Pedophilia is not a “sexual orientation,” and erroneous use of that phrase will be corrected soon in its new manual on mental illnesses, the American Psychiatric Association said Thursday.
The APA’s statement came in response to media inquiries, including from The Washington Times, about an uproar on the Internet that the APA had designated pedophilia as a sexual orientation in its new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as DSM-5 or DSM-V.
About a week ago, a blog called NeonTommy, produced at Annenberg Digital News at the University of Southern California, said the APA had drawn a “very distinct line” between pedophilia and pedophilic disorder in its new manual.
According to the DSM-5, pedophilia “refers to a sexual orientation or profession of sexual preference devoid of consummation, whereas pedophilic disorder is defined as a compulsion and is used in reference to individuals who act on their sexuality,” NeonTommy wrote.
The item was picked up and circulated on countless other Internet sites. Many bloggers bashed the APA for “mainstreaming” deviance and capitulating to pro-pedophile groups. Others tied it to gay issues — one wag wrote that it was “time to change the LGBT letterhead to LGBT&P.”
The APA said in its statement that “‘sexual orientation’ is not a term used in the diagnostic criteria for pedophilic disorder and its use in the DSM-5 text discussion is an error and should read ‘sexual interest.’”
“In fact, APA considers pedophilic disorder a ‘paraphilia,’ not a ‘sexual orientation.’ This error will be corrected in the electronic version of DSM-5 and the next printing of the manual,” the organization said. The error appeared on page 698, said a spokeswoman.
It added: “APA stands firmly behind efforts to criminally prosecute those who sexually abuse and exploit children and adolescents. We also support continued efforts to develop treatments for those with pedophilic disorder with the goal of preventing future acts of abuse.”
The DSM-5 was released in May. For several years prior to that, major discussions were held about the pedophilia category.
In the end, however, only a small change was made: “Pedophilia” was changed to “pedophilic disorder,” to conform to other disorders in chapter on paraphilias, the APA said. The “diagnostic criteria essentially remained the same as in DSM-IV-TR,” it added.
To be diagnosed with a paraphilic disorder, DSM-5 requires that people “feel personal distress” about their atypical sexual interest or have a desire or behavior that harms another person or involves “unwilling” persons or “persons unable to give legal consent.”
Other DSM-5 paraphilias are exhibitionistic disorder, fetishistic disorder, frotteuristic disorder, sexual masochism disorder, sexual sadism disorder, transvestic disorder, voyeuristic disorder and pedophilic disorder. Despite all these things being labeled a “disorder” in DSMs for years, the actions some of them result in — for example, flashing, assault and battery, and “peeping Tom” behavior — are all uncontroversially illegal.