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Did The APA Change the Definition of Pedophilia to a Sexual Orientation?

There’s an article making the rounds online that says the American Psychiatric Association has changed the definition of pedophilia, leaving many angry, confused, and concerned.

The article claims ‘the APA states it now classifies pedophilia as a sexual orientation or preference instead of a disorder’ in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) — basically the handbook of the psych world.

Alex E. Proimos, Flickr

The problem is, it’s horribly out of context, and basically untrue.

To break it down, the APA attempted to distinguish between ‘levels’ of pedophilia. There are those who have sexual or obsessive thoughts about children, without acting on them, and there are the more sinister types, who actually act on those thoughts, and abuse and molest children. The former was called pedophilia, the latter called pedophilic disorder.

They changed the wording, people flipped out, and the APA issued THIS crazy-long statement to explain:

In the … DSM-III-R, the criteria sets for the Paraphilias included a clinical significance criterion (i.e., “the person has acted on these urges, or is markedly distressed by them”) in recognition of the fact that the mere presence of paraphilic sexual urges or fantasies do not necessarily warrant a diagnosis of a paraphilia in an individual.  During the preparation of … DSM-IV, the wording of this criterion was adjusted (i.e.,”the fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning”) as part of the effort to adopt uniform wording for the clinical significance criterion across the disorders. …

Some readers misunderstood this new wording as greatly restricting the number of individuals who would be diagnosed with Pedophilia by requiring that they be distressed by their behavior in order to qualify for the diagnosis.   This was clearly never intended, since it is well recognized that many (if not most) individuals with Pedophilia are not distressed by their pedophilic urges, fantasies, and behaviors. …

There was never any intention to no longer include individuals who acted on their urges.

To remove any possible ambiguity regarding whether acting out pedophilic urges with others is sufficient for a diagnosis of Pedophilia, the original DSM-III-R wording has been reinstated.

The kicker is, they realized that people were going crazy about this, and in the new edition, the DSM V, they didn’t change it at all:

Although proposals were discussed throughout the DSM-5 development process, diagnostic criteria ultimately remained the same as in DSM-IV TR. Only the disorder name will be changed from pedophilia to pedophilic disorder to maintain consistency with the chapter’s other listings.’

A lot of religious-based news sites are using the supposed change to compare pedophilia to homosexuality, claiming that since pedophilia is now a sexual orientation, it will soon be socially accepted the way homosexuality is, and therefore the end is nigh, etc…

It’s crap.

Not to mention that it’s incredibly offensive to think pedophilia should be placed in the same category as homosexuality. (It’s 2013. If two consenting ADULTS want to get together, live and let live, and LET IT GO.)

It didn’t take much work to look up the actual change and find out what really happened. As with most things online, I encourage you to check it out before blindly sharing the truth and possibly spreading misinformation.

Do you see a lot of rumors spread online? Tell us in the comment section below!

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