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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] He is widely cited for his neuroscience research showing brain differences in pedophiles, and for suggesting that pedophilia is something unchangeable and that people are likely born with it.[3] Cantor and the implications of his work for preventing abuse were featured in the CBC documentary I, Pedophile, alongside interviews with pedophilic men.[4] The film followed Cantor from the beginnings of his research (via re-enactments) to the international presentation of its results. It was nominated for best social/political documentary in 2017.[5]

James M. Cantor
James Cantor at UoT 2010.JPG
Born (1966-01-02) January 2, 1966 (age 52)
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

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.[6] 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.[7]


Education and personal lifeEdit

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.[8] 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."[9] He completed his postdoctoral training at CAMH,[1] where he continued on staff.

When asked how he became a sex researcher, Cantor affectionately referred to his alma mater where he was studying computers as "junior Vulcan school."[10] During his studies there, he 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.[8]

Cantor gave a speech about his personal experience of being a gay graduate student at the 1991 annual convention of the American Psychological Association.[8][11]


Cantor's research centers on the development of sexual interests, including sexual orientation and paraphilias.[6] His study using magnetic resonance imaging to examine the brains of male pedophiles was reported in several mainstream news media outlets.[12] 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.[13]

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,[14] 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).[15] 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".[14] The proposal has been criticized, mainly on the grounds that it pathologizes reproductively valid behavior in order to uphold current social and legal standards.[16][17]

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".[18]

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.[19][20]

Cantor delivered the keynote address at the founding of the Netherlands Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers in 2015. The Dutch national newspaper de Volkskrant covered the opening and called Cantor "an inspired speaker."[21]

Public engagementEdit

Cantor is widely referenced for providing scientific information about sex following high-profile cases of unusual sexual behavior. Such cases have included politician Anthony Weiner,[22] entertainers Bill Cosby[23] and Mark Salling,[24] and former Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle.[25]

In 2016, Cantor and his research were the subject of a documentary, I, Pedophile, which featured Cantor alongside interviews with pedophilic men.[4] 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. According to the documentary film magazine POV, "This bold, brave, and revealing film challenges viewers to empathize with pedophiles as it explores the science that creates a pedophile's attraction to children and lets pedophiles explain their feelings and actions."[26] Reviews were positive, calling the film "riveting and enlightening"[27] and the research "ground breaking"[28] and "revolutionary".[29] It was nominated for the 2017 Donald Brittain award for best social/political documentary program by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.[5]


Pedophilia and child sexual abuseEdit

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."[30]

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."[31]

"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."[29]

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.[32] 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.[33]

Sex addictionEdit

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."[34]

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."[35]


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.[36] In a subsequent article, Anton Guillamon, another neuroscientist studying transsexuality said, "Cantor seems to be right."[37]

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."[38] He is skeptical of trans women who undergo procedures to look female and who live as women, but who do not seek sex reassignment surgery. Cantor has said that such women "often change their stories as they come to terms with everything."[39][40]


Writing for The Walrus, reporter Simon Lewsen said, "Any scientist doing controversial work is going to be called on, repeatedly, to defend his ideas. It doesn't hurt that Cantor is charismatic and funny, given to wild hand gestures and stagey diction... You can imagine him tap dancing or impersonating Lenny Bruce."[41] Reporter Tracy Clark-Flory referred to Cantor as "bitingly funny," after interviewing him for Salon.[42] The Toronto Star described "sitting inside his office at the College St. research hospital", stating that "Cantor is surrounded by books on sexology and eccentric decor—a framed sign that reads 'Data Is My Porn', a throw pillow that spells 'penis' in Braille."[43]


  • 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. 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. 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. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
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  12. ^ Bacic, Jadranka (2009). "MRIs link pedophilia to early brain development". Canadian Psychiatry Aujourd'hui. 5 (3): 6. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
  13. ^ 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: 285–309. doi:10.1177/107906320701900307.
    • 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.
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  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Franklin, K. (2010). "Hebephilia: Quintessence of diagnostic pretextuality". Behavioral Sciences & the Law. 28 (6): 751–768. doi:10.1002/bsl.934. PMID 21110392.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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: 1–18. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2014.935539.
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  24. ^ Miller, Korin (December 29, 2015). "Mark Salling Arrested for Child Porn: Is He a Pedophile?". Yahoo Lifestyle. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
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  27. ^ Knelman, Martin (March 9, 2016). "I, Pedophile dares to empathize: Knelman | The Star". Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  28. ^ Robertson, Kate (8 March 2016). "CBC doc reveals the struggle of the world's most-loathed population: pedophiles".
  29. ^ a b "'The most viscerally hated group on earth': Documentary explores how intervention can stop pedophiles" – via The Globe and Mail.
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  34. ^ Anderson, Scott (2010). "Addicted to Love". University of Toronto Magazine./
  35. ^ Auteri, Steph (August 2014). "What You Need To Know About... Hypersexuality". AASECT Contemporary Sexuality Newsletter. Retrieved 2015-01-24.
  36. ^ Cantor, James M. (2011), "New MRI studies support the Blanchard typology of male-to-female transsexualism", Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40: 863–864, doi:10.1007/s10508-011-9805-6, PMC 3180619, PMID 21739338
  37. ^ Guillamon, A; Junque, C; Gómez-Gil, E. "A review of the status of brain structure research in transsexualism". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 45: 1615–1648. doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0768-5. PMC 4987404. PMID 27255307.
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  39. ^ Carmichael, A (2002-06-08). "Rare 'shemales' seek respect and understanding". Toronto Star.
  40. ^ Carmichael, A (2002-06-04). "Toronto shemales strut their stuff, part of national quest for rights". Drudge Report.
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  42. ^ Clark-Flory, Tracy (13 November 2011). "Child abuse: We're making the problem worse". Salon. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  43. ^ Kane, Laura (22 December 2013). "Is pedophilia a sexual orientation?". The Star. Retrieved 18 June 2018.

External linksEdit