General criticisms of most theories
The current state of understanding of pedophilia is very poor, as is the case with the paraphilias in general. Attempts to validate all theories have been small case studies of unrepresentative clinical or criminal samples. None have been replicable, controlled scientific studies, so findings are inconclusive and no single theory or set of theories is accepted.15 In fact, little is known about the development of sexual attraction among non-deviant individuals.16
Psychologist Chin-Keung Li raises a more fundamental question. He writes that the search for a single theory of pedophilia may be unproductive since pedophilia is not a unitary phenomenon but rather involves very different kinds of people, relationships, and encounters.
In addition, he writes that three fundamental characteristics limit all current theories.
- Theories assume the norm of adult heterosexuality and are based on the concept of "abnormality."
- Theorists are less concerned about understanding than they are with control of deviant elements in society.
- Theorists do not consider the personal construction made by the "central actor of the drama"--the adult involved in the sexual contact.17