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Hebephilia is an erotic age preference (chronophilia) for pubescent youth, usually between 11-14 years of age. It is often used to distinguish an attraction to pubescents from an attraction to prepubescent or sexually immature youth (described as pedophilia and ephebophilia respectively). A person with such attractions is called a hebephile. Researchers connected to CAMH tend to distinguish hebephilia ("preference for 11–14 year-olds") from ephebophilia ("preference for 15–19 year-olds"). These age ranges are approximate, as the boundaries of puberty vary from person to person. There is presently no medical diagnosis of hebephilia, although as detailed by Wikipedia, there have been recent, unsuccessful attempts to pathologize it.
The term comes from the Greek terms ἥβη (hḗbē, "youth") and φῐλος (philos, "love").
In 2009, Psychologist Ray Blanchard argued for a distinction between pedophilia and hebephilia based on plethysmography studies. He suggested that these two categories should be pathologised as a single disorder (pedohebephilia) in the DSM. This attracted controversy from others in the field, such as Karen Franklin, who argued that hebephilia represents a normative adaptation from an evolutionary science perspective. The full details of the controversy are covered in the Wikipedia article below.
American psychologist Bruce Rind and Scottish queer theorist Richard Yuill, summarized the large amount of critiques up to that time, and argued extensively against the idea that hebephilia is pathological. A further critique was published in 2015 by historian Simon Goldhill, in his article The Imperialism of Historical Arrogance: Where Is the Past in the DSM's Idea of Sexuality?.
According to phallometric studies, equal or preferential hebephilia may have a prevalence of around 20% in men, (or more, should girls aged 13 and 14 be frequently featured in stimulus material).
Confusion with/distinction from Ephebophilia
Hebephilia was first mentioned in the 1950s, but barely used until the late 00s and 10s, when it was popularized by Blanchard and others in his field. It has been confused with, and distinguished from ephebophilia (a concept of questionable validity) in various ways - described in the article on said subject.
- Blanchard, R., Lykins, A. D., Wherrett, D., Kuban, M. E., Cantor, J. M., Blak, T., Dickey, R., & Klassen, P. E. (2009). "Pedophilia, Hebephilia, and the DSM-V," Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38(3), 335-350.
- Rind, Bruce, & Yuill Richard. "Hebephilia as Mental Disorder?" Archives of Sexual Behavior, Jun 28 2012
- Simon Goldhill, ‘The Imperialism of Historical Arrogance: Where Is the Past in the DSM's Idea of Sexuality?’, in Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 44:5 (2015), 1099-1108 <https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-015-0556-7>.
- Janssen, Diederik F. (2015). "'Chronophilia': Entries of Erotic Age Preference into Descriptive Psychopathology". Medical History. 59 (4): 575–98.
- "Hebephilia" - Wikipedia article - describing the full controversy and various attempts to pathologize Hebephilia.