My recent column dealing with pedophilia and related issues
stimulated a number of reactions. The subject of sexual deviancy always
does. There’s good news, and there’s bad news.
Before getting to that, I want my readers to know that I meticulously
research subjects I write about. Prior to writing the “pedophilia”
column, I talked at length with a number of practicing psychiatrists; I
reviewed the literature in depth; I delved into the Internet databanks
of the Family Research Council The American
Psychiatric Association, and the National
Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, among others. I am also very close to another
great resource, my husband-hero, who is a Phi Beta Kappa and just
happens to be a clinical psychologist.
The good news is that the American Psychological Association — which
was the real focus of my column — has backtracked from a very
controversial study they published suggesting that sexual relations
between an adult and a “willing” child might be beneficial to the child.
In its June 13 Sunday edition, the New York Times headlined a report
detailing the “political storm” caused by the study.
After the publication of my column, American Psychological
Association Chief Executive Officer Raymond D. Fowler sent a letter to
Majority Whip Tom Delay, R-Texas, promising to be more careful in
evaluating future publications and offering to create legal briefs to
attack any use of this particular study to defend or justify pedophiles
in courts of law.
My opinion perfectly reflects that of radio talk-show host Dr. Laura
Schlessinger, who said, “Without everyone’s focused attention on this
issue, children victimized by child molesters would have been even more
Now for the bad news. I have received a threatening letter from the
Washington D.C. law firm Crowell & Moring LLP, which represents the
American Psychiatric Association (not to be confused with the American
Psychological Association). The main points I made in my column are
refuted with this claim: “DSM-IV, the current version of the APA’s
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, makes no change in the status of
pedophilia as a psychiatric disorder, nor does it require shame or
remorse for diagnosis.”
Here is the change from DSM-III to DSM-IV. Judge for yourself:
- DSM-III: Diagnostic Criteria of 302.2 Pedophilia:
- Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intense sexual
urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving sexual activity with a
prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 or younger).
- The person has acted on these urges, or is markedly distressed by
- The person is at least 16 years old and at least five years older
than the child or children in A.”
DSM-IV: Diagnostic Criteria for 302.2 Pedophilia:
- Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intensive
sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviors involving sexual
activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 or
- The fantasies, sexual urges or behaviors cause clinically
significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other
important areas of functioning.
- The person is at least age 16 years and at least five years older
than the child or children.
Dr. Charles W. Socarides said, when I talked to him, that the
diagnostic changes set forth in DSM-IV are “significant and absurd!
These changes are flawed and should be corrected immediately!” he
continued. “They are causing turmoil and confusion for clinicians, the
public and the pedophiles themselves.”
Dr. Socarides’ credentials entitle him to an opinion. He is currently
the president of NARTH and a life fellow of the American Psychiatric
Association. He was a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Albert
Einstein College of Medicine from 1979 until 1996.
Let’s listen to Dr Joseph Nicolosi, director of The Thomas Aquinas
Psychological Clinic, a scholar on the subject of sexual pathologies. In
an article entitled “Pedophilia Not Always a Disorder?” he wrote, “With
the release of … DSM-IV, we see some alarming changes in the
definition of pedophilia. According to the new DSM-IV, a person is no
longer a pedophile simply because he molests children or fantasizes
about molesting children. … If he feels no guilt or anxiety and is
otherwise functioning reasonably well, a child molester would be
violating the law, but he would not be psychologically disordered.”
Dr. Nicolosi went on to say that “these DSM changes are particularly
dangerous because they are a re-enactment of the pattern which led to
the de-pathologizing of homosexuality.”
I would like to finish on a positive note. The lawyers demand that I
acknowledge the “APA’s clear opposition to pedophilia …” I happily do
so. In a recent press release, the American Psychiatric Association
reaffirmed its position that “an adult who engages in sexual activity
with a child is performing a criminal and immoral act which never can be
considered normal or socially acceptable behavior.”
I don’t have a clue as how to reconcile their stated attitude toward
pedophilia with their criteria for diagnosing it — but I am
nevertheless thrilled and delighted. I never ever dreamed that an
association of over 40,000 psychiatrists would sit in stern moral
judgment of sexual deviates, even saying their behavior is not normal.
Hallelujah! I stand corrected.
I recommend to Rep. Tom DeLay that he arrange full and open hearings
to clear up inconsistencies and confusion before giving any public money
or other considerations to the American Psychological Association or the
American Psychiatric Association. I have a long list of the most
qualified experts in the country who are anxious to be heard.