As a widely marginalized group, minor-attracted people suffer from a number of mental health issues. MAPs variously report feelings of loneliness, isolation, and fear of discovery due to the secrecy their attraction necessitates (Cacciatori, 2017; Goode, 2010; Freimond, 2009; Cash, 2016; Vogt, 2006). They hesitate to approach medical professionals due to fears of being outed, misunderstood, or mistreated (B4U-ACT, 2011a; B4U-ACT, 2011b). In fact, offending MAPs are more likely to enter therapy than non-offending MAPs (Cohen, Ndukwe, Yaseen, & Galynker, 2018), possibly because treatment for these individuals is often court-mandated.
The consequences of this are grave. Many MAPs experience suicidal ideation or attempt to commit suicide, especially at lower ages (B4U-ACT, 2011b; Cacciatori, 2017; Vogt, 2006). In one study, one in four pedophiles had experienced some form of suicidal ideation (Vogt, 2006). Suicide rates of publicly outed pedophilic sex offenders are 183 times higher than for members of the general population (Walter & Pridmore, 2012).
Stigma-related stress can lead to mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse, or emotional problems such as poor emotional regulation; social withdrawal and avoidance; lower self-efficacy related to controlling one’s urges; and a refusal to attend therapy even when needed (Jahnke, Smith, Geradt, & Hoyer, 2015; Cacciatori, 2017). Evidence suggests that MAPs experience greater stress from their symptoms than the average person with the same issues would (Vogt, 2006), making them an extremely vulnerable population.
B4U-ACT. (2011a). MENTAL HEALTH CARE & PROFESSIONAL LITERATURE. Retrieved from http://www.b4uact.org/research/survey-results/spring-2011-survey/.
B4U-ACT. (2011b). YOUTH, SUICIDALITY, AND SEEKING CARE. Retrieved from http://www.b4uact.org/research/survey-results/youth-suicidality-and-seeking-care/.
Cacciatori, H. (2017). The Lived Experiences of Men Attracted to Minors and Their Therapy-Seeking Behaviors (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Walden University, Minneapolis, MN.
Cash, B.M. (2016). Self-Identifications, Sexual Development, and Wellbeing in Minor-Attracted People: An Exploratory Study (Master’s thesis). Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
Cohen, L., Ndukwe, N., Yaseen, Z., & Galynker, I. (2018). Comparison of Self-Identified Minor-Attracted Persons Who Have and Have Not Successfully Refrained From Sexual Activity With Children. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 44(3), 217-230.
Goode, S. (2010). Understanding and Addressing Adult Sexual Attraction to Children: A study of paedophiles in contemporary society. Oxford, UK: Routledge.
Freimond, C.M. (2009). Navigating the Stigma of Pedophilia: The Experiences of Nine Minor-Attracted Men in Canada (Master’s thesis). Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, CA.
Jahnke, S., Schmidt, A.F., Geradt, M., & Hoyer, J. (2015). Stigma-Related Stress and Its Correlates Among Men with Pedophilic Sexual Interests. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 2173-2187.
Vogt, H. (2006). The Leipziger Study of the Social and Psychical Situation of Pedophilic Men. Lengerich, DE: Pabst Science Publishers.
Walter, G. & Pridmore, S. (2012). Suicide and the Publicly Exposed Pedophile. The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, 19(4), 50-56.