Sexual Deviation: Paedophilia

As increased cases of paedophilia are making it to the news, mDhil speaks to Dr BR Madhukar, senior consultant psychiatrist at St Martha’s Hospital, Bangalore about this alarming, sexual deviant behaviour.  

PaedophiliaPaedophiliaAn interview with psychiatrist, Dr BR Madhukar on paedophilia 

What is paedophilia?

Paedophilia is a sexual disorder, classified under Paraphilias. Paedophiles are adults, who erotically and romantically prefer children or young adolescents. Some paedophiles have highly age-specific and sex-specific tastes, others are not so.

How is paedophilia diagnosed?

For a diagnosis, a person should have — over a period of 6 months — had recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviours involving sexual activity with a pre-pubescent child.

Is paedophilia categorised as a mental disorder?

Yes, paedophilia comes under the broad heading of mental disorder. It is considered as a disorder of intention, characterised by unusual eroticism and socially destructive behaviours, such as sex with children, rape, exhibitionism, voyeurism, masochism, sexual touching of strangers.

Have you come across cases of paedophilia? 

Yes, I have seen cases of paedophilia during my stint in the National Health Service in England. He was a middle-aged man, convicted of the offence and had been admitted in a Medium Secure Unit for Rehabilitation. He also had a history of psychotic illness and was on medication and long-term psychotherapy.

Is paedophilia more common in men? Are paedophiles attracted to children of the same or different sex?

It is more common in men. Though there are cases of women paedophiles.

It can be attraction towards same sex or opposite sex.

Can an adult who has previously been involved with another adult be a paedophile?

Yes, an adult with no previous paedophilic tendencies can develop this disorder. This can occur following a disturbed marriage, sexual deprivation, substance misuse and also in people with personality disorder.

Can paedophilia be treated?

Treating paedophilia is a prolonged course, involving psychotherapy. The role of medication is limited. The person has to be sufficiently motivated to change. The success also depends on the presence of a highly specialised service with skilled staff. With the best of facilities it’s still a challenge to the mental health services.

What are the common modes of treatment? 

Individual psychodynamic psychotherapy can be highly useful. Cognitive behavioural interventions with a focus on social skills training, assertiveness training will be of help. Aversion therapy is also used to treat this disorder.

If one finds that he/she has paedophilic tendencies, what should one do? 

If one has such thoughts, it mustn’t be neglected. It’s better to seek help at the earliest. One should consult a psychologist/psychiatrist for a detailed evaluation. It is important to understand why one is getting such thoughts. Any underlying problems should be identified and addressed. A supportive family will go a long way in helping with the treatment.

Photograph via sxc.hu

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