Voyeurism is the counterpart of exhibitionism, in which the man repeatedly watches unsuspecting persons undressing or engaging in sexual activity. Usually the target is female, and the man masturbates while watching. What distinguishes this as a disorder is the recurrent fantasies and compulsive pattern of behavior lasting at least 6 months. Men with this disorder spend large amounts of time going around or waiting for an opportunity to observe a target woman. Voyeurism may be reported as exhibitionism when the target woman sees the man masturbating and thinks he is exposing himself to her. Voyeuristic acts may also be part of stalking for rape or a sexual obsession with a specific woman; these would be diagnosed as sexual disorders not otherwise specified.
Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD