Self-reported head injuries before and after age 13 in pedophilic and nonpedophilic men referred for clinical assessment

Arch Sex Behav. 2003 Dec;32(6):573-81. doi: 10.1023/a:1026093612434.


Previous research has found that pedophilic men referred for clinical assessment of their sexual behavior are more likely to report that they suffered head injuries before their 13th birthday than are nonpedophilic men referred for the same purpose. This study investigated whether pedophilic patients are also more likely to report head injuries after their 13th birthday. The 685 participants represented all patients with usable data from a consecutive series of men referred to a clinical laboratory specializing in phallometric assessment of erotic preferences. In addition to phallometric testing, participants were administered a brief neuropsychological test battery and a companion interview, which included questions on head injury, drug abuse, and childhood diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The results showed that the pedophilic patients reported more head injuries before age 13 than did the nonpedophilic patients, but they did not report more head injuries after age 13. The association between pedophilia and childhood head injuries could mean either that subtle brain damage after birth increases a boy's risk of pedophilia, or that neurodevelopmental problems before birth increase a boy's accident-proneness along with his risk of pedophilia. Additional analyses showed that self-reported head injuries before age 13 were associated with attentional problems and with left-handedness; in contrast, head injuries after age 13 were associated with drug abuse and promiscuity. These analyses suggest that, among patients with primary presenting complaints of sexual rather than cognitive problems, childhood head injuries cluster with neuropsychological phenomena, whereas later head injuries cluster with lifestyle variables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / complications*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Ontario
  • Pedophilia / etiology*
  • Pedophilia / psychology
  • Penile Erection / psychology*
  • Plethysmography / instrumentation
  • Psychometrics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sexual Behavior* / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors