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Poll Is pedophilia an illness?

Do you think pedophilia is a mental illness?

  • Yes

    Votes: 5 29.4%
  • No

    Votes: 12 70.6%

  • Total voters

Rose White

Do you think pedophilia is a mental illness?

Some people think that pedophilia is caused by trauma and abuse so is a mental illness but not an excuse to act upon the impulses.

Some people think that pedophilia is a random sexual orientation without any cause, that people who have it must learn to manage in order to not abuse children. A sexual orientation is not an illness but in this case it is sort of treated like one (as in having thoughts and impulses that must be coped with).

Some people think pedophilia is the result of bad and evil decisions made by people who may or may not have mental illness diagnoses unrelated to pedophilia and which are not excuses for acting upon the impulses.
It’s a behaviour. I see it as a choice. We choose our behaviour. I don’t see it as a a mental illness or a sexual orientation.

I wonder what is making you ask this question? Is the underlying reason you’re asking part of this struggle you’re trying to overcome that your abuser was helpless and not responsible for his actions?

it reminds me of a conversation I had with my T, where I was wondering if my mum’s auctions were deliberate and conscious or an inability of some kind. T said, ultimately it doesn’t matter because the behaviour was there. The motivation behind the behaviour I am never going to know, so how can I make peace with that? And I wonder that for you about this?
Don’t really think about it that much. I do know there are people who have that attraction, but are repulsed by it, and do everything to not to act on it. For that reason I’d categorise it as a dysfunctional sexual preference.

Just because someone is a pedophile, it doesn’t make them helpless and unable to resist acting upon their impulses. They know right from wrong.

It doesn’t matter for what reason someone is sexually attracted to a child, no matter how hard people do know that is wrong, and everyone is responsible for their own behavioural choices.
It's a structural anomaly in the person's brain. Some people classify these types of anomalies as mental illness, while others would consign it to more of a physical, medical problem. Similar to psychopathy, people are generally born pedophiles. It's not really possible to "become" a pedophile through environmental circumstances such as abuse. Some people sexually harm children and they're not pedophiles, while some pedophiles never sexually harm children. Some people are abused and then act out that abuse on others - so while it isn't possible to turn into a pedophile because of these circumstances, it is possible to become a sexual offender.

Which makes it all the more confusing. What is not confusing, however - is that much like any other mental illness - pedophiles demonstrate the cognitive capacity to comprehend social-ethical norms, and are aware of what is considered right and wrong. They are also capable of controlling their impulses, as they demonstrate this capacity in other aspects of their lives. This makes their decision to sexually offend a deliberate one, and thus they possess the appropriate level of mens rea (the intention of committing a premeditated criminal act with full awareness) to require rehabilitation via the criminal justice system.

The label of violent offender is appropriate for them. Regardless of how we view their behavior, if it is non-deterministic (completely within their control) or not (however you conceptualize it - for me, I believe we are mostly a product of our physical composition and that we don't really have full control over the way our brains are put together or how our neurons fire, even within the realm of our thoughts - some of that is voluntary and a lot of it simply isn't) -

At the end of the day, we live in a society. They behave this way, as cognizant adults, and so we must treat them as such.
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the suffix, "-philia" speaks of love and attraction. before the sexual hysteria of our current culture, an elementary school teacher could safely be called, "pedophiliac."

yet another good word turned bad by hysterical prejudices. . . i shan't be gay about it. such is language evolution.
the suffix, "-philia" speaks of love and attraction.

In this case, it refers to a paraphilia (harmful sexual preferences, at this point classified in the DSM V as a psychiatric illness). This was largely John Money's doing, and he has a deeply troubling history of sexual offending himself - it's interesting to me that he lead the crusade on "non-pejorative language" for sexual deviations, since he was quite literally a sexual deviant.
classified in the DSM V as a psychiatric illness). This was largely John Money's doing,
Interesting that he would *want* to have it classified as a mental illness and I do see the payoff for a sexual deviant to have it classified that way.

Kind of reminds me a bit of Randy Thornhill’s theory that rape is a reproductive strategy. I was trained in college by an evolutionary psychologist to see human behaviors as either adaptive or maladaptive traits. It is now my understanding that thinking of behaviors as one would eye color is largely ineffective and a misleading endeavor. (Randy Thornhill is not known to be a violent offender but he does seem to be making excuses for them, which is where I see the similarity with Money.)

Along those same lines the “born this way” theory of homosexuality (as put forth by Dean Hamer) has been falling apart lately. It might be true for a small percentage of men but it cannot be strongly correlated for women or for people who are het-gender. And there is a growing consensus (see work by Joanna Wuest) that medicalizing LGBTQ+ is counter-productive to the goal of equality. (For much the same reason that there is a push to de-pathologize autism—medicalization reifies inequality.)

And now it makes sense why some people would want to view pedophilia as a mental illness and why they might want to change the word to hebephile (and even claim that all men are hebephiles since American culture promotes it (Navokov’s point in Lolita)) or minor-attracted person.

Some people sexually harm children and they're not pedophiles, while some pedophiles never sexually harm children.
I understand this. Your second point is part of the reason that the show “To Catch a Predator” was frowned on by some people and also why some people want to allow things like AI child abuse (I use that term instead of child porn because porn is from the perspective of the offender), VR child abuse, anime child abuse, child sex dolls, and so on. Because the idea is that if the pedophile is allowed to fulfill their drive in a non-offending way, then they will not need to commit violence on a child. (It is challenging to know if this strategy actually works, it is challenging to know why some pedophiles act out and others don’t.)

To Catch a Predator was frowned on for luring and trapping people (a so-called honey trap). And also for shaming them. I started this thread because I learned that there is a vigilante movement where people pose as law enforcement and lure and trap child predators and shame them. They film the whole thing and post videos of it. The podcast I was listening to made the case that child predators did not deserve to be shamed because pedophilia is a mental illness and shaming them could have the effect of causing them to commit suicide (happened with one guy on To Catch a Predator) or drive them further toward child abuse as they feel ostracized by their community.
This was largely John Money's doing, and he has a deeply troubling history of sexual offending himself - it's interesting to me that he lead the crusade on "non-pejorative language" for sexual deviations, since he was quite literally a sexual deviant.
that is not so surprising to this survivor of child sex trafficking, aka one of THOSE girls. the vast majority of sexual deviants are made, not born. pejorative language for sexual deviations is a pretty big worm in that proverbial can of worms. in 1968, anaheim, california, my older brother and i (15 and 13) left the suburban tract house our freak show was then operating out of to find help for our plight. big bro never was stronger, faster nor smarter than i, which only made him an easier target for the sexual predators of southern cali. in what i still hold as one of the great social injustices of my life, i got help. big bro got profiled.

culturally speaking, we have a long way to go on this social travesty. it's bigger than whatever name for ^it^.