Hello. I signed up for the forums because this current comic arc covers a topic with which I have a great deal of familiarity. And, what with enjoying the comic so much, I hoped I would have the chance to sound off a little without coming off as an arrogant know it all. If I do, I apologize. That tends to be my writing style.
I have an advance degree in psychology. Behavioral therapy, to be specific. And I was mentored by an expert in the field of sexual psychology; it was actually part of my graduate thesis that was featured in the August 2006 edition of GradPSYCH magazine. I interact with a lot of people who deal with sexual compulsions, and am a closeted fetishist myself; nothing illegal or even unethical, but decidedly weird to mainstream society. So, the study of how fetishes and sexual compulsions form is something I can talk about with some degree of authority.
Fetishes can indeed develop as a result of repeated exposure to sexually deviant material. By deviant I am not making a moral judgment but am indicating thoughts and/or conduct incongruous with the standards of heterosexual and homosexual behavior first established and documented by Ira Riess and Kinsey quite a long time ago.
The majority of fetishes which are socially unacceptable or, to our eyes, downright reprehensible are present in persons often before they even hit puberty, manifesting in fixations on topics, but due to immaturity lacking the sexual component. In this way, pedophiles, necrophiliacs, copraphiliacs and the like can be said to be born, not made.
Now, the non-intuitive thing here is that failing to feed a fetish does not stamp it out, like it would chemical and even some psychological addictions. Instead, denying oneself these deviant thoughts and fantasies results in a backlash effect, much like an addict falling off the wagon and going on a bender far worse than they would normally.
The standard of dealing with fetishes wherein a person poses a danger to others is aversion therapy, but this is reliant on the fetishist actively working to get better, and even then the reason the fetish is first experienced is because it provides the fetishist with a sense of extreme pleasure. In other words, developing a fetish is easier than getting rid of one since it's developing a way for a person to take more sexual enjoyment out of something they wouldn't normally as opposed to feeling a sense of misery over something they wouldn't normally. The most common form of aversion therapy is for the fetishist to use smelling salts whenever he/she finds him/herself beginning to fixate or fantasize. The success rate of this, even in those who remain diligent, is quite low.
Diversion therapy, on the other hand, is proving very promising. The idea is to establish a very clear divide between thought and action, reality and fantasy, a regular romantic life and the fetish. I have employed this on myself with great results, as I now am happily engaged without my fetishes becoming involved. What's typically done is that the fetishist, when he finds himself beginning to fixate, uses computer-generated and drawn fetish pornography instead of going after the real thing, gradually moving the focus of the fetish from living, breathing people to beings purely of the imagination. That way, the fetish dwells entirely in the imagination and does not intrude into daily life.
For this reason, I believe that computer-generated and drawn images of all types of fetish pornography should be legally available, even if I am personally bothered by the idea of children and/or minors being exploited, even in fiction.