Pedophilic Disorder

The term pedophile, as well as all sexual activities, is controversial when included in the published mental health disorder categories, creating an environment in which an increasing number of human behaviors is open to being declared deviant.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), outlines criteria that must be met in order for a diagnosis of Pedophilic Disorder to be given. These criteria are as follows:

  • The individual experiences intense sexually arousing fantasies or urges involving sexual activity with prepubescent children over a period of at least six months.
  • The individual has acted on these sexual urges, or the urges have caused serious distress.
  • He or she is at least sixteen years of age and at least five years older than his or her victim. This does not pertain to people in late adolescence who are involved in ongoing sexual relations with twelve or thirteen-year-olds.

If the individual meets the criteria for pedophilic disorder, it should also be evaluated and specified if the disorder is: an exclusive type, where the individual is only attracted to children, a nonexclusive type, where the individual is attracted to children in addition to mature individuals, or a type limited only to incest, and if the individual is only sexually attracted to males, only sexually attracted to females, or sexually attracted to both.

Who Is at Risk

Some individuals may be at greater risk than others of developing pedophilic disorder. There is a correlation between pedophiliia and individuals exhibiting antisocial behavior. In addition, many males with pedophilia have reported a history of being sexually abused themselves during childhood.


The elements of pedophilic disorder may change over time, depending on if the individual undergoes treatment or generally declines. These elements include subjective distress, such as guilt or shame, or whether there is an inclination to engage in sexual behaviors with children. Additionally, the older an individual is, the less likely he or she is going to engage in sexual behavior with children.

Those who suffer from pedophilic disorder are not expected to deal with their illness alone. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has proven to be successful in treating these individuals. This approach utilizes victim empathy, assertiveness training, and relapse prevention. It also confronts the individual’s cognitive distortions as well and teaches lifelong maintenance. This form of therapy, often in a group setting, works well to correct a pedophile’s thoughts and beliefs that children wish to be involved in the activity and helps the offender identify with the victim as well.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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