Early accidents serious enough to cause unconsciousness may increase the risk of developing pedophilia, according to a new study.
R. Blanchard et al. studied 1206 individuals referred to a clinic for assessment of their sexual preferences. Of these, 413 were classified as pedophiles and 793 as non-pedophiles. The researchers collected data on the subjects' early head injuries and neurodevelopmental problems, and on parental histories of psychiatric treatment.
The researchers report, "The results showed that childhood accidents that resulted in unconsciousness were associated with pedophilia and with lower levels of intelligence and education." The association was significant, however, only for childhood accidents occurring before the age of 6. Blanchard et al. say this may indicate either that childhood head injuries increase the risk of pedophilia, or that early neurodevelopmental problems contribute both to the risk of head injury and to the risk of pedophilia.
In addition, subjects with pedophilia reported a higher incidence of maternal psychiatric treatment. "This finding," the researchers say, "suggests that pedophilia may be influenced by genetic factors, which are manifested in women as an increased risk of psychiatric problems, and in their sons as an increased risk of erotic interest in children."
"Retrospective self-reports of childhood accidents causing unconsciousness in phallometrically diagnosed pedophiles," R. Blanchard, B. K. Christensen, S. M. Strong, J. M. Cantor, M. E. Kuban, P. Klassen, R. Dickey, and T. Blak, Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 31, No. 6, Dec. 2002, 511-26. Address: R. Blanchard, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.