Commentary on pedophilia diagnostic criteria in DSM-5

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Human beings differ in sexual makeup. Most adults are not sexually attracted to prepubescent children, but some are. Societal values can be of relevance in determining whether such a difference is considered to be a psychiatric condition. Were a society to believe that adult-child sexual interactions should not be prohibited, such a difference might not be viewed as a disorder. According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), a difference in sexual makeup can be considered a disorder when it causes interpersonal difficulty or marked distress. In contemporary society, pedophilia can do both. According to DSM-IV-TR, for a diagnosis of pedophilia, there must be both a qualitative difference in sexual makeup (i.e., sexualized urges directed toward children) and a quantitative difference (i.e., the sexualized urges must be intense). However, just as a heterosexual man with low (i.e., nonintense) sexual urges is still heterosexual, DSM-5 should similarly allow that individuals with low sexual urges in response to children qualify for a diagnosis of pedophilia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-244
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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