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  1. Michael Lavin

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy1030

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Lavin, M. 2010. Voyeurism. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Author Information

  1. Washington, DC

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Long before voyeurism became a diagnosis, people peeped. An unanticipated opportunity for King David to peep at Bathsheba led him to a train of Biblical woes and Nathan's rebuke. According to old lore, Tom's peeping at Lady Godiva led God to blind him. The stories of King David and Tom are presented as examples of “sinful,” not pathological, behavior. Neither story provides enough details to permit a diagnosis of voyeurism for either man. Voyeurism as a diagnosis came later. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000), voyeurism requires more than isolated episodes of peeping. The DSM-IV-TR diagnosis of voyeurism has three criteria; (1) The patient must have recurrent sexual fantasies, urges, or acts of observing an unsuspecting person naked, in the process of undressing, or having sex; (2) The patient must have had these recurrent fantasies, urges, and acts for at least six months; and (3) Either the patient has engaged in peeping or, if not, is having personal or interpersonal difficulties as a result of voyeuristic interests.


  • peeping;
  • paraphilia