High Risk Sexual Fantasies and Sexual Offending: An Overview of Fundamentals and Interventions


  • Astrid Rossegger
  • Ross M. Bartels
  • Jérôme Endrass
  • Bernd Borchard
  • Jay P. Singh


Although deviant sexual fantasizing has been found to be an etiological factor for sexual offending, not all deviant sexual fantasies increase risk equally. The aim of the present overview is to provide readers with an introduction to key terminology, a primer on central clinical theories, and a summary of the research literature on “high risk” sexual fantasies over the past 50 years. First, the important difference between “sexual fantasy” and “sexual fantasizing” is described. Second, the link between sexual fantasizing and sexual offending is discussed, with a focus on principle moderators such as physiological reaction, personality profile, and offense-supportive beliefs. Third, the different methods used to assess sexual fantasies are discussed. Fourth, the principles and techniques behind four evidence-based approaches to treating “high risk” sexual fantasies are discussed: (1) the behavioral approach, (2) the cognitive approach, (3) the imagination approach, and (4) the mindfulness-based approach. Finally, a call is issued for practice-based quantitative and qualitative research to further explore this clinical phenomenon. The findings of such investigations would advance the field’s understanding of assessment, management, and monitoring best practices for this important forensic population.