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Pedophilia: A possible biological link

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  1. 1. Review PaperByMarcella Anderson<br />Pedophilia: A Possible Biological Link<br />
  2. 2. Abstract<br />“If Pheromones play a major role in communications among species and cause an effect on the physiological processes and behavior, then they may also show a biological link to understanding Pedophilia”. This student has chosen the topic of Pedophilia in order to further understand the possible biological factors that may be associated with the disorder.<br />
  3. 3. Introduction<br />Pedophilia continues to be on the increase and is a difficult disorder to successfully treat. The DSM-IV-TR (2000) defines exclusive type Pedophilia as a condition beginning as early as adolescence and is marked by a sexual interaction with prepubescent children (p.571-572) Recent research has indicated there is a correlation between brain pathology and pedophilia (Schlitz, et al., 2007). Pheromones signals are registered by areas of the brain associated with sexual behavior and aggression (Pinel, 2006). Other research has indicated a gene mutation may also be a factor in pedophilia (Meredith, 2001). Pheromones are bioactive compounds and their molecular structure may be different in prepubescent children then they are in adults (Stowers& Marton, 2005)<br />
  4. 4. I. Pedophilia<br />. Pedophilia is general recognized as developing in adolescence (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). Therefore the pedophile has a lengthy period of exposure to children’s pheromones which may result in physiological signals that have not yet been acted upon. Similar to the classical conditioning theory as it relates to drug addicts, a repeated exposure to the stimuli may cause a reoccurrence of the response (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2009). An interview of a self proclaimed pedophile Jack McClellan on the Glenn Beck show revealed that the pedophile himself believes there is something about the child’s aura that causes an excitatory response in the brain (, 2007). Similar to drug addicts, pictures of the stimuli can sometimes trigger the same physiological responses as exposure to the actual stimuli itself (Doweiko, 2009). This may account for the explanation of pedophiles who have not acted on their impulses and who can be stimulated by merely looking at child pornography. Puberty may activate mutated genes or cause an alteration in the brain areas responsible for sexual behavior and aggression from an abnormal fluctuation of hormones causing the pedophilia to become pronounced in adolescence.<br />
  5. 5. II. The Brain Circuitry Activated by the Chemosensory Systems Detection of Pheromones<br /> With the use of several brain study procedures such as an MRI, EOG and an EVG, numerous studies identified several locations in the brain related to sexual differentiation and behavior (Meredith, 2001; Monti-Bloch et al., 1993 & Schlitz et al., 2007). In Gorski (1998) a neuron deficit among the specific brain regions of transsexuals, is similar to the findings in the study of pedophile brains that indicated a possible disruption in areas of the brain associated with mature sexual identity development (Meredith, 2001 & Schlitz et. al., 2007). The Schlitz (2007) study claimed to have proven structural and neuronal deficits in the right amygdale and closely connected structures such as the hypothalamus in the brains of pedophiles. These brain regions are involved in responses to the influences of the olfactory and pheromonal sensory signals or cues (Schlitz, et al., 2007). <br />
  6. 6. III. The Olfactory and Vomeronasal Chemosensory System and Pheromones<br />Pinel (2006) concurs with other references, on the existence of a primary and secondary olfactory system. However, it makes no mention as to the existence or non existence of a Vomeronasal organ or pit that may or may not also play a role in registering pheromone signals that promote neuron communication channels to areas of the brain. Studies are in conflict as to the existence of a functional human VNO per se, since it is does not exist in all humans (Meredith, 2001). The existence or non existence of the VNO may be related to psuedogenes or gene mutations (Meredith, 2001 & Monti-Bloch, 1993). Cells regardless of their function sense and respond to molecules in their environment (Firestein, 2001; Martini et el., 2009; & Silver, 1998). How sensory neuron inputs are organized in the olfactory pathways is being determined by molecular-genetic procedures and in studying gene families from human genome projects (FireStein, 2001 & Stowers & Marton, 2005).<br />
  7. 7. IV. Pheromones and their Communication Potential<br />A pheromone is a natural odorless molecule (Pinel, 2006). Pinel, (2006) defines pheromones as a chemical compounds that influences behavioral and physiological responses including sexual and aggressive behavior. <br />Research has defined two classifications of pheromones, those that are nonvolatile and those that are volatile (Monti-Bloch et. al., 1993). The classification is based on either positive or negative neuron activity that occurs after being exposed to various pheromones (Monti-Bloch et al., 1993). Whether or not a pre-existing neuron deficit in the olfactory primary and secondary systems are correlated to the neuron deficit of the amygdalaand other portions of the brain that these signals are sent to is unclear (Firestein, 2001).<br />Moreover, the potential for strong physiological human reaction to pheromones is documented in Benson (2002) where menstrual synchronicity resulted after a period of time when two women were exposed to one another’s pheromones.<br />
  8. 8. Conclusion<br />The prevailing arguments of the literature review are that human pheromones do have a physiological effect in other humans. Pheromones are sensed by the chemosensory system that includes the Vomeronasal organ and olfactory system (Firestein, 2001). The signals sent from the olfactory system are received by areas of the brain associated with sexual behavior and aggression. Abnormalities in the olfactory system, Vomeronasal organ, and the brain areas that are affected by pheromones could be the result of gene mutations, abnormal hormone fluctuations in adolescent development, or neuron deficiencies of the brain areas (Meredith, 2001). Most studies of pheromones and their affect on neuron activity and their signaling through the olfactory system and reception of these signals with areas of the brain, has been conducted with the use of mature adult pheromones on other adult subjects. The studies of human pheromones have focused on adult pheromones which may have a different molecular structure then prepubescent children’s pheromones due to the hormone atom component. A question for further study would be whether or not children’s pheromones are as volatile as adult pheromones. Also a current study examined the neuron deficits of the amygdale BNST, and the hypothalamus found to be present in pedophile subjects (Schlitz et al., 2007).<br />
  9. 9. Conclusion- continued<br /> It would be beneficial to further examine and identify the exact neuron sensing abnormalities within the olfactory and Vomeronasal organs of pedophiles when exposed to prepubescent children’s pheromones. <br />What remains unclear, and should be the subject of further study, is whether the abnormalities in the olfactory system, are a true result of a gene mutation or from abnormal changes to brain structure during hormonal fluctuations occurring in adolescents or in prenatal brain development. Studies have indicated that regardless of the etiology of the abnormality, that these abnormalities are capable of causing physiological changes to various structures of the brain associated with sexual behavior and aggression. Lastly, by conducting further studies it may be possible to determine whether or not a gene mutation can be linked to the abnormal development of the Vomeronasal organ and olfactory system that can cause an otherwise nonvolatile pheromone to be sensed as a volatile pheromone instead.<br />A non-treatable genetic mutation that disrupts the natural selection theory and remains a growing epidemic may be an indicator of the beginning of the end of our species as sexual differentiation and preference in mating is evolving for non-reproductive partners that include prepubescent children or same sex individuals. Pedophilia is linked to the similar brain differentiation and abnormalities or differences as found in transsexuals and homosexuals (Gorski, 1998 & Schlitz et al., 2007). <br />
  10. 10. References<br />American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, Washington, D.C. American Psychiatric Association.<br />Benson, E., (2002) Pheromones in Context. Monitor on Psychology 33 (9) 46. American Psychological Association.<br /> (2007) Glenn interviews Jack McClellan. Retrieved November 14, 2009 from<br />Doweiko, H. E., (2009) Concepts of chemical dependency (7th ed.). Belmont, CA. Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning/<br />Firestein, S., (2001) How the Olfactory System makes Sense of Scents. Insight Review Articles. Nature 41: 211-218.<br />Gerrig, R. J., & Zimbardo, P. G., (2009) An overview of psychology: Its past & present, your future. (Custom ed.). Boston MA. Pearson Custom Publishing.<br />Gorski, R., (1998). Development of the cerebral cortex: XV. Sexual differentiation of the central nervous system.Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,37 (12):1337-1339.<br />
  11. 11. References-Continued<br />Martini, F. H., Timmons, M. J., & Tallitsch, R. B., (2009) Human anatomy (6th ed.). San Francisco, CA. Pearson/Benjamin Cummings.<br />Meredith, M., (2001) Human Vomeronasal organ function: A critical review of best and worst cases. Chemical senses 26: 443-445.<br />Monti-Block, L., Jennings-White, C., Dolberg, D. S.,& Berlinger, D. L., (1993) The human Vomeronasal System. Psychoneuroendocrinology 19 ( 5-7) 673-686.<br />Pinel, J., P., J., (2006) Biopsychology (6th ed.).Boston, MA. Pearson Education, Inc.<br />Silver, B., L. (1998) The ascent of science. New York. Oxford University Press.<br /> <br />Schiltz, K., Witzel, J., Northoff, G., Zierhut, K., Gubka, U., Fellmann, H., Kaufmann, J., Tempelmann, C., Wiebking, C., & Bogerts, B., (2007) Brain Pathology in Pedophilic <br />