Psychology of a Shoe Fetish & Boot fetish

Psychology FLAWS:  ONLY a narrow closed minded fool tries to end a shoe fetish in an individual that has one and loves it.   If a shoe fetish or any other issue interferes with daily life, that is the only time and thing they should work on.  
YES, THIS IS ONLY ONE LIMITED VIEW, but, it is worth sharing because most of us might like a little bit more detail about their shoe fetish roots.  Again this is not the first or last word on shoe fetish roots written by people who have never experienced a shoe fetish.

Another view of fetish conditioning —The article was originally written as male shoes & gay fetish this web site changed it to women’s shoes & women.  Some of us may be LGBT but this site focusses mainly on women’s shoes and men and women.

Dr. Justin J. Lehmiller - Social Psychologist & Sex Columnist

Every Friday on the blog, I answer sex questions submitted to me by actual college students. This week, we’re talking about fetishes. Fetishes refer to cases where an individual’s sexual desires and behaviors hinge upon a specific object, such as shoes or feet. To be clinically diagnosed with a fetish, desire for this object must occur persistently over a period of at least six months and it must create personal distress (in other words, a fetish isn't considered a clinical "problem" unless the individual is bothered by it or finds that it interferes with their ability to develop and maintain relationships). People can have fetishes for virtually anything, from the conventional (e.g., silk panties and leather boots) to the unusual (e.g., dirt and cars). It is perhaps no surprise that the most common question people have about fetishes is how they develop in the first place.

"Why do some people develop strange fetishes?"

There are several different schools of thought on this issue, but the explanation that has received the most attention suggests that fetishes develop from learned associations. For anyone who has ever taken a college course in Introductory Psychology, we’re talking about conditioned behaviors here—that is, cases in which people have learned an association between a certain object and sexual pleasure. To illustrate this point, let’s consider an example reported in an actual research paper of someone describing their first encounter with a fetish object:

“I was home alone and saw my Aunts very used black leather Monolo high heel pumps. I went over and started smelling the leather mixed with her scent and found myself kissing and licking them. It turned me on so much that I actually ejaculated…and have been turned on [by them] ever since.

In this case, the presentation of a novel object (black high heel pumps) created arousal in the individual, which he psychologically interpreted as being sexual in nature. It appears that this single event was so powerful that it instilled in him a lifelong sexual association with this object. Of course, not all fetishes develop so quickly. Most people require repeated pairings of the object and eventually this contact evolves to greater pleasure as it develops more of a fetish association. However, you get the idea from this example—fetishism is something that we seem to acquire through experience and learning.

A related way fetishes can develop is through a process of classical conditioning. To the extent that a specific object repeatedly appears just before we experience sexual arousal, we may eventually come to see that object as a cue for sexual arousal in the future such that every time we see that object, we get turned on. This idea was demonstrated in a fascinating experiment conducted in the 1960s.

In this study, heterosexual male participants were hooked up to a penile plethysmograph, a device that measures how sexually aroused a man is based upon the amount of blood flowing into his penis. Participants were then repeatedly shown images of black thigh high 4 inch heeled pointed toe boots (a mostly sexy but slightly non-arousing stimulus to most heterosexual guys), immediately followed by images of sexy naked women (an arousing stimulus to most heterosexual guys). After repeatedly showing the sexy boots followed by nudes, the men eventually started showing more arousal in response to the boots alone! Thus, the experimenter was able to successfully condition a mild fashion boot fetish into the participants. A more recent study replicated this effect using an image of a jar of pennies (something that is not sexual at all) instead of boots, which goes to show that you really can develop a fetish for almost anything.

Learning theory thus provides a rather simple and intuitive explanation for the origin of fetishes. While it is not the only possible theory regarding why fetishism exists, it has the strongest body of research supporting it and suggests that all fetishes, regardless of how unusual they are, may develop as a result of the same underlying process.   

Weinberg, M. S., Williams, C. J., & Calhan, C. (1995). "If the shoe fits...": Exploring male homosexual foot fetishism. The Journal of Sex Research, 32, 17–27. doi: 10.1080/00224499509551770

Rachman, S. (1966). Sexual fetishism: An experimental analogue. Psychological Record, 16, 293-296.

Plaud J. J., & Martini, J. R. (1999). The respondent conditioning of male sexual arousal. Behavior Modification, 23, 254-268. doi: 10.1177/0145445599232004

Image Source: Royalty Free Image From