Psychological Theories of Pedophilia and Ephebophilia

Categories: Theory

The problem of pedophilia and ephebophilia was recently highlighted with the successive scandals involving many catholic priests who allegedly abused children and minors. Although the problem was sensationalized with the recent scandals, it must be noted that it is not limited to the catholic clergy as “It’s a problem that strikes anywhere, every walk of life, every race, and every social level”. (Richmond, 2009) The article “Psychological Theories of Pedophilia and Ephebophilia” attempts to explain the underlying theories that explain the said sexual deviant behaviors.

It distinguishes the difference between a pedophilia, an adult who has recurrent, intense sexual urges and sexual fantasies involving a prepubescent child below 13 years old and an ephebophilia, who has recurrent, intense sexual urges and sexual fantasies involving a pubescent child or adolescent between the ages 14 and 17 years old. In both cases, the offending adult is at least 5 years older than the victim. A further distinction was made between regressed and fixated pedophiles and ephebophiles. The latter primarily have sexual orientation towards adults and regresses into a sexual urge for children only under extreme duress.

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The former, on the other hand, are fixated on children and teenagers alone. The article cites earlier studies, such as that from Araji and Finkelhorn which view the theories of pedophilia according to four broad categories: emotional congruence, sexual arousal, blockage and inhibition. At the outset, the article clarifies that that there is no clear and definite pattern of their background. Their religious, vocation, socio-economic, education backgrounds are widely diverse, heterogeneous and complex, thus making it difficult to narrow down the specific characteristics of these offenders.

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Owing to the diversity of backgrounds of pedophiles and ephebophiles, the author investigates the causes of the disorders by analyzing them using two broad categories, (1. ) the psychological theories including psychic, social and environmental factors, and (2. ) the hypothesized biological strata of the disorder. By taking a multi-faceted approach, one is able to compartmentalize the types of offenders according to above theories, thus making analysis of these disorders more organized, direct, and systematic. Psychological Theories

Psychoanalytic theories look at deviant sexual behaviors as stemming from early childhood trauma (ages 2-5 years), causing one’s arrested development and explains why the person eventually becomes the offender and repeats the offense later in adulthood in an attempt to mask the anxiety. Meanwhile, family system theories stresses the role of unresolved intergenerational family dynamics on certain family members which argues that deviant behavior is learned within the family, and eventually, spreads across family lines.

Behaviorism and social learning theories stress the importance of learning our behavior. In other words, behavior is learned and acquired through early experiences that either brings guilt or pleasure or both. Biological Theories Biological theories attempt to connect deviant sexual behaviors with brain disease. It attempts to answer 2 basic questions, such as: 1. What effect does the brain have on perverse sexual behavior? 2. Can deviant sexual arousal be attributed to brain disease or damage?

More specifically, psychologists have found a strong link between high testosterone levels among males and sexual aggression. Subsequently, studies suggest that the level of testosterone in fetuses can be affected by the mother’s intake of specific drugs and stress. Certain studies do seem to suggest a direct correlation between high levels of testosterone and deviant sexual behavior as proven by high levels of testosterone found among pedophiles and in another study, elevated levels of “luteinising hormone”.

In this respect, an anti-androgenic medication such as Depo Provera lowers the level of testosterone in the human body and has been moderately successful in the treatment of sexually deviant men. REFERENCE Richmond, R. The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood. (21 May 2009) Pedophilia not just a clergy problem, police expert says. Retrieved 17 June 2009 from http:// www. jknirp. com/richmond. htm.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Psychological Theories of Pedophilia and Ephebophilia. (2016, Oct 28). Retrieved from

Psychological Theories of Pedophilia and Ephebophilia essay
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