What is a paraphilic disorder

According to the DSM-5, a paraphilic disorder is a sexual disorder that causes an individual distress. It also includes harm to the individual experiencing the paraphilic or causes harm to someone else. Paraphilic disorders include sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors with non-living objects, transvestic disorder is cross dressing, sexual sadism disorder which is an individual that enjoys causing harm to others. Sexual masochism is enjoyment of suffering from others. Voyeuristic disorder is the sexual enjoyment of watching someone undressing, exhibitionistic disorder enjoyment of exposing genitals to others. Frotteuristic disorder is enjoyment of unwanted touching or rubbing on someone else, and pedophilic disorder is sexual enjoyment with a child that is prepubescent.

Possible causes of the disorder

Causes of paraphilic disorders usually begin with early sexual arousal. "A child may become aroused when spying on the babysitter's love making with her boyfriend or while being held down and tickled erotically. This may be followed by intensive operant conditioning in which the stimulus is present during masturbation. This reinforces the association between the stimulus and sexual arousal. The individual may try to suppress the undesired arousal or behaviors, but these attempts at inhibition increase the frequency and intensity of the fantasies. Eventually, the sexual arousal may generalize to other stimuli similar to the initial fantasy" (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p. 386).

Treatment options

Many individual's do not seek treatment for paraphilias unless they are forced to through illegal actions. Treatments include antiandrogen drugs. Antiandrogen decrease production of testosterone which in turn reduces sex drive. Psychotherapy also can help reduce the need for paraphilias. Aversion therapy is when an individual is exposed to photos or objects that sexually arouse them but then are electrically shocked which is painful but harmless. They also may be exposed to a loud noise. Treatment of desensitization are typically used to treat individuals with fetishism and not pedophiliac behaviors. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used for individuals that have pedophiliac tendencies. This therapy is geared toward changing an individual's thoughts towards individuals or situations that may trigger sexual behaviors.

Myths or misperceptions

Some myths of pedophiles are that "sex offenders are all socially deprived men" (Fedoroff & Moran, 1997, p. 3-4). This is not true. Women are also sex offenders. We are starting to hear a lot more news of women who are taking advantage of boys. Another myth would be "sex offenders are the result of childhood abuse" (Fedoroff & Moran, 1997, p. 3-4) . Anyone can be a sex offender. Some individuals are abused as children but some are not.


Fedoroff, J. P. & Moran, B. (1997). Myths and misconceptions about sex offenders.

Retrieved from

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). Abnormal psychology (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.