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agalisgv
06-30-2012, 02:53 PM
I'm interested in whether any other behaviours are associated with it. I've heard that pedophiles are commonly otherwise 'normal', although I don't know that this is true in fact. Pedophiles are not considered to have normal behaviors. Quite the contrary.
I'm just having a hard time reconciling the notion that pedophilia is hard-wired. I can accept that megalomania and narcissism are hard-wired and responsible for the insanity of Hitler and the like. But pedophilia is so disturbingly common. I think you're confusing child molestation with pedophilia.

For example, a married man who molests his two young daughters repeatedly over the course of their childhood would be considered an intra-familial child molester, not a pedophile.

Pedophiles have a primary attraction to pre-pubescent children of either sex, and have difficulty maintaining adult relationships. They tend to be strongly introverted and withdrawn, and primarily offend against non-family members. Pedophiles typically offend against over a 100 children before they are caught (if they ever are). They have distinctive behavioral and biological traits that are present from the time they are born. While no one trait is dispositive, there are several indicators which strongly correlate including brain scans.

That's very different from your married man down the block who takes advantage of his daughter/niece/children's friends. These men often do blend in--pedophiles not so much. While both child molesters and pedophiles are overwhelmingly male (over 90%), pedophiles are even more likely to be male (95-99.6%).

And it should be said pedophiles are a minority of child molesters.

Cachoo
06-30-2012, 03:37 PM
agalisgv: Thank you for the explanation; I honestly didn't know there was a difference.
So one can be a pedophile without actually ever harming a child? I am thinking of Lewis Carroll (sp?) as I type this.

Aussie Willy: Here is where I am baffled a bit by the violent behavior of pschopaths/sociopaths: In the article Blueridge listed the boy at one points says he hates his little brother and sometimes acts out on that. Even worse is the family your sister is acquainted with as the boy has murdered already. If they feel nothing then why do they stray towards violence? I know they feel no empathy for their victims but I would think they get no pleasure from their actions anyway so why bother? In the NYTimes article when Michael expresses his hate for his little brother I wonder if he knows what "hate" actually is since he presumably can't feel.

agalisgv
06-30-2012, 04:10 PM
agalisgv: Thank you for the explanation; I honestly didn't know there was a difference.
So one can be a pedophile without actually ever harming a child? I am thinking of Lewis Carroll (sp?) as I type this. Theoretically, yes (I don't know about Lewis Carroll specifically--just commenting generally).

But one aspect of pedophilia is that it is accompanied by poor impulse control and sexually addictive behavior. It's that combination which makes pedophiles so likely to not only offend repeatedly, but be immune to remediation (I believe one study showed an over 98% reoffending rate of pedophiles after receiving treatment). The only effective treatments for pedophiles tends to be some sort of castration (chemical or otherwise). And even then, that doesn't work for violent pedophiles.

That's why there developed indefinite incarceration programs--pedophiles are generally not remediable, and will pose a danger to society for the entirely of their lives.

Cachoo
06-30-2012, 04:26 PM
As I live in Kansas I remember Kansas vs. Hendricks as the Supreme Court upheld the law in the late 90's (I think is was the 90's.) I happened to look on a map where my nieces live now and saw some of the offenders near them and wondered if we are even applying the law anymore.
I always thought as a civil libertarian I would never support such a law but if they cannot control themselves then we must do it for them.

Sparks
06-30-2012, 05:25 PM
I studied under a Psychologist, Michael Dougher, who is a specialst in research and treatment of pedophiles.
My small Google search found:
Theories about pedophiles (http://www.mhamic.org/causes/causes_print.htm)

Gil-Galad
06-30-2012, 05:30 PM
agalisgv: Thank you for the explanation; I honestly didn't know there was a difference.
So one can be a pedophile without actually ever harming a child? I am thinking of Lewis Carroll (sp?) as I type this.

Aussie Willy: Here is where I am baffled a bit by the violent behavior of pschopaths/sociopaths: In the article Blueridge listed the boy at one points says he hates his little brother and sometimes acts out on that. Even worse is the family your sister is acquainted with as the boy has murdered already. If they feel nothing then why do they stray towards violence? I know they feel no empathy for their victims but I would think they get no pleasure from their actions anyway so why bother? In the NYTimes article when Michael expresses his hate for his little brother I wonder if he knows what "hate" actually is since he presumably can't feel.
Hmm. This is actually a very active topic in psych these days. I think the hate thing is easily explained, psychopaths are by definition egocentric, they only care about themselves, a little brother gets in the way of the "self", takes away attention, disturbs during favourite activities. That probably results in a feeling of "he is just in my way", "what is he doing here anyway" - and that's easily translated into hate.

Violence is a very easy way to get what you want. Imagine not actually caring what other people feel, but still knowing very well what you want. Psychopaths are not stupid. They learn how to get their way, how to intimidate, what strategy works best to get their way. Some psychologists think that psychopaths are brilliant at putting themselves into people's places ("cognitive empathy", Sasha Baron Cohen), know exactly what makes them tick, what makes them scared, makes them give up. They just don't really care about that it makes people feel bad, as long as they get their way (lack of "affective empathy").

NYT-Article (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/books/review/im-ok-youre-a-psychopath.html?pagewanted=all"NYT-article)

I think there’s a better approach, one that involves breaking empathy into two parts, understanding and feeling, as Baron-Cohen himself does elsewhere in his book. Individuals with autism are unable to understand the mental lives of other people. Psychopaths, by contrast, get into others’ heads just fine; they are seducers, manipulators, con men . . . and often worse. (Ronson tells how one psychopath — “good-looking, neatly dressed,” with “a bit of a twinkle in his eye” — encountered a troubled teenager and decided to provoke the kid into attacking his family with a baseball bat, killing one person.) The problem with psychopaths lies in their lack of compassion, their willingness to destroy lives out of self-interest, malice or even boredom.

As mentioned above this research stems from the question why autistics, who are supposed to be completely or mostly void of empathy, are very rarely deliberately violent and rarely involved in crimes, while psychopaths are very often criminals etc.

agalisgv
06-30-2012, 05:41 PM
My small Google search found:
Theories about pedophiles (http://www.mhamic.org/causes/causes_print.htm) Just a couple caveats to the above. First, it is focused on homosexual pedophilia rather than pedophilia as a whole. While homosexual behavior is overly represented amongst pedophiles, it's not the norm.

Second, the most recent research it cites is over 16 years old, with much of the research older than that. So it's not exactly current. For example, under biological explanations, it doesn't even mention genetic markers. But that's a more recent development.

But it does make good points about child sex abuse being a larger phenomenon than simply pedophilia, so causes related to that larger phenomenon will vary depending on the particulars. Nowadays, though, I think there's a general acceptance of pedophilia proper not being a matter of nurture.

milanessa
06-30-2012, 06:00 PM
Theoretically, yes (I don't know about Lewis Carroll specifically--just commenting generally).

But one aspect of pedophilia is that it is accompanied by poor impulse control and sexually addictive behavior.

Wouldn't there likely be a continuum of behavior? It seems to me that those who we most become aware of are those that offend repeatedly (acting on their impulses) and are eventually caught but surely there are others whose impulses are not as strong and are content with a relationship that is more at arms-length (such as Lewis Carroll). Even "typical" heterosexual people run the gamut from hypo to hyper sexuality.

Talking out of my hat here cuz I've never really thought about it before.

Cachoo
06-30-2012, 06:05 PM
Hmm. This is actually a very active topic in psych these days. I think the hate thing is easily explained, psychopaths are by definition egocentric, they only care about themselves, a little brother gets in the way of the "self", takes away attention, disturbs during favourite activities. That probably results in a feeling of "he is just in my way", "what is he doing here anyway" - and that's easily translated into hate.

Violence is a very easy way to get what you want. Imagine not actually caring what other people feel, but still knowing very well what you want. Psychopaths are not stupid. They learn how to get their way, how to intimidate, what strategy works best to get their way. Some psychologists think that psychopaths are brilliant at putting themselves into people's places ("cognitive empathy", Sasha Baron Cohen), know exactly what makes them tick, what makes them scared, makes them give up. They just don't really care about that it makes people feel bad, as long as they get their way (lack of "affective empathy").

NYT-Article (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/books/review/im-ok-youre-a-psychopath.html?pagewanted=all"NYT-article)


As mentioned above this research stems from the question why autistics, who are supposed to be completely or mostly void of empathy, are very rarely deliberately violent and rarely involved in crimes, while psychopaths are very often criminals etc.

Thank you for the explanation as it makes children like Michael a bit easier to understand. I was watching an interview by a psychiatrist with an imprisoned contract killer called Iceman who had no fear and no feelings. His father treated Iceman brutally when he was a child. The psychiatrist told him that there are many like him living in society who do not commit crimes and lead productive lives. Previously I believed if you were one of the "paths" that your future was set and truly grim. Maybe not...
btw--loved the header over the article and liked the Zero-negative/positive explanation.

Sparks
06-30-2012, 06:07 PM
I know Ag. When I studied with Dr. Dougher, it was 1990.
I wish I could find the notes I have about the research he did about behavioral treatment of pedophiles. I remember he classified offenders along a spectrum ranging from the treatable to the "throw aways" (unable to treat).
Here is another link (2003) (http://www.mhamic.org/myths/mythsintro.htm) regarding popular beliefs about adult men who are attracted to minors.

agalisgv
06-30-2012, 06:23 PM
For milanessa, I think you can use the spectrum analogy *somewhat* wrt pedophilia proper. Not all pedophiles are violent, for example. But to me I would think of child sex abuse in general as less of a spectrum and more of different conditions presenting similar effects. The difference in nature of what ultimately produces child sex abuse will determine what type of intervention/therapies should be used. For example, just because one is a non-pedophile child molester doesn't mean they are remediable either.

For Sparks, I've often wondered to what extent those who are throw-sways are that way because there just isn't the research desire to find adequate ways to rehabilitate. Otoh, the sexual orientation framework is helpful insofar as it illustrates the depth of embeddedness of pedophilia. While you can try to force people into different modes of relating, at their core they still remain straight/gay/bisexual/asexual. So maybe the most that can be done is tinkering around the edges--I don't know.

Gazpacho
06-30-2012, 11:21 PM
This is why I wish I could be a fly on the wall of these peoples homes and see how these children are treated when there are no witnesses.

I can see you're reluctant to believe that these parents are not abusive. That's why many of them are afraid or ashamed to be forthright about their children's dangerous behavior. Until they can do that without people jumping to conclusions, they and their families will continue to suffer and live in fear.

I don't want to get into how I know, but believe me, I know. Of course there are some abusive parents, just as there are some abusive parents in the general population. But those are the minority. It's difficult to convince outsiders on a rational basis, but I'll do my best.

First, siblings, often adopted at the same time but who don't have these behaviors, are often the biggest victims of these violent children. These siblings will assert that their parents were not abusive. They will assert this even in their adulthood.

Second, the length many these parents to go--financial ruin, suspicion hoisted upon themselves--to treat their children is uncharacteristic of abusive parents.

Third, these children are charming to others, at least at first, but they then lie and steal from those very people. The parents, on the other hand, rarely have histories of those activities.

How to explain the psychopathic tendencies? As I mentioned, these children have suffered institutional and other trauma prior to their adoptions. The older the child at adoption, the higher the risk of psychopathic tendencies, implying that length of trauma exposure affects risk.

In some of these institutions, children tragically have to compete, sometimes physically, for basic needs such as adult abttention and basic comforts. They learn to charm adults and also learn that competition sometimes means violence. They leave the institutions traumatized and enraged. Imagine that--a four year old who has been through so much trauma that they are already raging at the world and see the world as a place of merciless competition :(

Additionally, it is not unusual for these orphanages to teach children these behaviors. In fact, when prospective adoptive parents visit the orphanage, the children are taught to run to those parents and hug them and other charming behaviors. They learn it anyway from seeing children who are adopted, but sometimes they are also taught by the institutions explicitly.

Anita18
07-01-2012, 03:31 AM
I believe that most criminals today are able to be rehabilitated, but I also believe that there is a small minority of people out there who are just wired wrong and there is no helping them. I have no good answer about what to do with them either.

Japanfan
07-01-2012, 08:46 AM
I believe that most criminals today are able to be rehabilitated, but I also believe that there is a small minority of people out there who are just wired wrong and there is no helping them. I have no good answer about what to do with them either.

Early detection of such conditions and removing individuals from situations in which they could harm others would be an obvious goal. But even if it were possible, it would pose a whole set of problems and challenges. Suppose you could identify the faulty wiring associated with pedophilia or other serious harms in a child of five? What is the proper course of action to prevent that child from doing such harms? And what do you do if not the potential for harm is not certain (there are bound to be such cases)?

This thread is causing me to shudder as I remember the film 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'.

Ziggy
07-01-2012, 04:55 PM
Regarding sociopathy and psychopathy (and personality disorders in general), it's now generally accepted that it's about some kind of co-variation of environment and genetics. So greatly simplifying it, you might have a "difficult" temperament type which when placed in a environment that isn't beneficial to it results in a development of a pathology.

But we're still at the "guessing stage" and given the nature of mental disorders, we probably never will have a "definite" answer.


There are children who are psychopaths. They set lie, steal, set fires, kill animals, viciously attack younger siblings and parents, and make constant violent threats to their parents. Parents have to keep all knives locked and an alarm on their door. I know of a seven year old who sexually molested his siblings, a six year old whose hobby was capturing birds and other small animals and sticking thumbtacks into them, and a four year old who attacked a sibling with a knife.

They aren't psychopaths. They are acting out. Those are two different things.

The former is a set personality structure, the latter are behaviours acted out most likely in response to something bad that happened, as you stated yourself in the second part of your post.

You can't diagnose personality disorders in children.

They are still children. Their minds are still rapidly growing and changing and their personality is not fully developed yet.

(There actually are some who want to include young children's and babies' (!!!) personality disorders in DSM-V and I find it absolutely :rolleyes: and terrifying. For the reasons stated above - no set personality structure yet - and also branding them for life with that diagnosis will be a fantastic self-fulfilling prophecy).


I can see you're reluctant to believe that these parents are not abusive.

If you have a child who has been traumatised, it doesn't take much to set that child off.

And if you have parents who don't meet that child's needs most of the time, that child will most likely be acting out.

That's why in an ideal world, such children would only be taken by people prepared how to deal with them. But obviously that's not realistic.