The Psychology of Sexual Orientation, Behavior, and Identity: A Handbook

By Louis Diamant; Richard D. McAnulty | Go to book overview

13
Pedophilia

Gene G. Abel and Candice Osborn

Pedophilia, according to the fourth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) ( American Psychiatric Association 1994), is a psychiatric diagnosis that identifies individuals who have recurrent, intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child (13 years of age or younger) that persist for at least six months. The pedophile must have acted on these urges or be markedly distressed by them. The pedophile must be at least 16 years of age and at least five years older than the children to whom he is attracted. The pedophile may target an individual of the same sex, the opposite sex, or both and is identified as either limited to incest or to nonincest or both, is either exclusive in type (attracted only to children) or nonexclusive (attracted to both children and adults).

Pedophilia is multifactorial in etiology. A review of the psychological literature ( Abel & Blanchard 1974) indicates that there is surprising agreement on how pedophilic interests develop. The developing young child is surrounded by a variety of stimuli, including the people, activities and clothing, and objects surrounding him. As the child begins to experience his own body, bodily touching (including genital touching) becomes paired or associated with these objects, people, or activities. Development continues with differentiation of sexual arousal affected by the experiences of the child and his activities with others. As the child's body reacts to increasing levels of testosterone, he experiences a heightened sexual drive and incorporates the attitudes and beliefs of his culture.

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