Tag Archives: psychology

Thoughts on the legalisation of paedophilia

Child Sexual Abuse

Child Sexual Abuse

Earlier today, I reblogged a post from Anna Waldherr at A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse, about the reclassification of paedophilia by the American Psychiatric Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the possible legalisation of paedophilia.

Shock, horror, anger, disgust, mortification, disbelief… the list of initial feelings and emotions is/was pretty much endless.  Coming from the perspective of having lived through years of child sexual abuse, the last thing you want to hear about is the possibility of paedophilia being legalised.

However, to assess the situation as rationally as possible, it is necessary to put aside personal bias.  I have to say, this has been quite a difficult task, not the least because every journal article, newspaper article, book, study analysis etc., that I have since read (hurriedly, I have to admit), has caused my body a large amount of physical distress, to mention nothing about my state of mind.

Regardless, I am going to at least attempt a reasonably rational assessment of the topic.

For those of you who don’t know what the DSM is, it is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States – and also the basic mental health diagnostic tool used by mental health professionals in Australia.

To be clear, in general terms, to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in Australia, you have to meet the criteria set out by the American Psychiatric Association in the DSM.  Therefore, any changes to the DSM affects mental health patients in Australia.

So, DSM V now makes a distinction between a paraphilia ( sexual interests in objects, situations, or individuals that are highly atypical – see Wikipedia for a list) and a paraphilic disorder.  Paedophilia is a paraphilia.

What this change means is that a person (paedophile) can only be diagnosed with a mental health disorder if they have a paraphilia that is currently causing distress or impairment to themselves, or personal harm or risk of harm to others (see Highlights of Changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5).  The most basic way to explain this is that if a person THINKS about paedophilia but does not ACT on it, then there is no mental health problem.

Now, this might cause some readers a bit of concern, but I guess a drastic analogy might be that just because I think about ‘meowing’ it does not make me a cat, nor does it mean I have any kind of mental health disorder (?).

How does this link with the legalisation of paedophilia?

It seems quite a leap, doesn’t it, to say that just because there is a change to the mental health diagnosis of a paedophile, that paedophilia should be made legal?

Well, apparently not.

In my brief reading today, I have discovered quite a number of articles in which so-called ‘experts’ make the argument that paedophilia is a sexual preference – just like homosexuality or heterosexuality – or even, bestiality.  The argument continues, that if we (society) was wrong to criminalise homosexuality, then it is possible that we are wrong in criminalising paedophilia.  (The diagnostic change is, in some circles, being heralded as the first step in decriminalisation).

This may be a sound argument.

However, because a large percentage (if not the majority?) of paedophilia is undertaken with children under the age of 12, I find it extremely difficult to believe that the children involved would have the competency to provide informed consent to someone having sex with them.

Given the results of numerous studies on the long-term impacts of child sexual abuse, and the personal experience of knowing that unless you have lived through it there is no way you could possibly comprehend what it does to you, not just mentally, but also physically, then the possibility that a child would be able to factor those consequences, even at the age of 15, into their decision becomes even more unlikely.

Is my perspective slanted with a Western bias?  Possibly, but even studies that are coming out of countries in which it is the cultural norm for adults to have sexual relations with children (yes, such countries do exist) are showing that there are devastating long-term impacts for the children.

From the perspective of a ‘survivor’, I do have to question the motivation of those who argue in favour of legalising paedophilia, or who minimise the impact of child sexual abuse on children – are they motivated by their own desire to engage in sexual acts with children?

This is my point of view.  You are welcome to disagree.

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Overcoming the World, Part 3 – Pedophilia Redefined

It will take me some time to formulate a response to this, but in the meantime, I am reblogging this post for others to consider.

ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse

A change in the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) heralds a trend towards destigmatizing (and ultimately legalizing) pedophilia.

Those who are sexually attracted to children but have not yet acted on their desires are no longer classified as having a psychiatric condition [1].  Only if such persons prove harmful or dangerous will they be diagnosed as having “pedophilia syndrome”.

This raises the possibility that molested children will soon have the legal burden of proving they suffered any harm from the abuse. In fact, it foreshadows a time, not so far in the future, when child molesters will not be prosecutable at all. The stomach roils in disgust.

Vernon Quinsey (professor emeritus in psychology at Queen’s University, Ontario) and Hubert Van Gijseghem (psychologist and retired professor from the University of Montreal) are two of the “experts” who have advised legislators that pedophilia is a…

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Accept the bad but enjoy the good

Enjoy the good

Enjoy the good

After pouring out a number of posts relating to the negative, I felt it was time to add a little balance, but this post didn’t turn out quite the way I expected.

For incest kids, life is not always 100% bad stuff – there is usually some good stuff mixed with the bad during the growing years, because families generally have good times and bad times.  This is what makes it so hard for us, because as children we do not have the mental capacity to distinguish between what is good and what is bad, everything just ‘is’.

I might need to explain that a little better.

When you are an incest kid, there are times when you are just a kid, like any other kid, playing games, being silly, sometimes even having fun.  Other times you are not a kid, because you are forced into a quasi-adult role by your abuser.  Still other times, you don’t know what you are.  Overall, however, as an incest kid, the abuse is a ‘normal’ part of your life.  Generally you have been groomed, ever so slowly, from the day you were born, and desensitised to things that ‘society’ believes you should be alarmed by.

I can remember the daughter of a friend of my father, telling me her daddy let her play with his penis.  I was about eleven at the time, and my thoughts were “doesn’t everybody’s?”

According to the rules of society, this girl’s ‘confession’ should have shocked me – it didn’t.  The reason it didn’t, is because such incidents were a normal part of my life.

It is societal norms, I believe, that also cause ‘us’ (incest kids) increased psychological stress as we get older.  Why didn’t you say anything?  Why didn’t you tell someone?  How can you still have anything to do with your father?  How can you love your family?

It continues when you do finally break the silence.  How could you do that to your father?  How could you do that to the family?  Why are you doing this to us?

The little jibes are seemingly endless, and they all plant seeds of doubt in our minds about the type of people we are.  They add to the confusion of trying to reconcile the monster parent with the human parent.

Personally, I have some wonderful memories of my childhood – my mum’s fresh-baked bread, going camping, spending holidays with my grandparents.  It becomes confusing, however, when the person that hurts you most is also one of the people who is supposed to nurture you the most, so when I try to think of the good things in my childhood, most of them are now tainted because I can see how my father was using them to manipulate me.

Life now is not just about the abuse and recovery – for a while it was, but these days I try to live, not just exist.

Sometimes the bad stuff impacts on, and even takes over, the good stuff.  I can be having a great afternoon with my partner and a group of friends when out of the blue I am knocked for six by a song that’s playing in the background, or someone might inadvertently say or do something that to others means nothing, but to me, it takes me right back ‘there’.

One of the most important things I have learnt, however, is to appreciate the good stuff when it is good, and allow the bad stuff to surface if it must, acknowledge that it is there, but let it just pass on.  I don’t have to ‘deal’ with it right then and there.  I don’t have to analyse it straight away.  I can just acknowledge its presence but return to it later when I am safe and stable.

Life is way too short to cling desperately to the bad stuff.  You have to embrace, value, and enjoy the good stuff along the way.

The ‘Survivor’ Label

"Survivor"

“Survivor”

I first encountered the term ‘survivor’ when I saw my first counsellor when I was twenty-one.

I hated it.

I didn’t feel like a survivor.

I felt depressed, suicidal, confused, hopeless, useless, disgusting and ashamed.  Survivors don’t feel those things, do they?

In the decades since that first encounter, I have come to accept that I did ‘survive’, but I still don’t like the label.

Labels confine people.  Labels promote stigma, prejudice, and judgement.   Labels pressure us to conform to the associated social norms.  Labels do not respect and value individuality and the uniqueness of experience.  Labels can lead to external control.

I am a person.  My experience of life is my own – just as your experience is yours.  Don’t place a label on me and judge me by it, and I will afford you the same respect.