About the Lab

The Sex, Crime, and Evolution Research Laboratory, directed by Dr. Martin L. Lalumière, has been in operation since January 2013 at the University of Ottawa. It includes five graduate students in clinical psychology, as well as several undergraduate honours students and volunteers.

We currently conduct research on the origins of the paraphilias, the causes of sexual crimes, sex differences in physiological sexual arousal, new methods to measures sexual interests, and the role of anxiety in sexual arousal.

Check out our news, publications, and members' profile using the "related links" on the right!

We are looking for support for our research on pedophilia and hypersexuality. Please read on below.

Looking for Support for Research on Atypical Sexual Interests (Paraphilias) and Hypersexuality

by Martin Lalumière

As a professor in clinical psychology at the University of Ottawa, I study the epidemiology, assessment, treatment, and developmental causes of hypersexuality and the paraphilias. The topics of hypersexuality (sometimes referred to as sexual addiction or compulsive sexual behavior) and paraphilias (atypical sexual interests, like fetishism) are highly stigmatized, and so are the people dealing with these issues. As a result, funds for scientific research on these topics are hard to come by. I am looking for benefactors who are interested in supporting my program of research, so we can better understand these topics. If interested, please contact me at Martin.Lalumiere@uOttawa.ca. Confidentiality is guaranteed. Below is a description of one line of research, on pedophilia. If you have any question about my research, do not hesitate to contact me.

Research Program on Pedophilia and Other Atypical Sexual Interests

My colleagues James Cantor, Michael Seto, and I have been involved in research on pedophilia (a persistent sexual attraction to prepubescent children) and sexual crimes for many years. We now know that pedophilia is a major motivation for sexual crimes against children, but not all offenders have pedophilia and not all pedophilic individuals have sexually offended. We now also know that pedophilia is very likely a neurodevelopmental disorder with prenatal origins. Based on this knowledge, we are developing a research program devoted to answering two major questions. First, what protects some pedophilic men from committing sexual crimes? Second, how do the brains of pedophilic men differ from the brains of men who are attracted to adults?

Preventing the sexual abuse of children by identifying protective factors

Major advances have been made in our understanding of how to best assess and treat pedophiles who commit sexual offenses. This work is reactive, however: children have already been sexually victimized. People involved in child sexual abuse prevention are increasingly recognizing the value and importance of proactive work, reaching pedophiles who have not yet offended and understanding what factors protect them from acting on their sexual attraction to children and how to strengthen those protective factors in order to prevent child sexual abuse. This research would involve, for example, conducting surveys of self-identified pedophilic men and comparing those who admit to committing sexual crimes and those who have not. We would also compare data from survey respondents to identified pedophilic offenders at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.

Understanding the neurodevelopment of pedophilia

The past 10 years has seen a revolution in our understanding of the causes of pedophilia. Previously, it was believed that pedophilia was caused primarily by having been a victim of sexual abuse during one’s own childhood, an idea called the “abused-abuser hypothesis”. The arrival of neuroimaging and other techniques, however, has shown pedophilia to relate to biological factors in the brain. Although many researchers predicted that the neurological differences in pedophiles would involve brain areas related to self-control, they were not. Three different MRI-based techniques have now each led to the same conclusion: Pedophiles differ from non-pedophiles in the connections among the specific parts of the brain that normally function as a single “sex response network”. When that network is not connected properly, it is unable to distinguish potential sexual partners properly, and it triggers the sexual arousal system when it would typically be suppressing its activity. Thus far, this research has been limited to adults who have sexual interests in children. It remains unknown if people with other strong and highly atypical sexual interests (e.g., voyeurs, exhibitionists) would show the same pattern, or if it is specific to pedophilia. We propose to conduct a neuroimaging study comparing and contrasting data from people with pedophilia and people with other paraphilias. We stand to learn not only about pedophilia, but also about how human neuroanatomy processes sexual stimuli and generates sexual arousal and attractions.

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