Is Pedophilia a Mental Illness or a Crime Against Children?
? What is pedophilia?
Let’s start with what it is not. Pedophilia is not an act of sex between two consenting adults. It is an act where an adult takes advantage of a child. Adults are more powerful than children and therefore they can overpower them emotionally, physically and sexually. It is immoral, unethical, and illegal. Pedophiles will engage in sexual activities with their own family members or they will go out into the community and seek out their victims.
Pedophilia is not homosexuality.
Homosexuality is an act where two individuals willingly have sexual relations and it is not pedophilia. Homosexuals are not pedophiles no more than having sexual relations between two heterosexual adults is not pedophilia. When unwanted sex occurs between two adults, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual it is called rape. When sexual encounters happen between an adult predator and a child it is called pedophilia.
Doctor James Hord, a Panama City, Florida psychologist specializing in treating sexually abused children explains that though some pedophiles prefer boys and other prefer girls or really do not care one way or the other, pedophilia is not about the gender of the child it about the age.
Dr. Anthony Siracusa, a psychologist specializing in treating sexually abused children from Williamstown, Massachusetts, states that adults who have a thing for children are often stressed and anxious about relationships with other adults. According to Siracusa these people are called regressed offenders, because they are not dealing on the level of an adult but are going back to a former period in their life. Sometimes these people bounce back and forth form a relationship with another adult to criminal relationships with children. Dr. Hord also agrees that insecurity is at the heart of the pedophile’s inability to relate to an adult intimate relationship. Pedophiles are not capable of having a normal healthy relationship sexually and often socially with other adults. The adult relationship is difficult or even daunting for them and therefore it easier to be attracted to a child. Insecurity translates to the need to control the sexual experience and of course it is very easy to do with a child. It is not so easy to do in a healthy adult relationship.
There are some individuals who have trouble maintaining a normal adult relationship and fantasize about having a relationship with a child and they do not act upon it. Some are remorseful knowing these feelings are wrong. Yet they just do not know how to entertain a relationship with a consenting adult.
On the other hand there are pedophiles who engage in sexual activity with children just for sport. Dr. Hord says these are the monsters, they are not remorseful and argue that what they are doing is perfectly okay and should be legalized the same way that homosexuality is been legalized. The two situations as explained earlier are as different as day and night.
At one time homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. It was included in the DSM III, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 1980, but since 1987 homosexuality is no longer considered a mental illness. In 1994 the American Psychiatric Association stated that after extensive research on the subject of homosexuality a significant number of lesbians and gays were perfectly happy with their sexual orientation and therefore it could not be considered a mental illness.
The mental health profession does not see anything normal about pedophilia and therefore classifies it as a mental disorder. There is no comparison between pedophilia and homosexuality at all.
Traditional thought on pedophiles
It has long been felt that pedophiles were victims of sexual abuse as a child, and they are acting out this behavior in adulthood with other child victims. Though studies still point in this direction, there is new studies pointing to a biological component to pedophilia.
New biological research
Dr. James Cantor, and his team published a study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research where his team found that the structure of the brain of a pedophile was different than non pedophiles criminals his team had studied. Through imaging tests done by MRI he was able to determine that the brain of a sexual offender contained less white matter. The white matter of the brain is responsible for our wiring system. In previous studies his team found that pedophiles tend to be left handed, shorter than average and have lower IQ’s than the general population.
This research is by far from conclusive but, it is a step into looking at our biological make up and determining if brain functioning can play a role in the behavior of sexual predators. This research is meant to spur on more research and studies into the treatment and cure for pedophilia. Perhaps one day pedophilia can be prevented altogether. As Dr. Cantor states, the research is not meant to excuse pedophiles from their criminal activity.
Current treatments for pedophiles
Unfortunately there is no cure for pedophilia at the moment. Pedophiles do not respond to medication such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Prozac, paxil etc) like other mental illnesses do. The medical professionals are at lost of what they can do other than try to get them to control their urges.
Current and past treatments
Anti-androgenic medications have been given as a treatment to lower the male hormone testosterone and thus lower the male sexual libido. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues are also used with some success. These drugs have the same affect as the anti-androgenic medications but with fewer side affects.
Therapists have also used regular therapy and aversion therapy to shock pedophiles with electric impulses when they fantasize about inappropriate sexual behavior. This therapy is not widely used anymore. Instead some cognitive psychologists still use a variation of aversion therapy based on visual images. They will get the pedophiles to think of inappropriate sexual thoughts about children and then ask them to think of all the consequences that would come with acting out their thoughts, such as getting arrested, jail time, and being raped by another inmate in prison.
The likelihood that pedophiles will repeat the crimes after released from prison
People panic about having a pedophile living in their community after being released from jail. The fear is if a pedophile has hurt a child once he will do it again. According to the largest study done on the recidivism rate of sexual offenders, studying over 10,000 sexual offenders in 2003, the Department of Justice found that child molesters were 25 percent less likely to repeat their crimes and return to jail than other criminals. Other studies pointed to a 3-5 percent recidivism rate.
Although the numbers are not large if even one child is molested or sexually abused in any way is too much. Parents have a right to be concerned. You can look up the sexual offenders list provided by your state, and you can also check out this great website, HealthyPlace for further information: http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/soc-um/about-safeguarding-our-children-united-mothers/menu-id-823/