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The Role of Parent–Child Bonding, Attachment, and Interpersonal Problems in the Development of Deviant Sexual Fantasies in Sexual Offenders

Roberto Maniglio

Trauma, Violence & Abuse; April 2012 vol. 13 no. 2 83-96

 

Abstract

To understand the origin, development, and functions of deviant sexual fantasy in sexual offenders, the present article investigates three areas of the literature on sexual offenders (i.e., parent–child relationships, attachment, and interpersonal problems), hypothesizing a possible path through which dysfunctional parent–child relationships might lead to deviant sexual fantasies. The review of the literature provides indirect evidence that an insecure attachment style developed in response to dysfunctional parenting practices may generate feelings of inadequacy and inferiority to others and a lack of the self-confidence and social skills to initiate or maintain consensual intimate relationships with appropriate others. It is hypothesized that such problems, in turn, might promote low levels of intimacy and satisfaction in romantic relationships and serious and chronic emotional loneliness, withdrawal, and negative attitudes (such as anger and hostility) toward potential partners, leading to a progressive retirement from the real world and refuge in an internal world of deviant sexual fantasies in order to satisfy attachment-related needs for intimacy, emotional closeness, or power. Such a combination of insecure attachment, interpersonal problems, and use of deviant sexual fantasies as a means to achieve the intimacy, power, or control absent from reality might predispose to sexual offending.

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