Guest Post by Anonymous, Ph.D.
|Convicted serial child molester, Jerry Sandusky|
I am impressed with many of the comments here, and I welcome this discussion.
Firstly, I am a psychologist. Secondly, I have watched the positions of the APA for years. While this Rind et al. paper is not an official position of APA, it represents a sizable percentage of the field of psychology.
If we retrospect on many of the position changes that occurred in APA over the past several decades, we find a liberal bend that is unmistakable. There is validity to the premise that the revisions of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders) involved greater attention to empirical research, but there is likewise a major intrusion of "political correctness" that has affected these positions (and the field as a whole).
The revision of the DSM that omitted homosexuality was not based on research, nor was much else. It was "political" pressure. It essentially stated that, "If I don't want such-and-such to be considered pathological, then leave it out of the manual". Fortunately, subsequent revisions included less of this liberal thinking and more of the scientific research.
Now, let's address a new concept that should be part of this discussion. It's called "hardiness". It is true that not every victim of CSA (child sexual abuse) will manifest symptoms. Some will have suppressed them enough to function normally, others will first display symptoms later, even years later (which is a strong challenge to the notion of statutes of limitations). But many will suffer no ill effects.
There is major trouble with the research on this, as most studies focus on known victims who manifest symptoms, while hardy victims are not under scrutiny. Let's give an example. The recent jewelry heist of $136 million is undoubtedly significant. If someone had stolen a Bic pen from the sign in board at that display, it would be meaningless, although it was a theft. The child who overcomes the experience of CSA is hardy. But the crime occurred, the damage was attempted, and there is a pedophile that deserves all the imaginable consequences of removal from society.
All in all, I am unimpressed with the Rind paper. It trivializes the condition of the perpetrator just because some (even many) children are strong enough to maintain their emotional health despite what was inflicted upon them.
As for the "illness of pedophilia", I'm not convinced of the accuracy of many of the labels in the DSM (worthy of discussion in a forum more targeted to the subject). There are obsessive features to pedophilia, there may be a hard wired attraction, there could be an addiction, and, yes, a tinge or more of sociopathy. We may be mislabeling this, and counting the angels who dance on the head of a pin.