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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

False Accusations

False Accusations
False Accusations

Psychiatric Association Debates Lifting Pedophilia Taboo By Lawrence Morahan

Psychiatric Association Debates Lifting Pedophilia Taboo

In a step critics charge could result in decriminalizing sexual contact between adults and children, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) recently sponsored a symposium in which participants discussed the removal of pedophilia from an upcoming edition of the psychiatric manual of mental disorders.

Psychiatrists attending an annual APA convention May 19 in San Francisco proposed removing several long-recognized categories of mental illness - including pedophilia, exhibitionism, fetishism, transvestism, voyeurism and sadomasochism - from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Most of the mental illnesses being considered for removal are known as "paraphilias."

Psychiatrist Charles Moser of San Francisco's Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and co-author Peggy Kleinplatz of the University of Ottawa presented conferees with a paper entitled "DSM-IV-TR and the Paraphilias: An Argument for Removal."

People whose sexual interests are atypical, culturally forbidden or religiously proscribed should not necessarily be labeled mentally ill, they argued. Different societies stigmatize different sexual behaviors, and since the existing research could not distinguish people with paraphilias from so-called "normophilics," there is no reason to diagnose paraphilics as either a distinct group or psychologically unhealthy, Moser and Kleinplatz stated.

Participants also debated gender-identity disorder, a condition in which a person feels discomfort with his or her biological sex. Homosexual activists have long argued that gender identity disorder should not be assumed to be abnormal.

"The situation of the paraphilias at present parallels that of homosexuality in the early 1970s. Without the support or political astuteness of those who fought for the removal of homosexuality, the paraphilias continue to be listed in the DSM," Moser and Kleinplatz wrote.

A. Dean Byrd, vice president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Utah, condemned the debate. Taking the paraphilias out of the DSM without research would have negative consequences, he said.

"What this does, in essence, is it has a chilling effect on research," Byrd said. "That is, once you declassify it, there's no reason to continue studying it. What we know is that the paraphilias really impair interpersonal sexual behavior...and to suggest that it could be 'normalized' simply takes away from the science, but more importantly, has a chilling effect on research."

"Normalizing" pedophilia would have enormous implications, especially since civil laws closely follow the scientific community on social-moral matters, said Linda Ames Nicolosi, NARTH publications director.

"If pedophilia is deemed normal by psychiatrists, then how can it remain illegal?" Nicolosi asked. "It will be a tough fight to prove in the courts that it should still be against the law."

In previous articles, psychiatrists have argued that there is little or no proof that sex with adults is necessarily harmful to minors. Indeed, they have argued that many sexually molested children later look back on their experience as positive, Nicolosi said.

"And other psychiatrists have written, again in scientific journals, that if children can be forced to go to church, why should 'consent' be the defining moral issue when it comes to sex?" she said.

But whether pedophilia should be judged "normal and healthy" is as much a moral question as a scientific one, according to Nicolosi.

"The courts are so afraid of 'legislating someone's privately held religious beliefs' that if pedophilia is normalized, we will be hard put to defend the retention of laws against child molestation," Nicolosi noted.

In a fact sheet on pedophilia, the APA calls the behavior "criminal and immoral."

"An adult who engages in sexual activity with a child is performing a criminal and immoral act that never can be considered normal or socially acceptable behavior," the APA said.

However, the APA failed to address whether it considers a person with a pedophile orientation to have a mental disorder.

"That is the question that is being actively debated at this time within the APA, and that is the question they have not answered when they respond that such relationships are 'immoral and illegal,'" Nicolosi said.

Dr. Darrel A. Regier, director of research for the APA, said there were

"no plans and there is no process set up that would lead to the removal of the paraphilias from their consideration as legitimate mental disorders."

Some years ago, the APA considered the question of whether a person who had such attractions but did not act on them should still be labeled with a disorder.

"We clarified in the DSM-IV-TR...that if a person acted on those urges, we considered it a disorder," Regier said.

Dr. Robert Spitzer, author of a study on change of sexual orientation that he presented at the 2001 APA convention, took part in the symposium in San Francisco in May.

Spitzer said the debate on removing gender identity disorder from the DSM was generated by people in the homosexual activist community "who are troubled by gender identity disorder in particular." Spitzer added: "I happen to think that's a big mistake."

What Spitzer considered the most outrageous proposal, to get rid of the paraphilias, "doesn't have the same support that the gender-identity rethinking does." And he said he considers it unlikely that changes would be made regarding the paraphilias.

"Getting rid of the paraphilias, which would mean getting rid of pedophilia, that would not happen in a million years. I think there might be some compromise about gender-identity disorder," he said.

Dr. Frederick Berlin, founder of the Sexual Disorders Clinic at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, said people who are sexually attracted to children should learn not to feel ashamed of their condition.

"I have no problem accepting the fact that someone, through no fault of his own, is attracted to children. But certainly, such an individual has a responsibility...not to act on it," Berlin said.

"Many of these people need help in not acting on these very intense desires in the same way that a drug addict or alcoholic may need help. Again, we don't for the most part blame someone these days for their alcoholism; we don't see it simply as a moral weakness," he added. 

"We do believe that these people have a disease or a disorder, but we also recognize that in having it that it impairs their function, that it causes them suffering that they need to turn for help," Berlin said. 

y Lawrence Morahan

Online Sex Abuse Cases Not Characterized by Deception, Abduction and Force, Research Shows Findings From National Sample of Law Enforcement Agencies Indicates That Current Prevention Efforts Emphasizing On-Line Deception May Be Missing Their Mark Kimberly Mitchell, Ph.D., Janis Wolak, M.A., J.D. & David Finkelhor, Ph.D.,

Online Sex Abuse Cases Not Characterized by Deception, Abduction and Force, Research Shows Findings From National Sample of Law Enforcement Agencies Indicates That Current Prevention Efforts Emphasizing On-Line Deception May Be Missing Their Mark Kimberly Mitchell, Ph.D., Janis Wolak, M.A., J.D. & David Finkelhor, Ph.D.,
Online Sex Abuse Cases Not Characterized by Deception, Abduction and Force, Research Shows Findings From National Sample of Law Enforcement Agencies Indicates That Current Prevention Efforts Emphasizing On-Line Deception May Be Missing Their Mark Kimberly Mitchell, Ph.D., Janis Wolak, M.A., J.D. & David Finkelhor, Ph.D.,

The Congressional censure of a research paper: Return of the inquisition? by Kenneth K Berry; Jason Berry

Congressional censure
The Congressional censure of a research paper:
Return of the inquisition?
by Kenneth K Berry; Jason Berry
Source: Skeptical Inquirer Electronic Digest
Commentary in the issue dated December 10, 1999
1st January 2000

In July 12, 1999, the United States House of Representatives took an historic step toward censorship of scientific findings when it voted 355 to 0 to condemn and censure a scientific publication because the members disagreed with the findings and believed that they would have a negative effect upon citizens' thoughts and actions.

The paper, published a year earlier in the American Psychological Association's journal Psychological Bulletin (July 1998), by Bruce Rind of Temple University, Philip Tromovitch, and Robert Bauserman was titled, "A Meta-analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples." This paper was basically a review and analysis of fifty-nine previous research studies of the consequences of sexual molestation of children.

The congressional members found some of the findings personally repugnant, particularly the conclusion that some molested children grow up to be normal and a small portion are seemingly little affected by this experience. The members, especially Rep. Salmon (an Arizona Republican and a sponsor of H. Con.Res.107) believed that the findings would not only encourage pedophilia among United States citizens, but the findings could not be true. The Representatives' thinking appeared to be a demonstration of what Donald Watson (1993) called "Autistic Certainty" ("I would not believe something that was not true; I believe this is not true, therefore this must be untrue").

The journal's review of past research was brought to the attention of congressional members by several very vocal, fundamentalist religious voices. Two of these are lobbying groups: the Family Research Council, a group whose primary missions appear to oppose civil rights for homosexuals, advocate celibacy for heterosexuals, and to stop abortions when they are not celibate; and the Christian Coalition, a strong political group with similar goals but with the additional one of doing away with the separation between church and state. Another strong voice was that of radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger, who uses her popular nationally syndicated radio program ("Dr. Laura") as a forum to attack those who do not agree with her personal ideas of morality and religion.

Although this may be the first time in US history that the legislative branch of the federal government has officially condemned and censured a scientific publication, it is not a first in world history. In the thirteenth century there was no separation of church and state in Europe and mysticism prevailed over direct observation of phenomena; Roger Bacon, known for his publications on logic and experimental sciences, was condemned and spent two years in prison.

Following this he wrote his final paper, published the year of his death in 1292, which was a caustic critique of the corruption of Christianity. An outspoken supporter of Copernican views of the solar system, Giordano Bruno, was victim of an inquisition (meaning "inquiry"), found guilty of heresy, and was burned at the stake by the Church/State in 1600.

Perhaps the best known incident of suppression of scientific research was Galileo's proposition of the heliocentric theory of the solar system. Those in power disagreed with his research findings and believed that the Sun circled Earth because to them it appeared to do so. An inquisition was held and, in order to avoid punishment, Galileo recanted his findings. It is an interesting parallel that Dr. Raymond Fowler, Executive Director of the American Psychological Association, "recanted" in a letter sent to the House of Representatives during the congressional inquisition. This action brought the APA praise from the House.

The most recent period of official condemnation that led to governmental censorship of science occurred in the USSR under Communism. This followed the similar pattern that led to the book burnings in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

Historically, the path begins with religions or states (or both, as in Res.107) exerting pressure upon research bodies, researchers themselves and other writers, to "self-censor." This is often achieved through withdrawal, or threat of withdrawal, of financial support for specific kinds of research and/or by public censure of anything that lacks "religious" or "political" correctness. This has often been effective in science, especially in behavioral sciences.

Researchers quickly become afraid to apply for grants or perform research that might bring them pejorative labels or worse. In 1633, upon hearing of Galileo's situation, Descartes expressed surprise and vowed out of fear to either burn his manuscript in progress or hide it so that no one would ever see it. Fortunately he did the latter.

The next step on the road to control of science, as happened in the USSR, is "official censorship" (Sinitsyna 1998). Governmental bodies, or "committees," are established (some of which in the USSR were called "editorial boards") to review research projects and prevent publication of findings if they do not agree with the beliefs of those in power.

During Stalin's period and after (official censorship did not end until 1988) research in the behavioral sciences floundered. The reasons for censorship of a particular piece of work, whether art or science, were political. Work that did not fit or was critical of "accepted" standards of ideology, work that dealt with a prohibited subject (such as nudity in art), and findings or facts that might cause undesirable thoughts or associations in citizens (emphasis added, Sinitsyna 1998), were all subject to censure.

It seems that a number of variables may have influenced this recent Congressional decision. First is the general turning away from science and critical thinking and toward mysticism in the US as shown by revival of interest in supernatural and psychic powers. Science - or at least its methodology is too little valued or respected today in the United States by the majority of people and their elected representatives.

The rise of fundamentalist Christian thinking appears to have played a role in shaping judgmental attitudes, values, and the public's negative attitude toward critical thinking. The lack of public media interest in the ramifications of the House action should be a matter of concern for everyone. One cannot help but wonder what would have occurred if the Washington Post or the New York Times had been publicly censured by Congress in response to a published article or an editorial. Is it then that scientific journals, which are intended for a relatively small number of professionals and scientists, are fair game? Congressional members are well aware of the control they can exert over research, since much of the funding comes from governmental grants. Scientists are at the mercy of those in power and, at least for now, those in power are often at the mercy of the public press.

Throughout the history of science, scientists themselves have been the harshest critics of research, but their denouncement of specific studies is usually based upon the strength or weakness of the methodology, rather than their personal values and emotions about the findings.

The Evangelical Christian groups appear to have "discovered" the behavioral sciences and may likely wield their power against unpopular research findings to a greater extent in the future. It seems likely that their next targets may be gender studies, research on sexuality, and research into parenting roles.

We have taken the first large and frightening step away from scientific freedom and toward totalitarianism in control of scientific endeavours.

Sinitsyna, Olga. 1998. Censorship in the Soviet Union and its cultural and professional results for Arts. Paper presented at the Sixty-fourth International Federation of Library Associations, Amsterdam.

Watson, Donald. 1993. Autistic Certainty, Telicom, XI, 7, 43. D

The Condemned Meta-Analysis and Child Sexual Abuse Good Science and Long-Overdue Skepticism; BRUCE RIND, ROBERT BAUSERMAN, AND PHILIP TROMOVITCH

The Condemned Meta-Analysis and Child Sexual Abuse Good Science and Long-Overdue Skepticism; BRUCE RIND, ROBERT BAUSERMAN, AND PHILIP TROMOVITCH

Pedophilia and the Culture Wars by G.E. Zuriff

Pedophilia and the Culture Wars by G.E. Zuriff

The uproar over sexual abuse research and its findings; Carol Tavris

The uproar over sexual abuse

The uproar over sexual abuse research and its findings

When Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch, and Robert Bauserman published their paper in Psychological Bulletin in 1998, I read it with fascination. "These guys are going to catch it now," I said to myself. There are too many constituencies that have extensive political and professional vested interests in three assumptions that this paper called into question:

(1) Any sexual experience that any child has is, by definition, "abuse." Abuse no longer refers to unwanted, coercive sexual contact, threats, or intimidation; it has morphed into a term referring to just about any sexual experience a child might have, including "playing doctor," experimenting sexually, and masturbating.

(2) Any sexual experience that any child has is, therefore, inherently traumatic, with longlived emotional and psychological consequences

(3) Teenagers, whom we all know have no sexual feeling of any kind until they are 16 (at which time they magically become mature adults), are incapable of wishing to have sexual relations, so if they do have sexual relations before age 16, said relations must be oppressive, traumatic, and coerced.

So I sent a mental salute to the researchers for their careful analysis of these assumptions: for separating "child sexual abuse" from non-abusive sexual experiences, and being open-minded in their examination of the evidence about how traumatic such experiences are-and, when they are traumatic, why, and for whom.

Of course, such provocative information could not languish for long unnoticed in an academic journal. The article soon came to the attention of two powerful constituencies: religious fundamentalists and other conservatives who decided that the research endorses pedophilia and homosexuality; and an alliance of psychotherapists and psychiatrists who believe that all sexual experiences in childhood inevitably cause lifelong psychological harm. These groups learned about the research in December 1998, when the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) posted an attack on the paper on its web site.

NARTH endorses the long-discredited psychoanalytic notion that homosexuality is a mental disorder and that it is a result of seduction in childhood by an adult. Thus NARTH was exercised by the study's findings that most boys are not traumatized for life by experiences with older men (or women) and that these experiences do not "turn them" into homosexuals. NARTH's indictment of the article was picked up by right-wing magazines, organizations, and radio talk-show hosts, notably Laura Schlessinger. They in turn contacted allies in Congress, and soon the study was being used as evidence of the liberal agenda to put a pedophile in every home, promote homosexuality, and undermine "family values."

Congress, in turn, wasted no time in announcing to the nation that it disapproves of pedophilia and the sexual abuse of children. On July 12, 1999, the House voted unanimously to denounce the Rind et al. study, which the resolution's sponsor, Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), called "the emancipation proclamation of pedophiles." In a stunning display of scientific illiteracy and moral posturing, Congress misunderstood the message, so they condemned the messenger.

So let's consider the message. The authors of the article statistically analyzed 59 studies, involving more than 37,000 men and women, on the effects of childhood sexual abuse on college students. (A previous paper reviewed studies of more than 12,000 adults in the general population.) The researchers found no overall link between childhood sexual abuse and later emotional disorders or unusual psychological problems in adulthood. Of course, some experiences, such as rape by a father, are more devastating than others, such as seeing a flasher in an alley. But the children most harmed by sexual abuse are those from terrible family environments, where abuse is one of many awful things they have to endure.

Perhaps the researchers' most inflammatory fording, however, was that not all experiences of childadult sexual contact have equally emotional consequences nor can they be lumped together as "abuse:' Being molested at the age of 5 is not comparable to choosing to have sex at 15. Indeed, the researchers found that two-thirds of males who, as children or teenagers, had had sexual experiences with adults did not react negatively.

Shouldn't this be good news? Shouldn't we be glad to know which experiences are in fact traumatic for children, and which are not upsetting to them? Shouldn't we be pleased to get more evidence of the heartening resilience of children? And "more" evidence it is, for abundant research now shows that most people, over time, cope successfully with adversity-even war. Many not only survive, but find meaning and strength in the experience, discovering psychological resources they did not know they had.

But the fact that many people survive life's losses and cruelties is surely no endorsement of child abuse, rape, or war. A criminal act is still a criminal act, even if the victim eventually recovers. If I get over having been mugged, it's still illegal for someone to mug me, and if I recover from rape, my recovery should offer no mercy for rapists. If a child eventually recovers from molestation by an adult, pedophilia is still illegal and wrong. Moreover, the fact that many people recover on their own says nothing about the importance of promoting interventions that help those who cannot.

Psychotherapists of all people should welcome further evidence of human resilience. But the religious conservatives who hated the message of the Rind et al. study quickly found support from a group of clinicians who still maintain that childhood sexual abuse causes everything from eating disorders to depression to "multiple personality disorder"; and if depressed adults cannot remember having been sexually abused in childhood, that's all the more evidence that they "repressed" the memory. These ideas have been as discredited by research as the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness or a chosen "lifestyle," but their promulgators cannot let them go. These clinicians want to kill the Rind study because they fear that it will be used to support malpractice claims against their fellow therapists.

Indeed, a group of them, whose members read like a "Who's Who" in the multiple personality disorder and recovered-memories business, made this fear explicit in a memo to the CEO of the American Psychological Association: "In addition to the fact that we, as a group, wish to protect the integrity of psychotherapy, we also want to protect good psychotherapists from attack and from financial ruin as a result of suits that are costly both financially and emotionally." To a casual observer, this concern is a non sequitur; what in the world does a meta-analysis on the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse have to do with the practice of psychotherapy? Good therapy is still helpful for children and adults suffering from traumatic experiences. But bad therapy, such as that based on unvalidated assumptions that sexual experiences in childhood are invariably traumatizing and commonly "repressed," might indeed be in jeopardy from the meta-analysis. Isn't that important news, especially for "good psychotherapists"?

Both the religious right and the clinicians claimed that their major worry about the Rind et al. article is that it will be used to protect pedophiles in court. This concern too seems highly misplaced. Is a defense attorney really going to say, "Yes, your honor, my client did molest that little girl, but look at this study showing that she'll probably be just fine by the time she's in college"? All scientific research, on any subject, can be used wisely or stupidly. For clinicians and conservatives to use the "exoneration of pedophiles" argument to try to suppress this article's important findings, and to smear the article's authors by impugning their scholarship and motives, is particularly reprehensible. They should know better. The Bible can be used wisely or stupidly, too.

We have not seen the end of political firestorms caused by research such as that by Rind et al., but at least we can learn from this sad story to prepare for the next one-and there will surely be a next one. There always is disconfirming evidence whenever ideological and financial interests meet. And what should the lesson be?

The American Psychological Association (the journal's publisher), under constant attack by the Christian Coalition, Republican congressmen, panicked citizens, radio talk-show hosts, and angry clinicians, tried to find a middle road that would placate the critics. The APA announced that future articles on sensitive subjects would be more carefully considered for their "public policy implications" and that the article would be re-reviewed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It assured Congress that "the sexual abuse of children is a criminal act that is reprehensible in any context."

These gestures were understandable given the ferocity of the attacks. But the APA missed its chance to educate the public and Congress about the scientific method, the purpose of peer review, and the absolute necessity of protecting the right of its scientists to publish unpopular findings. Researchers cannot function if they have to censor themselves according to potential public outcry or are silenced by social pressure, harassment, or political posturing from those who misunderstand or disapprove of their results. The AAAS, realizing this, declined to review the Rind article, and gently rapped the APA's knuckles for even asking them to do so. The article was properly peer reviewed, the AAAS said, and disputes of this kind are best resolved "not through the intervention of AAAS or any other `independent' organization, but rather through the process of intellectual discourse among scientists in a professional field:'

On emotionally sensitive topics such as sex, children, and trauma, we need all the clear-headed information we can get. We need to understand what makes most people resilient, and how to help those who are not. We need to understand a whole lot more about sexuality, including children's sexuality. Congress and clinicians may feel a spasm of righteousness by condemning scientific findings they dislike. But their actions will do no more to reduce the actual abuse of children than posting the Ten Commandments in schools will improve children's morality.

Carol Tavris is a social psychologist who writes frequently on behavioral research. She is author of The Mismeasure of Woman. A version of this article appeared originally in the Los Angeles Times, July 19, 1999.

Copyright Transaction Inc. May/Jun 2000

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The politics of child sexual abuse research; by Janice Haaken; Sharon Lamb

The politics of child sexual abuse research by Janice Haaken; Sharon Lamb
The politics of child sexual abuse research by Janice Haaken; Sharon Lamb