An ephebophile is a person who is primarily attracted to late- or post-adolescents, or children who have gone through puberty and have advanced signs of adult sexual maturation. Generally, this means teenagers and preteens between 15 and 19 years old. The term and classification has some overlap or even confusion with the term "hebephilia", which refers to the primary attraction to starting adolescents ages 11-14.
The term's origins revolve around the times of ancient Greece. It comes from ἔφηβος (ephebos), variously defined as "one arrived at puberty", "a youth of eighteen who underwent his dokimasia and was registered as a citizen (Athens)", and "arriving at man's estate"; and φιλία (-philia), which is derived from -phil-, implying love or strong friendship.
The term was described by Frenchman Félix Buffière and Pakistani scholar Tariq Rahman. Both argued that ephebophilia should be especially used with regard to homosexuality while describing the erotic interest of adult men in adolescent boys in classical Persian, Turkish, or Urdu literature. The term was additionally revived by Ray Blanchard as a denotation for adults who sexually prefer people aged between 15 and 19.
According to researchers, the terms ephebophilia and hebephilia, or erotic interest centered on young pubescents, have not come into widespread use, even among professionals who work with sex offenders, and can easily be confused with one or the other. It was concluded that such erotic interests were classified by only a few as a mental disorder like pedophilia. Regardless, the modern-day model of an adolescent-attracted perpetrator is a recognized part of profiling offender psychology.
Late- or post-adolescents usually have physical characteristics near (or, in some cases, identical) to that of fully-grown adults. Psychiatrist and sexologist Fred Berlin states that, as a result, most men can find people in this age group sexually attractive. He goes on to add that some men who are involved with teenagers may not have a particular disorder driving their actions and there could be other factors at play.
Ephebophilia is used only to describe the preference for late- or post-adolescent sexual partners, not the mere presence of a level of sexual attraction. Generally, the preference is not regarded by psychologists as a psychopathology when it does not interfere with other major areas of one's life, and is not listed by name as a mental disorder or as a paraphilia. However, the sexual preference can sometimes be diagnosed as a disorder if it results in dysfunction or exploitative behavior.
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