Voyeuristic Disorder

Voyeuristic Disorder is regarded as a form of atypical sexual interest and is one of eight disorders grouped under Paraphilic Disorders. Also known as voyeurism, it is the sexual interest that comes from watching people engage in behaviours that are usually private, such as showering, undressing or having sex. Taking upskirt pictures might also be considered a form of voyeurism if other diagnostic criteria are met; not every person who takes “upskirt” (or “downblouse”) photos or videos automatically qualify for a diagnosis of voyeuristic disorder.

These individuals may not be looking for sexual activity with their subjects, though they may engage in self-pleasuring acts. Also, these subjects are typically strangers who are neither aware, nor consenting.



In Singapore, unreported cases of voyeurism cases are common.  Published statistics are said to be just the tip of the iceberg. It was revealed in a written parliamentary reply in October 2018 that about 230 voyeurism cases involving hidden cameras were reported to the police in 2017, up from some 150 cases in 2013. Minister for Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam said this was partly because more people are willing to step forward to report these cases.


Examples in Singapore

✽   In 2019, a National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate, Monica Baey (23 years old) was filmed secretly while she was showering in a residential hall. Read more here.

✽   Also in 2019, a 19-year-old man was caught allegedly taking photographs of another man showering in a male toilet at a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) residential hall. This was the second case in four days which occurred in an NTU residential hall, after a police report was lodged on April 18 against a 22-year-old male hostelite who allegedly filmed a fellow student while she was showering the previous evening. Read more here, at https://www.todayonline.com/big-read/big-read-singapores-voyeurism-problem-whats-wrong-men-or-world


Risk Factors

No particular causes have been identified for voyeuristic disorder, but certain risk factors could increase a person’s likelihood to develop the condition, such as:

  • Sexual Abuse
  • Substance Abuse
  • Hypersexuality
  • Sexual Preoccupation


Signs and Symptoms 

  • Persistent and intense sexual arousal from observing people perform sexual activities
  • Becoming distressed or unable to function as a result of voyeurism urges and fantasies
  • Engaging in voyeurism with a person who doesn’t give their consent

Some people with this condition might also perform sexual acts on themselves while observing others engaging in sexual activities. This condition often occurs alongside other conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. In some cases, people with this condition could even develop another paraphilic disorder like exhibitionistic disorder.



Unfortunately, people with Voyeuristic Disorder rarely seek treatment until they have been caught. Common treatments include psychotherapy and pharmacological interventions:

✽   Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that involves cognitive restructuring to challenge and eliminate maladaptive rationalisations the person might have.

Cognitive restructuring is done through thought substitution, redirection and distraction as ways to replace maladaptive thoughts with healthy ones.

Behavioural modification involves behavioural rehearsals, abstinence and reconditioning to change the person’s behavioural responses to the stimuli either by overstimulation, or by sensitisation through associate negative outcomes or experiences with the stimulus.

✽   Good Lives Model

This model uses a strengths-based rehabilitation approach to develop and implement meaningful life plans that are incompatible with the offending behaviours.

✽   Risk Assessment Model

This model identifies dynamic risk factors that could be modifiable (versus focusing on past behaviour as a predictor of re-offense which cannot be modified).

✽   Medication

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are typically used for treating this condition. Although SSRIs are used primarily to treat depression, research shows that they can be effective in the treatment of voyeuristic disorder by helping to suppress impulsive behaviours.

Alternatively, drugs that reduce testosterone could also be used to treat this condition as well. A reduction in testosterone levels will also cause a reduction in sex drive which might help suppress voyeuristic urges.