia?

We talk about paraphilia when someone experiences intense arousal towards unusual objects, situations, fantasies, behaviours or even individuals.

Before the coinage, psychologists and psychiatrists used the term “intimate deviation” to refer to those unusual intimate behaviors. 

These unusual behaviors usually involve: 

  • Non-human objects
  • Humiliation (of oneself or another person). 
  • Children
  • Non-consenting persons

There are debates as to whether these paraphiliae should be diagnosed since most cases do not represent any real danger.

In fact, in most cases the individuals with paraphilias can live a normal life, being able to have consensual love-making with their partners. 

However, the paraphilic fantasies may tend to intensify and, the individual starts having a strong necessity to satisfy this growing desire.

Behaviors like this can affect the life quality of people. 

This could be either: the desire is confusing them or, they feel highly frustrated because they cannot be satisfied.

Another possibility among these is that this person could be in danger without knowing how dangerous their fetish could be. 

In the case of somnophiliacs, they may induce an unconscious state on someone by drugging them or could try to have love-making with someone inebriated or asleep. 

Necrophilia is another type of paraphilia.

Voyeurism is another part of Paraphilia in which an individual crosses lines to be aroused or get intimate pleasure. For example, in watching someone else make love or even a shower.

What causes paraphilias? 

An exact cause is unknown, but some researches suggest changes in the neurodevelopmental on some males that had certain characteristics such as having big brothers, the probability of being left-handed, etc. 

What is somnophilia?

Also known as the “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome”, this is a type of paraphilia where the individual gets aroused at the presence of someone unconscious.

A somnophiliac person has the desire to have intercourse with someone who is sleeping.

The term was coined in 1986 by John Money. He described it as a condition where the individual was only capable of having intimate pleasure if they intruded someone unable to respond. 

John Money stated that it could progress and became necrophilia (the desire of making love with a dead body). 

These acts might include playing with yourself, fondling, intercourse, and even forcibly violation.

What causes somnophilia?

As with the rest of the paraphilias, the origin point of this behaviour is unknown, although there are a few explanations around why somnophiliacs behave in the way they do.

Most of these explanations are psychoanalytic, stating that somnophiliacs have a set of problems regarding the development (such as Oedipus complex). 

Given its nature, somnophilia could be related to biastophilia (arousal towards forcibly violation) and necrophilia (attraction to dead bodies).

However, not every person who feels arousal regarding forcibly violation or takes advantage of someone unconscious can be categorized as somnophiliac, because they don’t get pleasure directly from the situation. 

It has been theorized that intimate abusers have been abused at some early time in their life.

However, there are no studies that are conclusive in this regard, as many abused people do not repeat the same pattern of abuse, and many abusers had never been abused.                     

What are the consequences? 

If this isn’t treated, legal issues could arise.

This kind of intimate conduct can be legally punishable, but the motivation behind such conduct is still relevant when studying and applying treatment to these individuals. 

The somnophiliac can induce an unconscious state in the victim by drugging them.

They also may try to have intercourse with someone already sleep.

In general, the individual is attracted to the idea of making love with someone unable to resist.

As we said earlier, however, an individual with this paraphilia will not necessarily seek to harm another person.

This only happens when they cannot control their impulses anymore.  


A paraphilia is all types of intimate attractions towards unusual objects, situations or even persons, which can manifest with intensity.

They were known as “intimate deviation” in the past. 

Most paraphilias might be dangerous, but many individuals can have a normal life despite having one or some of them.

However, they can affect the quality of life of the individual or their close people. 

There isn’t a known cause for paraphilias to exist.

However, some theories are trying to explain them, mostly psychoanalytic. 

Somnophilia is a kind of paraphilia where an individual gets aroused at the presence of someone sleeping.  

Somnophiliacs might try to drug someone or wait until they are sleep to abuse them. 

This paraphilia might evolve into necrophilia due to its nature of intimate arousal regarding unconsciousness. 

There might be legal problems for a somnophiliac if they try to satisfy their desire with someone in a non-consensual way.


How common is somnophilia?

Unfortunately, there are not enough statistical studies to give a concise answer to that question.

Most people with this paraphilia don’t even know they have it, so it might be more than one might think.  

Are necrophilia and somnophilia the same?

No, but they are connected according to John Money, the person who coined the term.

He said that somnophilia could evolve into necrophilia.

Can it be treated?

Yes. The treatments for paraphilias are usually behaviour-based. 

What does the word mean exactly?

It comes from the Latin “somnus” (meaning sleep) and the Greek “philia” (meaning love).

Feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comment section below.


  • Somnophilia and the sleeping beauty syndrome – the unknown patterns of arousal
  • Somnophilia
  • A brief look at somnophilia
  • Somnophilia – Journal of Sleep Disorders & Therapy

More information about this topic on these sources

  • Practical Guide to Paraphilia and Paraphilic Disorders
  • The intimate Perversions and Abnormalities: A Study in the Psychology of Paraphilia
  • Lovemaps: Clinical Concepts of intimate/sensual Health and Pathology, Paraphilia, and Gender Transposition in Childhood, Adolescence, and Maturity (New Concepts in gender

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