Ephebophilia: Causes and Treatment of this Paraphilia

What is ephebophilia? Does it always require psychological treatment? Let’s see it


Sexuality is an important part of our being; Our way of living it is diverse and the interests and objects of desire that we can have can be profoundly varied.

However, some people develop a fixation or experience intense fantasies with unusual, unconventional or even criminal objects of desire, which generate deep dissatisfaction or suffering to those who suffer from it or to their objects of desire. One of these cases is that of ephebophilia, the sexual attraction by underage adolescents, of which we are going to talk throughout this article.

Ephebophilia as paraphilia

The name of ephebophilia or hebephilia is the preferred sexual desire towards young people of minor age, in pubertal or postpubertal age. It is a paraphilia or paraphilia disorder, which are characterized by the appearance of intense sexual fantasies in which the main object of desire focuses on non-human beings, objects, non-consenting subjects or without the ability to consent or involves the existence of damage and suffering for oneself or for others.

These fantasies are presented intensely for a minimum of six months and generate dysfunctionality and alteration in the day to day of the subject, occupying a part of their time and may or may not cause discomfort to the person.

The fantasy can stay in the imaginative or they can push the subject to try to practice them, and usually generate an exclusive sexual interest (although the latter is not essential) to the paraphillic 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 paraphilia are minors who have already entered puberty.

Sexual interest can appear between the 11 (more typically starting at age 15) and the 18 years of age, and the other subject must already be an adult with an age difference of at least 5 years. Also, the attraction can appear both towards people of the opposite sex and of the same sex.

Technically this type of sexual interest could be considered a type of pedophilia, given that in that case the subject subject of desire of the ephebphilus is still a minor. However, there is a characteristic in which they differ: in the case of ephebophils, the subject already has sexual characteristics similar to those of an adult subject, since he is passing puberty or has already passed it, while 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 can maintain functional relationships with completely adult subjects. Ephebophilia is considered a paraphilia, especially if the attraction is given only and fixedly to postpubertal minors. In other contexts, environments and cultures, however, it is considered a normal sexual response, because the object of desire has adult or near-adult sexual characteristics.

Is it a criminal paraphilia?

Some paraphilias may not be criminal, excessively invalidating or have affectation beyond the merely sexual, but in other cases such as the one in which we are dealing with the implementation of the fantasies themselves may lead to the commission of a crime, since ephebophilia It could be considered pedophilia or rape depending on the age and circumstances surrounding the consent.

Typically, the minimum age of sexual consent is 16 years of age. However, although there must be consent there must be conditions of equality: if the abuse of authority occurs or the adult seduces the child through manipulation, we are talking about a case of rape, a type of sexual abuse. If this is not the case and whenever it exceeds sixteen years, we would not be faced with an interaction constituting a crime.


The causes of ephebophilia are not completely clear, as is the case with the rest of paraphilias. There is also debate regarding whether or not it should be considered paraphilia in those cases in which the attraction is not exclusive and does not generate an alteration in the life of the subject or his object of desire.

Among some existing hypotheses we could consider the existence of a deficit of coping skills, social skills or a high level of insecurity or lack of self-esteem. In this sense, the ephebphile could be considered incapable of relating to people of the same age, something that can lead him to feel more comfortable in the company of prepubes.

It is also possible that there is a desire for domination and power with someone who, although physically resembling an adult, is usually more innocent and has less vital experience, which means that the ephe- philist has a superior position. the adult may already have resources while the adolescent is less likely to possess them, so that the adult could be seen as a provider and protector of his object of desire.

Also another explanation could be found in learning by modeling or even by parental models: a subject can learn that adolescent subjects are sexually desirable from what the environment teaches him. In addition, masturbatory conditioning may have occurred if sexual arousal or orgasm has been associated with the image of adolescents.

Finally, it must be borne in mind that the fact that the physicist may already be practically that of an adult may lead to a certain attraction that is not necessarily pathological, although it should be noted that his level of development, both physically and especially psychic do not correspond to that of the adult subject.


Sexual attraction to adolescents may not require treatment, but in those cases in which the attraction is exclusive and involves a clinically significant discomfort, or it entails estupro, it is possible to try to use various procedures.

In this case, one should first look for the implications of the figure of the adolescent for the subject and what elements of it are relevant to generate 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 day-to-day fantasies.

After that, we proceed to seek to develop positive emotional links with non-paraphilic situations in order to proceed to desensitize the paraphilic stimulus with procedures such as masturbatory reconditioning or the rupture of the chain of actions that leads to excitement with the child.

Occasionally, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy may also be useful, especially in cases that do not have paraphilic characteristics and where there is normative sexual attraction.