Paper type: Essay Pages: 13 (3064 words)
The above quote comes form the story of Ganymede, the kidnapped Greek youth by the god Zeus. Pedophilia and the various applications that come with it, remain today one of the most troubling human conditions in our society. It is certainly not new although still largely misunderstood. Pedophilia is also shrouded in controversy with some supporting it and others undermining it. There are some arguments that support it, due to the very fact that it was widely practiced in ancient times but this does not necessarily make it okay.
The pathology of a pedophile has a broad spectrum of symptoms and various causes but where did it originate and how long has it been a societal problem? We discuss and explore the history of this phenomenon while looking at current literature pertaining to the problem. We also look at the prevalence of pedophilia in modern times; its demographics; causes; symptoms and manifestations. We finally review this evidence in a critical analysis.
I. Historical Review The ancient Greeks were known for their advances in civilization and we owe a great deal to their exploration and invention.
Apart from their advances in architecture and philosophy they also furnished us with an eloquent description of humankind. They did this largely by the use of mythology, but mythology was used as a way to explain things they could not otherwise comprehend. Greek literature holds the key, essentially to the foundations of modern psychology. The Encylopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society explains the meaning of the word pedophilia as coming from the Greek words paidos (child) and philia (love) (ECCHS, 2008).
Richard Krafft-Ebing first used the concept and defined the idea as a psychosexual perversion. It was considered by Krafft-Ebing to be curable and a form of over-sexualized masculinity (ECCHS, 2008). Despite these ideas of perverted behavior it is currently seen as personality issue with deep childhood damage occurring at some stage (ECCHS, 2008). Prominent historical figures who may have been pedophiles to a degree include Saint Augustine, Muhammad and Gandhi (ECCHS, 2008). This means that the period when pedophilia began is clearly further back than we realize.
In ancient Greece, sexualized relationship’s between a man and a young boy was considered to be adding to his knowledge of the world and of sexuality (ECCHS, 2008). Roman writers questioned whether this was indeed the case as young boys were not able to express their sexuality but it was with the rise of Christianity that sexual relations between children and adults became extremely distasteful. James Prescott explored the origins of violence in his 1975 “Body of Pleasure and the Origins of Violence.
He essentially believed that the connection between sex and violence would hold a clue to the understanding of human violence (Prescott, 1975: 11). He believes that people are constantly looking for new ways to express pleasure without normal and natural sensory reaction (Prescott, 1975: 11). He uses neurological impulses to explain this phenomenon by example of wild animals. He states that an aggravated wild animal will calm down with the stimulation of electrodes in the sensual pleasure sector of the brain (Prescott, 1975: 11). This would mean that peaceful countenance is garnered by indulging in what it is that we really want – pleasure.
The 1960’s hippy era would have been closer to the truth about suppressing anger with love than we realize. Prescott also looks into the roots of pleasure repression as being from the dualistic philosophies such as Judaism and Christianity. For Prescott the Judeo-Christian philosophy proposed a constant conflict between body and soul rather than them being one and the same (Prescott, 1975: 15). For the classical Greek perception the body and soul were considered one and the same thing and therefore the succumbing of to pleasure would also feed the soul (Prescott, 1975: 15).
Despite this, and returning to classical Greece we see the story of Ganymede as being an early explanation for the pedophilic relationship in humanity. Zeus was clearly attracted to Ganymede due to his beauty, so he was kidnapped by the god and made into his cup-bearer (Guerber, 1944: 27). The gods were also not against extra-marital affairs with mortals that included very young girls. Zeus was seen to have had numerous sexual relationships with mortal youth including Europa whom he came to as a white bull and carried her off to be one of his consorts (Guerber, 1944: 29-30).
This was clearly not an unusual occurrence and part of the reason why Christianity and Greek tradition were at odds when Constantine came to power. II. Literature Review We look now to current and more modern views on the treatment of pedophilia as well as modern perceptions of it. The first article we look at is interesting as it comes from a German perspective. Michael M. Griesemer (2004) writes about another perspective in the view of pedophilia in “Ausmass und Auswirkungen massenmedialer Desinformation zum Stand der Wissenschaften uber sexuellen Kindesmissbraucsh (trans. ).
Griesemer believes that pedophilia is a largely misunderstood and tragic product of human trauma and seeks to have a new perspective drawn about sexual deviance. For Griesemer, the dividing line for two periods for looking at pedophilia was in 1987. Since 1987 the media referred to pedophilia as a ‘monstrosity’ while Griesemer states it was never understood by the media in the first place. The other period Griesemer marks is that of 1950 – the Kinsey report. For Griesemer it was the discourse between the periods that made his work as a psychologist very difficult (Griesemer, 2004).
The period between 1950-1978 was what Griesemer described as the Humanistic approach while from 1980 onwards it as largely about punishment. Griesemer is concerned with the way that discourse has not changed and how it still seeks to demonize human sexuality. In Germany, Griesemer looks at how social research has been misinterpreted by the media. He states that the media has commercialized the “children and sex crime” idea and turned it into a saleable product (Griesemer, 2004).
He states also that feminism has used pedophilia as a mainly masculine occurrence and placed men as the principle perpetrator of the crime. This strengthens their case as feminists who seek to undermine men (Griesemer, 2004). Conservatives, Griesemer states have used pedophilia as an example of how degenerate our society has become and used it as a draw card for societal change (Griesemer, 2004). Of course, the biggest media gambit would lie in the communistic approach where pedophilia is used to validate that even children are exploited (Griesemer, 2004).
Furthermore, the issue of homophobia is addressed where Griesemer believes it is used as an excuse to attack gays because of the perception that gays are more pedophilic in nature than heterosexuals. Freudian psychoanalysts are also not far from the firing-line in Griesemers dissection. He believes they have uses unconscious trauma to sensationalize the pedophilic responses to young boys (Griesemer, 2004). The image of a pedophile, according to Griesemer was initially placed on a ‘within family’ area while in the second period of discourse (1980-present), it was placed on an ‘outside the family’ focus.
Griesemer differentiates between sexual abuse and sexual use (Griesemer, 2004). Griesemer sees empirical data as a potentially problematic in predicting causative relationships. For this, he looks specifically at the symptoms that abuse is supposed to cause. He says that scientifically speaking, the only way to prove that X causes Y is via experiment, which is ethically impossible (Griesemer, 2004). Granted, in order to ascertain whether abuse causes pedophilia and that pedophilia causes other symptoms, the results are distinctly variable.
He says that because of this variability, a broad spectrum of sexual offenses are bundled into the same category: rape of a 5 year old girl is lumped together with sexual play between a boy of 15 and a man (Griesemer, 2004). Trauma in childhood is dependent on the individual and something that may cause trauma to one person may not be seen as traumatic or life-changing to another. He describes traumatic narrative as particularly dramatic in some cases, but also dependent on the time-frame experienced between when the event occurred and the time is is described (Griesemer, 2004).
Terminology is another factor Griesemer is concerned with as he explains that “child abuse” has various meanings to various people. He states that in victimology the conclusion is always of irreparable harm regardless of what really happened and that the data itself does not conclude this, but the interpretation thereof does (Griesemer, 2004). Indeed, data is not personable, it is a mathematical value that does not really represent the individual. Griesemer then looks at the problem of legal social stigmatization.
He states that since 1987, the laws have become so stringent as to include a number of definitions for criminalizing sexuality. The law might generalize the harm brought about by sexual confrontation, again lumping a number of aspects into one bundle of “abuse” (Griesemer, 2004). Consensual sex is not defined where a minor is concerned and it is assumed that they are not mature enough to grant sexual advances. Furthermore, he says that the prognosis for recidivism has not been considered good in sexual offenders (Griesemer, 2004).
He differentiates between rapes, murders and violent sexual crimes and the seeking of love interesting amongst the youth, insinuating a difference between these crimes (Griesemer, 2004). Not only does this problem of pedophilia raise empirical issues, but makes the life of a psychologist dealing with pedophilia, extremely difficult. He states that the possibility of recidivism holds the therapist responsible. This means that the person treating the offender may state that the pedophile is reformed and should be released into society.
Once this happens and recidivism occurs, the therapist is held in question (Griesemer, 2004). Griesemer draws attention to the fact that justice systems are inclined to believe that there is a successful therapy for pedophiles, while Griesemer states that there are not enough qualified professionals willing to give this form of therapy. This is due to the previously mentioned responsibility placed on the therapists as well as personal aversions to pedophilia (Griesmer, 2004). Griesemer also states an important fact: there is no “scientific knowledge of the origins of primary pedophilia. (Griesemer, 2004).
For Griesemer, the knowledge we have has been deduced from qualitative methods such as case studies rather than the standard quantitative X causes Y scenario. The next issue Griesemer deals with is the young victim as a witness. In this case, the legal procedure may be more damaging than the act itself. He looks at the fact that the incident becomes public; that they are often called to testify against their own fathers and that the person they are accusing may be still very much loved by the victim, causing them guilt issues (Griesemer, 2004).
Griesemer also states the 60% of pedophilia court cases are homosexual affairs. In this regard, the teenage lover is required to testify against their adult partner and in order to avoid a public “coming out”, they accuse those around them to hide their own sexual orientation (Griesemer, 2004). The major problem with the legal procedure is this: “Every declared victim will stigmatize her- or himself from then on as abused, incurable, dirty, dishonored and multiple distorted. ”(Griesemer, 2004). Griesemer conducted interesting research concerning the onset of feelings of attraction. My original hypothesis was that pedophiles simply start earlier in their lives to be fascinated by other children of the same age, so that the period until puberty was longer. ”(Griesemer, 2004). The pedophiles are attracted to those younger than them, usually by about 2 years, while the non-pedophiles are attracted to people older than them (Griesemer, 2004). The average age at which both parties became attracted to others was about 9 years old, meaning that pedophilic symptoms begin much younger than previously believed. In fact, it begins at a pre-pubescent age (Griesemer, 2004).
This evidence may be crucial to understanding what pedophilia means and how to treat it. Horst Vogt (2006) looks at looks specifically at the pedophile. The Leipziger Study of the Social and Psychical Situation of Pedophilic Men (trans. ) Vogt conducted research in order to find out what pathologies present themselves in pedophilic men. His results showed that the men presented a more “saluto-genically unfavorable sexual self-concept than the heterosexual control control group. ” (Vogt, 2006: 8. 1. 1). He explains, like Griesemer that this is the result of a serious stigmatization of the minority.
The pedophilic men showed a lesser need to indulge in social contacts and this may be the reason why they chose to be isolated and self-protective (Vogt, 2006: 8. 1. 1). Furthermore, Vogt found that there was little need in the pedophilic group for what he terms “public self-attention”. However, Vogt does not see this as important (Vogt, 2006: 8. 1. 1). The labeling of pedophiles presents a definite problem in Vogt’s research: he finds that previously convicted pedophiles display a marked feeling of being sexually controlled and display paranoid ideations (Vogt, 2006: 8. . 2). Vogt looks at the importance of social support with regard to pedophile sufferers showing that those who have a supportive base feel less likely to conduct pedophilic behavior. Unlike Griesemer, Vogt does see that therapy is necessary only in acute crises.
Those in the research sample group who were undergoing psychotherapy had very severe cases of self-concept deviation but those that had already had therapy in the past were less stressed and their self-concept was slightly less severely impaired (Vogt, 2006: 8. 1. 2). hat was also found, and in contrast to Griesemer, was that pedophiles with distorted self-concepts associate a feeling of well-being due to childhood pedosexual encounters. Startling though was the fact that those pedophiles who had mastered both external and internal demand structures and had higher self-esteem had more pedosexual experiences and relationships than those who felt victimized (Vogt, 2006: 8. 1. 2). What Vogt found was that it was not the sexual experience in childhood itself that added to the feeling of stress and well-being, but the moderation of those experiences that mattered.
It was the way in which they dealt with that experience that formed their self-concept (Vogt, 2006: 8. 1. 2). The end result of Vogt’s research determined two types of pedophilic man: high self concept and low self concept. The low self-concept has a negative self-concept and therefore shuts himself off and isolates himself from society. the high self-concept person is not really high rather than being higher than the low self-concepts. In this group he is able to self-regulate feelings of stress and well being he does not have a problem with himself, but rather a problem with his environment (Vogt, 2006: 8. . 2). what Vogt concludes about pedophilia is that the cause of it remains unknown and all that is known from the pedophiles point of view is that is begins in childhood (Vogt, 2006: 8. 2. 1). despite the lack of evidence of a direct cause, Vogt states that genetics may play a huge role in this disorder (Vogt, 2006: 8. 2. 1). One of the previous beliefs that the orientation of pedophiles is a strictly male phenomenon and that it was not a pathological fear of women (Vogt, 2006: 8. 2. 2).
Waber et al conducted a study to ascertain the age at which brain maturity occurs and the results blow much of the pedophilia common beliefs, out of the water. “The NIH MRI Study of Normal Brain Development: Performance of a Population Based Sample of Healthy Children Aged 6 to 18 Years on a Neuropsychological Battery. ” This research recruited children from 6 different sites: Children’s Hospital in Boston; Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati; Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia; University of California at Los Angeles; University of Texas in Houston and Washington University (Waber et al, 2007: 1-18).
What was found was a marked difference in IQ between low income origins and high income origins. Between ages 6-10 brain development accelerates and then subsides during adolescence (Waber et al, 2007: 1-18). As a result of long term studies, not everything is known about how quickly the brain develops and there are still many more years to research this postulate, it is suggested that the brain develops much faster than we realize.
Adult motor and cognitive skills may be properly developed by the ages of 11 or 12 (Waber et al, 2007: 1-18). What this contributes to the field of study by both Griesemer and Vogt is that the age at which a child is able to make decisions is much younger than we already thought. This means that the evidence put forward by Vogt that the pedophiles interviewed remember sexual attraction occurring at age 9 or so, is corroborated by the evidence that cognitive skills are already developed at age 11.
Mitchell et al also conducted research specifically directed at online child predators, 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. This set of data provides us with more evidence and facts about the process of internet pedophilia. The research results showed that most offenders did not deceive their ‘victims’ about the fact that they were adults and were looking for a sexual relationship.
The research also found that the victims were mostly teenagers aged 13-15 and that they had met and had sex with the offender on more than one occasion. Half of the victims stated that they were in love with or had strong feelings for the offender and few of the offenders abducted their victims or forced sex on them (Mitchell et al, 2004). The evidence also found that the target group was not young children, as previously expected, but teenagers.
The research also suggests that to call the offender a stranger would be misleading because the victim had already been acquainted with the offender for a time through the internet (Mitchell et al, 2004). Mitchell et al states that there is difficulty in confronting the reality that teenagers as young as 13 are willing to enter into sexual relations with people they meet online (Mitchell et al, 2004). Furthermore, this ties into Waber’s research that states that children reach cognitive maturity at the age of 11-12 (Waber et al, 2007).
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