Stigma-Related Stress and Its Correlates Among Men with Pedophilic Sexual Interests

Abstract

Despite decades of research on the adverse consequences of stereotyping and discrimination for many stigmatized groups, little is known about how people with pedophilia perceive and react to stigma. In this article, we present a framework that outlines how stigma-related stress might negatively affect emotional and social areas of functioning, cognitive distortions, and the motivation to pursue therapy, all of which may contribute to an increased risk of sexual offending. We tested our hypotheses in an online survey among self-identified German-speaking people with pedophilia (N = 104) using a wide range of validated indicators of social and emotional functioning (Brief Symptom Inventory-53, UCLA Loneliness Scale, Emotion Subscale of the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations, Fear of Negative Evaluation-5, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale). Specific risk factors such as self-efficacy, cognitive distortions, and the motivation to seek treatment were also assessed. In line with our hypotheses, fear of discovery generally predicted reduced social and emotional functioning. Contrary to our predictions, perceived social distance and fear of discovery were not linked to self-efficacy, cognitive distortions, or treatment motivation. Results were controlled for the effects of confounding variables (e.g., age, educational level, social desirability, relationship status). We critically evaluate the empirical contribution of this study to research on stigma and child sex offenses, including a discussion of the results in light of the potential indirect effects that public stigma may have on the overall risk for sexual offenses.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Abel, G. G., Becker, J. V., & Cunningham-Rathner, J. (1984). Complications, consent, and cognitions in sex between children and adults. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 7, 89–103. doi:10.1016/0160-2527(84)90008-6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Adiele, T., Davidson, C. M., Harlow, M. C., & del Busto, E. (2011). Co-morbid mental disorders in incarcerated paedophiles. Sexual Offender Treatment, 6(2). Retrieved from http://www.sexual-offender-treatment.org/100.html.

  3. Ahmad, S., & Bhugra, D. (2010). Homophobia: An updated review of the literature. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 25, 447–455. doi:10.1080/14681994.2010.515206.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Alanko, K., Haikio, J., Laiho, M., Jahnke, S., & Santtila, P. (2015). Attitudes and knowledge to treat potential child sexual offenders among Finnish health care professionals. Manuscript submitted for publication.

  5. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Angermeyer, M. C., & Dietrich, S. (2006). Public beliefs about and attitudes towards people with mental illness: A review of population studies. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 113, 163–179. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.2005.00699.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Beier, K. M., Ahlers, C. J., Goecker, D., Neutze, J., Mundt, I. A., Hupp, E., & Schaefer, G. A. (2009). Can pedophiles be reached for primary prevention of child sexual abuse? First results of the Berlin Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD). Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 20, 851–867. doi:10.1080/14789940903174188.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Beier, K. M., Amelung, T., Kuhle, L., Grundmann, D., Scherner, G., & Neutze, J. (2013). Hebephilie als sexuelle Störung. Fortschritte der Neurologie Psychiatrie, 81, 128–137. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1330539.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Bilsky, W., & Hosser, D. (1998). Soziale Unterstützung und Einsamkeit: Psychometrischer Vergleich zweier Skalen auf Basis einer bundesweiten Repräsentativbefragung. Zeitschrift für Differentielle und Diagnostische Psychologie, 19, 130–144.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Borchers, M. (2007). Gemeinsame und differenzierende psychologische Charakteristika von Kindesmissbrauchern mit und ohne Pädophilie. (Unpublished diploma thesis). Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden.

  12. Bumby, K. M. (1996). Assessing the cognitive distortions of child molesters and rapists: Development and validation of the MOLEST and RAPE scales. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 8, 37–54. doi:10.1177/107906329600800105.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Corrigan, P. W., Watson, A. C., & Barr, L. (2006). The self-stigma of mental illness: Implications for self-esteem and self-efficacy. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 25, 875–884. doi:10.1521/jscp.2006.25.8.875.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Crowne, D. P., & Marlowe, D. (1960). A new scale of social desirability independent of psychopathology. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 24, 349–354. doi:10.1037/h0047358.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Derogatis, L. R., & Savitz, K. L. (2000). The SCL-90-R and Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) in primary care. In M. Maruish (Ed.), Handbook of psychological assessment in primary care settings (pp. 297–334). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Derogatis, L. R., & Spencer, M. S. (1982). The Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI): Administration, scoring, and procedures manual 1. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Clinical Psychometrics Research Unit.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Dombert, B., Schmidt, A. F., Banse, R., Briken, P., Hoyer, J., Neutze, J., & Osterheider, M. (in press). How common is males’ self-reported sexual interest in prepubescent children? Journal of Sex Research.

  18. Endler, N. S., & Parker, J. D. A. (1990). Multidimensional assessment of coping: A critical evaluation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 844–854. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.58.5.844.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Feelgood, S., Cortoni, F., & Thompson, A. (2005). Sexual coping, general coping and cognitive distortions in incarcerated rapists and child molesters. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 11, 157–170. doi:10.1080/13552600500073657.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Feldman, D. B., & Crandall, C. S. (2007). Dimensions of mental illness stigma: What about mental illness causes social rejection? Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26, 137–154. doi:10.1521/jscp.2007.26.2.137.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Ferring, D., & Filipp, S.-H. (1996). Messung des Selbstwertgefühls: Befunde zu Reliabilität, Validität und Stabilität der Rosenberg-Skala. Diagnostica, 42, 284–292.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Finkelhor, D., & Araji, S. (1986). Explanations of pedophilia: A four factor model. Journal of Sex Research, 22, 145–161. doi:10.1080/00224498609551297.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Fog, A. (1992). Paraphilias and therapy. Nordisk Sexologi, 10, 236–242.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Franke, G. H. (2000). Brief Symptom Inventory von Derogatis (BSI). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Geisheim, C., Hahlweg, K., Fiegenbaum, W., Frank, M., Schröder, B., & von Witzleben, I. (2002). Das Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) als Instrument zur Qualitätssicherung in der Psychotherapie. Diagnostica, 48, 28–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. New York: Touchstone.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Gonsior, K. (2002). Erfassung von kognitiven Verzerrungen und Opferempathie bei Sexualstraftätern. Unpublished diploma thesis, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden.

  28. Hall, R. C. W., & Hall, R. C. W. (2007). A profile of pedophilia: Definition, characteristics of offenders, recidivism, treatment outcomes, and forensic issues. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 82, 457–471. doi:10.4065/82.4.457.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Hatzenbuehler, M. L. (2009). How does sexual minority stigma “get under the skin”? A psychological mediation framework. Psychological Bulletin, 135, 707–730. doi:10.1037/a0016441.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Hatzenbuehler, M. L., Phelan, J. C., & Link, B. G. (2013). Stigma as a fundamental cause of population health inequalities. American Journal of Public Health, 103, 813–821. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301069.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Hoffmann, A., Schmidt, A. F., Waubert de Puiseau, B., & Musch, J. (2015). On the comprehensibility and perceived privacy protection of indirect questioning techniques. Manuscript submitted for publication.

  32. Holt, T. J., Blevins, K. R., & Burkert, N. (2010). Considering the pedophile subculture online. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 22, 3–24. doi:10.1177/1079063209344979.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Hoyer, J., Kunst, H., & Schmidt, A. (2001). Social phobia as a comorbid condition in sex offenders with paraphilia or impulse control disorder. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 189, 463–470. doi:10.1097/00005053-200107000-00008.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Imhoff, R. (2015). Punitive attitudes against pedophiles or persons with sexual interest in children: Does the label matter? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 35–44. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00085.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Jahnke, S., & Hoyer, J. (2013). Stigmatization of people with pedophilia: A blind spot in stigma research. International Journal of Sexual Health, 25, 169–184. doi:10.1080/19317611.2013.795921.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Jahnke, S., Imhoff, R., & Hoyer, J. (2015a). Stigmatization of people with pedophilia: Two comparative surveys. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 21–34. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0312-4.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Jahnke, S., Philipp, K., & Hoyer, J. (2015b). Stigmatizing attitudes towards people with pedophilia and their malleability among psychotherapists in training. Child Abuse and Neglect, 40, 93–102. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.07.008.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Kälin, W. (1995). Deutsche 24-Item Kurzform des “Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations” (CISS) von N. S. Endler & J. D. A. Parker. Basierend auf der Übersetzung von N. Semmer, F. Tschan, & V. Schade (unveröffentlichter Fragebogen). Institut für Psychologie, Universität Bern.

  39. Kays, K., Gathercoal, K., & Buhrow, W. (2012). Does survey format influence self-disclosure on sensitive question items? Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 251–256. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2011.09.007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Kemper, C. J., Lutz, J., & Neuser, J. (2012). Konstruktion und Validierung einer Kurzform der Skala Angst vor negativer Bewertung (SANB-5). Klinische Diagnostik und Evaluation, 4, 343–360.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Lane, J. D., & Wegner, D. M. (1995). The cognitive consequences of secrecy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 237–253. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.69.2.237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Leue, A., Borchard, B., & Hoyer, J. (2004). Mental disorders in a forensic sample of sexual offenders. European Psychiatry, 19, 123–130. doi:10.1016/j.eurpsy.2003.08.001.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Link, B. G., Struening, E. L., Rahav, M., Phelan, J. C., & Nuttbrock, L. (1997). On stigma and its consequences: Evidence from a longitudinal study of men with dual diagnoses of mental illness and substance abuse. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38, 177–190. doi:10.2307/2955424.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Mann, R. E., Hanson, R. K., & Thornton, D. (2010). Assessing risk for sexual recidivism: Some proposals on the nature of psychologically meaningful risk factors. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 22, 191–217. doi:10.1177/1079063210366039.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Marshall, W. L., Serran, G. A., & Cortoni, F. A. (2000). Childhood attachments, sexual abuse, and their relationship to adult coping in child molesters. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 12, 17–26. doi:10.1177/107906320001200103.

    Google Scholar 

  46. McCartan, K. F. (2010). Student/trainee-professional implicit theories of paedophilia. Psychology, Crime & Law, 16, 265–288. doi:10.1080/10683160802614144.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 674–697. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.129.5.674.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  48. Neuser, J. (2003). Skala “Angst vor negativer Bewertung” (SANB). In J. Hoyer & J. Margraf (Eds.), Grundlagen und Testverfahren: Angstdiagnostik (pp. 280–283). Berlin: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Neutze, J., Grundmann, D., Scherner, G., & Beier, K. M. (2012). Undetected and detected child sexual abuse and child pornography offenders. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 35, 168–175. doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2012.02.004.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  50. Neutze, J., Seto, M. C., Schaefer, G. A., Mundt, I. A., & Beier, K. M. (2011). Predictors of child pornography offenses and child sexual abuse in a community sample of pedophiles and hebephiles. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 23, 212–242. doi:10.1177/1079063210382043.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Okami, P., & Goldberg, A. (1992). Personality correlates of pedophilia: Are they reliable indicators? Journal of Sex Research, 29, 297–328.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Pachankis, J. E. (2007). The psychological implications of concealing a stigma: A cognitive-affective-behavioral model. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 328–345. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.133.2.328.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  53. Pithers, W. D., Kashima, K. M., Cumming, G. F., Beal, L. S., & Buell, M. M. (1988). Relapse prevention of sexual aggression. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 528, 244–260. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1988.tb50868.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. Rambow, J., Elsner, K., Feelgood, S., & Hoyer, J. (2008). Einstellungen zum Kindesmissbrauch: Untersuchungen mit der Bumby Child Molest Scale bei Missbrauchs-und Gewalttätern. Zeitschrift für Sexualforschung, 21, 341–355. doi:10.1055/s-0028-1098723.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Raymond, N. C., Coleman, E., Ohlerking, F., Christenson, G. A., & Miner, M. (1999). Psychiatric comorbidity in pedophilic sex offenders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 786–788.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  56. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Rusch, N., Angermeyer, M. C., & Corrigan, P. W. (2005). Mental illness stigma: Concepts, consequences, and initiatives to reduce stigma. European Psychiatry, 20, 529–539.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  58. Russell, D. W. (1996). UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3): Reliability, validity, and factor structure. Journal of Personality Assessment, 66, 20–40. doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa6601_2.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  59. Russell, D., Peplau, L. A., & Cutrona, C. E. (1980). The revised UCLA Loneliness Scale: Concurrent and discriminant validity evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 472–480. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.39.3.472.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  60. Schaefer, G. A., Mundt, I. A., Feelgood, S., Hupp, E., Neutze, J., Ahlers, C. J., … Beier, K. M. (2010). Potential and Dunkelfeld offenders: Two neglected target groups for prevention of child sexual abuse. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 33, 154–163. doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2010.03.005.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  61. Schmidt, A. F., Mokros, A., & Banse, R. (2013). Is pedophilic sexual preference continuous? A taxometric analysis based on direct and indirect measures. Psychological Assessment, 25, 1146–1153. doi:10.1037/A0033326.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  62. Seto, M. C. (2008). Pedophilia and sexual offending against children: Theory, assessment, and intervention. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Seto, M. C. (2012). Is pedophilia a sexual orientation? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 231–236.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  64. Smart, L., & Wegner, D. M. (2000). The hidden costs of hidden stigma. In T. F. Heatherton, R. E. Kleck, M. R. Hebl, & J. G. Hull (Eds.), The social psychology of stigma (pp. 220–242). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Smolenski, D. J., Stigler, M. H., Ross, M. W., & Rosser, B. R. S. (2011). Direct and indirect associations between internalized homonegativity and high-risk sex. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 785–792. doi:10.1007/s10508-010-9705-1.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  66. Stiels-Glenn, M. (2010). The availability of outpatient psychotherapy for paedophiles in Germany. Recht & Psychiatrie, 28, 74–80.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Stöber, J. (1999). Die Soziale-Erwünschtheits-Skala-17 (SES-17): Entwicklung und erste Befunde zu Reliabilität und Validität. Diagnostica, 45, 173–177. doi:10.1026//0012-1924.45.4.173.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Vogel, D. L., & Wade, N. G. (2009). Stigma and help-seeking. Psychologist, 22, 20–23.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Ward, T., & Beech, A. (2006). An integrated theory of sexual offending. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 11, 44–63. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2005.05.00.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Ward, P., Clark, T., Zabriskie, R., & Morris, T. (2012). Paper/pencil versus online data collection: An exploratory study. Journal of Leisure Research, 44, 507–530.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Ward, T., & Keenan, T. (1999). Child molesters’ implicit theories. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14, 821–838. doi:10.1177/088626099014008003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Ward, T., & Siegert, R. J. (2002). Toward a comprehensive theory of child sexual abuse: A theory knitting perspective. Psychology, Crime & Law, 8, 319–351. doi:10.1080/1068316021000054274.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Warner, S. L. (1965). Randomized-response: A survey technique for eliminating evasive answer bias. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 60, 63–69. doi:10.2307/2283137.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  74. Watson, D., & Friend, R. (1969). Measurement of social-evaluative anxiety. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 33, 448–457. doi:10.1037/H0027806.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  75. West, D. (2000). Paedophilia: Plague or panic? Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 11, 511–531. doi:10.1080/09585180010002669.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Westefeld, J. S., Maples, M. R., Buford, B., & Taylor, S. (2001). Gay, lesbian, and bisexual college students: The relationship between sexual orientation and depression, loneliness, and suicide. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 15, 71–82. doi:10.1300/J035v15n03_06.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Whitaker, D. J., Le, B., Hanson, R. K., Baker, C. K., McMahon, P. M., Ryan, G., … Rice, D. D. (2008). Risk factors for the perpetration of child sexual abuse: A review and meta-analysis. Child Abuse & Neglect, 32, 529–548. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.08.005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Williams, A., Moore, E., Adshead, G., McDowell, A., & Tapp, J. (2011). Including the excluded: High security hospital user perspectives on stigma, discrimination, and recovery. British Journal of Forensic Practice, 13, 197–204. doi:10.1108/14636641111157841.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Wilson, G., & Cox, D. (1983). The child lovers: A study of paedophiles in society. London: Peter Owen Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sara Jahnke.

Additional information

Max Geradt is sexually interested in children and co-authoring this article under a pseudonym.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jahnke, S., Schmidt, A.F., Geradt, M. et al. Stigma-Related Stress and Its Correlates Among Men with Pedophilic Sexual Interests. Arch Sex Behav 44, 2173–2187 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-015-0503-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Stigma
  • Pedophilia
  • Paraphilia
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Social distance