AirTalk for January 15, 2013

What if pedophilia is a genetic disorder?

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Could pedophilia be genetically predetermined?

New research has shown that pedophilia is not stemmed directly from childhood sexual abuse. Some of the new information on the disorder comes from the Center for Mental Health and Addiction in Toronto, where studies have been conducted on convicted sex offenders.

Increasingly, pedophilia is seen as an intrinsic disorder rather than a trait developed after suffering child sexual abuse. Genetic predisposition may delineate potential pedophiles: 30percent are left-handed or ambidextrous, and many are about an inch shorter than average, with a 10 point below-average IQ. The disorder has been found and researched almost exclusively in men.

While many perpetrators of child sexual abuse are motivated by violent tendencies, and usually choose relatives as their victims, pedophiles are more likely to see children as romantic partners. Their sexual preference may be as biologically innate as any other, and although many pedophiles struggle with their desires, many are able to control their sexual urges.

Most psychiatrists have stopped trying to change pedophile’s sexual orientations, instead opting to help their patients find the best ways to control their sexual desire, sometimes through therapy and sometimes with hormone treatment. Is there a good way to create a support system for pedophiles that keeps children safe? How will new information about this disorder change the way medical professionals approach pedophilia?


Guests:  

Fred Berlin, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Sexual Behavior Consultation Unit, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Hy Malinek, Ph.D., Clinical and Forensic Psychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills; certified by the California Superior Court as a professional testimony expert; he also consults with U.S. Attorney’s Office in cases of sexual molestation and risk assessment and California’s Department of Mental Health in civil commitment of high risk sex offenders


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