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Acquired Pedophilia: international Delphi-method-based consensus guidelines

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posted on 2023-05-21, 15:46 authored by Scarpazza, C, Costa, C, Battaglia, U, Berryessa, C, Bianchetti, ML, Caggiu, I, Devinsky, O, Ferracuti, S, Focquaert, F, Forgione, A, Frederic GilbertFrederic Gilbert, Pennati, A, Pietrini, P, Rainero, I, Sartori, G, Swerdlow, R, Ciani, ASC
Idiopathic and acquired pedophilia are two different disorders with two different etiologies. However, the differential diagnosis is still very difficult, as the behavioral indicators used to discriminate the two forms of pedophilia are underexplored, and clinicians are still devoid of clear guidelines describing the clinical and neuroscientific investigations suggested to help them with this difficult task. Furthermore, the consequences of misdiagnosis are not known, and a consensus regarding the legal consequences for the two kinds of offenders is still lacking. The present study used the Delphi method to reach a global consensus on the following six topics: behavioral indicators/red flags helpful for differential diagnosis; neurological conditions potentially leading to acquired pedophilia; neuroscientific investigations important for a correct understanding of the case; consequences of misdiagnosis; legal consequences; and issues and future perspectives. An international and multidisciplinary board of scientists and clinicians took part in the consensus statements as Delphi members. The Delphi panel comprised 52 raters with interdisciplinary competencies, including neurologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, forensic psychologists, expert in ethics, etc. The final recommendations consisted of 63 statements covering the six different topics. The current study is the first expert consensus on a delicate topic such as pedophilia. Important exploitable consensual recommendations that can ultimately be of immediate use by clinicians to help with differential diagnosis and plan and guide therapeutic interventions are described, as well as future perspectives for researchers.


Publication title

Translational Psychiatry






School of Humanities


Nature Publishing Group

Place of publication

United Kingdom

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© The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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