Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 73, Issue 4, pp 313-336

First online:

Heterosexual Male Perpetrators of Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Preliminary Neuropsychiatric Model

  • Lisa J. CohenAffiliated withBeth Israel Medical Center
  • , Konstantin NikiforovAffiliated withBeth Israel Medical Center
  • , Sniezyna GansAffiliated withMontefiore Medical Center
  • , Olga PoznanskyAffiliated with
  • , Pamela McGeochAffiliated withNew School for Social Research
  • , Carrie WeaverAffiliated withBeth Israel Medical Center
  • , Enid Gertmanian KingAffiliated withBeth Israel Medical Center
  • , Ken CullenAffiliated withCAP Behavioral Associates
  • , Igor GalynkerAffiliated withBeth Israel Medical Center

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This paper presents data from a series of prelimary neuropsychiatric studies, including neuropsychological, personality, sexual history, plethysmographic and neuroimaging investigations, on a sample of 22 male, heterosexual, nonexclusive pedophiles and 24 demographically similar healthy controls. A psychobiological model of pedophilia is proposed, positing that early childhood sexual abuse leads to neurodevelopmental abnormalities in the temporal regions mediating sexual arousal and erotic discrimination and the frontal regions mediating the cognitive aspects of sexual desire and behavioral inhibition. In this way, pedophiles develop deviant pedophilic arousal. Subsequently, if there is comorbid personality pathology, specifically sociopathy and cognitive distortions, there will be failure to inhibit pedophilic behavior.

pedophilia sexual abuse brain imaging personality neuropsychiatry