Pedophilia May Be The Result Of Faulty Brain Wiring
Pedophilia might be the result of faulty connections in the brain, according to new research released by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The study used MRIs and a sophisticated computer analysis technique to compare a group of pedophiles with a group of non-sexual criminals. The pedophiles had significantly less of a substance called “white matter” which is responsible for wiring the different parts of the brain together.
The study challenges the commonly held belief that pedophilia is brought on by childhood trauma or abuse. This finding is the strongest evidence yet that pedophilia is instead the result of a problem in brain development.
Previous research from this team has strongly hinted that the key to understanding pedophilia might be in how the brain develops. Pedophiles have lower IQs, are three times more likely to be left-handed, and even tend to be physically shorter than non-pedophiles.
“There is nothing in this research that says pedophiles shouldn’t be held criminally responsible for their actions,” said Dr. James Cantor, CAMH Psychologist and lead scientist of the study, “Not being able to choose your sexual interests doesn’t mean you can’t choose what you do.” This is pretty much the same bigotry as the Vatican’s attitude about homosexuality: gays can be redeemed and enter paradise, if they refute their heinous sins, renouncing sexuality alltogether.
This discovery suggests that much more research attention should be paid to how the brain governs sexual interests. Such information could potentially yield strategies for preventing the development of pedophilia. The old nurture/nature-debate in new outfit? A previous study, with much higher numbers of participants of correctional institutions in Canada and U.S., showed that people with intellectual disability were also found to be typically very conservative when it came to sexual attitudes. However, the researchers found that serious sex offenders actually expressed much more liberal attitudes when it came to sex, including same-sex relationships, than sex offenders who only committed sexual inappropriate behaviors, such as public masturbation or inappropriate touching. Conclusion: “This study provides support for the need to assess sexual knowledge, sexual attitudes and prior sex education when an individual commits a sexual offence… Only a careful diagnosis will reveal whether the offence is motivated by sexual urges and fantasies consistent with serious sexual offence or by other factors.” It is expectable then, that among the 65 “men who demonstrated illegal or clinically significant sexual behaviors or interests” there were some belonging to either of the two, or both of the above mentioned categories, which limits the value of the interpreted data. (A total of 127 men participated in the study; approximately equal numbers of pedophiles and non-sexual offenders.)
The Kurt Freund Laboratory at CAMH was established in 1968 and remains one of the world’s foremost centres for the research and diagnosis of pedophilia and other sexual disorders.
CAMH is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre, and is fully affiliated with Tthe University of Toronto.
J Psychiatr Res. 2007 Nov 24; [Epub ahead of print]
Law and Mental Health Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 250 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5T 1R8.
The present investigation sought to identify which brain regions distinguish pedophilic from nonpedophilic men, using unbiased, automated analyses of the whole brain. T1-weighted magnetic resonance images (MRIs) were acquired from men who demonstrated illegal or clinically significant sexual behaviors or interests (n=65) and from men who had histories of nonsexual offenses but no sexual offenses (n=62). Sexual interest in children was assessed by participants’ admissions of pedophilic interest, histories of committing sexual offenses against children, and psychophysiological responses in the laboratory to erotic stimuli depicting children or adults. Automated parcellation of the MRIs revealed significant negative associations between pedophilia and white matter volumes of the temporal and parietal lobes bilaterally. Voxel-based morphometry corroborated the associations and indicated that the regions of lower white matter volumes followed, and were limited to, two major fiber bundles: the superior fronto-occipital fasciculus and the right arcuate fasciculus. No significant differences were found in grey matter or in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Because the superior fronto-occipital and arcuate fasciculi connect the cortical regions that respond to sexual cues, these results suggest (1) that those cortical regions operate as a network for recognizing sexually relevant stimuli and (2) that pedophilia results from a partial disconnection within that network.