Mental disorder

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A mental disorder (otherwise known as a mental illness, or psychiatric disorder) is typically defined as a collection of behaviours or patterns which are known to cause the person distress or difficulties in functioning in an otherwise normal environment. Mental disorders are diagnosed by mental health professionals and treatment for mental disorders varies widely depending on the cause and nature of the disorder. Causes for many mental disorders are unclear, with studies ongoing to find out what may contribute towards the development of a disorder.

DSM's role

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, is a book released by the American Psychiatric Association detailing generally accepted criteria for mental disorders of varying types. This book is used largely by psychiatrists and psychologists, primarily in America, to diagnose and assist the treatment of various mental disorders listed.

The currently active revision of the DSM is DSM-V.


The DSM-V indicates that there is a difference between pedophilia and pedophilic disorder, and that a person who has pedophilia may not be suffering from pedophilic disorder[1]. Previous versions of DSM listed pedophilia and used that heading to represent the disorder[2].

Pedophilia is considered as a paraphilia, and is stereotyped as a mental disorder in need of cure by wider society. There is some research to suggest sexual preferences are present from birth, which further suggests that pedophilia may be present from birth, though the amount of research is not sufficient for general acceptance[Citation needed]. Theories regarding the cause and development of pedophilia tend to favor environmental factors, such as childhood sexual abuse, or pre-existing conditions or disorders making one predispositioned to developing pedophilia, pedophilic disorder, or pedophilic tendencies.

Pedophilic Disorder

According to the DSM-V, any paraphilia must cause cause distress or impairment to the individual. The following is quoted directly from the DSM-V, and is the Diagnostic Criteria for pedophilic disorder.

A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sex­ual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger).
B. The individual has acted on these sexual urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.
C. The individual is at least age 16 years and at least 5 years older than the child or chil­dren in Criterion A.
Note: Do not include an individual in late adolescence involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old.

Specify whether:
Exclusive type (attracted only to children)
Nonexclusive type

Specify if:
Sexually attracted to males
Sexually attracted to females
Sexually attracted to both

Specify if:
Limited to incest

Pedophilia OCD

Pedophilia Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or POCD, is the persistent occurring of intrusive and distressing sexual thoughts of children, or obsessively worries about being sexually aroused around children, and is suffered exclusively by persons who are not pedophilies. This form of OCD has caused people to avoid children in fear of their thoughts. A difference which is often emphasised is that sufferers of pedophilia OCD are not pedophiles themselves, they take no pleasure in the thoughts they have, and they have no sexual interest in children.

Due to the stereotype of pedophilia, sufferers of POCD may not seek help in fear of being labelled as a pedophile.[3]


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  3. Pedophilia OCD (POCD) | Intrusive Thoughts Retrieved October 30, 2018.

See also