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Pedophilia (sexual assaults on children): in the mind of the pedophile

Pedophilia (sexual assaults on children): in the mind of the pedophile

May 26, 2024

The sexual crime Perhaps it is the most rejected criminal modality in our society. Helpless or weak victims such as children or women suffer a violation and transgression of the most intimate aspect of the person, taking it to the psychological torture more despicable and undeserved.

  • «A 14-year-old Indian girl catches fire after suffering a gang rape» ABC; 05/22/2015.
  • «The actor Stephen Collins confesses to having sexually abused minors» LA VANGUARDIA; 04/23/2015.
  • «Prison for an old man for sexually abusing his eight-year-old's granddaughter» Antena 3 news; 04/15/2015.
  • «Arrested a teacher accused of abusing seven minors» EL PAÍS; 03/12/2015.
  • «One accused of abusing and making a girl pregnant: 'I was in love'". THE WORLD; 02/19/2015.
  • "Mike Tyson confesses that they sexually abused him at age seven." News Four; 11/02/2014.

These news headlines are just a brief overview of the many sexual abuses committed against minors. According to Noguerol (2005), the reported cases are only one sixth of all existing cases . But really, how many assaults and / or sexual abuse of minors does our society suffer? What is pedophilia, what are its characteristics and typologies? and Is there a psychopathological profile for the pedophile?


Epidemiological data: sexual aggressions against children (pedophilia and pedophilia)

It is alarming when professionals refer to epidemiological data. In 1998, a European seminar "Breaking Silences" was held in Valencia, where it was concluded that 23% of girls and 15% of boys suffer in Spain various types of sexual abuse ; of these only 40% receive help. Between 7 and 13 years is the most frequented age; and between 25 and 35% are less than 7 years old. For each minor child victim of sexual abuse, there are 3 child victims (Vázquez, 2004).

As with many other problems, we experience sexual abuses and assaults as if they would never happen to us; neither to us, nor to our neighbors. But as the statistics indicate; The sexual abuse of minors is a criminal act that, being quite frequent, is mostly invisible. This means that it remains unreported and sometimes, without revealing itself to another person / s.


The relevance of addressing this issue is not only marked by the degrading and humiliating act, but by its consequences in the short, medium and long term. Variable consequences in each person, as well as differences between crimes. We talk about modality (as the typologies mentioned in the article), duration of the event or the facts, degree of seriousness, the person who abuses (known, family, figure of authority or trust, unknown), vulnerability of the victim ... A series of variables that converge from the moment of the events until past these, will lead to victims of very serious abuses to overcome it or not, as well as existing cases of minor abuses that are internalized.

A) Yes, every sexual abuse can cause a series of traumas sexual and affective that interfere and will interfere harmfully throughout the life of the victim. (In the video attached to the end of the article, we can get closer to understanding some of the traumas suffered by victims of sexual abuse during childhood).


Psychopathological profile of the personality of the pedophile

Approach to the concept, characteristics and types of pedophile acts

The pedophilia is a paraphilia , where the adult feels sexual interest towards the minor . Currently two types of pedophilia are distinguished: primary and secondary. The primary pedophiles they are characterized by avoiding and / or fearing sexual relations with adults, as well as by a difficulty of interaction with their peers due to low self-esteem along with a marked anger towards other adults. The secondary pedophiles On the contrary, they can have sexual relations with adults while fantasizing about children (Vázquez, 2005).

The diagnostic manual DSM-V (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) includes pedophilia in the section on paraphilic disorders; sexual attraction of adults towards minors. To be diagnosed with Pedophilia Disorder according to the DSM-IV the person must meet the following criteria:

302.2 (F65.4). Pedophilia disorder

  • During a period of at least six months, intense sexual arousal and recurrent derived from fantasies, irredeemable sexual desires or compartments that imply sexual activity with one or more prepubertal children (usually under 13 years old).
  • The individual has fulfilled these unstoppable sexual desires, or unstoppable desires or sexual fantasies cause significant discomfort or interpersonal problems.
  • The individual is at least 16 years old and at least five years older than the child / children of Criterion A.

Note: Do not include an individual at the end of adolescence who has a sexual relationship with another individual of 12 or 13 years of age.

Pedophilia is chronic from its inception.

This is usually initiated at puberty or adolescence.

Profile of the pedophile

"According to the compilation of English and American studies conducted by Hollin (1989) sexual aggressors are males , the violations are usually in the victim's own house , often at night and during the weekend "(Ortiz-Tallo, et al., 2002). Garrido carried out a study with sexual aggressors where he concluded that sex offenders had a Profile between 26-30 years ; they did not have qualified work; although if schooled; mostly singles; and they had only committed crimes previously 20%.

Statistical data according to the Ministry of the Interior in December 1999 reveal that of 30,661 men in prison, 1,440 are serving sentences for the commission of sexual crimes. This is, 4.6% of all men They were because of a sex crime. However, just 25 women of the 2,742 incarcerated were for sexual offense ; resulting in 0.91% of the total women. This small number of women, is what leads to the numerous investigations on sexual crimes (as in the studies on pedophilia), to focus on samples with men. (Ortiz-Tallo, et al., 2002). According to Vázquez (2005), women as sexual aggressors of children are anecdotal; being implicated in these crimes as accomplices by way of submission by others. Extremely, for every 1 minor child victim of sexual abuse, there are 3 victim girls (Vázquez, 2004).

Even though each pedophile has his preferences regarding the characteristics of children (ages, gender), his course is chronic from its beginning ; being this beginning normally in the pedophile puberty and adolescence (although some can develop it in more adult stages). Vázquez (2005), affirms that more and more adolescents are aggressors of minor children.

Another marked characteristic of the pedophile are his Cognitive distortions or erroneous thoughts dedicated to justify their behavior deflected. The chronicity of the disorder, together with the cognitive distortions and the interpersonal relationship established between the child and the pedophile (manipulative and destructive, consequently lacking in resistance) usually leads to a sexual abuse of the minor , insidious and progressive. With progressive, we refer to that, unfortunately, this type of abuse extends over time, increasing the severity of the events progressively. Contrary to what can happen in sexual aggressions to adults, where it usually occurs punctually, limited in time and among strangers. The pedophile usually knows his minor victim and abuses that relationship (there are few cases of abuse of unknown minors).

The actions of the pedophile

Types of sexual acts to children carried out by pedophiles:

  • Exhibitionism (intense sexual excitement derived from the exposure of the genitals by the pedophile to the child, this is one of the most frequent paraphilia).
  • Voyeurism (The pedophile encounters intense sexual arousal when observing the naked child or undressing, without his consent or knowledge, during which masturbation may also occur).
  • Petting .
  • Frotteruismo (The pedophile finds sexual pleasure in touching or rubbing his genitals against the child).
  • Masturbation in the presence of children.
  • Oral sex .
  • Anal or vaginal penetration (from the pedophile to the child).

Pedophiles, unlike sexual abusers or aggressors of adult victims, they do not use force . Pedophiles follow a series of strategies psychic manipulations towards the child, thus achieving that this is involved in sexual activity. These strategies can be manifested through attraction: sympathy, buying or giving things, showing excessive interest or showing children's behavior. Many of them justify these acts giving educational value or pleasure to children, that is, they state that the child needs this learning or pleasure for their own good. This reveals the manipulative nature of pedophiles.

1. Clinical study: Psychological profile of sex offenders

Ortiz-Tallo, et al. (2002), defend that Sex offenders with adults start from a different nature than pedophiles . In sexual delinquency with adults, rape is usually given through intimidation or force (contrary to what usually happens with children). So with adults, there is greater violence; thus, a behavior and personality similar to those imprisoned for assaults and robberies with intimidation in the sexual aggressors of adults are expected.

In a comparative study between three groups: sexual crimes against adults, sexual crimes against children and non-sexual crimes, Ortiz-Tallo et al. (2002) found the following results:

  • The group of non-sexual offenders had a profile of most altered personality and of greater severity, together with a greater consumption of alcohol and drugs than sex offenders (of elders and minors).
  • The group of juvenile sex offenders was shown as the group with less personality alterations . Scoring higher in dependent personality traits, phobic and compulsive.

Pedophiles have less personality alterations and less severe personality traits than other types of sex offenders.

The personality of the pedophile

Ortiz-Tallo et al. (2002), describe pedophiles as people with interaction difficulties; who seek social acceptance; they feel fear of rejection, contempt and / or humiliation of their peers; with difficulties to assume mature and independent roles and responsibilities.

They are people with more good little capacity to empathize and intimidate ; unable or with great difficulty in establishing an emotional relationship with adults , leading them to resort to the emotional and sexual relationship deviated with minors. Therefore, therapeutic strategies should aim to improve their social skills as well as reduce their social withdrawal and fear of interpersonal relationships among peers.

2. Bibliographic review: Pathology of personality in pedophiles

Although there are few studies in this field and the results are inconclusive, Becerra-García (2013) states in a current review of the predominant personality traits and disorders among pedophiles according to the different clinical tests. In summary, we can highlight the personality of the pedophile regarding control groups:

  • Higher scores on the scales of Incoherence, psychopathic deviation, paranoia, schizophrenia and obsessiveness . Using less mature coping mechanisms.
  • Highest scores in obsession Y sexual dysfunction . Pedophiles who had been sexual victims in childhood showed higher levels of hostility, sexual dysfunction, personal discomfort and less empathy towards their victims than those who had not been sexually abused.
  • The emotional suffering of pedophiles is related to their high levels of neuroticism and cognitive distortions about infantile sexuality with its obsessive features.
  • Greater levels of neuroticism and rigidity . But less impulsive behavior and ability to meet their needs than violent offenders.
  • Higher scores on scales of borderline personality , histrionic and especially, in the obsessive-compulsive.
  • They present a style of less secure attachment (avoidant and anxious-ambivalent style), than the control group.
  • The authors find a marked personality pathology in pedophiles: lack of assertiveness , elevated sociopathy and cognitive distortions; and they find deviations in their sexual behavior: disturbances of excitation, discrimination, desire and inhibition in thought.

Testimony of victims of sexual abuse

In 2003, almost 4,000 cases of child abuse were recorded, almost half of the final percentage of existing cases. In this documentary, victims of the harmful consequences they have suffered as a result of the abuses suffered in their childhood will speak.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Reference guide of the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-V ᵀᴹ. Madrid: Pan-American
  • Becerra-García, J. A. (2013). Is there a characteristic profile of personality psychopathology in pedophilia? Notebooks of psychosomatic medicine and liaison psychiatry, (105), 5.
  • Ortiz-Tallo, M., Sánchez, L. M., & Cardinal, V. (2002). Psychological profile of sex offenders. A clinical study with the MCMI-II of Th. Millon. Journal of Psychiatry of the Faculty of Medicine of Barcelona, 29(3), 144-152.
  • Vázquez, B. (2005). Manual of forensic psychology. Madrid, Ed. Synthesis.

Inside The Life Of A 'Virtuous' Paedophile (May 2024).


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