Are There Any Biomarkers for Pedophilia and Sexual Child Abuse? A Review
Jordan, Kirsten ; Wild, Tamara Sheila Nadine ; Fromberger, Peter ; Müller, Isabel ; Müller, Jürgen Leo
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/17134
The use of biomarkers in medicine is a common and valuable approach in several clinical fields. Understanding the relationship between measurable biological processes and clinical outcomes not only is indispensable in the face of understanding physiological processes in healthy as well as in diseased organisms but also for understanding and evaluating treatment effects. Therefore, also in the context of forensic psychiatry, biomarkers and their potentially beneficial effects are of growing interest. The objective of this review is to examine if there are biomarkers that may serve as a tool to support diagnostic process, treatment evaluation, and risk assessment of pedophilic individuals and child sexual offenders. In the first part, we present an overview of the current neurobiological, as well as physiological and psychophysiological approaches to characterize pedophilia and child sexual offending. Secondly, we discuss and evaluate the impact of these approaches on the development of biomarkers for diagnosis, therapy, and risk assessment in pedophilic subjects and child sexual offenders. We conclude that a lot of research has already enhanced our neurobiological knowledge about pedophilia and child sexual offending. Although there surely exist promising parameters and approaches, in our view currently none of these is ready yet to serve as a clinically applicable diagnostic, response, or predictive biomarker for pedophilia and child sexual offending. Therefore, further work remains to be done. The development of a composite diagnostic biomarker to assess deviant sexual interest, combining several measures like functional magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalogram, eye tracking, and behavioral approaches seems to be most promising. A valid and reliable measurement of deviant sexual interest, insensitive to manipulations could significantly support clinical diagnostic process. Similarly, regarding therapy evaluation and risk assessment, a composite biomarker to assess inhibitory control functions seems to be promising. Furthermore, the application of the Research Domain Criteria-approach, a new approach for investigating and classifying mental disorders, offers the possibility to take research to a new level.