, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 319-320

The Public Policy Implications of “Hebephilia”: A Response to Blanchard et al. (2008)

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Blanchard et al. (2008) present their article on “hebephilia” as an objective analysis of research data. In fact, it is a textbook example of subjective values masquerading as science. Avoiding the crucial public policy implications of their argument, Blanchard et al. advance hebephilia as if it exists in a cultural vacuum. Their recommendations are even more troubling in light of their study’s methodological flaws.

Blanchard et al. assert that their mere identification of hebephilia as a “discriminable erotic age-preference” qualifies it for inclusion in the forthcoming fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s influential Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). They ignore a crucial question at the heart of the current debate over how the DSM should conceptualize sexual disorders (Kleinplatz & Moser, 2005): What makes hebephilia a pathology, as opposed to a normal variant of human sexuality? Indeed, Blanchard et al.’s logic applies equally well to ho