Fact Check

American Psychiatric Association Condones Pedophilia

Blogs dug up an old and misleading article to falsely report that the American Psychiatric Association now condones pedophilia.

Published Apr 29, 2016

The American Psychiatric Association condones pedophilia and says it is normal to be sexually attracted to children.

On 25 April 2016, the web site Patriot Nation published an article reporting that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) now officially condones pedophilia, and that the group had deemed it "normal" for adults to be sexually attracted to children.  The article implied that growing acceptance of gay and transgender rights had created a cascade of escalating acceptance for other behaviors previously regarded as deviant:

Ever since the government began its quest to “normalize” homosexuality and other perverse sexual behavior, conservatives have been saying it’s a slippery slope. After what happened at an academic conference at the University of Cambridge, it’s safe to say they were right.

The “Classifying Sex: Debating DSM-5” conference featured speakers who condoned pedophilia as “natural and normal for males.”

A proposal was being discussed which would essentially normalize hebephilia, the sexual preference for children in early puberty, typically 11 to 14-year-olds. The argument was made that since children are reaching puberty earlier than ever before, sex with 11 to 14-year-olds should not be considered wrong.

That this was even a topic of discussion among the worlds leading psychiatrists is incredibly alarming, but the conference took matters one step further by claiming that “at least a sizable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children, and normal males are aroused by children.”

Ultimately, the proposal to include hebephilia as a legitimate disorder in the new edition of the American Psychiatric Association manual was defeated, and sex offenders are thrilled.

The article (which didn't offer very many details at all) cited a January 2016 blog post about the purported academic conference where this pronouncement was made, stating that the event had occurred "last year":

These sentiments were discussed at a conference that took place last year to discuss the classification of sexuality in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the standard international psychiatric manual used by the legal system.

The conference, which was titled “Classifying Sex: Debating DSM-5″, had featured a number of speakers who spoke in favor of sex with children, which, in essence, is supporting pedophilia.

That blog, in turn, referenced a 2014 article from The Telegraph, which reported on papers that had been presented at a University of Cambridge conference back in July 2013:

"Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males,” said the presentation. “At least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children ... Normal males are aroused by children.”

The statement that paedophilia is “natural and normal” was made not three decades ago but last July. It was made not in private but as one of the central claims of an academic presentation delivered, at the invitation of the organisers, to many of the key experts in the field at a conference held by the University of Cambridge.

In other academic quarters, with rather fewer excuses, that lack of understanding appears to be reasserting itself. The Cambridge University conference, on July 4-5 last year, was about the classification of sexuality in the DSM, a standard international psychiatric manual used by the police and courts.

It is true that the conference was for academic discussion and debate of the DSM-5 (short for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), which standardizes classifications of mental disorders in the United States, and that the DSM-IV standards were revised and updated in May 2013. However, the supposed cause-and-effect chronology implied here (by the Patriot Nation article and others) is clearly askew, as University of Cambridge event occurred two months after the American Psychiatric Association revised their classifications.

It's also true that the DSM-5 slightly adjusted their classification of pedophilia, defining it as "a sexual orientation or profession of sexual preference devoid of consummation," and supplanting the common usage of the word with "pedophilic disorder,"
and that the DSM-5 does not classify hebephilia (attraction to pubescent, rather than pre-pubescent, children) as a mental disorder. But the decision to omit the latter from the updated manual had nothing to do with either societal acceptance of LGBT issues or the 2013 Cambridge University conference.

A representative from the American Psychiatric Association told us that the organization does not condone pedophilia, nor does it espouse the position that sexual attraction to children is normal or healthy.


Gilligan, Andrew.    "'Paedophilia Is Natural and Normal for Males.'"     The Telegraph.    5 July 2014.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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