, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 419-426

Is a Diagnostic Category for Paraphilic Coercive Disorder Defensible?

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Abstract

There is a proposal to establish a paraphilic coercive disorder as a new paraphilia in the DSM-V. The empirical data do not, however, support the hypothesis that a distinct syndrome exists that comprises males who are sexually aroused by the coercive elements of rape per se. Purported evidence for this syndrome has centered on the results of phallometric studies. Higher plethysmographic responses of rapists to coercive rape scenarios may, however, be better explained by the failure of coercive elements to inhibit arousal to sexual aspects of the stimuli rather than by arousal specifically to the coercive elements. In addition, sexual fantasies about forcing sex and about struggling victims are highly correlated with sadistic fantasies and have not been shown to identify a syndrome that can be discriminated from sadism. Finally, taxometric evidence strongly supports the hypothesis that the underlying components of rape are distributed as dimensions and do not constitute a separate taxon. Consequently, the criteria purported to categorize rapists into the proposed syndrome would have to be arbitrarily determined. Not only does there seem to be little empirical justification for the creation of this new syndrome, the inclusion of this disorder among the paraphilias would have serious potential for misuse. It would imply endorsement of Paraphilia, NOS, nonconsent, which is currently inappropriately employed in civil commitment proceedings to justify commitment.