Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] pp526-sebu-375647 July 15, 2002 17:13 Style ﬁle version June 4th, 2002
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 14, No. 4, October 2002 (
Issues Concerning the Reliability and Validity
of the Diagnosis of Sexual Sadism Applied
in Prison Settings
W. L. Marshall,
and Pamela Yates
This study examined limited aspects of the diagnoses of sexual sadism among
incarcerated sexual offenders. The diagnoses examined in this study were made
by experienced forensic psychiatrists following DSM-III-R or DSM-IV criteria.
Archival data was extracted on 51 sexual offenders for whom a psychiatric eval-
uation had been requested. Analyses of offense history and features, offender
self-reports, and phallometric data, indicated few differences between those of-
fenders diagnosed as sadists and those not so diagnosed. In fact, where there were
differences, the data indicated that the nonsadists were the most deviant. The re-
sults are discussed in terms of their meaning for both forensic practice in prisons
and the value of the diagnosis of sexual sadism.
KEY WORDS: sadism; diagnosis; forensics; prisons; psychiatric evaluations.
The notionof sadism (more recently called “sexual sadism”)has along history
dating to at least the ﬁfteenth century when the French nobleman, Gilles de Rais,
raped, tortured, and murdered hundreds of children. The ﬁrst attempt to address
this scientiﬁcally was by von Krafft-Ebing (1886) which was followed by Stekel’s
book devoted to sadism and masochism (Stekel, 1929).Overthe yearsthe diagnosis
has been reﬁned culminating in its inclusion in the various editions of the Diag-
nostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association, and
Funding for this project was provided by the Programs Branch of Correctional Services of Canada.
Department of Psychology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Correctional Service of Canada.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Psychology, Queen’s University,
Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7L 3N6.
2002 Plenum Publishing Corporation