Pedophilia: Criminal mind-set or mental disorder? A conceptual review

Fred S. Berlin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The word "pedophilia" is a diagnostic term meant to designate a specific mental disorder. However, today that term has taken on a different meaning in society's collective consciousness - a demonizing pejorative that ostracizes those manifesting the condition. This conceptual review is intended to address the matter of how one should understand pedophilia from a psychiatric perspective, its cultural context, and its treatment. It reviews 1) the nature of pedophilia, differentiating it from disorders of character, 2) etiological contributory factors, 3) whether those with it are deserving of treatment, 4) why treatment is even needed, 5) psychosocial and medical interventions, 6) treatment outcome, and 7) recent related legislative initiatives. From a mental health and forensic perspective, it is important to appreciate that the term pedophilia is meant to designate a diagnosable, and potentially treatable, psychiatric condition, rather than a "criminal mind-set" - a mind-set reflective of a selfish disregard for society's values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-26
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Journal of Forensic Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 8 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Pedophilia: Criminal mind-set or mental disorder? A conceptual review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this