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Hebephilia and the Construction of a Fictitious Diagnosis

Good, Paul PhD; Burstein, Jules PhD✠

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2012 - Volume 200 - Issue 6 - p 492–494
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318257c4f1
Original Article

As mass media and the advertising industry sexualize children at earlier ages, DSM-5 is considering a proposal for a new mental disorder involving sexual attraction to adolescents. Despite the fact that most men are sexually aroused by pubescent teens, some clinicians and researchers believe they have identified a new subgroup of chronically impaired men who are compulsively drawn to older children. We discuss the proposal and conclude that it is insufficiently documented and that with such potentially serious medicolegal consequences, inclusion in the new manual is not advised. Clinically, there are insufficient data showing the construct to be reliable and valid. Forensically, a new diagnosis of hebephilia is likely to be used to justify indefinite civil commitment and other onerous punishments.

Private Practice, Wright Institute, San Francisco, CA.

✠Dr Burstein died during the writing of this article.

Editor’s note: Proposed DSM-5 criteria sets do not represent the final DSM-5 criteria for the disorders.

Send reprint requests to Paul Good, PhD, Wright Institute, 1738 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.