Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
November 12th, 2017
Pedophilia is a “sexual orientation” like being straight or gay, according to a criminal psychologist.
The idea that sexual attraction to children is an “orientation” is highly controversial as it suggests that offenders cannot change.
But, writing on the Reddit networking website, the psychologist said it was possible to treat child sex abusers on “the understanding that the attraction may always remain”.
The psychologist set up the “ask me anything” thread on Reddit. Their identity was not revealed but was verified by the website.
Asked “can pedophiles actually change?”, the expert wrote: “I believe Pedophilia Disorder is a sexual orientation with individual that are attracted to child features. In other words, an individual with pedophilia has the same ingrained attraction that a heterosexual female may feel towards a male, or a homosexual feels towards their same gender.
“With that being said, it needs to be said that sexuality is more of a spectrum than a finite category. We know that heterosexuals may engage in homosexual behavior, and deny they are bisexual or homosexual.
“We know that individuals with pedophilia may engage in sexual behavior with adults. For some, they may use this as a cognitive distortion to explain away their sexualization of prepubescent children.”
However the psychologist stressed in a later edit that they had not mean to imply pedophiles could not be treated – to an extent.
“Treatment, to me, isn’t about modifying the orientation per se, but getting the individual to find more appropriate behaviors to engage in,” they wrote.
“An individual can have pedophilic interests without ever acting on these behaviorally. However, as I am working with criminal offenders, my experience is entirely weighted to those who have engaged in this behaviorally.”
The psychiatrist said they focused on three main areas when trying to treat a child sex abuser:
“One, do you understand who can and can’t provide consent? How will you go through and identify this?
Two, can you identify the risks or situations which would increase when you engage in sexual activity with someone who can’t provide consent? How can you avoid these or limit them?
Three, what can you focus on positive in your life which can replace or mitigate when you may be most likely to offend? What are some things you can do which are adaptive and help you in the long run?”
Last year, a self-confessed pedophile, Todd Nickerson, a freelance graphic designer from Tennessee, caused uproar after writing an article asking people to be understanding of his “sexual orientation”.
Called I’m a pedophile, you’re the monsters, the piece explained how he believed his molestation as a child was the reason he is now sexually attracted to young girls. He also mentioned his membership of the “Virtuous Pedophiles” forum – an online community of pedophiles who have vowed never to act on their sexual urges.
In July 2010, the Harvard Mental Health Letter of July 2010 stated that “pedophilia is a sexual orientation and unlikely to change. Treatment aims to enable someone to resist acting on his sexual urges”.
The idea of treating pedophilia as a disease has long been controversial.
In 2013, Donald Finklater, of the child protection charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, said: “There may be some vulnerabilities that could be genetic, but normally there are some significant events in a person’s life, a sexually abusive event, a bullying environment … I believe it is learned, and can be unlearned.”
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