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Paraphilias are varieties of human sexual attraction and sources of arousal which often lead to sexual behavior generally considered to be "outside the norm". Some members of the furry community act in accordance with one paraphilia or another. The word paraphilia is derived from para- meaning abnormal or incorrect (more generally, "similar," "near" or "parallel" to), and -philia which is the Greek word for love.

Sexual fetishes are the externalized or manifested form of paraphilias: the embodiment of one's desire, or can be a focus of sexual attention towards a part of the body or an object which is not normally seen as sexual. Thus, someone with a BDSM fetish may have specific ideas of what constitutes their favorite dominance activity, or a particular manner of bondage which provides the most gratification for them. Often, a fetish is only classified as such when it leads to the exclusion of other "normal" sexual practices or leads to the person breaking the law.