Pedophiles are people who have sexual orientation interests in children, generally in children aged 13 years or younger, as explained by sexologists and professors of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, Ray Blanchard, PhD, tells WebMD.
According to him, not all pedophiles are child molesters (or vice versa, not all child molesters are pedophiles). Child molesters are defined by their actions, while pedophiles are defined by their desires.
"Some pedophiles can refrain from sexual approaches to children throughout their lives. But there is no data on how common this is, "Blanchard said.
Who can be categorized as a pedophile?
Pedophilia itself is a mental disorder. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has included pedophilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder list since 1968. Blanchard explains that people who are considered to have pedophilic disorders are people who feel sexually attracted to children, and make them feeling guilty, anxious, alienated, or having difficulty achieving other things in life, or if this desire makes them approach children in real life with the aim of satisfying sexual desires.
In another study conducted by German psychologist and psychotherapist Jorge Ponseti and his team, published in the scientific journal Biology Letters, there are some differences that are clearly visible in a pedophile and healthy man.
Ponseti says that the human brain has a mechanism that can distinguish a person's age based on his face. At the Kiel University Neurology Center, they study facial images that are sexually aroused. The data collected also contains an overview of the brain region that is active when the person feels sexual stimulation.
"In the cerebral cortex region, visual activity occurs if a hetero man sees a woman of the same age. However, the same area will also be active in pedophiles when they see pictures of children who are naked, "Ponseti said.
Can pedophiles be cured?
Many experts agree that pedophiles can be treated through therapy, but this therapy is only intended to reduce sexual desire and prevent them from taking actions to fulfill pedophile lust. Their feelings and preferences for children still cannot be eliminated, so therapy is only an action prevention.
However, according to Blanchard, some people who have a high risk of sexual assault may need drugs to reduce their sexual urges.
Some pedophiles accept and try to justify their sexual orientation. Others realize that approaching children in real life is morally wrong, and they can be frustrated, feel isolated, feel alone, depressed, and confused.
"It is conceivable that the stress felt by people with pedophilia can cause a variety of secondary psychological problems. However, there are some tough individuals who have managed to lead productive and successful lives, even though their sexuality remains a source of frustration, "explained Blanchard.
Can pedophiles be attracted to adults?
Some pedophiles may have sexual attraction to adults too, even though their primary desire is in children. But what is more common is that someone who has a partner his age or even married, is late to realize that in fact their sexual desire is greater in children, and not in their own partners.
However, Blanchard said, it was difficult to know for sure about this because most pedophile studies were conducted only on pedophiles who had been arrested and jailed for sexually abusing children. There is no data on the actual pedophile population, because most pedophiles who do not commit crimes usually will not identify and publicly acknowledge that they have this disorder.
Can a woman be a pedophile?
From what Blanchard has observed and examined, most pedophile people are men. Women rarely become pedophiles. In addition, most pedophiles have an interest in only one sex or another.
However, it is very difficult to calculate what percentage or number of pedophiles are heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual in their approach to children.
What should I do if I am sexually attracted to children?
"People who feel they have a problem with sexual attraction to children should immediately seek help from a professional. Don't try to deal with this problem alone, "Blanchard said. Talking and asking for help from an expert can help you control your sex drive and prevent you from committing a crime that you will regret later. Look for a sex psychologist or therapist in your city, and don't be afraid. They are sworn in oath to keep your consultation a secret between you alone.
Which must be remembered, do not blame yourself. No one chooses to be a pedophile. If you can choose, of course all pedophiles will choose to like adults and not children.
"What you can control is how you live your life after realizing pedophile tendencies," concluded Blanchard. This includes the decision to seek help and control your passions so that they don't manifest into action.
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