Can Pedophiles Change?
Purpose of Review
To provide a critical analysis of purported claims to have cured pedophilia, including their scientific and policy implications.
A single recent study has been in published in which authors claimed to find evidence that half of pedophiles cease to be pedophiles, when tested with a phallometric test in use at those authors’ facility. Bootleg simulation of the original dataset confirmed prior criticisms: When analyzed correctly, the data were indistinguishable from random. Despite that the study was not a treatment study, claims continue to appear that pedophiles can become non-pedophiles.
To tell pedophiles that they cease to be pedophiles relieves them from any need to develop skills for managing that pedophilia (the current clinical consensus of the field). Although it is hoped that there may one day be methods to “convert” pedophiles into non-pedophiles, there is no evidence we are there yet.
KeywordsConversion therapy Pedophilia Paraphilia Sexual orientation Sexual preference Regression to the mean
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
James Cantor reports that he has been hired as an expert witness to summarize research relevant to this topic, in a constitutional challenge to minimum sentencing.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the author.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance
- 2.•• Dyshniku F, Murray ME, Fazio RL, Lykins AD, Cantor JM. Minor physical anomalies as a window into the prenatal origins of pedophilia. Arch Sex Behav. 2015;44:2151–9. Study provides direct, physical evidence of features of the body that develop before, and only before, birth being significantly different among pedophiles than non-pedophiles, demonstrating that the factors leading to pedophilia were in effect before birth.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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