, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 187-197

Psychopathology and personality characteristics of criminal sexual offenders as a function of victim age

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The affective, personality and psychopathological characteristics of incarcerated adult sex offenders was studied. Subjects were 144 men divided into three groups based on the age of their victims: prepubescent children, postpubescent adolescents, and adults. Results indicated significant differences between groups in trait anxiety and anger, self-esteem, and 7 of 13 MMPI scales. Results suggest a linear relationship between victim age and psychopathology, with child offenders displaying the greatest affective and thought disturbance. Adolescent offenders scored between child and adult offenders on most measures. Results are discussed in the context of theoretical explanations for sexual aggression and treatment.