The causes of pedophilia (and other paraphilias) are not known. There is some evidence that pedophilia may run in families, though it is unclear whether this stems from genetics or learned behavior.
Other factors, such as abnormalities in male sexual hormones or the brain chemical serotonin, have not been proven as factors in the development of paraphilias or pedophilia. A history of childhood sexual abuse is also a potential factor in the development of pedophilias but this, too, has not been proven.
Behavioral learning models suggest that a child who is the victim or observer of inappropriate sexual behaviors learns to imitate and is later reinforced for the behavior. These individuals are deprived of normal social sexual contacts and thus seek gratification through less socially acceptable means. Physiological models focus on the relationship between hormones, behavior, and the central nervous system with a particular interest in the role of aggression and male sexual hormones.
Pedophilia. Last reviewed 12/31/1969
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