Who Is and Is Not a Violent Sexual Offender?

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In a previous BrainBlogger article, I discussed the profile of the pedophile, Jerry Sandusky. Here, I outline essential criteria used to confirm or disconfirm who may be a violent sex offender (VSO).

The above determination is far from an exact science. However, there are some criteria and psychometric tools that demonstrate solid validity and reliability. I highlight some of the core criteria here.

Male gender is one. Testosterone is responsible for sexual appetite in males and females. We men get a whole lot more at puberty (18 times as much as women, in fact). Men are known to be more sexual in a number of ways: masturbation, reporting more sexual partners, being purveyors of pornography. With respect to psychosocial intimacy and sustained commitment to one partner, we are more ambivalent. There are also differences in our normative human sexual response cycle. This entails appetite, excitement, peak arousal, orgasm, and recovery.

The diagnosis of pedophilia is another factor. 63% of offenders meet the clinical criteria. This involves those who are evaluated and civilly committed to treatment.

Another criterion involves a disordered personality such as antisocial personality disorder. Such personality disorders can be highly detected, in my clinical experience, using the MMPI (Minnesota) and MMCI (Millon).

Competency or incompetency is a further criterion. To what extent does the person in question show control and volition or not?

And the chances of offending are quite high in this sub-population, after being charged or arrested for sexual offenses involving at least two victims. Of all the subtypes of paraphilias, I regard pedophilia to be the most dangerous. Yet unfortunately, I remain unsure how VSOs can be effectively treated and rehabilitated. I myself have never evaluated or treated one.


Miller HA, Amenta AE, & Conroy MA (2005). Sexually violent predator evaluations: empirical evidence, strategies for professionals, and research directions. Law and human behavior, 29 (1), 29-54 PMID: 15865331

Image via AMC Photography / Shutterstock.

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