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Although Krafft-Ebing also coined the term zooerasty for the paraphilia of exclusive sexual attraction to animals, as a value-neutral term.
Usage of zoosexual as a noun (in reference to a person) is synonymous with zoophile, while the adjectival form of the word – as, for instance, in the phrase "zoosexual act" – may indicate sexual activity between a human and a non-human animal.
The nature of animal minds, animal mental processes and structures, and animal self-awareness, perception, emotion in animals, and "map of the world", are studied within animal cognition and also explored within various specialized branches of neuroscience such as neuroethology.
In the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), zoophilia is placed in the classification "other specified paraphilic disorder" Zoophilia may also be covered to some degree by other fields such as ethics, philosophy, law, animal rights and animal welfare.
In one study, psychiatric patients were found to have a statistically significant higher prevalence rate (55 percent) of reported bestiality, both actual sexual contacts (45 percent) and sexual fantasy (30 percent) than the control groups of medical in-patients (10 percent) and psychiatric staff (15 percent).
A frequent interest in and sexual excitement at watching animals mate is cited as an indicator of latent zoophilia by Massen (1994).
However, a number of the most oft-quoted studies, such as Miletski, were not published in peer-reviewed journals.
There have been several significant modern books, from Masters (1962) to Beetz (2002); "The phenomenon of sexual contact with animals is starting to lose its taboo: it is appearing more often in scholarly publications, and the public are being confronted with it, too.[...] Sexual contact with animals – in the form of bestiality or zoophilia – needs to be discussed more openly and investigated in more detail by scholars working in disciplines such as animal ethics, animal behavior, anthrozoology, psychology, mental health, sociology, and the law." More recently, research has engaged three further directions – the speculation that at least some animals seem to enjoy a zoophilic relationship assuming sadism is not present, and can form an affectionate bond.
Three key terms commonly used in regards to the subject — zoophilia, bestiality, and zoosexuality — are often used somewhat interchangeably.The percentage of males who reported sexual interactions with animals in 1974 was 4.9% (1948: 8.3%), and in females in 1974 was 1.9% (1953: 3.6%).Miletski believes this is not due to a reduction in interest but merely a reduction in opportunity.Zoosadism specifically is one member of the Macdonald triad of precursors to sociopathic behavior.which he defined as a sexual attraction to animal skin or fur.