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Retrospective Self-Reports of Childhood Accidents Causing Unconsciousness in Phallometrically Diagnosed Pedophiles

Ray Blanchard, Ph.D., [*1]; [*3]; [*4]
Bruce K. Christensen, Ph.D., [*2]; [*3] 
Scott M. Strong, B.S., [*1]; [*2] 
James M. Cantor, Ph.D., [*1] 
Michael E. Kuban, M.Sc.,[*1] 
Philip Klassen, M.D.,[*1] ;[*3]  
Robert Dickey, M.D., [*1]; [*3]  and
Thomas Blak, B.A. [*1]

Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 31, No. 6, December 2002, pp. 511526

Abstract    Contents     Acknowledgements      PDF File of this article 

Received March 19, 2002; revision received July 2, 2002; accepted July 2, 2002  



The present study investigated whether head injuries in childhood might increase the risk of pedophilia in males.

The subjects were 1206 patients referred to a clinical sexology service for assessment of their erotic preferences. These were classified, on the basis of phallometric test results, as pedophilic (n = 413) or non-pedophilic (n = 793).

Information regarding early head injuries, other signs of possible neuro-developmental problems, and parental histories of psychiatric treatment were collected with self-administered questionnaires.

The results showed that childhood accidents that resulted in unconsciousness were associated with pedophilia and with lower levels of intelligence and education. These associations were statistically significant for accidents that occurred before the age of 6, but not for accidents that occurred between the ages of 6 and 12.

These results are compatible with the hypothesis that neuro-developmental perturbations in early childhood may increase the risk of pedophilia. They are also, however, compatible with the alternative explanation that prior neuro-developmental problems lead to accident-proneness and head injury, on the one hand, and to pedophilia, on the other, and that head injury has no causal influence on pedophilia.

A secondary finding was that the pedophiles were more likely to report that their mothers had undergone psychiatric treatment.

This finding 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.

childhood accidents; head injury; neuropsychology; pedophilia; phallometry; sex offenders.  




This research was supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant 410-99-0019 to Ray Blanchard and by a postdoctoral fellowship award from the CAMH Foundation and the Ontario Ministry of Health to James M. Cantor.


Law and Mental Health Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Schizophrenia and Continuing Care Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

To whom correspondence should be addressed at Law and Mental Health Program, CAMH Clarke Site, 250 College Street, Toronto,
Ontario M5T 1R8, Canada;
e-mail: ray blanchard@camh.net.

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