Personality Theories of the Paraphilias

Efforts to identify associations between personality and variant sexual behavior have been inconsistently fruitful. Some studies, but not all, have found exhibitionists to be unassertive (88). One of the authors' own studies compared personality profiles of men diagnosed with a paraphilia with those of men with sexual dysfunction and with a normative sample (105). Profiles of men diagnosed with a paraphilia showed a distinctive group profile marked by higher neuroticism, lower agreeableness, and lower conscientiousness than those of sexually dysfunctional men, whose profiles were comparable with the normative group. Detailed analysis of the facet scores demonstrated that the paraphilic men were significantly higher than sexually dysfunctional or normals in depression, hostility, impulsiveness, excitement-seeking, and openness to fantasy, while significantly lower in warmth. These findings are consistent with earlier suggestions that men with paraphilias have difficulty with attachment and intimacy, and are commonly self-centered, antagonistic, and autonomically prone to distress (106-109). Consistent with the finding by Fagan and colleagues that the para-philia group was higher in openness to fantasy, others have observed that men with paraphilias often experience fantasy as a central aspect of their sexuality (110,111).

A recent study of pedophilic sex offenders found that 60% of the sample met criteria for a personality disorder (25). However, contrary to the commonly asserted hypothesis that antisocial personality disorder is etiologically fundamental to pedophilia, < 23% of the sample met criteria in this study. Others have also found limited evidence to support such hypotheses (112).

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