Pedophilia is a psychosexual disorder. This form of mental illness is an exclusive mental disorder with chronic conditions. Pedophilia is characterized by intense recurrent sexual urges, arousing fantasies, and, or behaviors that involve sexual activities with prepubescent children (National Alert Registry, n. d.). Pedophilia causes clinically significant distress, impairs work, and personal or social functioning. Typically, pedophiles are men with such characteristics as repeated intense fantasies, behaviors and, or sexual desires concerned only with performing sexual activities with sexually immature children (usually children under the age of 15) (WebMD, 2009). Various studies have shown that most pedophiles have reoccurring involvement with two or more children. When a pedophile becomes sexually active with a child he, or she may begin by touching or fondling the child’s genitals, undressing the child, encouraging the child to watch him, or her masturbate or by forcefully performing sexual acts on the child. Pedophilia also includes exclusive and nonexclusive types; some may be attracted to males, some to females; others may be attracted to both males and females, while many others may be limited to incestuous activities (WebMD, 2009). However, in most all cases, pedophiles have endured past or present abuse, sex as a requisite for affection, sexually deviant behaviors, and somatic or sexual dysfunction.
Many in society have difficulties understanding that pedophilia is a serious mental condition. Perhaps one of the biggest miscinceptions most people have is that homosexuality and pedophilia are the same (WebMD, 2009). However, to say that all pedophiles are homosexual, or that all homosexuals are pedophiles, is completely wrong. Society’s lack of understanding may help explain why a two-time sex offender was allowed to roam the streets of New Jersey without any type of mental treatment.
Although a horrific story, the Jesse Timmendequas child molestation and murder case has been credited by many as helping to bring pedophilia to the forefront nationally. Because many were unaware of the seriousness of this illness, individuals such as Jesse Timmendequas’ were allowed to not only roam freely, but were free to once again sexually violate, abuse, then commit murder. In 1994 a two-time sex offender, Jesse Timmendequas’ kidnapped, raped, sodomized, and murdered a 7 year old New Jersey girl named Megan Kanka (Meyer, 2006). Later, in 1998, four years after he had murdered, kidnapped, raped, and sodomized little Megan, Jesse Timmendequas’ brother Paul Timmendequas, was also arrested in New Jersey on charges that he too had sexually assaulted two girls age 15 and 12 (LeDuff, 1998). Both Jesse and his brother Paul were attracted to young girls. These two cases help support the belief that some pedophiles prefer girls rather than boys, while others perfer boys over girls. However, this form of mental illness is more about age rather than gender. Quite simply put, men who are attracted to other adult men are classified as homosexual; and men who are sexually attracted to young boys are classified as pedophiles.
Researchers believe using various categories to separate pedophiliac behaviors may assist in attaining a better understanding of pedophiliac behaviors, and thereby, permit psychologists to begin uncovering methods and ways of confining this type of behavior. Pedophile classifications vary greatly in origin. For example, some pedophiles are categorized as those who sexually violate members within their immediate or extended families, and by those who may be prone to abusing and, or violating non-family members (AllPsych, 2004). These distinctions, although simple, are not always accurate, oftentimes a familial offender has already offended and, or violated a non-family member.
Causes of Pedophilia
The underlying causes of pedophilia are unclear. Learned behaviors are similar to the conditioned response theory. As a learned behavior, pedophilia may be due to sexual abuse of the abuser as a child. Because of such occurrences, later in life, the individual most likely began imitating those same behaviors. Although biological factors have not been proven to cause pedophilia, some believe biological abnormalities such as hormone imbalances could be a contributing factor (AllPsych, 2004). Others believe pedophilic behaviors may be associated with psychological, or stunted emotional development, neglect, or sexual abuse, which may have been experienced during childhood.
Researchers have theorized two main reasons as to the types of behaviors that may lead to the development of pedophiliac behaviors:(1) an adolescent’s sexual activities with individuals of his or her own age could result in conditioned sexual arousals towards pubescent children, and (2) because of memory distortions that might have occurred with the passages of time, the child or adolescent who may have been sexually violated and, or abused by an adult may have developed fantasies that now place him or her in the position as the instigator rather than in the role of victim (AllPsych, 2004). Unfortunately, as a result of these reoccurring fantasies, he, or she has now become sexually conditioned to react only to children. Psychologists have also reported that boys who were sexually violated or abused are far more likely to become sex offenders or pedophiles. On the other hand, girls who have been sexually abused reacted more frequently by engaging in self-destructive behaviors, such as prostitution or substance abuse.
Because various other disorders have the same or similar symptoms, when attempting to diagnosis this particular disorder, psychologists must first try to differentiate between other disorders before an exact diagnosis can be established. Once a diagnosis has been determined, some prescription medications may be used to help reduce a pedophiles compulsive thinking. Occasionally, psychologists will even prescribe hormones for individuals who experience intrusive sexual thoughts, urges, or reoccurring abnormal sexual behaviors (WebMD, 2009). However, in most cases psychoanalytic, cognitive, and behavioral therapies are used when treating pedophilac individuals. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may be prescribed in combination with other medications or alone. Some examples of medications that have been used to treat pedophilia include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and anti-androgens. Relapse prevention is also emphasized. However, the outlook for successful treatments and rehabilitation of people with pedophilia is very guarded (AllPsych, 2004). Overall, treatment options for pedophiles may include any mixture of medication and psychotherapy. However, as in most all cases, in order for treatments to be effective, it must be long-term.
This paper briefly defines, analyses, and discusses treatments used for treating pedophilia. This analysis briefly explains that pedophilia involves sexual orientation or sexual attractions towards children, especially male children, and that rarely are there cases of women pedophiles. This analysis also explains that pedophiles become conditioned to react sexually to younger under-developed bodies. The article goes on to explain that most pedophiles probably began masturbating during boyhood to fantasies involving immature bodies. The article explains that these boys have become so conditioned to younger under-developed body forms that they need to have those exact body images every time in order to obtain or create sexual gratification; because of this abnormal need, these individuals are classified as pedophiles. However, the bottom line here is quite simple; pedophilia and child molestation should never be looked upon as normal, but as a disease (National Alert Registry, n. d.).