Advances in the Assessment of Sexual Deviance

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2018 Jul 21;20(8):55. doi: 10.1007/s11920-018-0918-7.


Purpose of review: This paper reviews recent research into four different approaches to the assessment of offense-related sexual deviance.

Recent findings: Two of these approaches, structured rating scales and phallometry, have a sufficient basis in research for clinical use but have undergone significant refinements in recent years. One approach, the use of cognitive tasks to indirectly assess sexual deviance, is approaching the point where it has a sound research basis for clinical use though too many promising tasks have yet to make the transition from laboratory to clinical practice. This approach has however begun to map the earlier stages of sexual response including preconscious processes. The final approach, assessment through neuroimaging, is at the earliest stage of development with research findings having yet to reach sufficient stability for clinical application. Existing assessment technologies, despite their limitations, allow professionals to assess offense-related sexual deviance. New approaches, currently being developed, potentially allow a better understanding of underlying processes and, when sufficiently mature, will be more therapeutically useful.

Keywords: IAT; Neuroimaging; Phallometry; Sexual deviance; Sexual offending; VRT.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Paraphilic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Paraphilic Disorders / physiopathology
  • Paraphilic Disorders / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior