The term pedophilia literally means love of children and the pedophile attends a psychiatric clinic either because he is bothered by sexual desire for children or has been charged with a sexual offence involving a child. Superficially the anomaly seems straight forward but there are several practical problems that create considerable ambiguity in understanding this behavior. First, there is uncertainty about the definition of "child". Age may be used to distinguish the child from the adult but various authors suggest 12, 13, 15 and even 18 years of age as a cutoff point. Others indicate puberty as the end of childhood or use age differences between the offender and victim as a criterion. A spread of 7-or-10 years and as few as 4 years age difference have been suggested to define pedophilia. Thus research and therapy on pedophilia covers a very heterogeneous group of men.
A second confusing factor is that research samples are a mixture of incest offenders and pedophiles. In fact in some studies "pedophiles" may have been convicted for incest, indecent assault, statutory rape, or carnal knowledge. The incest offender is peculiar in violating a double taboo in our culture by sexually interacting both with a minor and with his own kin. For this reason the group should be kept separate.
A third confounding factor is the mixing of heterosexual and homosexual pedophiles. The two groups may have different etiologies and certainly have different erotic profiles which merit study in their own right. Moreover, treatment goals of necessity are very different, as we will discuss later.
A fourth complicating factor is mixing men who erotically prefer adults with those who prefer children and calling them all "pedophiles". Some men act out with children under duress or circumstance and are unlikely to