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Exhibitionism (lat. Exhibere = to show) is a sexual preference in which sexual pleasure is gained by exposing the otherwise concealed pubic parts (genitals, breasts) or with sexual activities in front of the public. It thus represents the counterpart to voyeurism .

Uses of the term

The term of the sexual psychopathological condition described by Lasègue for the first time in 1877 is used with different meanings in medical, legal and colloquial contexts.

  • If the appropriate conditions exist, exhibitionistic acts are diagnosed as pathological from a medical perspective and judged as criminal from a legal point of view. If people live out exhibitionistic aspects of their sexuality under the premise of consensuality without a (medically relevant) psychological stress or (criminally relevant) harassment of others, this categorization does not apply.
  • Exhibitionistic behavior can be sexual substitute satisfaction, infantile behavior or a neurotic behavior disorder that can occur not only in neurotics and psychopaths, but also in oligophrenics.
  • Increasingly, private individuals are sharing intimate pictures and videos on social media and on various platforms on the Internet. Uploading depictions of sexual acts or erotic nudity is experienced as pleasurable for the broadcaster. According to the psychologist and media expert Michael Thiel, it is “a mixture of exhibitionism and voyeurism, pride in one's own body and a sexually stimulating form of play”. If women receive an image of an erect penis without being asked, Inge Bell ( Terre des Femmes board member ) recommends that they report the matter. She did so in 2017 for sexual harassment , the perpetrator was convicted of " disseminating pornographic material ".
  • In the production of pornography , an exhibitionistic tendency is considered a desirable qualification for an actor.
  • From a developmental psychological point of view, the desire to show observed in early childhood is described impartially . It could indicate a certain basic exhibitionistic disposition in humans and was described by the sex researcher Ernest Borneman as a childlike form of exhibitionism .

Medicine / psychology

Classification according to ICD-10
F65.2 exhibitionism
ICD-10 online (WHO version 2019)

According to ICD-10 , exhibitionism is a personality or behavioral disorder in the form of a disorder of sexual preference (Code F65.2).

F65.2 exhibitionism
The recurring or persistent tendency to bare one's own genitals in public in front of mostly opposite-sex strangers without asking for closer contact or wanting to do so. The showing is usually accompanied by sexual arousal and generally followed by masturbation.

This definition according to ICD-10 is legally binding for Germany according to § 295 (1) and § 301 (2) Fifth Book of the Social Code . A study carried out in Sweden found that exhibitionism was more common in men than women.

law Sciences


If the exhibitionistic acts are carried out in front of children, it can be sexual abuse of children in Germany under Section 176 (4) of the Criminal Code, and in the case of minors it can be the sexual abuse of persons under protection under Section 174 of the Criminal Code. In all other cases, criminal liability according to Section 183 (1) StGB - exhibitionistic acts - is possible. Only a man can be the perpetrator of a crime under Section 183 of the Criminal Code; According to a decision by the Federal Constitutional Court, there are no constitutional concerns . According to the legislative materials, the reason for the restriction to men is that exhibitionist acts by women are extremely rare. A woman's exhibitionism can, however , be punishable under Section 183a - causing public nuisance . Below the criminal liability threshold, there may be an administrative offense in the form of a nuisance to the general public ( Section 118 of the Law on Administrative Offenses).

The annoyance of another person through the exhibitionistic act is elementary for the offense. To do this, the action must not negligibly affect a person's feelings, e.g. B. by causing feelings of disgust, shock or horror or hurting the feeling of shame. There is no harassment if the person's reaction is interest , amazement or pity . The offense is punished with a fine or imprisonment for up to one year. If the act is exhibitionistic in front of children, the act can be punished with a fine or imprisonment for up to five years. The culpability of the perpetrator must be examined in particular, since exhibitionism (if it corresponds to the pattern of the code number F65.2 of the ICD-10) can be classified as "other serious mental abnormality" within the meaning of §§ 20, 21 StGB.

According to a judgment of the BayObLG from 1998, the offense of exhibitionism is only fulfilled if the exposure serves sexual satisfaction. Nudity and therefore also nude sport in public alone is therefore not punishable in Germany (and Switzerland). In Germany, however, naked jogging can be prosecuted as an administrative offense according to § 118 OWiG; In Switzerland, nude hiking has been an official offense in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden since 2009 .

At the end of January 2017, the Petitions Committee of the German Bundestag decided unanimously that it supported the demand for a gender-neutral formulation of Section 183 of the Criminal Code.


In Germany, 751 men were convicted of exhibitionist acts in 2008, 841 in 2007 and 748 in 2006. In 2008 456, 2007 390 and 2006 321 people were punished for offenses under Section 176 (4) StGB, which also include exhibitionistic acts in front of children. Convictions for exhibitionist acts represent around 12–14% of all convictions for a sexual offense. Every year, around 7,000 cases of exhibitionism are reported, according to the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV). For the year 2014, the police crime statistics show 7007 cases of exhibitionism. The most recent figures on convictions are for 2013: there are 740 convictions.

Term expansion in common usage

Generally used, the term means an exaggeratedly intimate self-expression in public, for example on talk shows or on the Internet. This self-portrayal is not limited to the purely physical aspect.

In colloquial language one often speaks of someone being “exhibitionistic”. This can relate to the behavior of certain people (such as actors or politicians ) without any sexual context ; but it can also refer to people who like to show themselves barely dressed or naked (e.g. when sunbathing or visiting a sauna / thermal bath ).

Nude in Public

Nude in Public - People celebrate naked at a festival

Nude in Public (Engl. For Naked in public ), often NIP abbreviated, is a special variant of exhibitionism in which the unexpected, spontaneous displays of genitals in public is paramount.

The exposed persons enjoy the reactions of the others and like the attraction of the unusual, socially offensive behavior. Many see this as confirmation for themselves because they have the courage to do so, or for their body because it attracts the looks of others.

An extreme form of nude in public are sexual acts in public, in which it is consciously accepted or even wished that viewers are present. While extras are usually hired in porn films , in the private sphere even ignorant people can witness sexual acts. The sexual practice is mostly related to the chosen location.


"Flashing" (English. Flash for "flash" or "flash") or "Blank Drawing" refers to the public baring of female breasts by pulling up the outerwear. Flashing is often practiced in front of party photographers in discos or concerts. The phenomenon is considered more common in the United States.


A speedster at a public sporting event.

Exhibitionists can also portray themselves as so-called speedsters . They show up at public events by z. B. run across the field during a sporting event. Many speedsters have no erotic motivation for doing this.


In addition to scientific literature, there are publications from the perspective of those affected as well as advisory literature. Alfred Esser, chairman of Germany's first and so far only German self-help group for exhibitionists wrote the book Show forbidden! Exhibitionism - a misunderstood problem . Norman Schulz put his experiences with women, the police and the judiciary on paper under the title Diary of an Exhibitionist - Uncovering himself in front of an involuntary audience . He also deals with curious court judgments, exhibitionist jokes and newspaper articles and gives advice on how women should behave towards a "bare man".

  • Horst Mester: On the phenomenology and genesis of exhibitionism. In: Advances in Neurology and Psychiatry. Volume 52, 1984, pp. 237-249.
  • Horst Mester: Exhibitionism - criticism of only biologically oriented interpretations of these sexual disorders . In: Zschr.psychosom. Med. Band 31 , 1985, pp. 156-171 .
  • Fritz Morgenthaler : The position of the perversions in metapsychology and technology . In: Psyche . tape 28 , 1974, p. 1077-1098 .
  • Horst Petri : Exhibitionism: Theoretical and social aspects and the treatment with antiandrogens . In: The neurologist . No. 5 , 1969, p. 220-228 .
  • Reinhard Plassmann: The supportive treatment of exhibitionism. A psychoanalytic approach . In: Psyche . tape 41 , 1987, pp. 140-147 .
  • F. Popp, W. Sperr, J. Wächter: On the question of forensic medical assessment of exhibitionism . In: Forensia . No. 4 (1975/76) , pp. 324-339 .
  • Gustav Schmaltz : Contribution to the problem of exhibitionism . In: Psyche . tape 6 (1952/53) , pp. 699-713 .
  • Matthias Weihrauch: On the prosecution of exhibitionism - before and after the fourth law reforming criminal law from 1975 . In: Henner Hess , Hans Udo Störzer, Franz Streng (eds.): Sexuality and social control. Contributions to sex criminology . Kriminalistik-Verlag, Heidelberg 1978, ISBN 978-3-7832-0678-4 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Exhibitionism  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Exhibitionism  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Pocket book for criminalists 1952, Sexualwissenschaftliche Ausxpresse, p. 143, Verlag Deutsche Polizei GmbH, Hamburg
  2. Horst Mester: On the phenomenology and history of the development of exhibitionism. 1984, p. 247.
  3. ^ Claus Haring, Karl Heinz Leickert: Dictionary of Psychiatry. Stuttgart / New York 1968, p. 211.
  4. Klemens Dieckhöfer: Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) and the importance of the bio-negative in his life. A contribution to the question of his exhibitionism and as a comment from a psychiatric point of view. In: Medical historical messages. Journal for the history of science and specialist prose research. Volume 34, 2015, pp. 129–135, here: p. 129.
  5. Naked on the Net: The New Online Exhibitionism - Courier
  6. Inge Bell's public FB post, January 21, 2019
  7. Ernest Bornemann : Ullstein Encyclopedia of Sexuality. Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main / Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-550-06447-0 , p. 877.
  8. WHO: Personality and behavioral disorders (ICD10 F60-F69 . German Institute for Medical Documentation and Information. Accessed April 2, 2019.
  9. Niklas Långström, Michael C. Seto: exhibitionistic and Voyeuristic Behavior in a Swedish National Population Survey . In: Archives of Sexual Behavior . tape 35 , no. 4 , August 1, 2006, ISSN  0004-0002 , p. 427-435 , doi : 10.1007 / s10508-006-9042-6 ( springer.com [accessed December 6, 2017]).
  10. Thomas Fischer : Criminal Code , 61st edition 2014, § 183 Rn. 4th
  11. Federal Constitutional Court 2 BvR 398/99 of March 22, 1999.
  12. Fischer: Criminal Code , 61st edition 2014, § 183 Rn. 4 with reference to the minutes of the special committee of the German Bundestag for criminal law reform, 6th electoral term, p. 900
  13. a b Fischer: Criminal Code , 61st edition 2014, § 183 Rn. 6th
  14. Fischer: Criminal Code , 61st edition 2014, § 183 Rn. 8th
  15. BayObLG (2nd criminal senate), judgment of June 16, 1998 - 2 St RR 86/98, NJW 1999, 72
  16. OLG Karlsruhe, decision of May 4, 2000 - 2 Ss 166/99, NStZ-RR 2000, 309
  17. NZZ of April 29, 2009: Nude hiking prohibited
  18. ^ German Bundestag: Current report on the Petitions Committee meeting on January 25, 2017: Exhibitionist acts
  19. a b Munich Commentary on the StGB - Hoernle , 2nd edition 2012, § 183 Rn. 4th
  20. Breast exhibition: The cab driver for whom the women pull flat. Report in the Berliner Kurier of September 25, 2012, accessed on September 10, 2016.
  21. Flashing - The New Trend from America ( Memento of the original from January 25, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.festivalguide.de
  22. Unbelievable exhilaration - exhibitionists founded a self-help group