, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 329-330
Date: 18 Oct 2008

Adult Sexual Attraction to Early-Stage Adolescents: Phallometry Doesn’t Equal Pathology

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The finding of Blanchard et al. (2008) that adult self-reports of sexual preference for early-stage adolescents generally matched their phallometric responses to such adolescents does not justify the broad and startling conclusion of these researchers that “hebephilia exists as a discriminable erotic age-preference” so as to justify an expansion of the DSM diagnostic category of Pedophilia to include early-stage adolescents.

DSM-IV-TR draws the distinction between pathological and non-pathological age-related sexual arousal at the onset of pubescence: adult arousal to prepubescents is considered pathological and adult arousal to pubescents and post-pubescents is considered non-pathological. This distinction is more than academic. It has serious, real world implications, given that, in the U.S., a diagnosis of Pedophilia can result in the diagnosed individual being subject to potential lifetime confinement pursuant to so-called “sexually violent predator” civil commitment laws (Zander, 2