Sexuality is an important part of our being; our way of living it is diverse, and the interests and objects of desire that we may have can be greatly varied.
However, some people develop a fixation or experience intense fantasies with unusual, unconventional, even criminal objects of desire, which generate deep dissatisfaction or suffering in those who suffer from them or their objects of desire. One such case is that of ephebophilia, Sexual attraction to underage adolescents, which we will discuss throughout this article.
Ephebophilia with paraphilia
It is called epebophilia or hebefilia preferential sexual desire towards young minors, at puberty or postpubertal age. It is a paraphilia or paraphilic disorder, which is characterized by the appearance of intense sexual fantasies in which the main object of desire is concentrated on non-human beings, objects, subjects who do not consent or have no capacity to to consent or it implies the existence of prejudice and suffering for oneself or for others.
These fantasies are presented intensely for at least six months and they generate dysfunctions and alterations in the subject’s daily life, Occupy part of his time and may or may not cause discomfort to the person himself.
The fantasy can remain imaginative or cause the subject to attempt to practice them, and generally generate exclusive sexual interest (though not essential) in the paraphilic stimulus.
In the case of ephebophilia, as we have seen, we find that the object of sexual desire that is part of the fantasies of those who suffer from this paraphilia are minors who have already entered puberty.
In this sense, sexual interest can appear between 11 (more generally 15) and 18 years old, and the other subject must already be an adult with an age difference of at least 5 years. Likewise, attraction can appear to people of the opposite sex and the same sex.
Technically this type of sexual interest could be considered as a type of pedophilia, since in this case the subject object of desire of the efebófilo continues being minor. However, there is one feature in which they differ: in the case of ephbophiles the subject already has sexual characteristics similar to those of an adult subjectAs he passes puberty or has already passed it, whereas in classical pedophilia the interest is focused on prepubertal subjects (without sexual attributes).
In general, paraphilias can involve exclusive or almost exclusive sexual attraction, although depending on the case, it is also possible that you have a functional relationship with fully adult subjects. Ephebophilia is considered a paraphilia, especially if the attraction is given only and permanently to postpubertal minors. In other contexts, environments and cultures, however, it is considered a normal sexual response, as the object of desire has adult or near-adult sexual characteristics.
However, characteristics such as finding environments where this type of child abounds for the simple fact of being close to an object of desire, grooming, or sadistic or predatory characteristics towards that sector of the population can speak to us. of a paraphilic problem. type.
Is it a criminal paraphilia?
Some paraphilias may not be criminal, excessively disabling or have an impact beyond the purely sexual, but in other cases such as in the case of the fulfillment of the fantasies themselves it can lead to the commission of a crimeBecause ephebophilia could be considered pedophilia or stupor depending on the age and the circumstances surrounding the consent.
In Spain and today, the minimum age for sexual consent is 16. However, even if you have consent, there must be a level playing field: if there is abuse of authority or the adult seduces by manipulating the child, we are talking about a case of rape, a type of sexual abuse. If not, and as long as he’s over sixteen, we wouldn’t be facing criminal interaction.
The causes of ephbophilia are not entirely clear, as is the case with other paraphilias. There is also a debate as to whether or not it should be considered a paraphilia in cases where the attraction is not exclusive and does not generate an alteration in the subject’s life or his object of desire. .
Among some existing hypotheses, we could consider the existence of a lack of coping skills, social skills or high insecurity or low self-esteem. In this sense, the efebófilo could consider itself incapable of talking about people of its same age, something that can take him to feel more at ease in the company of prepubbers.
It is also possible that there is a desire for domination and power with someone who, while physically resembling an adult, is generally more innocent and has less life experience, which means that the ephébophile has a position of superiority. having resources when the adolescent is less likely to have them, so that the adult can be seen as a provider and protector of his object of desire.
Another explanation could also be found in learning by modeling or even by parental models: A subject can learn that adolescent subjects are sexually desirable from what their environment teaches them. Additionally, the conditioning of masturbation may have occurred if sexual arousal or orgasm has been associated with the adolescent image.
Finally, it should be kept in mind that the fact that the physique can already be practically that of an adult can lead to a certain attraction which is not necessarily pathological, even if it should be noted that its level of development, both physical and especially mental corresponds to that of the adult subject.
Sexual attraction to adolescents may not require treatment, however in cases where the attraction is exclusive and involves clinically significant discomfortOr it leads to stupor, it is possible to try to use various procedures.
In this case, it is first necessary to look at what implications the adolescent figure has on the subject and what elements of it are relevant to arouse the excitement. Likewise, in case of discomfort, it will also be necessary to discuss where the discomfort comes from and the affectation that the subject generates in his daily fantasies.
After that go to seek to develop positive emotional connections with non-paraphilic situations to carry out desensitization of the paraphilic stimulus with procedures such as reconditioning of masturbation or breaking the chain of actions leading to arousal with the child.
Sometimes acceptance and commitment therapy can also be helpful, especially in cases that do not have paraphilic characteristics and in which normative sexual attraction occurs.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.