Excerpt from Wilson, G. & Cox, D. (1983). The Child-Lovers: A Study of Paedophiles in Society. London: Peter Owen Publishers.
This pedophile sample was drawn neither from medical case records nor from prison files. Rather, they were self-confessed pedophiles “at large” within the community.
In terms of personality, we found our group of pedophiles to be markedly introverted, but their scores on psychoticism and neuroticism were only slightly elevated compared with controls. There were indications of deficient social skill and confidence (e.g. shyness, sensitivity, loneliness and some depression) but the majority showed no sign of clinically significant psychopathy or thought disorder. The majority of pedophiles, however socially inappropriate, seem to be gentle and rational. We cannot rule out the possibility that some part of the social anxiety and withdrawal that has been so consistently observed in pedophile men is a reaction to experienced (or anticipated) social hostility.
Naive innocence (otherwise described as softness, simplicity, openness, and willingness to learn) was the quality of the child that was of primary attractiveness to the pedophiles. Certain other qualities of children that pedophiles find particularly attractive show that their sexual arousal mechanism is in many respects normal. The vitality, energy, playfulness and vivaciousness that was often cited as attractive to pedophiles is an important basis of attraction between adult partners, both heterosexual and homosexual.
Finally, our research revealed that the fantasies of pedophile men have a lot in common with those of normal men, e.g. the emphasis on group sex and compliant partners. Even the prime defining characteristic of pedophilia, the preference for extreme youth in a sex partner, can be seen as an extension of the normal tendency of men to seek partners younger than themselves. When all these factors are considered it is clear that the sexual preferences of the pedophile are not so far removed from those of the normal man as they might at first appear.