New research says pedophiles are born that way
Mental health experts in the Ozarks weigh in on new research that suggests pedophiles are born that way and cannot help their sexual attraction to children.
Some of this new theory about pedophilia comes from studies on convicted sex offenders. It was done at the Criminal Center for Mental Health and Addiction in Toronto.
Here are just a few things they found: a large number of pedophiles are left-handed, at least an inch shorter than normal, about ten IQ points below average, and have less white matter in their brains. Some scientists say those are all biological so pedophilia likely is as well. Not everyone buys that though, even an actual sex offender.
"It will be a cold day in Hell, that was the undertone."
This man-- we'll call him Pete-- was an eagle scout and a service member. He has a business degree and is finishing a second bachelor's in religious studies, but "it will be a cold day in Hell" is what he says a potential employer may as well have said when he applied for a job.
"On every application 'have you committed a felony, yes, what type of felony, sex offensive' and you're willing to discuss it with them in an interview but of course when they see that it never goes any further," Pete tells us.
He says that it doesn't matter that he's done a lot of good things in his life; all that maters is he's a sex offender.
"I'm sorry to say and it's not easy to do, but my offense was against my two year old daughter."
Ten years ago Pete masturbated in front of the toddler. He says it happened after his wife denied him sex.
"Part of me was angry at my wife and part of me was hoping she'd walk in to get her back and she did, and of course when she did it was at that point I realized what an idiot I was being, how stupid I was, how wrong it was," he remembers.
A divorce, loss of any rights to his daughter, six months in jail, years of counseling, a lifetime of court supervision, and Pete doesn't know if he could have done anything differently. Of course he wanted to.
"I try to as often as possible, almost daily-- I try to pray for my daughter because when you're really wanting good for someone it's hard to think of something that's bad for them."
That's how he says he tries to keep from having sexual thoughts about her. Pete says he'll always will though; he's just learned how to manage them.
"I have to say for me personally I don't think it's the way I'm wired physically; I think it's more mental."
By definition Pete is not a pedophile. He's had one victim and says he is only aroused when thinking of that specific incident. Pedophiles have at least two victims in the same age range under 12, and new research suggests their attraction does have something to do with how they're wired physically.
"The more higher risk people can't help it." That's Dr. Craig Shifrin, a psychologist who works with Greene County sex offenders. The "higher risk" ones are the repeat offenders who, while he says can't help it, he's not 100% convinced do it because of DNA alone.
"I see it as multi-causal. I think it's really a true bio, psycho, social problem," Dr. Shifrin explains.
This new research that calls pedophilia biological, a true sexual preference, says even those who haven't committed a crime are pedophiles. That's between 1 and 5% of all men.
"There are those that feel a lot of guilt and shame and despair over ways they've acted out and don't want that to be a part of their life." Christian counselor Josh Spurlock says, in some cases, they don't have to be-- those urges can go away. That's because he believes they have nothing to do with biology.
"In our experience with folks it's been premature or young exposure to illicit pornographic material, early sexual experiences, traumatic sexual experiences at an early age," he says of people with pedophilic tendencies he's treated.
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The Canadian researchers say just a third of offenders they studied where molested as children. Pete says he was but doesn't blame anyone except himself for what he did. And to ensure he never does it again he continues to go to counseling by choice.
"Yeah I think it's been good for me," he explains.
He just wishes others could see the good in him, like the community he says judges him, the daughter he may never see again, and the employer he may never have.
"I cry some times but I try not to focus on that," Pete says, wiping away tears.
This new theory already has a following. In Germany researchers ran a campaign to encourage men to seek treatment for pedophilia by saying "You are not guilty because of your sexual desire but you are responsible for your sexual behavior." More than 1,700 men responded.
There is also a website called "virtuous pedophiles," an online forum for men who say they have been struggling with a lifelong attraction to children they've never acted on.
Talk therapy is still the most common treatment for pedophilia, whatever the cause, but Dr. Shifrin says medication to lower testosterone can also be prescribed to pedophiles. KSPRABC