Reconstructing Paedophilia

Naudé, Jonelle
Place PublishedUniversity of Stellenbosch
Extent133 pp

An analysis of current discourses and the construct of close relationships

Jonelle Naudé

Thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science at the University of Stellenbosch 

Supervisor: Mr C. Petty


There is a growing need for research to facilitate a better understanding of paedophilia. This study aims to make a contribution in this regard by providing an analysis of current discourses in paedophilia research as well as a phenomenological exploration of how the male paedophile constructs his close relationships with children. 

Analysis reveals how the dominant positivist approach to paedophilia research embeds and perpetuates moral and often prejudicial positions that in turn influence the validity of empirical findings and theory, and tend to marginalise contradictory evidence. 

In an attempt to circumvent these obstacles, it is argued that the psychological need to form close relationships is a universal one. On this basis the central components of close relationships are presented as a conceptual framework. These components are then applied to an exploratory phenomenological investigation and analysis of the ways in which three paedophilic men interpret, understand and construct their relationships with children. 

Tentative conclusions include the suggestion that, since there was strong evidence that the participants constructed their relationships with children in terms of the constructs of close relationships, the framework of close relationships is useful for separating the psychological needs of paedophiles from 'deviant sexual behaviour'. 

Furthermore, it appears that the framework opens a discursive space in which the psychological dimensions of paedophilia may be problematised in ways that are less susceptible to implicit prejudice and bias, and therefore empirically more sound. The implications hereof for research, theory and psychotherapeutic intervention in the area of paedophilia are discussed briefly. 

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