, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 323-325
Date: 23 Oct 2008

When Is an Unusual Sexual Interest a Mental Disorder?

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Blanchard et al.’s (2008) excellent article distinguishing Hebephilia (erotic arousal to pubescent children) from Pedophilia (erotic arousal to prepubescent children) raises an important issue. In the article, Blanchard et al. specifically advocate incorporating Hebephilia into the forthcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). I am not challenging their conclusion that sexual interests in pubescent and prepubescent minors are distinct entities (albeit with some overlap) or that the distinction may have utility for research purposes, but it is not clear that a sexual interest in pubescent minors implies that the individual suffers from a mental disorder, specifically a Paraphilia. Blanchard et al. may assume that Hebephilia will meet the other criteria required for a Paraphilia diagnosis and a mental disorder, but that is neither obvious nor necessarily true.

To be crystal clear, the f ...

Editor’s note: This letter was submitted to the Journal after Blanchard’s reply to the other letters about the Blanchard et al. (2008) article was in production; hence, the reply by Blanchard (2008) does not refer to the content of this letter.