Mental health’s cold shoulder treatment of pedophilia: experts urge professionals to overcome the disorder’s stigma to help reduce future victimization.

 

Emotions run high when discussing pedophilia. The behavior is so disturbing that it’s often attributed to a moral flaw that must be punished. Although the victim’s perspective cannot be dismissed when examining this psychiatric disorder, is there no hope for helping people who struggle with–and even act on–their desires?

Noted pedophilia expert Fred S. Berlin, MD, PhD, PA, of Johns Hopkins’ Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, believes that many people with pedophilia can indeed be successfully treated. Yet he says the mental health community’s interest in this area has been limited because of the intense stigma attached to pedophilia. “Unfortunately, there are many within mental health who feel that the ‘real’ mental illnesses are the ones that ought to be treated and that somehow pedophilia, the paraphilias, and the other sexual disorders aren’t as deserving” explains Dr. Berlin, who is also the director of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma.

Such attitudes–both among mental health professionals and members of society–have led to many common misperceptions about people with pedophilia (“pedophile” itself is a stigmatizing term akin to using “schizophrenic” to describe a person with schizophrenia, Dr. Berlin believes, and for this article the author has avoided using it). Dr. Berlin discounts the common view that pedophilia is a conscious choice. He regards pedophilia as a lifelong sexual orientation, just as hetero- an d homosexuality, and he says patients can be terrified by the discovery of pedophilic cravings: “In growing up we discover the kinds of partners to whom we are attracted, and someone’s discovering that he is sexually attracted to children is one of the most disturbing and troubling self-revelations that one can come up with.”

Pedophilic feelings also have been observed to develop in individuals that previously did not have them, Dr. Berlin notes. For example, some people have developed such cravings after a traumatic brain injury, yet denied having them before.

Although most cases of pedophilia involve men, people with pedophilia are hardly a homogeneous group; all they share is an attraction to children, explains Dr. Berlin, adding that some are attracted to children of the same sex (homosexual pedophilia), the opposite sex (heterosexual pedophilia), or both sexes (bisexual pedophilia). Their sexual interests might only involve children (exclusive pedophilia) or could involve adults (men, women, or both), as well (nonexclusive pedophilia). People with pedophilia have varying personality types and character traits, he adds.

People with pedophilia, therefore, come from many different life situations–and some are mental health professionals themselves. Take the case of Eugene Hepola, a 72-year-old retired forensic psychologist from Findlay, Ohio. After chatting online for nine months with an FBI agent posing as a 12-year-old girl, Hepola was arrested as he waited for “her” in a Cleveland suburb, reported Cleveland’s daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer. (1) Eleven times he sent the “girl” pornography, including video clips of minors having sex. He is now serving three years in prison.

We know so lit fie about this disorder and the people it afflicts because of the paucity of research in this area, says Dr. Berlin. He says factors hindering investigations include stigma (one researcher wouldn’t comment for this article because of past negative experiences with the media), challenges in fundraising, and the inability to conduct double-blind studies (researchers can’t justify giving a placebo to someone with pedophilic tendencies). Compared to studies of other mental health disorders, studies on pedophilia are few and far between in the medical literature. A recent MEDLINE search for “pedophilia” yielded fewer than 20 results since 2003, compared with hundreds of reports on schizophrenia and depression within that time frame.

David A. D’Amora, MS, LPC, CFC, chair of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers’ Public Policy Committee, says researching topics such as pedophilia can be hampered by basing investigations on approved diagnostic criteria and definitions: “There is, in fact, a significant amount of research on assessment and treatment of folks convicted of sexual offenses. One of the issues is whether one limits oneself to the diagnostic category of pedophilia. The DSM diagnoses are not always fully helpful in understanding the issues of sexual violence.” For example, a man who molests his son might not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of pedophilia, but he would still be considered a threat to his child. D’Amora adds that much of the current research comes from countries other than the United States, such as Canada, largely because U.S. government funding for studies of sexual offenses and disorders has been limited. The U.S. Department of Justice, however, does sponsor the Center for Sex Offender Management, which offers many resources on the topic.

Although awash with information on other mental health disorders, the Internet offers little for people suffering with pedophilia who are looking for help (the Web, of course, is also a tempting source of illegal child pornography). The first ten results from a recent Google search for “pedophilia” offered little for someone looking for assistance, but searches for “depression” and “schizophrenia” turned up many resources.

John Grohol, PsyD, publisher of PsychCentral.com, says the lack of information on the Web can be tied to the stigma surrounding pedophilia: “I’ve come across a real bias against people with this problem, both from other mental health professionals and from others looking for mental health support online for other diagnoses. Most folks just don’t understand or appreciate the mental health aspect of pedophilia–that the behavioral health field has recognized this as a real disorder in need of real treatment.” He adds, “Education can go a long way to helping both professionals and individuals understand that people diagnosed with this disorder need treatment, too. I’m not sure the Internet is helping in that respect right now, given the paucity of unbiased, legitimate information available. Hopefully that will change in the future.”

Despite this knowledge gap, Dr. Berlin suggests that effective treatments for pedophilia do exist, although he acknowledges these are not cures: “[Pedophilia] can’t be cured any more than alcoholism can be cured, but that doesn’t mean either one of those can’t be successfully treated.” He believes the psychological approach to pedophilia should be similar to the way in which therapists help patients resist cravings for alcohol, heroin, or cocaine. “Part of the successful treatment for both alcoholism and pedophilia is for individuals to recognize that they have an enduring vulnerability and that they must exercise daily vigilance against giving in to unacceptable temptations and falling into unacceptable behavioral patterns,” he explains.

Following this logic, Dr. Berlin finds group therapy–often used for substance abuse patients–to be particularly helpful. He says this setting allows participants to share concerns in a safe environment and to discuss strategies for managing their condition, such as not moving into a neighborhood with a high concentration of children and recognizing that sexual temptations will develop if relationships with children become emotionally involved.

Dr. Berlin doesn’t put too much stock in aversion therapies designed to alter sexual interests because, he says, evidence supporting their long-term effectiveness is poor. Others do support using such therapies, however.

On the pharmacologic treatment side, the biologic basis of pedophilia remains elusive, admits Dr. Berlin, but he notes that testosterone-lowering medications can be used to reduce males’ sexual appetites.  source : http://goliath.ecnext.com/

 

Provided by

DR WIDODO JUDARWANTO
FIGHT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE AND PEDOPHILIA 

Yudhasmara Foundation

JL TAMAN BENDUNGAN ASAHAN 5 JAKARTA PUSAT, JAKARTA INDONESIA 10210

PHONE : (021) 70081995 – 5703646

email : judarwanto@gmail.com, 

https://pedophiliasexabuse.wordpress.com/

Copyright © 2009, Fight Child Sexual Abuse and Pedophilia  Network  Information Education Network. All rights reserved 

Provided by

DR WIDODO JUDARWANTO
FIGHT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE AND PEDOPHILIA

Yudhasmara Foundation

JL TAMAN BENDUNGAN ASAHAN 5 JAKARTA PUSAT, JAKARTA INDONESIA 10210

PHONE : (021) 70081995 – 5703646

email : judarwanto@gmail.com,

https://pedophiliasexabuse.wordpress.com/

Copyright © 2009, Fight Child Sexual Abuse and Pedophilia  Network  Information Education Network. All rights reserved

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