James Cantor

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James M. Cantor
James Cantor at UoT 2010.JPG
Born (1966-01-02) January 2, 1966 (age 54)
EducationMA, PhD
Alma materRensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Boston University
McGill University
OccupationClinical psychologist specializing in sexology
EmployerUniversity of Toronto Faculty of Medicine
Known forSex research, atypical sexualities
WebsiteToronto Sexuality Centre; University of Toronto

James M. Cantor (born January 2, 1966) is a Canadian clinical psychologist and sexologist, specializing in hypersexuality and atypical sexual interests.[1] He is a former editor of the journal Sexual Abuse and an expert on paraphilias.[2] His neuroscience research on brain differences in pedophiles has been cited as evidence that pedophilia is something unchangeable and that people are likely born with it.[3]

Cantor is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine, and the Head of the Law and Mental Health Research Section of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.[4] He is former editor-in-chief of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Sexual Aggression, the Journal of Sex Research, and Archives of Sexual Behavior.[5]

Education and personal life[edit]

Cantor grew up on Long Island, New York and attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with a concentration in computer science and minors in mathematics and physics.[6] During his studies at RPI, Cantor was a resident adviser in the student dormitories, where he provided peer counseling to students dealing with academic or personal issues. "I discovered that those activities were the highlight of my day more than the technology-based parts of my day," he stated. He decided to pursue a doctorate in psychology at McGill University, which is where he found his research passion: the neurological underpinnings of sexual behavior.[6]

He obtained his MA in psychology from Boston University and PhD in clinical psychology from McGill University with a thesis on "Reversal of fluoxetine-induced sexual dysfunction in male rats."[7] He completed his postdoctoral training at CAMH,[1] where he continued on staff.

Cantor gave a speech about his personal experience of being a gay graduate student at the 1991 annual convention of the American Psychological Association.[6][8]


Cantor's research centers on the development of sexual interests, including sexual orientation and paraphilias.[4] He has published on sex addiction, and atypical sexualities, including masochism, furries, vorarephilia, and others.[9]

Using magnetic resonance imaging to examine the brains of male pedophiles, Cantor reported biological differences from the brains of non-pedophile offenders.[10] He found a significant decrease in the amount of white matter in their brains compared to control subjects, in addition to having lower IQ, and being shorter than average. This was interpreted as suggesting a link to early brain development. Cantor insists, however, that these findings do not imply that pedophiles should not be held legally responsible for their actions.[11] According to Laura Kane, writing in the Toronto Star, Cantor's work has "greatly influenced the view among researchers that pedophilia has a biological basis."[12]

Cantor is one of the co-authors of a 2008 paper by Ray Blanchard, which shaped the DSM-5 proposal of replacing the pedophilia diagnosis with pedohebophilic disorder,[13] adding hebephilia as part of the definition of this disorder but at the same time differentiating it into three subtypes: pedophilic type (attracted to children younger than 11), hebephilic (attracted to children between 11–14), and pedohebephilic type (attracted to both age groups mentioned).[14] The main argument in the paper for this addition is that the DSM-IV-TR definition of pedophilia is not sufficient to cover attraction to "physically immature persons".[13] The proposal was criticized by Richard Green and Karen Franklin, mainly on the grounds that it pathologizes reproductively valid behavior in order to uphold current social and legal standards.[15][16] It was not added to the DSM-5.

Cantor's research suggests that sex addiction represents a variety of distinct problems, rather than a single unitary phenomenon. His typology of people seeking help for sex addiction includes paraphilic hypersexuals, avoidant masturbators, chronic adulterers, people with sexual guilt, and others.[17][18]


Pedophilia and child sexual abuse[edit]

On CNN, Cantor expressed the opinion that society should make it easier for persons who are sexually attracted to children but have never committed any sexual offenses to receive support and assistance in staying offense free. In his view, it is the sexual offenses (child molestation) and not the sexual attractions (pedophilia) that merit social sanctions. "One cannot choose to not be a pedophile, but one can choose to not be a child molester."[19]

Cantor has stated that, in his experience, pedophiles who commit sexual offenses against children "do so when they feel the most desperate—when they have nothing to lose, nothing in their lives worth protecting." He recommends that therapists use cognitive behavioral therapy and other techniques to reduce feelings of isolation and hopelessness so that pedophiles can lead "productive, offense-free lives."[20]

"We can't seem to be able to change [pedophilia]," Cantor said in an interview. "The only logical thing left to us is to help these people lead as productive and healthy a life as possible. For some people, that's life basics: a regular job, a place to live, having a secure life worth protecting and worth obeying the law for... When we make it impossible for them to find a job or a place to live, they have a life that isn't worth protecting."[21]

Cantor stated that the online group Virtuous Pedophiles—a group for pedophiles who acknowledge having a sexual interest in children, and whose members share the belief that sexual activity between adults and children is wrong and always will be—could help prevent child sexual abuse.[22] He said such sites work by providing support to people who cannot seek help through traditional means for fear of being demonized—and reported to the police.[23] He states that pedophiles "experience desire, affection, and heartbreak as strongly as anybody else. It is a deep, dark, long-lasting ache, and they can’t tell a soul."[24]

Cantor has rejected any linkage between homosexuality and pedophilia, saying, "It's quite solidly shown in the scientific literature that there is absolutely no association between being a gay man and being a pedophile".[25] He vocally opposed the boy scout bans on openly gay participants: "Indeed, if history has taught us anything, it's an environment that fosters shame and secrecy that facilitates instances of abuse."[26]

Sex addiction[edit]

In an interview about sex addiction and hypersexuality, Cantor expressed mixed views. When asked if he believed sex addiction should be considered a mental illness, he said yes, but added that "I've seen a lot of people use the term 'sex addiction' for a lot of different reasons. It's very easy to imagine that someone would use the term to curry favour with the public, with the media or during a divorce, but this is hardly the only diagnosis that this happens to. People blame many different kinds of moral failings on many different things. But we also want to be very careful and not make the opposite mistake. Just because there are people who abuse the term and the concept, doesn't mean that there's no such thing."[27]

Cantor has expressed dislike for labels being used to describe sexual addiction. He has said, "Because we know so little about people wanting to reduce their sexual behavior, it's important to avoid terms that assume one or another theory. The term 'sex addiction' implies that it works like substance addictions, even though we have no evidence for that. The term 'compulsive sexual behavior' implies that it's related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, even though we have no evidence for that either. I typically use the term 'hypersexuality' because it does not imply any theory or treatment, but that term isn't perfect either: there are people who refer themselves as 'hyper-' sexual, even though they engage in less (sometimes even much less) sexual activity than most other people."[28]


Cantor has written that transsexuality is a phenomenon of the brain, stating that MRI research has verified the Blanchard theory of there being two different kinds of male-to-female transsexuals. One of these types (called "homosexual transsexuals") have brains like gay men, which are mostly male with some features more common among women, and another type (called "autogynephilic transsexuals" or "heterosexual transsexuals") which also have brains that differ from typical, but not with features like those of women.[29]

In a subsequent article, Anton Guillamon, another neuroscientist studying transsexuality said, "Cantor seems to be right."[30]

Cantor wrote that transsexuals deserve a "bill of transsexual rights," saying that expressions of such rights are overdue. "People choose whether to transition, but one does not choose to be dysphoric about the sex they were born into."[31]


Referring to research comparing BDSM practitioners with non-BDSM counterparts, Cantor said what was interesting was "how few differences and how small the differences were between these groups." He added, "Overall, it doesn't look like there is anything special that makes a person curious about BSDM. Instead, it seems that people who are extroverted and open to experience in general will experiment with all kinds of things—sex being just one of them."[32]

When asked by columnist Dan Savage to respond to a mother concerned about her son developing into a sexual sadist, Cantor wrote, "It is true that psychopathic sex killers have violent sexual fantasies, but it doesn't work the other way around: Having violent sexual fantasies doesn't mean anyone is likely developing into a psychopathic sex killer. The great majority of people who enjoy violent (or violent-looking) porn are into healthy BDSM. Going just by the numbers, this is (by far) the most likely outcome….Healthy members of BDSM/kink communities are essentially the opposite of psychopaths. Although they are sexually aroused by violent (or violent-looking) images, they are very highly attuned to the feelings of their partners and very much want to take extreme care never to hurt them. Their arousal includes the idea that what they're doing is providing pleasure, even though it might not look pleasurable to vanilla folks."[33]

Public engagement[edit]

Cantor has been quoted concerning several high-profile cases of unusual sexual behavior. Such cases have included politician Anthony Weiner,[34] entertainers Bill Cosby[35] and Mark Salling,[36] former Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle,[37] and incel attacker Alek Minassian.[38][39]

Cantor delivered the keynote address at the founding of the Netherlands Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers in 2015.[40]

In 2016, Cantor and his research were the subject of a documentary, I, Pedophile, which featured Cantor alongside interviews with pedophilic men.[41] The program followed Cantor to the Prevention Project Dunkelfeld in Berlin, the other only centre in the world conducting research on the brain basis of pedophilia. In 2017, it was nominated for but did not win the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television award for best social/political documentary.[42][43]

Cantor maintains a blog about sex research issues, Sexology Today.[44]


  • Cantor, J. M. (2012). "Is Homosexuality a Paraphilia? The Evidence for and Against". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 41 (1): 237–247. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-9900-3. PMC 3310132. PMID 22282324.
  • Cantor, J. M.; Blanchard, R.; Christensen, B. K.; Dickey, R.; Klassen, P. E.; Beckstead, A. L.; Blak, T.; Kuban, M. E. (2004). "Intelligence, Memory, and Handedness in Pedophilia". Neuropsychology. 18 (1): 3–14. doi:10.1037/0894-4105.18.1.3. PMID 14744183.
  • Cantor, J. M.; Blanchard, R.; Robichaud, L. K.; Christensen, B. K. (2005). "Quantitative reanalysis of aggregate data on IQ in sexual offenders". Psychological Bulletin. 131 (4): 555–68. CiteSeerX doi:10.1037/0033-2909.131.4.555. PMID 16060802.
  • Cantor, J.; Kabani, N.; Christensen, B.; Zipursky, R.; Barbaree, H.; Dickey, R.; Klassen, P.; Mikulis, D.; Kuban, M.; Blak, T.; Richards, B. A.; Hanratty, M. K.; Blanchard, R. (2008). "Cerebral white matter deficiencies in pedophilic men". Journal of Psychiatric Research. 42 (3): 167–183. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2007.10.013. PMID 18039544.
  • Seto, M. C.; Cantor, J. M.; Blanchard, R. (2006). "Child pornography offenses are a valid diagnostic indicator of pedophilia". Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 115 (3): 610–5. CiteSeerX doi:10.1037/0021-843X.115.3.610. PMID 16866601.


  1. ^ a b "Dr. James M. Cantor - Department of Psychiatry". University of Toronto. Archived from the original on 14 September 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  2. ^ Kaplan, Sarah (August 20, 2015). "The Jared Fogle case: Why we understand so little about child sex abuse". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  3. ^ Bleyer, Jennifer (September 24, 2012). "How can we stop pedophiles". Slate. Archived from the original on January 4, 2018. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Dr. James Cantor". University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  5. ^ "Publications: ATSA Journal". Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
  6. ^ a b c Dingfelder, S. (June 2009). "Random Sample: James M. Cantor, PhD". Monitor on Psychology. 40 (6): 24. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
  7. ^ "Jim Pfaus: Former Graduate Students". Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  8. ^ Cantor, JM (1991), "Being gay and being a graduate student: Double the memberships, four times the problems", Paper presented at the Ninety-Ninth Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco
  9. ^ "My Research".
  10. ^ Bacic, Jadranka (2009). "MRIs link pedophilia to early brain development". Canadian Psychiatry Aujourd'hui. 5 (3): 6. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
  11. ^ Cantor, J.; Kabani, N.; Christensen, B.; Zipursky, R.; Barbaree, H.; Dickey, R.; Klassen, P.; Mikulis, D.; Kuban, M.; Blak, T.; Richards, B. A.; Hanratty, M. K.; Blanchard, R. (2008). "Cerebral white matter deficiencies in pedophilic men". Journal of Psychiatric Research. 42 (3): 167–183. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2007.10.013. PMID 18039544.
    • Blanchard, R.; Kolla, N. J.; Cantor, J. M.; Klassen, P. E.; Dickey, R.; Kuban, M. E.; Blak, T. (2007). "IQ, Handedness, and Pedophilia in Adult Male Patients Stratified by Referral Source". Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. 19 (3): 285–309. doi:10.1177/107906320701900307. PMID 17634757.
    • Cantor, J. M.; Kuban, M. E.; Blak, T.; Klassen, P. E.; Dickey, R.; Blanchard, R. (2007). "Physical Height in Pedophilic and Hebephilic Sexual Offenders". Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. 19 (4): 395–407. doi:10.1177/107906320701900405. PMID 17952597.
  12. ^ Kane, Laura (22 December 2013). "Is pedophilia a sexual orientation?". Toronto Star. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  13. ^ a b Blanchard, Ray; Cantor, James M.; Wherrett; Kuban; Cantor; Blak; Dickey; Klassen (2008). "Pedophilia, Hebephilia, and the DSM-V". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 38 (3): 335–350. doi:10.1007/s10508-008-9399-9. PMID 18686026.
  14. ^ Frieden, Joyce (2009-12-01). "DSM-V work on paraphilias begins in earnest". Clinical Psychiatry News. Retrieved 2012-04-24.
  15. ^ Green, Richard (2010). "Sexual Preference for 14-Year-Olds as a Mental Disorder: You Can't Be Serious!!". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 39 (3): 585–586. doi:10.1007/s10508-010-9602-7. PMID 20204488.
  16. ^ Franklin, K. (2010). "Hebephilia: Quintessence of diagnostic pretextuality". Behavioral Sciences & the Law. 28 (6): 751–768. doi:10.1002/bsl.934. PMID 21110392.
  17. ^ Cantor, J. M.; Klein, C.; Lykins, A.; Rullo, J. E.; Thaler, L.; Walling, B. R. (2013). "A Treatment-Oriented Typology of Self-Identified Hypersexuality Referrals". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 42 (5): 883–893. doi:10.1007/s10508-013-0085-1. PMC 3958916. PMID 23455658.
  18. ^ Sutton, K. S.; Stratton, N.; Pytyck, J.; Kolla, N. J.; Cantor, J. M. (2014). "Patient Characteristics by Type of Hypersexuality Referral: A Quantitative Chart Review of 115 Consecutive Male Cases". Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. 41 (6): 1–18. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2014.935539. PMID 25032736.
  19. ^ Cantor, James (2012-06-21). "Do pedophiles deserve sympathy?". CNN. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  20. ^ Cantor, J. M. (2014). ""Gold-star" Pedophiles in General Sex Therapy Practice". In Binik, Yitzchak M.; Hall, Kathryn S. K. (eds.). Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy, Fifth Edition. pp. 222–223.
  21. ^ "'The most viscerally hated group on earth': Documentary explores how intervention can stop pedophiles" – via The Globe and Mail.
  22. ^ Clarke-Flory, Tracy (2012-07-01). "Meet pedophiles who mean well: The men behind VirtuousPedophiles.com are attracted to children but devoted to denying their desires". Salon.com.
  23. ^ "Four Misconceptions About Pedophiles". CBC. March 10, 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  24. ^ Lewsen, Simon (28 September 2016). "Why Would Someone Choose to Be a Monster?". The Walrus. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  25. ^ Whiteman, Hilary (2010-04-14). "Gay outrage over cardinal's child abuse comment". CNN. Archived from the original on 2010-10-18. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  26. ^ Hennessy-Fiske, Molly (6 February 2013). "Boy Scouts board delays vote on lifting ban on gays". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  27. ^ Anderson, Scott (2010). "Addicted to Love". University of Toronto Magazine./
  28. ^ Auteri, Steph (August 2014). "What You Need To Know About... Hypersexuality". AASECT Contemporary Sexuality Newsletter. Retrieved 2015-01-24.
  29. ^ Cantor, James M. (2011), "New MRI studies support the Blanchard typology of male-to-female transsexualism", Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40 (5): 863–864, doi:10.1007/s10508-011-9805-6, PMC 3180619, PMID 21739338
  30. ^ Guillamon, A; Junque, C; Gómez-Gil, E (2016). "A review of the status of brain structure research in transsexualism". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 45 (7): 1615–1648. doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0768-5. PMC 4987404. PMID 27255307.
  31. ^ Cantor, James. "A Bill of Transsexual Rights". JAMESCANTOR.org. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  32. ^ Berliet, Melanie (10 February 2014). "The Truth about BDSM: American may be a lot kinkier than you think". Pacific Standard. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  33. ^ Savage, Dan (10 February 2015). "The Ethical Sadist". The Stranger. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  34. ^ Miller, Lisa (26 July 2013). "Diagnosing Anthony Weiner: Sick or Just Plain Stupid?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  35. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/09/health/when-rapists-weapon-is-a-drug.html
  36. ^ Miller, Korin (December 29, 2015). "Mark Salling Arrested for Child Porn: Is He a Pedophile?". Yahoo Lifestyle. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  37. ^ Kaplan, Sarah (20 August 2015). "The Jared Fogle case: Why we understand so little about child sex abuse" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
  38. ^ Rogers, Brook A. (27 April 2018). "The online 'incel' culture is real – and dangerous". New York Post. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  39. ^ Yang, J. (25 April 2018). "Number cited in cryptic Facebook post matches Alek Minassian's military ID". Toronto Star. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  40. ^ Van Eijck, Guido (31 January 2015). "Begrip voor/van pedofilie". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  41. ^ "Look At The Underworld of Pedophiles And New Therapies to Keep Children Safe From Victimization".
  42. ^ "I, Pedophile - Donald Brittain Award Nominee - Canadian Screen Awards". 3 January 2017.
  43. ^ 2017 winners
  44. ^ Connor, Kevin (January 21, 2018). "Transgenders grow out of it: Doc". Toronto Sun. Retrieved January 7, 2019. Dr. James Cantor — director of the Toronto Sexuality Centre and author of the blog Sexology Today — compiled results from a dozen medical studies that say the majority of kids stop feeling transgendered [sic] past puberty.

External links[edit]