Pedophilia and Psychology

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Pedophilia and the Metaframeworks

In the first DSM published in 1952, sexual deviation was classified under “personality disorders,” specifically “sociopathic personality disturbance.” In the DSM-IV-TR today, paraphilias are distinguished from Sexual Dysfunctions characterized by disturbance in sexual desire and the psychophysiology of the sexual response cycle.

Paraphilia’s can be conceptualized as arousal patterns involving uncommon or unusual erotic appetites for a wide variety of behaviors with animate or inanimate “partners” (Gabbard). “Within the context of the listed criteria [for paraphilia], it may be observed that the pathology residing in the Paraphilias is either that the partner is socially unacceptable (e.g., corpses or animals) or that the behavior is unacceptable (e.g., public exhibitionism) (Gabbard).

As Pedophilia is classified under Paraphilias in the DSM-IV-TR, it is important to note the defining features of Paraphilias. The DSM-IV- defines the features of a Paraphilia as recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors generally involving 1) nonhuman objects, 2) the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner, or 3) children or other nonconsenting persons that occur over a period of at least six months. The DSM-IV-TR specifies for Pedophilia. The diagnosis is made if the person has acted on their pedophilic urges, or the urges or sexual fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty (American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, Text Revision 2000).

The DSM IV marks nine categories for Pariphilias; Exhibitionism, Fetishism, Frotteurism, Pedophilia, Sexual Masochism, Sexual Sadism, Voyeurism, and Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified. Although the observable behaviors are different for each of the Paraphilias, the qualitative mental experience of the paraphilia is it’s defining factor that gives name to the Paraphilias (Gabbard). This paper will focus on the Paraphilia pedophilia.

Pedophilia is a diagnosis applicable to only a portion of individuals who sexually abuse children (Berlin, Fagan, Schmidt, & Wise, 2002). Pedophiles are people, predominantly men, who demonstrate “intense” erotic interest in children. Their interest in children exceeds their interest in age-appropriate sexual (Beckstead et al., 2004).

The paraphilic focus of Pedophilia involves sexual activity with a prepubescent child (generally age 13 years or younger). The age of the individual with Pedophilia must be age 16 years, or older and at least 5 years older than the child. For individuals in late adolescence with Pedophilia, no precise age difference is specified, and clinical judgment must be used; both the sexual maturity of the child and the age difference must be taken into account. Individuals with Pedophilia generally report an attraction to children of a particular range, and/or size. Some individuals prefer males, others females, and some are aroused by both sexes. Those attracted to females usually prefer 8-to10-year-olds, whereas those attracted to males usually prefer slightly older children. Pedophilia involving female victims reported more often that Pedophilia involving male victims. Some individuals with pedophilia are sexually attracted only to children (Exclusive Type), whereas others are sometimes attracted to adults (Nonexclusive Type). As specified in the criteria, individuals with Pedophilia who act on their urges with children may limit their child to gentle touching and fondling of the child. Others, however, perform fellatio or cunnilingus on the child or penetrate the child’s vagina, mouth, or anus with fingers, foreign objects, or penis and use varying degrees of force to do so. These activities are commonly explained with excuse or rationalizations that they have “educational value” for the child, that the child derives “sexual pleasure” from them, or that the...
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