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An investigation into maladaptive personality functioning in Internet sex offenders

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Psychopathology and maladaptive personality functioning are purported to play a significant role in the aetiology of sexual offending (e.g. Ahlmeyer et al., 2003; Murray, 2000). The present study examined whether this applied to those individuals who commit sexual offences against children via the Internet. The sample consisted of 30 Internet sex offenders, all completing mandatory 3-year community rehabilitation orders. Participants were administered the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) and two questionnaires pertaining to demographic characteristics and personal history. Results indicated that Internet sex offenders differed significantly from the normal population on a number of PAI scales, most strikingly: Warmth, Dominance, and Depression. This suggests that Internet offenders may experience deficits in interpersonal functioning and affective difficulties. Significant correlations were also found between hours per week spent accessing indecent images of children and PAI scales assessing Schizophrenia, Borderline Features, Depression, and Warmth. These findings are considered in relation to current empirical research and implications for therapeutic practice and future research are discussed.
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Keywords: Internet sex offenders; PAI; psychopathology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Psychologist in Forensic Practice, Birmingham, UK 2: Forensic Private Practice, Birmingham, UK 3: Forensic Psychology, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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