Investigating the Relationship between Sexual and Chemical Addictions by Comparing Executive Function in Subjects With Pedophilia or Opiate Addiction and Healthy Controls

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Disorders of driven sexual behavior have been conceptualized as sexual addictions. In the following study, we compared 51 subjects with pedophilia, 53 subjects with opiate addiction, and 84 healthy control subjects on neuropsychological tests that tap executive functions. The test battery included the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), Stroop Color-Word Test, the Matching Familiar Figures Test (MFFT), Porteus Mazes, Controlled Word Association (COWA), and Trailmaking Test. The groups differed on tests of cognitive flexibility and set switching (WCST), sustained attention (Stroop), and impulsivity (MFFT and Porteus Mazes). There were no differences on verbal fluency (COWA). The subjects with pedophilia differed significantly from those with opiate addiction on several tests, with longer latency to response on MFFT and fewer completed mazes but also fewer errors on Porteus Mazes. Thus, while both subjects with pedophilia and those with opiate addiction show executive dysfunction, the nature of that dysfunction may differ between the two groups; specifically, opiate addicted subjects may be more prone to cognitive impulsivity. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2010;16:405–412)

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