Born That Way?

Pedophilia: the word alone conjures up the most unspeakable crimes. But what is it: a psychiatric disorder that can be treated? Some new research indicates it may actually be innate and unchangeable -- an orientation. We speak with ex-offenders and doctors on both sides of the debate.  This episode was researched and prepared by documentary filmmaker Andrew Munger....
Listen to the full episode53:59

Pedophilia: the word alone conjures up the most unspeakable crimes. But what is it: a psychiatric disorder that can be treated? Some new research indicates it may actually be innate and unchangeable -- an orientation. We speak with ex-offenders and doctors on both sides of the debate.  This episode was researched and prepared by documentary filmmaker Andrew Munger.


Is pedophilia - as various researchers are now saying - simply the way some people are wired?

Almost all of the existing evidence points very, very strongly that it's - if I can forgive the term - it's a sexual orientation. Dr. James Cantor


Or, is pedophilia a condition -- a kind of illness -- that we can treat and maybe even cure? Is it actually possible to change a pedophile into a non-pedophile?

In treatment, people can not only lose recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies involving children, but can also replace that fantasy with sexual thoughts and behaviours involving adults. Dr. Paul Federoff


Participants in order of appearance:

"Jesse White"
is a pseudonym. He is married and lives in the Ottawa area.

Dr. Paul Federoffis the Director of the Sexual Behaviors Clinic at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. He is also Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa and Vice-Chair of the ROHCG Research Ethics Board (REB) He is both a Neuropsychiatrist and Forensic Psychiatrist.

Paul Christiano lives outside of Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. James Cantor is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, and works at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.


Dr. James Cantor explains the MRI image at the top of the page:

The coloured portions of these "glass brains" reflect the brain regions in which men sexually interested in children significantly differ from control men (who committed non-sexual offences). The teal portions show the differences in brain's left hemisphere, and magenta, the right.  All of the affected areas appear to be in the white matter of the brain, which wires the brain together into a cohesive network.  It is hypothesized that differences in cabling yield a "cross-wiring" in which two human social instincts---parental/nurturing instincts and sexual instincts---are crossed or partially crossed.


Related Websites:


If you have questions about the nature of pedophilia and treatments for it, you may want to contact these institutions:




Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.