Reading list category research

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Schiffer, B., Peschel, T., Paul, T., Gizewski, E., Forsting, M., Leygraf, N., Schedlowski, M., Krueger, T. H. C. (2007). Structural brain abnormalities in the frontostriatal system and cerebellum in pedophilia. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 41, 753–762. 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2006.06.003

Schiltz, K., Witzel, J., Northoff, G., Zierhut, K., Gubka, U., Fellman, H., Kaufmann, J., Tempelmann, C., Wiebking, C., & Bogerts, B. (2007). Brain pathology in pedophilic offenders: Evidence of volume reduction in the right amygdala and related diencephalic structures. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64, 737–746. DOI:10.1001/archpsyc.64.6.737

Schiffer, B., Paul, T., Gizewski, E., Forsting, M., Leygraf, N., Schedlowski, M., Kruger, T. H. C. (2008). Functional brain correlates of heterosexual paedophilia, NeuroImage, 41, 80–91.

Schiffer, B., Krueger, T.H., Paul, T., DeGreiff, A., Forsting, M., Leygraf, N., Schedlowski, M. & Gizewski, E. (2008). Brain response to visual sexual stimuli in homosexual pedophiles. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 33, 23–33.

Walter, M., Witzel, J., Wiebking, C., Gubka, U., Rotte, M., Schiltz, K., Bermpohl, F., Tempelmann, C., Bogerts, B., Heinze, H. J., & Northoff, G. (2007). Pedophilia is linked to reduced activation in hypothalamus and lateral prefrontal cortex during visual erotic stimulation. Biological Psychiatry, 62, 698–701.

List of Researchers Proposing Pedophilia As Sexual Orientation

Berlin, F., "Treatments to change sexual orientation," American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 157, May 2000. "Pedophilia can be thought of as a sexual orientation...Historically, untold numbers of human beings have been both demonized and vilified simply because their sexual makeups differ from the norm...A recent Journal article documented that the vast majority of individuals with pedophilia show no evidence of either antisocial or narcissistic personality disorder..."

Blumenfeld, W., “Adolescence, Sexual Orientation & Identity: An Overview”, Out Proud, 1994. “Sexual (or Erotic) Orientation: This is determined by whom we are sexually (or erotically) attracted -- our sexual/erotic drives, desires, fantasies. Categories of sexual orientation include homosexuals -- gay, lesbian -- attracted to some members of the same sex; bisexuals, attracted to some members of both sexes to varying degrees; heterosexuals, attracted to some members of the other sex; and asexuals, attracted to neither sex. Some sexuality researchers suggest that pederasts (or pedophiles) -- adults sexually/erotically attracted to children) might constitute a separate category of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is believed to be influenced by a variety of factors including genetics and hormones, as well as unknown environmental factors. Though the origins of sexual orientation are not completely understood, it is generally believed to be established during early childhood, usually before the age of five.”

Black’s Law Dictionary Definition of “sexual orientation” is “a person’s predisposition or inclination toward a particular type of sexual activity or behavior; heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.”

Evidence that pedophilia is a sexual orientation: 1. It involves feelings of love and emotional attraction 2. Fantasies are similar to those of people attracted to adults 3. Pedophiles in the general population (non-legal samples) show no signs of pathology (e.g., aggression, social inadequacy, etc.) beyond those seen in people attracted to adults 4. Pedophilia becomes apparent in puberty or earlier, like attraction to adults 5. It cannot be “cured” Support for this evidence comes from the following research:

Wilson, G. & Cox, D., The Child-Lovers: A Study of Paedophiles in Society, London: Peter Owen Publishers, 1983. When asked to describe their fantasies, 51% of pedophiles described sexual activity, and 29% described a romantic or caring relationship. In the vast majority of those fantasies that involved sex, the child was willing or enthusiastic. The authors found these characteristics to be similar to those of fantasies of men attracted to adult women. However, they wrote that pedophiles' fantasies that involved loving, caring relationships were more similar to fantasies that heterosexual women typically have about men. When the subjects were asked what they really wanted if there were no legal restrictions, the most frequent response involved the love, care, and protection of the child. Even among those who cited sexual activity, most emphasized the consent and participation of the child as critical. Some said they would like to live with a boy for an extended period of time. The authors suggested an evolutionary basis for pedophilia. Some qualities that pedophiles find attractive in children (e.g., vitality, playfulness, and clear complexion) are an important basis for attraction between adults and have evolutionary origins. Thus, pedophiles' sexual arousal mechanism may be similar to that found in men attracted to women. Furthermore, pedophilia may be at least partly an exaggeration of the normal tendency of men (both heterosexual and homosexual) to seek youth in their partners, which also has an evolutionary basis. The authors concluded that pedophiles show no sign of clinically significant psychopathy or thought disorder. Their results were "consistent with previous findings in failing to discover any obvious links between paedophilia and aggressive or psychotic symptoms. The majority of paedophiles, however socially inappropriate, seem to be gentle and rational." (p. 122)

Li, C.K., “Some Case Studies of Adult Sexual Experiences with Children,” Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 20, Numbers 1-2, 1990, pp. 129-144. A majority of subjects expressed the importance of love, affection, and closeness with children. According to the author, for them, the sense of emotional contact with another person was as important as, if not more important than, the excitement of sex.

Four subjects talked explicitly of romantic courtship and love. The author writes that the experience “is sometimes emotionally very intense, comparable to that which obtains in the socially acceptable forms of heterosexual courtship, and the partners can sense subtle cues from each other.”

Okami, P. & Goldberg, A., “Personality Correlates of Pedophilia: Are They Reliable Indicators?”, Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 29, No. 3, 1992, pp. 297-328. 26 studies conducted over the past 40 years have found that adult-child sexual activity rarely involves force or violence. Several studies have shown that men whose sexual preference is for children often have a complex set of attitudes, beliefs, and feelings about children in which sexual desire may be subordinate. They often interact with children in ways that include many non-sexual aspects, including affection, which children experience positively.

Much of the article focuses attention on what the authors call the “diagnostic and definitional chaos” related to the term “pedophilia.” They write, “Between Krafft-Ebing and DSM-III-R lies a trail of diverse definitions of pedophilia and diagnostic criteria strongly rooted in the realms of law and morality.” Studies claiming to show that pedophiles suffer from social inadequacy, low intelligence, excessive religiosity, narcissism, gender pathology, psychosexual immaturity, and aversion to women and adult sexuality are based on biased samples of child molesters who do not represent pedophiles in the general population, and many of whom are not actually pedophiles. Little clinically significant pathology if found among pedophiles in non-prison samples. The authors concede: “The clearest finding of the present review is that relatively little may be stated about the personality or phenomenology of pedophiles.”

Langevin, R., Sexual strands: Understanding and treating sexual anomalies in men, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1983. Heterosexual pedophiles’ response to males is the same as that of heterosexual gynephiles (preferentially attracted to women), suggesting that pedophilia is not generally linked to homosexuality. However, like homosexual androphiles (preferentially attracted to men), homosexual pedophiles show little arousal to females of any age. The idealized homosexual androphile shows slight arousal to prepubescent boys, medium arousal to pubescent boys, and maximum arousal to adult males. The idealized homosexual pedophile exhibits the reverse pattern: slight arousal to men, medium arousal to pubescent boys, and maximum arousal to prepubescent boys. This suggests that aversion to adults is not a factor in pedophilia. The data also do not support the theories that pedophilia is due to fixation at an immature stage of development, to an inability to relate to women, to mental retardation, or to senility. One non-clinical study suggests that studies of clinical samples may be biased toward finding pathology which is not an inherent part of the sexual anomaly. There may be well-adjusted pedophiles living in the community. Some evidence has suggested that brain pathology might be a factor in pedophilia, but the evidence is unconvincing. Few studies have addressed personality pathology (such as emotional retardation, immaturity, passivity, or inferiority). Those that have suffer from numerous methodological problems: using prison or clinical samples, basing conclusions on scales that have not been validated, overlooking the potential dishonesty of offenders, or including incorrectly reported data. One well-conducted study was unable to find any particular personality profile for pedophiles. Even when characteristic traits are found, they may be due to society’s reactions rather than be causes or correlates of pedophilia. Current methods for treating the pedophile must be recognized as "experimental because there is no satisfactorily proven method to change him to date."

Howells, K., “Adult sexual interest in children: Considerations relevant to theories of aetiology,” in Cook, M. & Howells, K. (eds.), Adult sexual interest in children, London: Academic Press, 1981, pp. 55-94.

Normal adults choose adult partners on the basis of subtle non-sexual characteristics such as personality or affectionate feelings. Pedophiles’ choices may rest on equally subtle bases; they attribute children with positive non-sexual qualities which distinguish them from adults, such as innocence, spontaneity, and trust. The general public and professionals likely overestimate the degree of aggressiveness in sexual offenses involving children; the media gives the most attention to violent cases, and criminal and clinical researchers see a biased population with significantly higher levels of aggression. The available evidence suggests that in reality, aggressive behavior is rare in pedophilic incidents; they resemble sex play more than sexual assault, and typically involve fondling. One study found that non-aggressive contact resembles adult heterosexual contact in that the offender desires a “consenting” sexual relationship, has affectionate feelings for the child, and will stop if the child resists.

Crawford, D., “Treatment approaches with pedophiles,” in Cook, M. & Howells, K. (eds.), Adult sexual interest in children, London: Academic Press, 1981, pp. 181-217. “The therapist’s behavior serves to maintain the status quo and is seen by some as forcing the patient to conform to society’s standards when they would argue his time should be spent in helping his client adjust to, and cope with, his sexual orientation…The very language one uses to discuss these problems, “patient,” “deviance,” “treatment,” is value laden and carries prejudicial connotations. These problems have been most clearly illustrated in the case of homosexuality but the same questions must be asked with attempts to change sexual behavior, or indeed any behavior” (pp. 181-182) Throughout its history, studies of the effectiveness of aversion therapy, covert sensitization, and other behavioral methods on transvestites, exhibitionists, pedophiles, and others have reported success rates no better than when used on homosexuals.

Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association, “Aversion therapy,” Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 258, no. 18 (November 13), 1987, pp. 2562-2565. Studies of the effectiveness of aversion therapy and covert sensitization with pedophiles parallel those with homosexuality.

McConaghy, N., “Unresolved issues in scientific sexology,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 28, no. 4, 1999, pp. 285-318. Attempts to change pedophilic and other paraphiliac arousal patterns are based on earlier work attempting to change homosexual arousal to heterosexual arousal. Studies provide evidence that it is not possible to modify homosexual or deviant sexual preferences, and that treatment should aim at increasing the patient’s control over compulsive aspects of his sexuality. This conclusion has remained unchallenged by later studies. Aversion therapy and prolonged masturbation on instruction seems less acceptable than increasing the patient’s self-control.

Freund, K., “Assessment of pedophilia,” in Cook, M. & Howells, K. (eds.), Adult sexual interest in children, London: Academic Press, 1981, pp. 139-179. “Among practitioners in the field, the opinion seems to prevail that there exist procedures capable of curing pedophilia, or which at least have a substantial beneficial effect on this disturbance. However, in therapeutic experiments, often either the definition of pedophilia or of therapeutic success, or both, are not well enough specified to warrant such a conclusion.” Furthermore, when studies claim to find substantial change in sexual response, there is no long-term follow up to distinguish between superficial, temporary change, and that which is permanent. Studies on homosexuals show that temporary change is easily produced.

Sandfort, T., Boys on their contacts with men: A study of sexually expressed friendships, New York: Global Academic Publishers, 1987. The author questions the belief, based on clinical and criminological research, that pedophilia is associated with certain personality characteristics, disorders, or pathologies: Psychiatric literature has played an important role in establishing this misconception: in it one reads that pedophilia occurs in regressive personalities who are frightened of sexual contact with women and have not sufficient social skills to be able to get along with adults. Such stereotyping is completely without empirical support. There is no research which justifies any kind of type-casting of 'the' pedophile, assuming such research would even be possible. Pedophiles [and ephebophiles] seek and develop many varieties of relationships with children [those under 16]—some sexual, and some not. Sex may not occur because the adult finds the child does not want it or because he thinks it would be too risky. The contact between the adult and child can be frequent, sporadic, or occur in pulses. The mutual emotional involvement varies from relationship to relationship and between the man and the boy.

Bradford, J.M.W., Bloomberg, B.A., & Bourget, D., “The heterogeneity/homogeneity of pedophilia,” Psychiatric Journal of the University of Ottowa, v. 13, no. 4, pp. 217-226, 1988. The authors cite 11 studies showing that the most characteristic activities are cuddling, caressing, and fondling, usually with the child’s willing compliance and often at his initiative. Penetration is rare, as is violence in any form.

Feierman, J., ”Human Erotic Age Orientation: A Conclusion,” in Feierman, J. (ed.), Pedophilia: Biosocial Dimensions, New York: Springer-Verlag, 1990, pp. 552-565. The author expresses his concern for youth who are attracted to children or younger adolescents: “When I grow up, I want to be...” are words that are heard frequently from children...Recently, much has been written about the development in childhood and adolescence of individuals who eventually grow up to be homosexual...materials, as well as interested and compassionate professionals and nonprofessionals, are available to an adolescent or a young-adult male who is personally dealing with his homosexuality. These resources simply are not available in most Western industrialized societies for an adolescent or a young-adult male who is dealing with a preferential sexual attraction to children or younger adolescents. If in the process of learning about his sexuality such a male unfortunately acted his attraction out, in any way, and if in many jurisdictions he were to tell a human services professional that he had done so, he very likely would be arrested...It is, therefore, not surprising that adolescent and adult males who are dealing with this issue rarely discuss it with anyone. (p. 563)

Feierman, J., "Introduction and A Biosocial Overview," in Feierman, J. (ed.), Pedophilia: Biosocial Dimensions, New York: Springer-Verlag, 1990, pp. 1-68. Feierman describes evidence for hormonal processes that influence sexual attraction before birth. He proposes a theory that explains heterosexuality, homosexuality, ephebophilia, and pedophilia based on the phenomena of brain masculinization and defeminization.

Freund, K. & Kuban, M., "Toward a testable developmental model of pedophilia: The development of erotic age preference," Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 17, 1993, pp. 315-324. Freund and Kuban of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto propose and test a theory of gender and age preference. They write that their findings along with their clinical observations suggest that the development of erotic gender preference precedes that of erotic age preference. They conclude that pedophilia is predetermined at least from early childhood.

Moser, C. & Kleinplatz, P., "DSM-IV-TR and the Paraphilias: An Argument for Removal," Paper presented at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Convention, May, 2003. Moser and Kleinplatz write that people whose sexual interests are unusual or culturally forbidden should not necessarily be labeled as mentally ill. Because different societies stigmatize different sexual behaviors, and research does not find pathology among people with paraphilias any more than among people with more common sexual feelings, there is no reason to diagnose the former as psychologically unhealthy. Labeling their conditions as "pathological" only fuels social discrimination which can lead to psychologically damaging distress. "The situation of the paraphilias at present parallels that of homosexuality in the early 1970s. Without the support or political astuteness of those who fought for the removal of homosexuality, the paraphilias continue to be listed in the DSM."

Moser, C. Testimony in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, in the case of Barbara Nitke vs. John Ashcroft and the United States of America, October 6, 2004. “Major health organizations including the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association officially recognize that sexual orientation (homosexual or heterosexual) cannot be changed. It is becoming more accepted among professionals that other sex and gender orientations, as well as other sexual interests, cannot be changed. Most of the data is related to sex offenders who have consistent interests in activities that are against the law. Attempts at changing their sexual interests have been unsuccessful.”

Green, R., “Is pedophilia a mental disorder?”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 31, no. 6, 2002, pp. 467-471. The author writes that 30 years ago, he argued vigorously for the removal of homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders. During the controversy over this proposal, several areas of research were examined: historical and cross-cultural studies, psychiatric features associated with homosexuality, emotional consequences of societal condemnation, and behaviors of other species. The author cites examples of cultures which accept or condone child-adult sex as a part of their cultural or religious traditions. He then cites cross-species research finding that among bonobos, primates that are genetically close to humans, nonfertile sexual combinations including same-sex and juvenile-adult combinations are as common as fertile combinations. He then turns to personality features that are associated with pedophilia. He notes that almost all research involves unrepresentative criminal or patient samples. Nevertheless, when imprisoned pedophiles were compared to controls, no differences were found in the psychopathic deviate scale of the MMPI. In addition, sexual interest in children may be more common than realized. Two studies of university males found over 20% reported some sexual attraction to small children. Three other studies of normal volunteer males found 17-25% exhibited arousal to children or adolescents equal to or greater than arousal to adults, and one found that average males showed 50% as much arousal to prepubescent girls as to adults. The author then describes the history of pedophilia in various editions of DSM, describing it as "a trip through Alice's Wonderland." The inclusion of "sexual paraphilias" in DSM has reinforced the suspicion that they are not mental disorders, but rather conflicts between an individual and society: "psychiatry has resorted to the codification of social mores while masquerading as an objective science." The general criteria for a mental disorder in the current DSM require that it be associated with distress or disability or a significantly increased risk of suffering. The DSM also states that "Neither deviant behavior (e.g.,...sexual) nor conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict is a symptom of a dysfunction in the individual." Thus, a pedophile who is not distressed by his sexual feelings except in response to public condemnation would not qualify for a disorder. Yet pedophilia is listed as a mental disorder, but only if the pedophile acts on his feelings. He writes: The APA position with its DSM catalogue is logically incoherent...These people with these fantasies do not have a mental disease unless that person translates thought into action. This turns psychiatry on its head. Certainly a society can set rules on sexual conduct and proscribe child-adult sex and invoke sanctions for transgressors. But that is the province of the law and the penal system. The DSM should not provide psychiatry with jurisdiction over an act any more than it should provide the law with jurisdiction over a thought. Sexual arousal patterns to children are subjectively reported and physiologically demonstrable in a substantial minority of "normal" people. Historically, they have been common and accepted in varying cultures at varying times. This does not mean that they must be accepted culturally and legally today. The question is: Do they constitute a mental illness? Not unless we declare a lot of people in many cultures and in much of the past to be mentally ill. And certainly not by the criteria of DSM.

Schmidt, G., “The Dilemma of the Male Pedophile” in Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 31, no. 6, 2002. "Pedophiles are men whose sexual wishes and desires for relationship bonds and love are focused either primarily or exclusively on children who have not reached puberty...Pedophilia is as much a part of him as is love for the same or opposite sex for the homosexual or heterosexual man or woman, the difference being that the one is accepted, while the other is categorically forbidden and virtually impossible to realize.”

Bogaert, A.F., Bezeau, S., Kuban, M., & Blanchard, R., “Pedophilia, Sexual Orientation, and Birth Order,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 106, Issue 2, 1997. This article assumes that heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual pedophilia are sexual orientations, and finds evidence that they are caused by factors similar to the causes (“etiological factors”) of androphilia and gynephilia (attraction to adult males and females). “Like men with adult-age sexual preferences, pedophilic men can have strong inclinations for males, females, or, sometimes, both sexes…One of the best established differences between androphiles (men who prefer physically mature male sexual partners) and gynephiles (men who prefer physically mature female sexual partners) is in average birth order. Androphilic men have, on average, a later birth order than population norms or comparable groups of gynephilic men.” “The results of this study indicate that homosexual and bisexual pedophiles have a later birth order than heterosexual pedophiles. Our main results have implications for etiological theories of pedophilia. Freund and his coworkers (e.g., Freund, 1994; Freund et al., 1984; Freund & Watson, 1992) have suggested that the factors that determine whether a man oriented toward children prefers boys or girls are different from the factors that determine whether a man oriented toward adults prefers men or women. The present findings, however, cast some doubt on this conclusion: Homosexual–bisexual pedophiles have a later birth order (among brothers) than comparable heterosexual pedophiles, and this finding is very similar to birth order results among androphiles and gynephiles…in pedophiles, as in men sexually attracted to adult partners, sexual orientation probably has several causes, many of which are not correlated with birth order.”

George A. Gaither, “Pedophilia as a Sexual Orientation?” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 31, Issue 6, pp. 485-486, 2002. “Although most researchers have tended to discuss sexual orientation in terms of the sexes or gender identities of the individuals involved (most likely assuming that the individual to whom one is attracted is of consenting age), there have been a growing number of researchers who have defined sexual orientation in much broader terms, which include pedophilia (e.g., Barbaree, Bogaert, & Seto, 1995; Berlin, 2000; Feierman, 1990; Laws & O’Donohue, 1997; Suppe, 1984). Barbaree et al. (1995), for instance, stated that “sexual orientation is defined by (1) the ability of a certain class of stimuli to evoke sexual arousal and desire in the individual, (2) the persons or objects toward which sexual behavior and activity are directed by the individual, and (3) the persons or objects depicted in fantasies and cognitions” (p. 358). Pedophilia certainly fits within this definition of sexual orientation. Furthermore, clinical evidence suggests that, similar to homosexual or heterosexual orientations, a pedophilic sexual orientation typically begins by early adolescence, tends to be lifelong, and is resistant to change (Abel & Osborn, 1995; Marshall, 1997), for as Schmidt states, it is part of the person’s identity.”

Abel, G. G., & Osborn, C. (1995). Pedophilia. In L. Diamant & R. D. McAnulty (Eds.), The psychology of sexual orientation, behavior and identity: A handbook (pp. 270–281).Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Barbaree, H. E., Bogaert, A. F., & Seto, M. C. (1995). Sexual reorientation therapy for pedophiles: Practices and controversies. In L. Diamant&R.D. McAnulty (Eds.), The psychology of sexual orientation,behavior and identity: A handbook (pp. 357–383). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Berlin, F. S. (2000). Treatments to change sexual orientation [Letter to the editor]. American Journal of Psychiatry; 157, 838.

Feierman, J. R. (1990). A biosocial overview of adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents. In J. R. Feierman (Ed.), Pedophilia: Biosocial dimensions (pp. 8–68). New York: Springer.

Laws, D. R. & O’Donohue, W. (1997). Fundamental issues in sexual deviance. In D. R. Laws &W. O’Donohue (Eds.), Sexual deviance:Theory, assessment, and treatment (pp. 1–21). New York: Guilford Press.

Marshall, W. L. (1997). Pedophilia: Psychopathology and treatment. In D. R. Laws & W. O’Donohue (Eds.), Sexual deviance: Theory, assessment, and treatment (pp. 152–174). New York: Guilford Press.

Suppe, F. (1984). Classifying sexual disorders: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. Journal of Homosexuality; 9, 9–28.

See also