This article is about the sexual preference toward prepubescent children. A person who is diagnosed with pedophilia must be at least 16 years old, and at least five years older than the prepubescent child, for the attraction to be diagnosed as handbook of sexually-related measures pdf. Pedophilia was first formally recognized and named in the late 19th century.
A significant amount of research in the area has taken place since the 1980s. No cure for pedophilia has been developed, but there are therapies that can reduce the incidence of a person committing child sexual abuse. The exact causes of pedophilia have not been conclusively established. Some studies of pedophilia in child sex offenders have correlated it with various neurological abnormalities and psychological pathologies. Pedophilia emerges before or during puberty, and is stable over time.
It is self-discovered, not chosen. For these reasons, pedophilia has been described as a disorder of sexual preference, phenomenologically similar to a heterosexual or homosexual sexual orientation. These observations, however, do not exclude pedophilia from the group of mental disorders because pedophilic acts cause harm, and mental health professionals can sometimes help pedophiles to refrain from harming children. DSM-5 text discussion is an error and should read ‘sexual interest.
They added, “In fact, APA considers pedophilic disorder a ‘paraphilia,’ not a ‘sexual orientation. This error will be corrected in the electronic version of DSM-5 and the next printing of the manual. They said they strongly support efforts to criminally prosecute those who sexually abuse and exploit children and adolescents, and “also support continued efforts to develop treatments for those with pedophilic disorder with the goal of preventing future acts of abuse. It is not clear whether these are features of the disorder itself, artifacts of sampling bias, or consequences of being identified as a sex offender. One review of the literature concluded that research on personality correlates and psychopathology in pedophiles is rarely methodologically correct, in part owing to confusion between pedophiles and child sex offenders, as well as the difficulty of obtaining a representative, community sample of pedophiles. This increases the likelihood that they will show psychological problems.
Similarly, pedophiles recruited from a correctional setting have been convicted of a crime, making it more likely that they will show anti-social characteristics. Impaired self-concept and interpersonal functioning were reported in a sample of child sex offenders who met the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia by Cohen et al. This was interpreted as underlying their failure to inhibit their criminal behavior. Studies in 2009 and 2012 found that non-pedophilic child molesters exhibited psychopathy, but pedophiles did not. The most marked differences between pedophiles and controls were on the introversion scale, with pedophiles showing elevated shyness, sensitivity and depression. The authors caution that “there is a difficulty in untangling cause and effect.