Little Man Syndrome

Pedophiles are significantly shorter on average than men who are attracted to adults, according to a new study out of Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Similar height differences can be found in men who crave sex with pubescent teenagers, say study researchers, who speculate the link between stature and pedophilia might be traced to conditions in the womb.

The study – which looked at 1,200 men, most of whom were assessed for sexual disorders between 1995 and 2006 at the centre – was published yesterday in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment.

It found pedophiles were 2 cm shorter than the average Canadian man, who stands 178 cm or 5 feet 10 inches tall, a statistically significant difference.

“It’s about double the effect that would happen if a mother smokes while she’s pregnant,” said CAMH psychologist James Cantor, the study’s lead author.

The height of men in the study who were attracted to young teenagers – known as hebephiles – was right in the middle of the pedophile and non-pedophile average.

Cantor stressed the vast majority of shorter men have no sexual desire for children.

But for men who are pedophiles, the pre-birth conditions that affected their growth could also have interfered with the sexual wiring of their brains.

While nothing in the study pointed to the exact time such a neurological change occurs, Cantor said earlier research indicates it happens in the womb.

“Pedophiles are (also) about three times more likely to be left-handed and that’s something that really only happens with brain organization before birth.”

Cantor said the suspected biological link to the disorder does not lessen the culpability of pedophiles who act on their sexual urges.

“The best analogy is that the great majority of males are attracted to women for biological reasons, but that doesn’t excuse rape,” he said.

The research has potential for a medical prevention for pedophilia, especially if the conditions that cause the disease can be identified and altered in the womb.

No one knows what percentage of men are pedophiles, but Cantor said it is a uniquely male condition and that his group at the centre assesses 250 to 300 men a year who are suspected of being pedophiles.

Published in: on October 24, 2007 at 1:16 am  Leave a Comment  

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