Tag Archives: Causes Of Paedophilia

Can Child Abuse Lead To Adult Paedophilia?


Paedophilia is the sexual attraction of adults to prepubescent children.

Research into paedophilia is hindered by the fact that most paedophiles, for reasons it is unnecessary for me to elucidate, do not declare themselves openly and volunteer to be subjects of research studies. Because of this, research tends to be restricted to those who have been identified because they have been convicted of a related crime. As such, the paedophiles who have been studied are a non-representative sample of all paedophiles. Paedophiles who have acted on their impulses and have not yet been arrested or convicted, and law-abiding paedophiles who suppress their illegal impulses, have generally not been studied.

It follows from this, of course, that nobody knows what percentage of the population have experienced paedosexual impulses.

Paedophilia And Brain Damage:


Above: Diagram showing location of the amygdala and hypothalamus, damage to which is believed to be linked to paedophilia.

Whilst the limited research that has been conducted suggests that most paedophiles have been paedophiles all their lives, some people, research has also demonstrated, suddenly become paedophiles. When this occurs it is due to brain damage, caused, for example, by a brain tumour. Tumours in the following brain areas are thought, in some patients, to have caused them to become paedophiles:

prefrontal cortex

– temporal cortex

– hypothalamus

Research also shows that some illnesses that affect the brain can sometimes lead to the development of paedophilia, such as:

– Parkinson’s disease

– dementia

– multiplesclerosis

However, in the case of most paedophiles, their sexuality seems to be in explained by early developmental abnormalities in the young brain, caused by genetic and other factors. These developmental abnormalities appear to lead to structural differences in the brains of paedophiles; specifically, they have less grey matter in certain brain regions, including the amygdala and the hypothalamus (see diagram above).


Can Child Abuse Lead To Adult Paedophilia?

Research suggests that those who become adult paedophiles are more likely than non-paedophiles to have been sexually abused as young children, suggesting that environmental, as well as genetic (a first degree relative of a paedophile has about a 1 in 5 chance of also being a paedophile), play a role in the development of paedophilia.

However, it is important to stress again the limitations of the research that has led to the above findings.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Can Child Abuse Lead to the Later Adult Development of Paedophilia?


Introduction : some research into the phenomenon of paedophilia :

In the UK, the popular media seems to be obsessed and hysterical in relation to the subject of paedophilia. But what does the research tell us? For example, can, as is commonly assumed by the general public, child abuse make it more likely that the individual who suffered it later develops paedophilic tendencies as an adult?

The term ‘paedophile’ is often incorrectly used, but, in fact, refers to an individual who is predominantly attracted to prepubescent children. A person who is predominantly attracted to adolescents, on the other hand, is referred to as an ‘ephebophile’. By no means are all paedophiles abusers of children, and, furthermore, most abusers of children are not paedophiles. Indeed, child abuse is by far most common within the family/extended family ; so-called ‘stranger-danger’ is relatively rare.

Whilst it is difficult to measure, it is thought that only about 20% of ‘true’ paedophiles have sexual contact with children.

Some statistics :

For obvious reasons, it is very hard to be certain about the true incidence within the current population of paedophilia. Estimates, however, of the number of paedophiles in the UK range from 1-2% up to 20%. (It is also thought that only about 5% of all paedophiles in the UK are female.)

Are those abused as children more likely to become paedophiles in adulthood?

First, it should be pointed out that the cause/causes of paedophilia , at the present time, are by no means precisely known. However, theories include :

– it is a ‘learned behaviour’, and, therefore, those who have been sexually abused or victimized as children are more likely to develop paedophilic tendencies in adulthood. Those who believe in this theory also often believe that because paedophilic behaviour is learned, it follows that it can also be ‘unlearned’ (ie that treatment can ‘cure’it)

– another theory is that there might be a partly genetic cause

– a third theory is that paedophilia relates to problems the paedophile has in connection with issues of power, control, isolation and emotional loneliness

It is worth repeating, however, that the above are just theories. Research from Canada ,at present ,suggests that paedophilia is a sexual orientation in the same way as heterosexuality and homosexuality are sexual orientations, and is therefore permanent and not subject to being changed by treatment or therapy. Despite this, however, the DSM (diagnostic statistical manual) still classifies it as a mental disorder. This is at least in part due to findings such as the following :


a) paedophiles tend to have less white brain matter than non-paedophiles ; this means, essentially, that their brains are ‘wired up’ differently

b) in statistical terms, paedophiles, on average, have  IQs which are 10 points lower than non-paedophiles’ IQs.



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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma Recovery