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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2005;33(1):16-36.

The impact of surgical castration on sexual recidivism risk among sexually violent predatory offenders.

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USC Institute of Psychiatry and Law, P.O. Box 86125, Los Angeles, CA 90086-0125, USA.


The relationship of surgical castration to sexual recidivism in a sexually violent predator/sexually dangerous person (SVP/SDP) population is reviewed. A review of the literature on castrated sex offenders reveals a very low incidence of sexual recidivism. The low sexual recidivism rates reported are critiqued in light of the methodologic limitations of the studies. Better designed testicular/prostate cancer studies have demonstrated that, while sexual desire is reduced by orchiectomy, the capacity to develop an erection in response to sexually stimulating material is not eliminated. The relevance of this literature to SVP/SDP commitment decisions and ethics is discussed. Two vignettes of castrated, high-risk sex offenders illustrate how to address risk reduction. Two tables are presented: the first outlines individual case data from a difficult-to-obtain report, and the second summarizes the most frequently cited castration studies on sexual recidivism. Orchiectomy may have a role in risk assessments; however, other variables should be considered, particularly as the effects can be reversed by replacement testosterone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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