Hebephilia and the construction of a fictitious diagnosis

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012 Jun;200(6):492-4. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318257c4f1.


As mass media and the advertising industry sexualize children at earlier ages, DSM-5 is considering a proposal for a new mental disorder involving sexual attraction to adolescents. Despite the fact that most men are sexually aroused by pubescent teens, some clinicians and researchers believe they have identified a new subgroup of chronically impaired men who are compulsively drawn to older children. We discuss the proposal and conclude that it is insufficiently documented and that with such potentially serious medicolegal consequences, inclusion in the new manual is not advised. Clinically, there are insufficient data showing the construct to be reliable and valid. Forensically, a new diagnosis of hebephilia is likely to be used to justify indefinite civil commitment and other onerous punishments.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Commitment of Mentally Ill / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / classification*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Paraphilic Disorders / classification*
  • Paraphilic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Paraphilic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Paraphilic Disorders / psychology
  • Pedophilia / classification*
  • Pedophilia / diagnosis*
  • Pedophilia / epidemiology
  • Pedophilia / psychology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Offenses / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States