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"How Can We Stop Pedophiles? Stop treating them like monsters."
September 24, 2012 5:53 PM   Subscribe

"The counterintuitive, distressing, but necessary way to stop child sexual abuse." A Slate essay on the state of mental health services available to non-offending, self-aware pedophiles. Another recent essay on those "born this way." A Liberty University professor's "expose" of the group B4-UACT, an advocacy group for mental health services for those with pedophila, led to accusations that the group (and the mental health professionals associated with a recent conference) were attempting to "normalize pedophilia." B4U-ACT does take the stance that reducing stigma for "Minor-Attracted People" (MAPs) is the best way to increase the likelihood of therapeutic intervention; they believe the DSM-V description is too "adversarial.
posted by availablelight (100 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Harm prevention is always met with anger.
posted by zabuni at 6:04 PM on September 24, 2012 [15 favorites]


So liberty university recycled their argument against LGBT rights.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:09 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


So liberty university recycled their argument against LGBT rights

Yup.
posted by availablelight at 6:11 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Harm prevention is always met with anger.

If you actually prevent the harm, you can't campaign and fundraise on it.

That Slate article is surprisingly sane. I'm not sure I'd want to be their insurance carrier this month.
posted by localroger at 6:16 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I would be less suspicious of this whole movement if I weren't also reading the sex-positive tumblr social justice warriors telling me
It’s a sexuality, not one that can be practiced, but one they did not choose all the same. Many pedophiles care a lot about kids and can use that care to do a lot of good for them, for example working with high-risk or disabled children in schools or care centers (this is a real-life example). (source)
They even use the same 'it's like being queer/Jewish/black' arguments, just on the other side.

I understand the harm reduction thing, and the therapy rather than waiting for action then either doing nothing (because it isn't reported/the judicial system is fallible) or imprisoning them then getting to therapy. At the same time it is a pretty specialised area of therapy and it's hardly to be expected that every therapist is going to be versed in it and helpful. And the co-opting of queer theory, priviledge and sex-positive 'your kink is not my kink but it's okay' makes me suspicious any time anyone brings it up.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:23 PM on September 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


"Disease" suggests that certain characteristics always come together. A rough sketch of some of the characteristics we expect in a disease might include:

1. Something caused by the sorts of thing you study in biology: proteins, bacteria, ions, viruses, genes.
2. Something involuntary and completely immune to the operations of free will
3. Something rare; the vast majority of people don't have it
4. Something unpleasant; when you have it, you want to get rid of it
5. Something discrete; a graph would show two widely separate populations, one with the disease and one without, and not a normal distribution.
6. Something commonly treated with science-y interventions like chemicals and radiation.

Cancer satisfies every one of these criteria, and so we have no qualms whatsoever about classifying it as a disease. It's a type specimen, the sparrow as opposed to the ostrich. The same is true of heart attack, the flu, diabetes, and many more.

Some conditions satisfy a few of the criteria, but not others. Dwarfism seems to fail (5), and it might get its status as a disease only after studies show that the supposed dwarf falls way out of normal human height variation. Despite the best efforts of transhumanists, it's hard to convince people that aging is a disease, partly because it fails (3). Calling homosexuality a disease is a poor choice for many reasons, but one of them is certainly (4): it's not necessarily unpleasant.

The marginal conditions mentioned above are also in this category. Obesity arguably sort-of-satisfies criteria (1), (4), and (6), but it would be pretty hard to make a case for (2), (3), and (5).

So, is obesity really a disease? Well, is Pluto really a planet? Once we state that obesity satisfies some of the criteria but not others, it is meaningless to talk about an additional fact of whether it "really deserves to be a disease" or not.
-from Yvain's Diseased Thinking: Dissolving Questions About Disease
posted by Human Flesh at 6:26 PM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


In 1996 I worked at a small ISP. We were alerted that one of our customers was hosting a "hidden" website, meaning not linked from the front page of their user site. It was a single page with links to a variety of web pages for pedophiles, with NAMBLA being the least highlighted.

I followed the links and found message boards where pedophiles were discussing amongst themselves things like "coming out" to themselves as pedophiles, and how they were satisfying their urges within legal bounds, like by going to the park to watch children (and then discussing what they saw). They were always quite conscious, it seemed, of a need to never, ever discuss acting on their urges and thus crossing a legal line that would endanger the darknet they were building.

I still have very mixed emotions about this sort of thing. I'm sensitive to the needs of the self-aware pedophile to have support so they don't offend. But the adoption of the gay community's rhetoric about 'coming out' and identifying as a pedophile, coupled with the secret community aspect of it, really did seem like a terrifyingly large step towards normalizing it, justifying it, and ultimately acting on it within the context of a community that supported being a pedophile, rather than suppressing it.

I suppose in an ideal world it would be like alcoholism, where supportive groups exist that acknowledge it without in any way condoning it. But I don't see how we get there from here, when we're just starting to deal with the fact, as a society, that it happens and how it happens and how we prevent it from happening.
posted by fatbird at 6:31 PM on September 24, 2012 [16 favorites]


The risk/reward for trusting these individuals is way too skewed. Try to help them live normal lives and make damn sure they never get the chance to molest a child.

The parallels to the struggle for LGBT rights is unfortunate, though LGBT people loving each other consensually was never going to damage a third party.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:32 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Related: when I was a very stressed out young parent, I tried to talk to two successive therapists about how to deal with feelings of overwhelm, describing times that I'd screamed at my children angrily (and "spanked" them, something I deeply regretted and still regret today). I desperately wanted help -- but both times I was warned that if I talked about these kinds of situations, they would be mandated to report me to Child Protective Services. I didn't talk to a therapist about it again.
posted by summer sock at 6:32 PM on September 24, 2012 [38 favorites]


"How Can We Stop Pedophiles? Stop treating them like monsters."

As someone who suffered at the hand of a pedophile for eight years, I can say with 100% confidence that a pedophile is a monster to the child.
posted by Malice at 6:33 PM on September 24, 2012 [35 favorites]


It takes a seriously screwed up society for us to describe the process of offering comprehensive compassionate mental health services to self-identifying pedophiles as "counterintuitive." We don't seem to have a problem with mental health professionals who treat people with kleptomania or even those who seek to treat patients with homicidal urges.

Of course, I suspect laws could easily be changed to allow self-identifying pedophiles who have never committed a crime to be placed on the sex offender registry.
posted by zachlipton at 6:33 PM on September 24, 2012


Also, I do approve of therapy for pedophiles as long as there's proof that it works. I haven't cared to look into it. If they're playing the "born this way" angle, I can say therapy doesn't work to make gay* people straight. I'm not convinced it would to make pedophiles non-pedophiles.

*I do not think of gays and pedos on the same level at all, please do not misread this, I myself am bisexual, but for the sake of their argument used their logic.
posted by Malice at 6:38 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's another article that appeared on Gawker recently, dealing with the incipience of pedophilia: Origins of a Murder. It's a longform crime story, but it's heartbreaking to see the genesis of pedophilia in someone who, quite literally and medically speaking, should never have been born, and whose birth resulted in the murder of a small boy, many years later.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:45 PM on September 24, 2012


Malice, with all due respect, I think you're missing the point. The intent of the therapy is not to make them non-pedophiles, it's to give them the help that they may need to cope and to resist acting upon their urges.

And frankly you can't "say with 100% confidence" that a pedophile who has never done anything wrong "is a monster to the child". No one is claiming that abusing a child is not monstrous.
posted by Flunkie at 6:46 PM on September 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


Malice, AFAIK Alcoholics Anonymous doesn't claim to cure alcoholism or make alcoholics into non-alcoholics, my understanding is that it goes the other way - it works with the idea that it will always be a part of you and here are some ways that other people have found helped them not give into it.
posted by anonymisc at 6:47 PM on September 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


"How Can We Stop Pedophiles? Stop treating them like monsters."

As someone who suffered at the hand of a pedophile for eight years, I can say with 100% confidence that a pedophile is a monster to the child.


Malice, I absolutely agree and support you on this, in the case of pedophiles who have harassed or abused children.

However, these articles are focused mainly on the problem of pedophiles who have not offended and are trying to seek help to continue to not act on those urges.
posted by availablelight at 6:48 PM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Or, to put it in the same emotional terms many do: They're here, you can't arrest or detain them for thought crimes, so we'd better hold our noses and figure out how to treat the willing BEFORE they end up harming someone else.

To quote the slate article, it's "the counterintuitive, distressing, but necessary way to stop child sexual abuse."
posted by availablelight at 6:50 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I most vaguely remember a documentary or episode of sorts that took a look at a controversial rehabilitation building used for pedophiles. I believe if given good prison performance, they could be transferred to this specialized building for specialized treatment and eventually released back to society.

It tracked some of the individuals in there, and I believe one stood out in particular to me. He didn't want to leave. He didn't trust himself.

Thinking about this now, I am also remembering a youtube video that was popular a few years back as well. Some convicted pedophile in Australia or someplace was aggressively "interviewed" by a reporter. I don't remember the details, but the person came off as crazy and unrepentant. Not delving into the specifics of this convicted man whom I don't remember, remembering all this now really brings to mind contrasting images of how we can perceive pedophiles.

Of course there are always going to be people who fall on the unrepentant side, but we should also remember that there are others out there who perhaps seem in the same position as an presently active alcoholic who simply hasn't yet committed some sort of crime or violence due to intoxication. These are people who are in a position that requires that they acknowledge their issue, and have it out in the open, but not be judged for it but rather get the support that they need.
posted by SollosQ at 7:00 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, y'know, I hate to say it, but I think South Park pretty much nailed this one:
"Dude, you have SEX with CHILDREN."
"Yeah, I mean we believe in tolerance and all that stuff, but seriously, fuck you."
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:08 PM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, y'know, I hate to say it, but I think South Park pretty much nailed this one:
"Dude, you have SEX with CHILDREN."
"Yeah, I mean we believe in tolerance and all that stuff, but seriously, fuck you."


You still don't get it. There are people out there who have never had sex with children, but want to. What do you suggest be done about that?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:12 PM on September 24, 2012 [17 favorites]


You still don't get it. There are people out there who have never had sex with children, but want to. What do you suggest be done about that?

[I would suggest they read the linked articles before posting]
posted by availablelight at 7:16 PM on September 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I definitely understand the suspicion here -- after all, who doesn't wince at the idea of pedophiles meeting each other and organizing? But my heart tells me that if someone comes forward and says, "I have this terrible problem that may make me hurt someone. But I don't want to hurt anybody, so please help me not hurt people", it's our duty to that person and their potential victims to help them. Maybe along with that help should come some form of enhanced monitoring or surveillance. Certainly they should never be trusted with children. But a pedophile who has never abused anybody hasn't done anything wrong, and I would imagine it takes a lot of courage to come forward and ask for help like that.

I think as a culture we have this whole notion of declaring war on things. We see a problem and we want to stamp it out, even it it's not a problem that's stamp-outable. And there's a lot of political power to be gained by demonizing an enemy. I guess what it comes down to is that the really difficult problems never have simple solutions, and "stamp it out" only works on life's simplest problems.

If we, as a society, get to a point where pedophiles self-identify at an early age, then the rest of the people in their support network can act as monitors to keep them on the right track. After all, 90% of child abuse happens at the hands of a family member or other non-stranger. But to get to that point, we need to stop seeing pedophiles as monsters, and instead see them as people with a very serious disease that, if caught early enough and managed properly, can be prevented from doing harm.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:16 PM on September 24, 2012 [30 favorites]


The risk/reward for trusting these individuals is way too skewed. Try to help them live normal lives and make damn sure they never get the chance to molest a child.

I don't think anyone is trusting them. It sounds like these programs are designed to do the second point exactly.

I read the Gawker article and this one and was overwhelmed with disgust and loathing for these people. But as somebody pointed out, like kleptomania, homicidal tendencies, schizophrenia, or any mental health disorder telling people with it to fuck off and isolate themselves is not practical public health policy. We have to make it OK for people to admit they have these urges so they can seek treatment.
posted by schroedinger at 7:17 PM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Okay, well, I've nearly written about this a lot of times here, but this seems like the best thread to do it in.

Before I begin, let me be completely clear -- I DO NOT BELIEVE ADULTS SHOULD BE HAVING SEX WITH CHILDREN. AND THIS ISN'T ABOUT THAT.

My first boyfriend (I'll call him Fred) (when I was 22) had lived with a friend of his for ages before I met him. His friend was this big bear of a man, intensely creative, seemingly unable to not succeed at any artistic endeavor he put himself to. (I'll call him Doug.) I found him delightful to be around, and was happy to help him out on various projects here and there. Doug was a heart patient, and the multiple heart attacks he had suffered and the couple of bypass operations he had undergone left him with a severely weakened heart, so he was unable to work and was living with Fred in order to help meet expenses.

One thing Fred and I did a lot together was community theater. And Doug would help out a lot with scene painting, light design, costumes, directing, pretty much anything but being on stage. And when Fred bought a house, I moved in and Doug moved in also. It was an amiable situation, as Doug and I really enjoyed each others' company and we'd play a lot of board games and he'd try to teach me art stuff and so on. So I had the added bonus of having a good, creative, fun roommate as well as someone I loved all in the same household. Win win.

Over time, I noticed that Doug seemed to be completely asexual. I guess that Doug and Fred had been in some sort of sexual relationship a decade or two before I came along, but they certainly weren't that way now. And I never saw Doug really do anything sexually expressive. I thought for the longest time it was because of his heart or whatever.

And then one day, after a joint or two and a few beers, I got to talking to Doug and asked him why he never even went out on dates or anything. And he told me his story. About how he was attracted to prepubescent boys, and knew this was something he could never act on, and how he channelled much of his libido into art and such. He swore up and down he had never acted on his impulses, that he had tried relationships with adults but they were never satisfying for him because he wasn't sexually attracted to them. And the whole conversation was pretty difficult for him, and for me. As a naive early-twenty-something, this was a conversation I had never expected to have with anyone, let alone someone who was a very good friend and housemate of mine.

It was at this point that I started to notice his behavior patterns. How he made sure he was never alone in the company of a child. How he would help out with theater stuff, but he'd always arrange to have another adult at the theater with him to do weekend scenery work, even if there weren't any children involved in the production. How he was very careful to make sure it was always clear to everyone who knew his secret that he was not trespassing in any way, and to never put himself in a situation where he might be accused by anyone.

He was living as honorable a life as he possibly could given his interests. If he was compulsive at all, it wasn't toward acting out in bad ways. I guess he did art when he was feeling particularly frustrated or whatever. He was adult living an adult life taking responsibility for things within him which he could not change but knew he could not act upon.

Would he have had a better life if he had been able to access therapy such as this? I have no idea. His health was severely limited, and he seemed to be a dynamic and creative person who strove to bring beauty into the world. He was kind and giving and full of laughter and light. I think the world was a better place for having him around, and I hold him to be one of my heroes because I saw his struggle and how he didn't let that stop him or control him.

This is indeed a sensitive topic, and I'm not sure how well this thread is going to go because of that. But I think that people like Doug probably exist all over the place, and may even make up the majority of people who are attracted to children. Not everyone who has interest in something acts on that interest, especially if they understand the ramifications and consequences, both legally and emotionally, to anyone involved. Add into that mix the pedophilia which (I believe) occurs out of things like celibacy oaths and power imbalances rather than actual orientation toward children, and the whole thing gets pretty messy.
posted by hippybear at 7:23 PM on September 24, 2012 [166 favorites]


Hippybear, just wanna say that that's a fantastic story. I've sort of had my suspicions that that's kind of how at least a significant proportion of pedophile-types live their lives.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:28 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


More from Dr. Berlin who (was linked in the FPP as a professional who was targeted for his participation on the B4U-ACT conference):

The first responsibility is to protect innocent people but I feel tremendous empathy for them because we live in a society where it’s extremely easy to demonize people. … They’re seen as having no sense of conscience or moral responsibility. I’ve [treated] many who are struggling not to look at children, the Internet. They are afraid to tell a soul. Good people can be afflicted with a sexual aberration.

People whose stories might be most compelling are hesitant to speak up. Celebrities may say they have depression, but you don’t see anyone say "I’ve been having troubling sexual feelings." (Dr. Berlin may be able to help reporters connect with people in treatment.)


The statement from Johns Hopkins, where he is Director of the Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit:

Dr. Berlin is unequivocally opposed to any sexual actions between adults and children. In no way does he advocate pedophilia, but rather he believes in getting appropriate help for people attracted to minors in order to prevent them from acting on their impulses. He argues that a distinction should and must be made between individuals with pedophilia who act on their attractions and those who are attracted to minors but refrain from acting on their predilections.

It's been interesting to watch that same dynamic play out on this thread (a lack of separation between "People who are sick but have not offended need to have access to treatment before they offend" and DON'T CODDLE OR TELL ME TO HUMANIZE MONSTERS). It's obviously, and legitimately, a visceral topic for anyone who has been a parent, been a child, been sexually assaulted, etc.--and that makes any discussion of preventative measures that much more of a landmine.
posted by availablelight at 7:36 PM on September 24, 2012


[Folks, please take a moment to read the article and/or think about whether the comment that you want to make will actually help or hinder the conversation in this thread and with this community. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:38 PM on September 24, 2012 [16 favorites]


Thinking about this now, I am also remembering a youtube video that was popular a few years back as well. Some convicted pedophile in Australia or someplace was aggressively "interviewed" by a reporter. I don't remember the details, but the person came off as crazy and unrepentant. Not delving into the specifics of this convicted man whom I don't remember, remembering all this now really brings to mind contrasting images of how we can perceive pedophiles. - SollosQ

Was it this interview? It's with a serial reoffender Dennis Ferguson. He is a huge spectre in many Australian's minds when we discuss paeodphilia simply because he is so utterly unrepentant, victim blames and is a really classic example of the way groups of likeminded people normalise and justify their morally repugnant acts when in group situations. It is incredibly hard to reconcile the Fergusons with the Dougs.

Like I said above though - it is difficult to rationalise 'you are sick, get help' with the entirely unacceptable BS springing from the concept that to prevent access to children is discriminatory. And unfortunately that is not nearly as rare as one would hope and is also part of the repertoire of the reoffending paedophile.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:39 PM on September 24, 2012


Pedophilia is such a reviled thing that it taints perception of many non-hetero-adult interactions: Because being gay isn't in itself bad enough, bigots hit them with the "pedophile" epithet. The same goes for people who commit statutory rape with those who are post-puberty but under 18. Attracted to a 15 or 16 year old? You'll be hit with the label (even though it's not pedophilia).

Attempting to deal with it as an aberration, as a defect that needs to be controlled, somehow makes those clinicians into apologists, trying to "normalize" it. There simply is no way for a rational discussion to take place in the public sphere. Therefore it will remain, at least for the foreseeable future, a thoughtcrime, marking the pedophile as perpetually evil, perpetually irredeemable, perpetually uncontrollable -- a monster.
posted by chimaera at 7:56 PM on September 24, 2012


perpetually evil, perpetually irredeemable, perpetually uncontrollable -- a monster

And, having nothing to lose, a monster with no reason to rein in its desires.
posted by localroger at 8:00 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Therefore it will remain, at least for the foreseeable future, a thoughtcrime, marking the pedophile as perpetually evil, perpetually irredeemable, perpetually uncontrollable -- a monster.

The crazy thing is, when I was growing up in more or less normal early 70s suburbia, you could have substituted pedophile with homosexual in this statement and I doubt many would have flinched, particularly anyone who might actually have been gay, because nobody would ever admit to that. Or put it this way, nobody I knew ever did. It really was akin to admitting you were sick and morally WRONG.

Am I equivocating homosexuality with pedophilia here? I certainly hope not. Just pointing out how much a discussion can evolve over time.
posted by philip-random at 8:08 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


when I was growing up in more or less normal early 70s suburbia, you could have substituted pedophile with homosexual in this statement and I doubt many would have flinched, particularly anyone who might actually have been gay, because nobody would ever admit to that. Or put it this way, nobody I knew ever did. It really was akin to admitting you were sick and morally WRONG.

The difference is, a homosexual relationship between two consenting adults is not a perpetrator-victim situation. It wasn't then, it isn't now, and our society has evolved to realize that.
posted by hippybear at 8:11 PM on September 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Well, you're right. It's clearly a different discussion. But it is a discussion that various apparently thoughtful individuals are trying to initiate. And again, we're talking here of people who have chosen not to act on their desires, and are wanting to sustain in this regard -- not trying to rationalize a "a perpetrator-victim situation".

I guess the question is, what nuanced perspective is there here that our society may evolve to realize?
posted by philip-random at 9:19 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess the question is, what nuanced perspective is there here that our society may evolve to realize?

I think there are layers to the answer to that question.

The first layer, I think, is to realize that people have different sexual attractions. And that these sexual attractions aren't necessarily something which the individual person can do anything about.

The second layer is to realize that not all sexual attractions are compulsions which force the person having an attraction to act on it. To realize that most adults are capable of making choices which override their inborn impulses.

The third layer is to realize that not all sexual attractions involve consenting partners, and that people with sexual attractions toward partners who cannot give consent are not sick or monsters, but are people who are stuck in a quandary where they cannot legitimately pursue their attractions without violating their desired partner in really bad ways.

The fourth layer is that people who have a sexual attraction non-consensual quandary should be given whatever assistance we can provide for them to live the best lives they can without enacting sexual contact on those who cannot give consent.

We're probably a long way from evolving this far, and there will likely be a lot of stumbling blocks along the way. But I think it's something worth working toward as a culture. If people who are oriented toward prepubescents can say that they are, and simultaneously say that they realize that this is something they should never act on, we can find ways to give them the support they need to live lives which aren't steeped in shame or ostracization and instead are productive, non-transgressive lives which contribute to society.

Will there be failures in this endeavor? Of course there will be. But to lump those who CAN make rational, society-acceptable choices about their sexual interests in with those who cannot is a giant disservice to society at large. It creates a demonized class based on what people think and feel as opposed to what their actions are. It drives those who might benefit from (probably as of yet undeveloped) available therapies away from seeking help. It likely boosts the number of victims of non-consensual sexual contact through the parallel forces of the closeted desperation of shame and the uncontrolled unacknowledged desires of untreated individuals.

I'm convinced that there are large numbers of men and women who find young people sexually interesting walking among us who never act on those desires. If there were less stigma and a well-developed system of assistance for those with these feelings available, I'm also convinced that much of the child sexual abuse which takes place today could be averted because people who are on the border between action and inaction could be provided the tools they need to stay their desires.
posted by hippybear at 10:13 PM on September 24, 2012 [23 favorites]


hippybear, thanks for sharing your story. it helps to put a human face on this thing that so many people consider to be un-human. I think there are a lot of people out there like your roommate, who have a sexual thing (I say thing cause I don't know whether to call it a kink or a fixation or a perversion) that they DON'T want to act on. We would be a better society and do better by both our children and by these unfortunate individuals if we gave them the means to access counseling and help so that they don't act on these feelings. As someone who has a regular some-people-accept-it consensual kink that still gets me into a lot of convoluted situations, I am not ashamed to admit that I have compassion for people like your roommate, who knew what he felt was wrong and could never be acted upon. I think more help for people like him is the better solution, more help for people who feel drawn to something wrong but don't want to do it. Who could argue against that?
posted by twiggy32 at 11:06 PM on September 24, 2012


Another recent essay on those "born this way."

Soft-Pedaling Child-Rape

Fancy Book Learning: About that Gawker piece on pedophilia.

Manufacturing Consent
posted by homunculus at 11:08 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, this is a seriously heavy topic. I have no idea how to process this information. I feel like there's some highly meta shit that isn't being discussed, but I'm not even sure how to approach that.

I'm willing to go with the theory that pedophilia is a sexual orientation. But...what exactly does that say about sexual orientation in general? I mean, is the phrase "sexual orientation" only useful as a clinical term? Because if pedophilia can be described as a sexual orientation in the medical literature, that doesn't seem, to me at least, to have the same impact or weight in society and law that other forms of sexual orientation are given (with varying degrees of course)...

If people who are oriented toward prepubescents can say that they are, and simultaneously say that they realize that this is something they should never act on, we can find ways to give them the support they need to live lives which aren't steeped in shame or ostracization and instead are productive, non-transgressive lives which contribute to society.

...and I think this is the idea that I'm having a bit of a cognitive/existential crisis about. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that of all the wide spectrum of sexual orientation this one has the potential to be the only one that would be wrong to act on. A fairly important distinction, I would think. At least, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the notion.

To be clear I'm completely in favor of de-stigmatizing pedophilia and create safe spaces for people to get the help they need, but the larger thing this says about human sexuality in general is kind of boggling my mind.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:10 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


it seems that of all the wide spectrum of sexual orientation this one has the potential to be the only one that would be wrong to act on

Unfortunately not: sex with dead people, sex with animals, cannibalism, skinning people alive, etc. I recently went to a very interesting talk by Mark Benecke which was about crimes committed by people because of unusual sexuality. In short, the talk said that there are really two things that have to come together: a dangerous sexual interest and a failure to control it or channel it into safe behaviour.
posted by Zarkonnen at 12:13 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Its articles like these that remind me of something very important my grandfather once taught me, paraphrased as best I can,

You should never hang a horse thief because you think the horse thief deserves it somehow, no one deserves to be hanged. You should never hang a horse thief to show horse thieves or anyone else that stealing horses is wrong, hanging people is wrong too. You should never hang a horse thief to somehow right the wrongs that the horse thief did, really all you do is compound them with the hanging. Horse thieves are men just like you and I, loved by their God, kissed by the rain if no one else, and swaddled in this good earth.

However, you should never fail to hang a horse thief for one very good reason, so that horses don't get stolen.

Similarly, folks who are attracted to children need access to therapists, jobs, houses, friends like hippybear, and a community that loves and supports them in staying away from children but turns them in the very moment that they hurt a child for the same reason; so that children don't get attacked.

*There was a time not so long ago when stealing someone's horse was a really big deal, that could very easily doom them and their family to death by slow starvation, and was near impossible to catch for obvious reasons without intensive community support.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:07 AM on September 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Let's not forget that molestation is a form of rape. How confident would you be supporting people whose only sexual preference is rape in continuing life as normal? How sure would you be in their ability to suppress the sexual urge to rape? Would you take responsibility for the shattered lives of his or her potential victims?
posted by Malice at 1:52 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems like such a good idea to reach out to these people. I believe that any enlightened culture will benefit from this effort. Hippybear's poignant anecdote is a most eloquent illustration of why nuance means everything. To equate all pedophiles with rapists and violence is a sad mistake. Life just isn't that accomodating to those with a simple imagination. The only meeting point that I see here is the line between the thought and the deed.

I'm for encouraging those with problematic thoughts to seek professional guidance. Those who wish to control the thoughts of others have their own set of obsessions to deal with. On the practical side, I wonder how a health-care professional might go about establishing public relations contours regarding this topic. I don't think an ad in the paper would do the job without inviting a dangerous response.
posted by mule98J at 2:17 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


How confident would you be supporting people whose only sexual preference is rape in continuing life as normal? How sure would you be in their ability to suppress the sexual urge to rape?


From my reading of the Slate article, it doesn't seem that they're suggesting people with pedophilic urges get to "continue life as normal" - they need to structure their lives in such a way that they're minimizing the risk of acting out on their urges.

I'd say the same thing is true for your hypothetical person whose only sexual preference is rape - they'd need to be constantly vigilant and find ways to prevent harming others.

The point of finding a way to treat pedophiles is to decrease the number of children harmed by their actions. By not finding ways to prevent assault, we're reduced to only acting after the fact - when the kids have gone from "potential victims" to actual victims.
posted by dubold at 2:41 AM on September 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


A modest proposal: Perhaps the other approach is to remove the stigma from taking paedophiles out of the system for good? I.e., if someone has incurable antisocial tendencies (such as a desire to sexually abuse children, though corporate psychopaths could also be another category to target), give them an option of confinement away from society forever, in comfortable conditions and without the stigma of a penal system but with absolutely no possibility of rejoining society, or, if that's not acceptable, voluntary euthanasia (not to be confused with the death penalty; they're not convicted murderers, but rather unfortunates afflicted with an incurable condition that curtails quality of life)? In either case, the paedophiles who volunteered themselves for removal from society would be seen not as criminals but, if anything, as heroes who took one for the team.
posted by acb at 3:11 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Socially enforced euthanasia removes the drive for policy to progress (see the prison industry), and it is as easily used by bigots as it is by anyone else (look at how homosexuals are treated). It is simply not a good idea.

Euthanasia for the elderly or depressed is fundamentally different because it can be an entirely internal decision regardless of whether they are surrounded by a welcoming world.
posted by tychotesla at 3:40 AM on September 25, 2012


BTW, I'm aware that comment may have been entirely satirical. I just felt it deserved a response because it was interesting and practical.
posted by tychotesla at 3:43 AM on September 25, 2012


It was entirely satirical.

In the universe where this was the case, there'd be a term for those who made the sacrifice after recognising their harmful nature (perhaps something like “noble monsters”), with an annual memorial day in their honour and monuments in every city to those who have thus removed themselves. The memorials would have their names, photographs and biometric data, and would also double as a safeguard in case one escapes from wherever it is they go into exile and tries to blend in.
posted by acb at 4:07 AM on September 25, 2012


Oddly enough, the line that people seem to be attempting to draw here, i.e., the recognition that sometimes people, through no fault of their own, are drawn to engage in sexual behavior that we as a society will not permit under any circumstances, is pretty much exactly the same line that the more responsible segments of the Christian church have been drawing with respect to homosexuality for ages.

Work with me here for a minute. This argument:

The difference is, a homosexual relationship between two consenting adults is not a perpetrator-victim situation.

..is predicated on the assumption that any sexual activity between two consenting adults is permissible while any sexual activity that is either not between two consenting adults is impermissible. Children are viewed as off-limits almost entirely because they're deemed incapable of consenting to sexual activity.

But what if we were operating from a different assumption about what makes sexual activity permissible? What if that assumption was that sexual activity between a husband and wife is permissible but sexual activity between any two other persons is not? This is the standard Christian view, for what it's worth. Well you certainly get a different moral valence for homosexuality as with the first view, but the valence for pedophilia is the same.

So when I read hippybear's story, my immediate thought was "This guy is practicing the discipline of chastity through celibacy." Christianity--and most other world religions--has long had a place for the celibate in its culture, and views the celibate life as in some ways superior to the sexually active life. Hard, yes, but rewarding and in many ways preferable.

With that in mind, it's really not hard to see why many Christians tend to conflate homosexuality and pedophilia. Some do it reflexively and unthoughtfully, and that's problematic. So is the impulse to ostracize anyone who admits to having problematic sexual urges. The only difference between that person and a "normal" person is that the "normal" person isn't admitting his problems. But the reflective and thoughtful Christian could put both the homosexual and the pedophile in the following category: "People involuntarily drawn to engage in a type of sexual activity which is not permissible under any circumstances." The answer for such people has always been celibacy.

The problem is that Protestantism really doesn't have any organized way of dealing with that, and the Catholic answer is pretty much just the clergy, which obviously isn't for everyone (even some of the clergy!). This is a symptom of a larger problem in Christian culture, namely that no church seems to have any organized way of dealing with sexuality at all. The "danger" of pre-marital sex was a lot less when people got married young, but even setting that aside, most people I know, whether Christians or not, spend a significant amount of angst and trepidation in trying to find their spouses/long term SOs. The church used to be active, in a sort of unofficial way, in setting people up. Which had its problems, but also had its benefits, namely that tons of people weren't involuntarily single for decades after they'd have liked to have been married.

But that's all gone now. For better or worse, anyone who wants to get married is basically left to his own devices. But more than that, anyone dealing with basically any sexual struggle, of whatever sort, is very, very unlikely to find organized, meaningful support in the modern church. Heck, not only does the modern church not really know how to deal with celibate people, it doesn't even really know how to deal with single people. This is a huge, huge problem, as it's pretty much the only issue that everyone is going to have at some point. Whether it's wanting to have sex with someone you can't* or not wanting to have sex with anyone at all,** sexuality is one of the few universal human experiences. The fact that the church's way of dealing with it is essentially ad hoc and vestigial is one of its biggest problems.

All of that to say that a Christian church that engaged in the kind of thinking and analysis I'm talking about here shouldn't have any problem doing the kinds of counseling and support that are being discussed here. It needn't even necessarily be specifically targeted at pedophiles. As pretty much everyone wants to have sex with someone they're not supposed to, this shared experience and struggle ought to be something that unites God's people, not one that cannot be discussed. So the pedophile, the homosexual, and the philanderer would all be receiving basically the same counseling: chastity. For some people, chastity looks like celibacy. For others, it looks like abstinence until marriage. For others, it looks like fidelity within marriage. But for all, it involves dedication of one's sexuality to the service of Christ and his church.

Or, at least, that's how it's supposed to be...

*Which happens to pretty much everyone.

**Which is less common, but should really not be stigmatized the way it frequently is.

posted by valkyryn at 4:16 AM on September 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


One of the big revelations in the New Yorker magazine article that stuck out for me was the deception, the skills, methods and patient positioning that the Penn pedophile had to have. I think preventing a person who has those kind of attractions from developing those methods of adult deception [in order to get at the kids] is an important benefit of this group that "supports" pedophiles who have not acted on their desires. It is the deception of adults who are responsible for these kids that leads to the vast numbers of kids hurt by pedophiles. Whatever it takes[as long it is humane] to prevent such mass rapes before a person even touches their first child is something to look into at least.


"A pedophile... is someone adept not just at preying on children but at confusing, deceiving, and charming the adults responsible for those children—which is something to keep in mind in the case of the scandal at Penn State and the conviction, earlier this year, of the former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on child-molestation charges."
posted by RuvaBlue at 4:22 AM on September 25, 2012


valkyryn, I think you are taking an overly idealized view of the way that Christianity has dealt with these things in the past. There was as much "correction by the fear and pain of the whip", to quote St. Augustine on how in general to treat those straying from the path, as there was "let's all struggle together as sinners", if not more. Celibacy was not associated with clergy for much of history and my impression is that as an institution it had as much to do with priests trying to pass on church assets to their children as with sexuality; it is not true that the answer to these problems has "always been celibacy".

Gay sex or pre-marital sex aren't the same thing as pedophilia or marital infidelity; as hippybear said the former are not perpetrator-victim situations. Christians who are conflating all of those things by mixing them together as "sins of lust" to be confessed and repented and are regarding them as a matter of categorizing behavior as permissible or impermissible aren't really thinking and analyzing them in the first place, they're focusing on fulfilling the will of an authority or on enforcing community norms. There just isn't some synoptic view of sexuality from a golden age of Christian culture that will make everything all right if we can get back to it.
posted by XMLicious at 5:20 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm for encouraging those with problematic thoughts to seek professional guidance. Those who wish to control the thoughts of others have their own set of obsessions to deal with. On the practical side, I wonder how a health-care professional might go about establishing public relations contours regarding this topic. I don't think an ad in the paper would do the job without inviting a dangerous response.

The purpose of B4U-ACT seems as much to be about supporting mental health professionals in this. Again, even just attending the conference seems to have generated a public tar and feathering for at least one (Johns Hopkins MD/PhD) academic.

How pedophiles act out is one of the most evil (especially in ripple effect**) ways possible. However, I was challenged by the story of Spencer (1st page of the slate article) who was tipped off to his problem (which seems biological, not environmental, in his case--remember, there are tumors that create pedophiliac urges) early on, completely horrified by it, and unable to seek help no matter how hard he (and his parents!) tried. If a man this well-intentioned and desperate to not offend can't get the resources he needs, we're all in trouble. ALL PEDOPHILES ARE EVIL!! doesn't help him OR society.

(**I've also had the displeasure of meeting at least 2 men whose experience with child molestation--their own--predisposed them towards their own boundary-crossing behavior with adult women they were attracted towards, manifesting in creepy-to-violent attempts at coersion/manipulation. In essence, acting out molester behaviors they were at the same time speaking publicly about--as victims--at "survivor" conferences, socially, etc. If it weren't so taboo for them to discuss the associated thoughts, or if we didn't set up a dichotomy between US and MONSTER THEM for people who have the thought patterns that lead to assault, maybe they would have been able to get help instead of being unable to see that, even as victims, they had a little bit of perpetrator in them that could be treatable.)
posted by availablelight at 5:31 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Christians who are conflating all of those things by mixing them together as "sins of lust" to be confessed and repented and are regarding them as a matter of categorizing behavior as permissible or impermissible aren't really thinking and analyzing them in the first place, they're focusing on fulfilling the will of an authority or on enforcing community norms.

Right, but that's how Christian ethics work. Or at least that's how a big chunk of the church has always thought they did. There's some back-and-forth about the relationship between God's commands and the nature of ethics--does God command things because they'are moral, or are they moral because God commands them?--but I can't conceive of any system of ethics which might plausibly be called "Christian" which doesn't have God's commands figure into them somehow. But you seem to be rejecting any such move as impermissible, almost a priori.

Your objection thus amounts to "Christianity is wrong." I mean, okay, but that's not a terribly interesting response.
posted by valkyryn at 5:38 AM on September 25, 2012


There just isn't some synoptic view of sexuality from a golden age of Christian culture that will make everything all right if we can get back to it.


This "golden age" idea - I think it tends to be espoused by well-meaning, educated believers, who are aware enough to recognize that there is a massive divide between what the Bible says and what Christians do, but can't bring themselves to admit that the church as a whole has never been what it claims.

All of that to say that a Christian church that engaged in the kind of thinking and analysis I'm talking about here shouldn't have any problem doing the kinds of counseling and support that are being discussed here.


but you just said

the recognition that sometimes people, through no fault of their own, are drawn to engage in sexual behavior that we as a society will not permit under any circumstances, is pretty much exactly the same line that the more responsible segments of the Christian church have been drawing with respect to homosexuality for ages.

so if some segment of the church has been making this distinction for ages, why haven't they already developed programs like B4U-ACT?

The bulk of the church in the US lags anywhere from 20-50 years behind whatever is currently socially acceptable, so they should be okay with same-sex marriage by 2060 or so.
posted by dubold at 5:59 AM on September 25, 2012


[Let's please not chase up yet another religion argument in the middle of yet another unrelated thread? Thanks.]
posted by taz at 6:12 AM on September 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


but can't bring themselves to admit that the church as a whole has never been what it claims.

Or, like myself, don't necessarily make those kinds of claims. I do think that the church no longer deals with people who aren't married as well as it used to, but that doesn't mean I think the church was ever perfect. Different problems is all.
posted by valkyryn at 6:14 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your objection thus amounts to "Christianity is wrong." I mean, okay, but that's not a terribly interesting response.

No, just because I don't find your interpretation of Christianity accurate or disagree with what would lead Christian organizations to take a therapeutic approach towards pedophiles and whether it can be seamlessly lumped in with other issues related to sexuality does not mean that "Christianity is wrong", it means that I think you are wrong. There is no reason why Christians have to adopt some simple and axiomatic permissible vs. impermissible analysis or ignore the fact that many things in the past and present of Christianity pretty obviously did not come as direct revelations from God but were at least influenced by practicality, human whims, and the secular or pagan culture of the times.

I can imagine that something like trying to persuade Christian organizations that compassion demands a therapeutic approach, as an important Christian virtue, might work, and perhaps other arguments, but glossing over distinctions about which behaviors actually harm people and inventing false it-was-better-in-the-old-days narratives to support your position is not going to improve things, in my opinion.
posted by XMLicious at 7:35 AM on September 25, 2012


You know who got me thinking about this was Louie CK. He did a routine on Louie, where he was talking about how maybe fewer kids would get murdered by pedophiles if we didn't make it clear that pedophilia was like the worst thing ever and grounds for the most inhumane and horrid treatment of its perpetrators.

And yes, he's a comedian, no data to support that assertion, etc. And if someone did that to one of my kids, I might try to kill the guy. But still, maybe if it wasn't an accepted fact that, as a convicted pedophile, part of your just desserts in prison is repeated sexual assaults, maybe the incentive to kill your victim would be lessened.
posted by Mister_A at 7:42 AM on September 25, 2012


What is up with all the "won't somebody think of the poor pedophiles?" stuff lately?

I've come to represent the analogy police. Since a pedophile by definition has desires to have sex with someone without their consent (their targets are incapable of consent), the best analogy is to a rape fetishist. Not someone who likes rape play, or fake BDSM rape, but actual literal rape.

That is the only appropriate analogy for a pedophile. Someone who desires to literally rape. Because that is what they do desire.

Carry on.
posted by edheil at 7:51 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


What kind of therapy can be done on people who claim that as their sexuality?
The issue is not just that they can control themselves and not rape, but also that their pornographic preferences supports an illict underground community that potentially harms children.
posted by Theta States at 7:51 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


That is the only appropriate analogy for a pedophile. Someone who desires to literally rape. Because that is what they do desire.

This is true. However, if you accept that there are pedophiles in the world who have never acted on there desires- which there must be, because no otherwise normal person just happens to suddenly rape a kid one day out of the blue- then it makes practical, logical sense to try and keep them from ever doing such a thing. Some people seem to think the appropriate response is to imprison or kill anyone who has these urges. Some people suggest that there may be a different possible response.

Upthread, someone made the comparison to people with homicidal urges. When someone has these urges, but has not yet killed anyone and knows they should not do so, what is the appropriate response to that? Treatment, or preemptive punishment?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:56 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I think of "therapy" for pedophiles, I ask myself this:

Can I cure a straight man from being turned on by women?
What would it take to minimize their desire for erotic material? To effectively reduce the odds they would illicitly act on their desires if a clandestine opportunity arose?
To reduce their need to seek community and understanding from other men who are also turned on by women?

Could that be achieved by chemical castration? Lobotomy? Daily therapy sessions?
posted by Theta States at 8:00 AM on September 25, 2012


What struck me in the Slate essay was the story of Spencer and how he was first attracted to young people while he himself was still a young person. I think that what is particularly about paedophilia is that attraction among kids is totally normal, nine year olds playing house, twelve year olds trying out awkward flirting with each other. Being attracted to kids is indistinguishable from normal sexual development while you are still a kid. It's a sexual attraction that doesn't become abnormal or illegal until the pedophile is an adult. AT WHICH POINT IT SHOULD NOT BE ACTED ON. I can't easily think of another criminal act that is totally fine when you're a kid and absolutely wrong when you are an adult.

The only pedophiles we know or hear about are the predators. But it seems to me that saying all pedophiles are like Jerry Sandusky is like saying all straight men are like Robert Pickton. Certainly, there are straight men who want to actually rape and torture women, and some will and some won't. But those who won't, who don't want to, who recognize that the impulse is terrible and wrong, can get help from mental health professionals more easily than those who want to have sex with children. I think that society can recognize that paedophilia is a sexual impulse (I'm not willing to use orientation, because I don't like the politics of that), absolutely regard that impulse as one that it is ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL TO ACT ON, but still offer treatment to the person who has the impulse. And I also believe that it's possible for people to have sexual impulses of all kinds and not act on them compulsively. Obviously that is going to be more challenging if there are NO CIRCUMSTANCES AT ALL WHERE YOUR SEXUALITY IS LEGAL OR OK. That would increase the need for mental health support.

Maybe it's too much of a stretch, right now (or ever?), to expect there to be any compassion, even for pedophiles who have never acted on their sexual impulses. But you'd think some kind of enlightened self-interest would at least lead people to grudgingly admit that someone getting help instead of harming a child is a good thing. Realistically, what we demand of pedophiles is that they never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, act on their sexuality after they cease being children themselves. This is a legitimate, important, vital demand. But I think we'd go a long way to ensuring the demand is met by making it easier to get help with it.
posted by looli at 8:33 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


If it is possible to identify a person with pedophiliac urges before that person acts on those urges, a tremendous amount of harm can be prevented. This is a highly desirable outcome, right? So maybe it's a good idea to stop attacking people who present these ideas as "pedophile apologists." The goal is to PREVENT PHYSICAL ACTS of pedophilia in a way that is consistent with our ethical and legal traditions. I don't think it is possible to remove the inappropriate desires in an ethical way, but it is possible to redirect them in some cases. Meaning that some children may be spared the harrowing attentions of a pedophile.

This should apply to "naïve" pedophiles, and also to those who have been convicted, and managed to survive imprisonment. We have a moral obligation to our children to help these people redirect and restrain those urges.
posted by Mister_A at 8:37 AM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Two old "facts" have come to mind reading all this. No, I don't have links to supporting material.

1.
Children who have had some sex education are less likely to be molested than those who haven't. That is, if they've been tipped to the possibility that adults might have such intentions, they are way better at spotting the advances and just saying, "No."

2.
In terms of long term psychological damage to children who have been raped/molested, a big part of it is how the child's family/community responds to it. If it's with abject open-mouthed horror, the child is way more likely to be stigmatized by the experience. If it's a more sober, measured response, the child is more likely to grow scar tissue, get over it.
posted by philip-random at 8:38 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I believe there is something to your point #2, philip-random. The furor over the abuse can make the child feel great shame, and feel that it is something to be hidden or denied.
posted by Mister_A at 8:42 AM on September 25, 2012


I ... don't even see why this is "counterintuitive" or "distressing".

This just seems like basic common sense to me.
posted by kyrademon at 8:50 AM on September 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


I know of an inmate through my work who was imprisoned for more than five years because of his crime of molesting relative children. He was himself molested as a child by a relative. Throughout his imprisonment, he made diligent and repeated efforts up the chain of command to obtain therapy for these issues. He was unable to obtain such therapy.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:55 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know what the answer is. My first thought is about anyone convicted of molestation is to immediately march them outside the courtroom, line them up against a wall and shoot them and donate their bodies to The Body Farm.

That Spencer and others like him (the term "minor attracted person" is sickeningly blase*) don't fit the above, i.e. haven't been convicted does little to reign in the impulse to at the very least lock them all up and throw away the key.

If these programs are to exist, there needs to be some well thought out fail safes for when things go wrong. What happens when two or more pedophiles meet through one of these programs and commit crimes? Where should these program exist? Where can they exist and for how long in the face of inevitable mistake that results in a child being molested or murdered? How does the program and its operators explain to that child, its families and the local community that they brought a pedophile nearby and failed to do something that resulted in harm being done? Do we risk that?

I don't know what the answers are, but there are plenty of questions that need to be asked about these programs and pedophiles.

*minor attracted person=MAP(s), which is a problematic word to associate with pedophiles. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs song "Maps" into a creepy tune. Google Maps? There's an Map App for that? Apple is having problems with its Maps? Another word should be used as descriptor.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:07 AM on September 25, 2012


Any time I see an innovative approach to preventing child assaults preemptively shot down, I can't help but think that the people shooting down the ideas Want children to keep being assaulted. Because the status quo of fear and shame and trying to pretend it only happens to other people Doesn't Work AT ALL. It's the reason most of the child sexual abuse I've heard about from friends was never reported, and none of the perpetrators in any way stopped.
posted by ldthomps at 10:13 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What happens when two or more pedophiles meet through one of these programs and commit crimes?

This will happen, inevitably. But will these programs (whatever they end up being) end up sparing more children than they endanger? Welcome to harm reduction and what zabuni said way at the top of this thread ("Harm prevention is always met with anger").

There is nothing uncomplicated about any of this.
posted by philip-random at 10:17 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any time I see an innovative approach to preventing child assaults preemptively shot down, I can't help but think that the people shooting down the ideas Want children to keep being assaulted.

It's not that. It's magical thinking of the sort that argues for bombing the shit out of Iran to stop their nuclear program, or cutting welfare payments to 'force welfare queens to get jobs'. What is objectively true is irrelevant: You're dealing with someone's fantasy about how they want the world to work. In this case, you have people not wanting to admit that 1) a certain amount of child abuse will occur, just like a certain number of murders and rapes will occur, and 2) that we can push that number down with an approach that isn't about 100% condemnation.
posted by fatbird at 10:37 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oddly enough, the line that people seem to be attempting to draw here, i.e., the recognition that sometimes people, through no fault of their own, are drawn to engage in sexual behavior that we as a society will not permit under any circumstances, is pretty much exactly the same line that the more responsible segments of the Christian church have been drawing with respect to homosexuality for ages.

Well, sure, if you believe there's a type of sexual activity that should be off-limits and you are nevertheless drawn to it, then living a life without sex is going to be the most ethical choice, and the most humane thing to do is for your community to help you do so. But this is hardly unique to Christianity, or even religion in general. The issue is defining what types of sexual activity are off-limits. In modern, secular, and democratic societies, autonomy and mutual consent underpin the legitimacy of the government, which probably has something to do with why those values have come to figure so highly in our ethical decision-making and why "consent" is such a bright, inviolable line.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:37 AM on September 25, 2012


But will these programs (whatever they end up being) end up sparing more children than they endanger?

No one knows the answer to that, as far as I can tell. In order to answer it, you need hard numbers and that's not possible, with with unreported molestations.

The programs sound like they're worth trying or at the very least, worth investigating further. But it would be immensly helpful is they had the support of the local community, its government and its treasury.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:44 AM on September 25, 2012


Mr_A: That's actually a running discussion in legal circles. It comes up most often in discussions of rape sentencing---there's a fear that if the sentence for rape is too close to the sentence for murder, it creates a tremendous incentive to kill the victim.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:00 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


As pretty much everyone wants to have sex with someone they're not supposed to

I call bullshit.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:04 AM on September 25, 2012


The law should be going after people that attempt to have sex with children. Socially and legally we've determined that they can't offer consent, and therefore it's pretty much by definition rape and needs to be dealt with.

The law should be putting equal efforts into going after people that exploit children to make child pornography, for similar reasons.

The law should not be concerning itself with what people think. If people are uncomfortable with their urges, they should have counseling options available to them. If people are uncomfortable with their self control, doubly so. These should all be options.

But the law should not, and can not, be policing the thoughts and desires of people. In most realms of life this is so obvious that we take it utterly for granted, but in discussions about sexual desires suddenly it's contested. It shouldn't be.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:07 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


If these programs are to exist, there needs to be some well thought out fail safes for when things go wrong. What happens when two or more pedophiles meet through one of these programs and commit crimes? Where should these program exist?

I'm inclined to think that any group participation should be done online, pseudonymously, and under supervision, with instruction that participants should not seek to identify each other or seek personal contact.
posted by Anything at 11:19 AM on September 25, 2012




I'm inclined to think that any group participation should be done online, pseudonymously, and under supervision, with instruction that participants should not seek to identify each other or seek personal contact.
posted by Anything at 11:19 AM on September 25 [+] [!]


Kind of the opposite of reducing stigma, hey?
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:20 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Supervision, preferably, by someone like a sympathetic therapist who the participants already trust, but who's obliged to report behavior that crosses agreed boundaries.
posted by Anything at 11:22 AM on September 25, 2012


I don't see how stigma is avoidable. We are talking about a strong, primitive, urge, that in the pedophiles' case has no legitimate outlet. Is there any way to relate to people in their position without a fairly strong degree of suspicion? I don't think society could trust a system that puts pedophiles into direct contact with each other, no matter how good the intentions. The best you can hope for is for as many of them as possible to have therapists or trusted friends they can confide in, but who do not share the urges.
posted by Anything at 11:31 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


If certain kinds of pedophilia really are like being gay, then I'm skeptical any kind of therapy will actually work. The only successful voluntarily celibate queers I've ever met or even know of had other reasons beyond rejecting their sexual orientation to choose not to have sex. On the other hand, I know a whole lot of formerly closeted, self-hating people who still somehow wound up having sex with people of the same gender, even in the deepest, darkest backwoods of the American rural South. The "success rate" for ex-gay therapy is abyssmally low even for motivated, believing Christians who really do want to change. What makes pedophiles any different?

Short of branding these people with "PEDOPHILE, DANGER TO CHILDREN"" across every inch of their bodies, which obviously isn't feasible, I just don't see how these kind of programs could actually help. It makes me very skeptical that any kind of a push for "acceptance" is anything other than an attempt to lure the public into thinking these kind of people can be trusted - ie, the exact same thing that pedophiles already do with the parents and guardians of their victims. One thing that does seem to be common to pedophiles who do see it as an orientation of sorts is that they seek to get close to children. Is this "therapy" going to involve a lifetime ban from working with youth? Will they voluntarily put themselves on sex offender registries? Submit to irreversible sterilization? Comply with legally mandated discolure of their pedophile status to potential marriage partners? Voluntary hospitalization or imprisonment?

The subject in the article seemed to balk at doing things like going into a sex-offender treatment program or placing himself on a registry. None of these "advocates" or "activists" seem to have been lining up for chemical castration, so I really just don't buy it, and chemical castration is not even foolproof, anyway. An unfortunately grim reality is that any pedophile already has the capability to ensure that they will never, ever offend. This "won't somebody think of the pedophiles?" stuff just seems like the societal, "movement"-based equivalent of the Second Mile foundation.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:59 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have you ever had an anti-social thought that you decided not to act on?
I sure have. I know I'd rather not be preemptively punished for those thoughts.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:21 PM on September 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Have you ever had an anti-social thought that you decided not to act on?
I sure have. I know I'd rather not be preemptively punished for those thoughts.


Indeed. Steven Pinker asserts in The Better Angels Of Our Nature that part of the past few centuries' worth of progress in reducing violence has been the evolution of a culture of impulse control. We all have moments when we feel like killing someone who has pissed us off, though unlike our ancestors some hundreds of years ago, we also have more practice and more of an expectation of not acting on these impulses. What if it's the same with, say, rape or paedophilia or other such urges?
posted by acb at 12:49 PM on September 25, 2012


> "The only successful voluntarily celibate queers I've ever met or even know of had other reasons beyond rejecting their sexual orientation ..."

You don't think that "the people you are sexually attracted to cannot consent, therefore you must find other outlets for your sexual urges or you will be a rapist" is a reason?
posted by kyrademon at 12:51 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd argue pretty strongly that there's a big difference between the sorts of antisocial urges that most people experience, that can be reasoned away or just be waited to pass, and something like pedophilia which will stick with you every day for all our life.
posted by Anything at 1:08 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's have a little thought experiment. Let's talk about you. Yes, you, the person reading this post.

I would like you to imagine that you are still you, but with one crucial change. You are sexually attracted to children. Exclusively. To the same degree that you are sexually attracted now to whatever kind of person actually turns you on.

Now, you could argue, that's a big change. You're no longer "really you". It would make all kinds of differences in how you thought, how you acted. And sure, that's true. But let's say all of the other influences were still the same. Same upbringing. Same parents. Same religion or lack thereof. Same neighborhood. Same siblings. Same amount of money in the bank. A lot of things would still be the same. In a lot of ways, you'd still be you.

Don't you think that ... It would be difficult. So difficult. But you'd know it you couldn't act on it. Ever. Wouldn't you? Don't you think you'd still know that? If it were you?

You'd know there were people who did act on it. There are monsters out there. Everyone knows that. You'd know you had the potential to become one of those monsters.

But would you want to? Would you want to sacrifice someone else, a child, for your own sexual fulfillment?

I don't think you'd want to. I think it'd be so difficult. But I don't think you'd want to.

Wouldn't you want help?

Wouldn't you want to talk to someone, anyone, who understood, and cared, and just wanted to help you not do that?

Wouldn't you?
posted by kyrademon at 1:34 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd say the same thing is true for your hypothetical person whose only sexual preference is rape

This is the problem, something I'm not understanding in all of this. People keep talking about pedophiles as if they're not rapists. The person I'm talking about is not hypothetical. A pedophile's only sexual preference IS RAPE. They ARE rapists. If we're going to talk about accepting these people for what they are, then call them what they are. Baby rapers. Child rapists. People who push their sexuality onto little children and babies who have no say in the matter. People who ruin the sex lives of the adults those children are going to be.

And if we're talking about non-offending rapists, then by all means, give them therapy, but they don't need to be accepted for what they are. Rapists do not need to be coddled.

I would really like to see numbers on what percentage of rapists don't rape (or get caught raping, anyway, is what I'm thinking) after pursuing therapy.

There are some species of monkeys/apes (I can't remember which) that have sex with all ages of their species. I don't think this is a human-only problem. I do, however, think that humans have reached a stage where we understand what it is, WHY it is wrong, and why we should not accept people who do it or want to do it, even if it is "natural".

I am not saying they shouldn't be offered help. I'm just saying.. call them what they are and don't treat them like they're victims. THEY are the victimizers.
posted by Malice at 2:11 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Malice, I get where you're coming from on this. I do.

But ... "non-offending rapists"? Doesn't that strike you as the least bit Orwellian?

Someone who has never raped anybody isn't a rapist.
posted by kyrademon at 2:36 PM on September 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


You don't think that "the people you are sexually attracted to cannot consent, therefore you must find other outlets for your sexual urges or you will be a rapist" is a reason?

I think you're vastly underestimating the amount of self-loathing some queer people had in the past and even still have. I was lucky, but I some of my closest friends grew up believing that having gay sex was literally as bad as pedophilia, who had legitimate reason fear retribution every bit as bad as anything a pedophile could imagine, and most importantly who grew up in places where the virulent homophobia was the norm, and every bit as culturally ubiquitous as hatred of pedophiles.

And a lot of them still had sex, they just made up all kinds of fucked up and twisted justifications for it. They had sex before they came to terms with their sexuality and changed their beliefs, not after.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 3:16 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Malice, a rapist is someone who rapes someone.
posted by Flunkie at 4:02 PM on September 25, 2012


The Master and Margarita Mix, I completely agree that treating someone's sexual orientation as a matter deserving of virulent hatred and thoughtless retribution is both cruel and counterproductive.

And I do not believe it is truly possible to argue that adult, consensual gay sex is wrong without resorting to hatred on some level, because it is untrue. Therefore the argument must rely on willful blindness, bogus science, and tautological ethics. The twisted arguments that result are crazymaking.

But I do believe it is possible to explain to a rational human being that raping a child is wrong, without unthinking hatred and pre-emptive retribution. Because it actually is, and the harm is easily demonstrable.

I think you're missing my point. "Coming to terms with their sexuality" is the rational goal in BOTH cases. In BOTH cases, people are likely to have sex and justify it with twisted rationalizations if they have nothing but blind fear to look towards.

For adult, functional homosexuals, coming to terms with sexuality is generally taken to mean that they are able to have sex with guilt or fear. I would argue that for adult, functional, non-childmolesting pedophiles, coming to terms with their sexuality means finding a way to live their lives without causing harm.

You've taken my statement for the opposite of what it meant. Because the two cases are NOT the same. The argument against gay sex HAS to rely on fear and hatred, and can be defeated by truth. The argument against child molestation relies on truth, which mean that in some ways the fear and hatred only get in truth's way.
posted by kyrademon at 4:12 PM on September 25, 2012


Malice: A pedophile's only sexual preference IS RAPE. They ARE rapists. If we're going to talk about accepting these people for what they are, then call them what they are. Baby rapers. Child rapists.

Um, no. Thoughts are not action; someone who desires to rape someone is not a rapist _unless they actually rape someone_. The point of "accepting these people for what they are" is to give people with desires that would hurt someone if enacted tools to avoid this happening, to combat their urges. To allow them to talk to therapists and people around them without being threatened with abuse or arrest.

But you'd rather rant about how eeeeevil they are, _people who have done absolutely nothing wrong_ and wish to continue that path. Congratulations! You've pretty much proved one of the points of the initial article; too many people would rather have a rush of glorious indignation and absolutist thinking than techniques that will actually reduce child harm.
posted by tavella at 4:12 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


> "For adult, functional homosexuals, coming to terms with sexuality is generally taken to mean that they are able to have sex with guilt or fear ..."

WITHOUT guilt or fear, that of course should have read.
posted by kyrademon at 4:13 PM on September 25, 2012


They had sex before they came to terms with their sexuality and changed their beliefs, not after.

That's exactly the point, isn't it? That using repression alone often doesn't work. So, maybe something better is needed.

I'm heterosexual. I also think I'd be OK never having sex again if that was demanded of me with good cause. But in a world where I was in the process of socially or internally denying that I was heterosexual, it would twist my world. And that part where I get twisted up inevitably would end up affecting other people through my behavior. If you don't admit you have a problem with X, then you have no reason to avoid X or to stop yourself justifying your fascination with X using unlikely explanations.
posted by tychotesla at 4:25 PM on September 25, 2012


tavella , you should have finished reading my post instead of going off the first few sentences. I'm don't think they're "eeeeevil", I don't even believe in the idea of evil. I'm just incredibly dubious of the idea that therapy has ever done anything to prevent a significant portion of violent or harmful people from being violent our harmful. Sometimes they compare themselves to gays*. Therapy doesn't stop people from being gay. It usually doesn't stop them from having sex. If you accept this to be as much a part of their sexuality as a gay person, then you have to accept that therapy isn't going to work anymore than it has at curbing any other sexuality. There have been posts about reformed gays here on Mefi, and the general consensus is that the "reformed" gay is probably getting, or will eventually get some on the side. If people scoff at gay reform therapy I don't see how they don't scoff at pedophile reform therapy. Why? Because raping children disgusts you, so certainly they will see the light?

We've seen how well that works.

Be prepared to hear a lot of things like, "I'm so sorry, it was one little slip up, I didn't want to do it, something came over me! I just need more therapy, more time, more distractions. The therapy is working, really, I'm reformed."**

*Again, never in a million years would I compare a gay to a pedophile. This is just for the sake of the whole ingrained sexuality argument.

**I admit very partial bias because I have experience with convicted child molesters who reoffended after extensive therapy and probation. Three, actually, though all males. Yes, I'm aware this is about non offending pedophiles, but I'm of the mind that if they've already admitted to themselves that they're pedophiles, they're going to offend eventually, if they haven't already at least through child porn. Remember, no record just means they haven't been caught.

posted by Malice at 12:41 AM on September 26, 2012


Malice, even granting you may well be right that this kind of compulsion is hard to resist forever, therapy or no, what do you think should be done about somebody who so far as anyone can tell has never committed a crime but says he or she is sexually attracted to children and wants help?
posted by Justinian at 1:45 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the problem, something I'm not understanding in all of this. People keep talking about pedophiles as if they're not rapists. The person I'm talking about is not hypothetical.

Sorry, I thought you were positing an adult whose only sexual preference was raping other adults. I agree that sex with non-consenting partners is rape, regardless of the age of the victim.

If we're going to talk about accepting these people for what they are, then call them what they are.

I'm glad you said that, because I think there's a really important distinction to be made here. Recognizing that some people have a sexual attraction to children DOES NOT mean I'm okay with it, that I consider it a sexual orientation, or that I think admitting their existence means I "accept" it or condone the behavior at all.

For example, I recognize that automobile accidents are inevitable. I also think cars should be made as safe as possible, road safety for pedestrians and cyclists should be of primary importance, and it should not be easy or cheap to have a license. Cars are a weapon, as my father-in-law says. However, even if the most draconian of my preferences about automobiles were enforced, there would still be people killed by cars. But if the numbers of deaths were reduced, isn't that a good thing?

I would really like to see numbers on what percentage of rapists don't rape (or get caught raping, anyway, is what I'm thinking) after pursuing therapy.

That's going to be difficult, as if they aren't caught, how would they be identified?

I am not saying they shouldn't be offered help. I'm just saying.. call them what they are and don't treat them like they're victims. THEY are the victimizers.

Agreed.

I appreciate that this seems to be an emotional topic for you - I suspect it hits home for a lot of people - so thanks for continuing the conversation.
posted by dubold at 2:58 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Remember, no record just means they haven't been caught.
Why do you think this? It's a really disturbing sentiment, and has very disturbing implications well beyond this narrow topic we're discussing.

From this thread, you seem to have a lot of opinions that seem, to me, strange. You seem to think that all people who are sexually attracted to children are only sexually attracted to children. You seem to think that anyone who is sexually attracted to children cannot possibly avoid having sex with children. You seem to think that anyone who is sexually attracted to children is indifferent to the harm doing so would cause to those children. And from this latest one, you seem to think that anyone who is sexually attracted to children actually has had sex with children. In fact your first post in this thread was kind of that way too - "I can say with 100% accuracy that a pedophile is a monster to the child" or whatever, as if the thought that maybe there might be pedophiles who haven't done anything to any children hadn't even entered your head (and frankly as if you hadn't even read the links and were just reacting to the title of the post).

Like the "rape" thing. The act that they want to do is rape, you say, so therefore they want to rape, so therefore they're rapists. You know what, Malice? I have wanted to have sex with an incredibly large number of women throughout my life, some that I know, some that I see in passing, some that I see in passing on a dark and isolated street. I would be flattering myself immensely if I were to pretend that they all wanted to have sex with me. But I haven't had sex with any woman who hasn't wanted to have sex with me. You know why? Because I don't want to rape anyone, Malice.

I am sexually attracted to these women. I do not want to rape them. You seem to think this is impossible, or at least it would be impossible if the word "women" were stricken out and replaced with the word "children". Why do (it seems) think that?

I understand that you've been molested by a pedophile, and that's obviously a horrible thing, and you have my sympathies for it. But I think it's clouding your judgment.
posted by Flunkie at 5:35 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Malice, correct me if I'm wrong but this seems to be the heart of your point, and it's a good one, I think.

Sometimes they compare themselves to gays*. Therapy doesn't stop people from being gay. It usually doesn't stop them from having sex. If you accept this to be as much a part of their sexuality as a gay person, then you have to accept that therapy isn't going to work anymore than it has at curbing any other sexuality.

But then a little later, I think you go too far ...

If people scoff at gay reform therapy I don't see how they don't scoff at pedophile reform therapy. Why? Because raping children disgusts you, so certainly they will see the light?

Based on some of the links provided in this post, the reality seems to be that many pedophiles (probably the majority, maybe the vast majority) do not act on their desires, certainly not in any way beyond masturbatory fantasy. So yeah, on some level they have seen the light. Maybe because raping children (the reality of it) really does disgust them. Or maybe just because they understand how utterly society would vilify them were they to act. And then, of course, there are the individuals who do act ... but we're not talking about them here.

Who we're talking about are people who, seemingly through no fault of their own, are compelled sexually in a way that isn't just vilified by society, it actually seems to be scientifically bad (ie: damages its victims in all kinds of ways). And these people (again the ones we're talking about here) have chosen not to act on their compulsions. Which yeah, on an intellectual (even moral) level, seems like an obvious enough choice. But seriously, take a look at kyrademon's earlier comment, and try to imagine what that must be like. I know I can't, not really. And yet that's what we need/demand from these people, who yes, as a matter of fact, are victims (victims of their own particular biology, psychology etc) ... and fully worthy of our empathy. They do deserve counseling, support, whatever it takes to help them continue to "fight the good fight" etc.
posted by philip-random at 9:01 AM on September 26, 2012


Related, work of sex offender Jake Goldenflame: "Ever since his incarceration he has avoided children, believing that sexual obsessions, like any addiction, 'can't be cured but can be controlled.'" His website is down but I have a copy of his "self-help guide" for sex offenders (to stop offending) in Word if anyone wants it.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:09 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm back from a lengthy delivery route, and find this conversation has gone better than I expected, although a couple of bits of it are kind of shocking to me. This, for example:
Short of branding these people with "PEDOPHILE, DANGER TO CHILDREN"" across every inch of their bodies, which obviously isn't feasible, I just don't see how these kind of programs could actually help. It makes me very skeptical that any kind of a push for "acceptance" is anything other than an attempt to lure the public into thinking these kind of people can be trusted - ie, the exact same thing that pedophiles already do with the parents and guardians of their victims. One thing that does seem to be common to pedophiles who do see it as an orientation of sorts is that they seek to get close to children. Is this "therapy" going to involve a lifetime ban from working with youth? Will they voluntarily put themselves on sex offender registries? Submit to irreversible sterilization? Comply with legally mandated discolure of their pedophile status to potential marriage partners? Voluntary hospitalization or imprisonment?
Honestly, take out a few descriptor words about what sort of person you're talking about, and this is pretty Final Solution-ish, isn't it?

Anyway, stepping away from that Godwin moment...

I, too, thought of the parallels of the therapy being discussed here with therapies which seek to cure someone of being gay. After mulling on it for several hundred miles, I think I see some definite differences in what I understand may be going on in the type of therapy which B4U-ACT would be seeking to provide and what I've read about "gay reparative" therapy.

The main difference is that ex-gay therapy seems to be about making a person who feels certain things no longer feel those things, and even to install an entirely different set of feelings in place of the ones that person already has. Such therapies involve trying to heal a theoretically broken father relationship, or to create a supposed enmity with ones parents (both male and female) which can then be acted out to supposedly unblock latent heterosexuality. I've read stories about men being held by other men "in a manly, fatherly way", or being urged to beat a pillow with a tennis racquet to the point of blind rage to try to create catharsis. Or any number of other outlandish things. But ultimately, the goal of therapy designed to make homosexuals stop being homosexuals is to make them heterosexuals, in some way altering the wiring of what makes them go "ping" so they go "ping" about something other.

What I've read about ex-gay therapy is that it involves a lot of shaming. Shame about one's childhood and which parent they bonded with and what kinds of friendships they had as a child and what pasttimes they had when they were young. Shame about one's interests (outside of sexual interest, I've heard of men in such therapies being forced to [and I know I'm getting into stereotyping territory here, but honestly, it's what I've read] give up otherwise legitimate interests involving opera or musical theater, cooking, Turner Classic Movies, or whatever else, and being told they now must fix their attentions on sports or hunting and camping or basically anything which the therapist was somehow the opposite of "gay"). Shame about marriage, or lack thereof, and procreation. Some of this is religious shame. Much of it is cultural. But man, those ex-gay therapy things I've read... There's very little about them which doesn't involve attempting to shame the patient into what is considered correct action.

I don't see the kind of therapy which these activist non-offending pedophiles are seeking as involving either of these factors. Neither the attempt to make them into something they are not, nor the overarching theme of shame as motivator toward change. What I do see in B4U-ACT type therapy is acknowledgement that one has urges which can be harmful to others, and seeking to keep from acting on those urges. In the one actual such program which exists, mentioned in the main article of the FPP, a program in Germany which currently operates in 6 cities across that country, the top page of the Therapy subsection states:
The goal of the therapy is to cope with problems in dealing with the particular sexual preference. From a patient’s point of view, focus is on controlling one’s own behaviour in order to prevent child sexual abuse.

Thus, during therapy the patients learn

• an appropriate perception and appraisal of their sexual wishes and needs
• the identification of and coping with dangerous developments
• strategies for the prevention of sexual assault

The therapy takes place in groups once a week and, if required, also one-on-one interviews and includes relatives if necessary. In agreement with the patient, the treatment follows a structured therapy plan but also considers individual needs. The therapeutic procedure integrates behavioural therapy and sexological approaches and also includes the option for pharmaceutical support.
The pages of the subheadings of that page go into more detail. I suggest this set of pages as required reading for anyone wishing to discuss this kind of therapy with any sense of being informed on the topic, because they have a lot to say about how this one group in this one country is approaching the problem, and it's being examined as a model for use elsewhere.

There is very little overlap between what I have read about ex-gay therapy and what I read in those pages. Perhaps I'm mistaken, I'd certainly be welcome to having anyone who can find parallels point them out (outside of someone with sexual urges they find problematic seeking help about how to address them).

Ultimately, I think that comparison is a non-starter, and should be discarded.
posted by hippybear at 2:35 PM on September 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


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