• 💖 [Donate To Keep MyPTSD Online] 💖 Every contribution, no matter how small, fuels our mission and helps us continue to provide peer-to-peer services. Your generosity keeps us ad-free, independent, and available freely to the world.

Poll Is pedophilia an illness?

Do you think pedophilia is a mental illness?

  • Yes

    Votes: 3 21.4%
  • No

    Votes: 11 78.6%

  • Total voters
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.)

I actually tend to agree with this - in general, human sexuality is a combination of biology and environment. They've identified genetic anomalies in homosexual men that have to do with olfactory discrepancies between straight vs gay men. So there are some genetic factors at play for sure, and it would also explain why there are homosexual animals other than humans - animals generally have a much less developed comprehension of the environmental factors that influence homosexuality - yet they are still homosexual.

But I also agree that environment influences sexuality because as far as I understand it, it is actually very rare for a human to be "all gay" or "all straight" and most of us fall somewhere in-between, but it's society and culture that pushes us to identify strongly as one or the other. (And particularly amongst men, I know there's a large subset of men who have sex with other men who still consider themselves straight, and view this sexual activity as something very simple and baser. So are they gay, or just blowing off steam?)

However, I would encourage caution on categorizing pedophilia in the same vein as heterosexuality or homosexuality. Pedophilia is a neurodivergence, the only reason it is related to sexuality is because it affects sexual behaviors - but largely I would not classify pedophilia as a sexual orientation. It is a paraphilia, the same as how we don't classify rapists or rape fetishists as having a "rape sexual orientation." Rape and pedophilia are harmful behaviors, and they cause distress both in the victims and often in the perpetrators as well.

And it is also this that is rooted in deep homophobia I believe, as the correlation between "pedophilia" and "homosexuality" has always been exceedingly strong. Even today people shout "groomer" at transgender and gay individuals, associating them with child abusers. So personally I work to distance these terms as much as possible, since they are describing two very different human behaviors. One is normal, healthy, and should be encouraged and celebrated and ordinary. The other is harmful, distressing, destructive, violent and hostile.
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
Also: When I was younger, I actually used to engage in behaviors like this. I was very seriously a vigilante. I got one man fired from his job because I sent his boss a document with his Twitter and Facebook information. Back then Twitter was rampant with CSEM. I stopped doing this as it was unhealthy for me, I would obsess over usernames and locations and basically go "pedo-hunting," I joined Riot channels and congregated with others who were doing the same thing and even had a giant ass whiteboard like Carrie Mathison from Homeland.

It was so, so unhealthy and the people's lives who I impacted, I acted from outside the justice system. I was the judge, jury and executioner and I pulled the trigger that changed their lives and potentially in a very negative way.

And the truth is I really have no idea if they really are doing this stuff. I only have the information I can see. Someone recently got arrested for putting CSEM materials on her boyfriend's phone to frame him. What if that's what happened? You simply can't know, that's why you need a trial and an investigation and to uphold the standards of justice. And that's why vigilantism isn't correct, and so I stopped. It was obsessive. It was living in my trauma over and over again, up for days at a time "hunting" these folks. The environment was so unhealthy and toxic, but no one cared because what we were doing was "more important."

And while I am sure we really did identify some legitimate predators and took actions to ensure the people in their real lives knew this (we did not go to the police, because the police do not actually take direct actions a majority of the time - we acted ourselves, we got them fired, we told their wives/husbands, etc.) While that may be true for a certain percentage, there is also the fact that many could simply be misidentified, we had the wrong info, we mistook someone's identity, or someone is framing them - anything like that.

So yah, I stopped doing that and encourage anyone who is caught in that cycle, to do the same. You are just feeding into your own trauma by obsessing about it and thinking you can stop children from being harmed the way you were; but you don't know who's lives you may be impacting who genuinely don't deserve it and you deserve to live a life of peace, not one of constantly looking at usernames and blurred photographs.
encourage caution on categorizing pedophilia in the same vein as heterosexuality or homosexuality. Pedophilia is a neurodivergence, the only reason it is related to sexuality is because it affects sexual behaviors

also this that is rooted in deep homophobia I believe, as the correlation between "pedophilia" and "homosexuality"
Agree with both your points and was trying to make a similar one, in that people who are pedophiles might *want* it to be medicalized or seen as a sexual preference in order to shift the perspective away from “evil/bad person/behavior/choice”. Any mental illness or personality disorder (is that a mental illness?) could be compared to pedophilia, especially the dark personality traits. And any sexual orientation could be compared. There are myriad heterosexual groomers but history explains why the focus has been placed on other groups.

Regarding people wrongly accused? That will always happen for any crime. That is a not a reason to avoid punishing. False accusations are a whole other field of bad/wrong behavior.

Your personal mental health is a reason to stay away from vigilante type behavior though.
In the podcast I listened to about cracking the largest child abuse file sharing site on the dark web (Hunting Warhead) the lead investigator was asked if he ever cried from looking at pictures and videos. He said no. And he said that if a human has done something to another human he’s probably seen a picture of it. He used the word human instead of person. Human is biological. Person is psychological. He also said that he has a photographic memory. Which I found surprising. He can remember vivid and tiny details about bodies and settings which helps him connect the dots between evidence he is investigating. I found it surprising because a number of the Facebook employees who had the job of scanning flagged photos (before AI started doing it) came down with PTSD from the images they saw. I’m guessing this lead investigator just has superhuman ability to handle that kind of material.

Bottom line is that I agree that it’s important to refrain from aligning pedophilia with sexual orientation. I think your suggestion of paraphilia is more appropriate. Some paraphilias have pride flags and communities, am I right? I think it’s unfortunate that the term pride could potentially link up homosexuality with something like pony play, but it’s probably because of them both being linked to sexual behavior I’m guessing? In my mind it’s unfair and similar to linking grooming with homosexuality. I think sexual orientation should be separate from kink or paraphilia in the mind of society or else they will continue to be shamed.

But I also wonder how useful it is to view pedophilia as a mental illness? Is it treatable? Are other paraphilias that could lead to crimes treatable? Is treatment a useful way for society to interact with people experiencing compulsive sexual thoughts that would be crimes if acted out (with the goal of the thoughts not being acted upon)? And, importantly, does shame play a role in changing people’s behavior or does shame lead to behavior strengthening? (Guessing the answer is that it depends.)
But I also wonder how useful it is to view pedophilia as a mental illness? Is it treatable?

In all honestly I think that comes down to the individual person. It's like with any violent crime, the person's physiological construction and their psychological profile play a huge role in whether or not they will be responsive to rehabilitation. A lot of people say that pedophilia cannot be treated because they are conflating treatment with cure. We can't cure pedophilia, but rehabilitating individual pedophiles? I think that's do-able.

I find it difficult-to-impossible to believe that there aren't some human beings out there who commit a sexual offense and then, either of their own volition or through VSOPs, experience genuine empathy and remorse for their victims. In fact, according to this (which aggregates the total recidivism rates over 20 studies), pedophiles have one of the lowest levels of recidivism per populations of violent offenders (one estimate suggests as high as 50% reduction). I don't know how reliable that information is, as there is only one source link, but my therapist used to work with pedophiles, including sadistic pedophiles, and she reports similar findings.

I recall reading somewhere that on average, in prison, it takes about 7 years for violent offenders to start expressing remorseful behavior, but that more often than not, it does happen. People consign sexual offenses to this special category of behavior (that it's untreatable, incurable, and a person who does it will never have any remorse and will never be able to exist in society again) when that's just not what the data indicates. It's like any other violent crime, because it's a form of violence. And from personal experience, violent offenders can grow and change - even in adulthood.

Of course, the psychological profile plays a big part. Someone who has committed one act, where they may have groomed a child into sending a photo of themselves or sent inappropriate text messages, versus someone who locks a child in a hotel room and rapes them until their bodies are permanently damaged - those are two very different profiles. Sadism, in general, is extremely difficult to treat and has a very low rate of response to any of the available therapies we have today.

We used to have this disorder called Sexual Sadistic Disorder in the DSM, and I think this is mostly the image people have in their minds when they talk about rehabilitating sexual offenders - and they would be correct, as the structural anomalies in the brains of people identified as having sexual sadistic tendencies also coincide with significant deficits of affective empathy. Frankly: they know they're behaving badly, and they don't care, and they get off on it. They're the folks who we do have real trouble co-existing with in society, human-to-human, because they are very dangerous.

But by-and-large, most pedophiles aren't sadists. I can personally attest to this, having encountered probably hundreds of pedophiles in my life.

Are they gross? Are they abusive? Are they doing something horrific? Absolutely. But sadistic, that's not as common. And I think any pedophile who isn't a sadist could theoretically have the potential to rehabilitate, provided they meet other psychological milestones (which of course, not everyone will, even those folks - there's some correlation between sexual offending and low IQ, so just how much the lower-IQ folks are actually physically able to understand about their actions is a barrier to preventing them from doing it again).

I read your other post on Evil and it's interesting, I think we have a rather diametrically opposing worldview on the subject as I'm quite comfortable with the idea that it's either heritable, or spontaneous, since I don't put any stock on the mythological conceptions of "good/evil person" to begin with. People are the sum of their actions, and some people commit worse actions than others, because they are lacking in some way.

I think it's very probably down to the cellular, neuron-level; what actually permits sodium/ion channels to create electrical impulses that jump across the synapse and registers a desire/need to do/say something or to conceive a thought. It's the same thing, to me, as watching an animal behave according to its instincts. Animals do what they're going to do, because their biology is acting itself out according to a cycle. And we're not really any different, except that we can talk about it.

That is a not a reason to avoid punishing.

This is also another place that we diverge - punishment just isn't something that I believe is necessary. It doesn't fix anyone's problems, it just provides temporary emotional gratification. As I have very limited emotions, punishment is simply not relevant to me. I am more concerned with how we function as a society with this subset of people who live amongst us - who number the millions, undoubtedly, perhaps even the billions. How do we coexist with this group of people, and how do we do that while keeping ourselves and our communities safe?

Those are all very tough questions indeed - and in particular, tough to address as victims of these violent crimes, especially as people who have PTSD from them. Ultimately, it is not excusable, regardless of its origin or why it happens. Whether it's a mental illness or a neurological divergence or a simple choice on their behalf, the end result is the same: children are being harmed and endangered.

And it is absolutely paramount that as a civilization, we devote as much resources as we can to combatting this issue and eradicating it.
Last edited:
. It doesn't fix anyone's problems, it just provides temporary emotional gratification.
We diverge on a lot of stuff, but this? Wowsers! The entire criminal justice system, just for temporary emotional gratification? Errr, nope!

I can think of a lot of other, valid and important reasons to remove convicted pedophiles from the community. Reckon you probably can too!?
Also: When I was younger, I actually used to engage in behaviors like this. I was very seriously a vigilante.

I would walk down a street wearing nothing more than glitter and a smile, and wobbling on too-high-heels, more often than I can count.

Amongst other not-playing-the-victim, trawling for rapists.

Always, fun? Not quite the right word, but in the same universe… to find someone who did the same.

It was a SMIDGE vexing, how many blokes would cover me with with coat, call me a cab, and not stick around for the address I gave.

Also? A bit human race.

In order for a rape to happen? The victim isn’t necessary, the rapist, is.

It’s how I ultimately broke rape -in my head- down to bank robbery.

It doesn’t matter how TEMPTING a target, a bank it. How lax it’s security, how close it is to multiple forms of fast egress (freeways, trains, etc,). It takes a bank robber, to rob a bank.
Society and cultures today have decided it's wrong and inappropriate. Long ago, it was not. I think it is likely how some are wired. The choice not to act on it is made (well...not for everyone, but you know), knowing it is seen as perverted and criminal in society.
We diverge on a lot of stuff, but this? Wowsers! The entire criminal justice system, just for temporary emotional gratification? Errr, nope!

Not the "entire criminal justice system." Punishment. The criminal justice system doesn't exist purely to punish offenders. When it comes down to punishing someone, there is no logical purpose to doing so. Other than emotional gratification. Which I do not claim to understand, and have made no claims about - only that it is what it is. It doesn't actually deter criminal behavior at all.

Most evidence suggests that rehabilitative justice is more effective than retributive justice - with retributive justice actually resulting in higher levels of recidivism.

Some victims find this sense of gratification important. It is understandable why they would, but that is still what it is. It's not actually addressing any problems outside of how a victim might individually feel in the moment. So it's up to you, to decide how much significance you place on personal emotional vindication, to determine how you view the role of punishment in criminal justice.

But it's not preventing recidivism, or deterring crime, or treating or fixing or changing the problem of violent offending. In all scientific studies, it shows that the problem actually becomes worse.

I can think of a lot of other, valid and important reasons to remove convicted pedophiles from the community. Reckon you probably can too!?

This is simply a separate issue, than whether or not punishment is assistive. This comes down to whether or not the individual can actually safely coexist with others. If it is clear that they cannot, removing them from the community is justified.
Last edited:
so, is having sex with an adult that doesn’t have the cognitive ability to understand the implications of the sex act okay because they are over the age of cobsent? What about the age old
process of getting someone drunk to the point that their inhibitions are no longer a hurdle and sex is an easy ask?
I think if you are seeking sex with a partner that isnt as aware of what is happening as you are, you are crossing some major lines and there is a reason it isnt acceptable in society. Doesnt matter if they are young, mentally challenged or drugged, you are committing a selfish act and like so many other selfish acts, it is and should be punishable.
Friday is right, it takes a thief to rob a bank. the vault may be open and everyone out back watching a dumpster fire, but grab a quick bag of many and a robber you are, selfish and guilty of a punishable act.
I got one man fired from his job because I sent his boss a document with his Twitter and Facebook information

Amongst other not-playing-the-victim, trawling for rapists.
I think that what you both did is noble. I know you see it as wrong but I see it as brave and amazing. To me it matters and it does make a difference. The actual legal system ruins people’s lives all the time—that’s what I meant when I said that false accusations are not a reason to stop punishing. Substitute whatever consequences you like. I’m using the term in a behavioral context. Withdrawing reinforcers is negative reinforcement. It doesn’t have to be sadistic or pedantic, negative reinforcement can be logical, but I’m digressing. I know about restorative Justice, it’s taught to teachers in preservice. Part of that is still logical consequences and removal from society is a negative reinforcement by withdrawal of access to behavioral reinforcers. And there is such a thing as healthy shame—still feels like shit. Again, digressing. But also, I think what you did is amazing and brave even if you don’t see it that way.
The actual legal system ruins people’s lives all the time

That's why I didn't even bother going to the police. The police in my city are corrupt as f*ck. I've been raped by a cop. I watched cops brutalize my friends on one hand then make deals with killers and rapists on the other. So in my mind most of them are gang-members and pedophiles, too. So why would I report a pedophile to the police? They'd probably just go rape a kid together. Obviously that's not true, or real, but that was what my addled mind came up with while I was in a hole of PTSD.

In my opinion, vigilantism isn't wrong 100% of the time. If the police refuse to keep our community safe, and actively contribute to making it unsafe, then what else are we expected to do? What I do think, is that vigilantism is committed by people who have a lot less resources than the criminal justice system, and who are more likely to get things wrong undertaking an investigation that they aren't trained to conduct.

But when push comes to shove, if someone is walking around abusing children - that you know is doing so beyond a shadow of a doubt - and no one does anything about it, I think community members are completely justified in handling it amongst themselves. So long as they act within the confines of what is ethical to do. That's why I targeted people's jobs and families. The thing that wasn't ethical about what I did, is that I lacked the capacity to have 100% certainty about who I was targeting.
Last edited: