- Paedophilia could ‘begin in the womb if the mother is stressed’
PUBLISHED:17:38 EST, 20 October 2012| UPDATED:17:38 EST, 20 October 2012
Paedophiles have a ‘mental illness’ that can be spotted before they abuse anyone, new research claims.
Experts believe they can identify a potential offender through MRI and IQ tests, and treat the paedophile before they attack a youngster.
Some believe that they can even ‘cure’ paedophiles, who may have an abnormality in their brains that means they struggle to differentiate between sexual objects.
Could science have spotted Jimmy Savile? Research suggests paedophiles suffer an abnormality in the brain
One expert believes that paedophilia could be a biological problem that begins in the womb, and could be caused by stressed mothers-to-be.
Five studies have concentrated on abnormalities detected in pedophiles’ brains, with results discerning irregularities in the frontal lobe to observing peadophiles brain activity when they see images of naked children, the Daily Beastreported.
Research suggested that sex offenders appear to have significantly less white matter—a substance that connects different parts of the brain—than those who are pedophiles, according to James Cantor, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
Cantor told the Daily Beast that through studying diffusion tensor imaging MRI scans, he can see patterns of the brain typically found in pedophiles.
The professor believes that a lack of connection between parts of the brain could mean that paedophiles struggle to differentiate between sexual objects.
Paedophiles could undergo MRI scans to spot whether they have a telltale brain abnormality
His research discovered that the sexual predators generally have lower IQs and are disproportionately left-handed compared to the overall population.
Cantor believes paedophilia could be a biological problem that some are born with, he told The Daily Beast.
The scientist says it could even develop from ‘maternal stress while the mother is still pregnant, or a combination of maternal stress or poor nutrition, or household stress during childhood,’ he said.
‘If we take out one of those ingredients, we may break the chain and understand the whole system that ends in pedophilia,’ he told the Daily Beast.
The search for a cause has intensified in recent years, as much of the most recent research has focused on medical treatments for pedophilic urges.
Medications such as Depo-Provera—which is commonly prescribed for prostate cancer—lower testosterone and libido levels and are being tested as effective ‘chemical-castration’ treatments, and some say cures, to pedophilia. Those who seek help are also often treated with talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy in addition to the medicinal route.
But not everyone is convinced that stopping pedophilia is as simple as taking a pill or reading an MRI.
Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at California’s Santa Clara University who has done extensive research on child abuse within the Catholic Church, says sex offenders need to be tackled with social, psychological and biological treatments.
He believes many of the sex offenders that authorities consider paedophiles are ‘not paedophiles at all’ but are sex offenders who will target anyone they can.
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