Michael M. Griesemer - translated, quoted and summarized
Ausmass und Auswirkungen massenmedialer Desinformation zum Stand der Wissenschaften über sexuellen Kindesmissbrauch - am Beispiel einer tragischen klinischen Entwicklunsabweichung; Arbeitsgemeinschaft Humane Sexualität e.V., Gießen, 2004
This essay discusses the nowadays mostly hated phenomenon with which a psychologist can be engaged in, in a nowadays rare perspective: pedophilia.
Should we as society in this period of prosecution deal with people with a psychical development disorder in the same way? [... summarized:] As social scientists? As psychologists? What has happened in society and research, that we need to ask this ethical question? What has happened since we as psychologists have 'forgotten' this crucial question, since we as psychologists about people with a psychical disorder speak as a physician about patients and as criminologists about social outsiders?
1. Changing the way of speaking in two periods
If I want to distinguish two periods [...], I mark 1987 as the
The other period I distinguish starts in 1950 with Kinsey's report, goes via the permissive year 1968 to the early eighties with its welfare. And than, [after 1987], the period of the fall of the communists in the East [of Germany] until 2003.
There are significant differences in the way of speaking in both periods, a difference that has had consequences for our work as psychologists [...]. Also psychologists felt a pressure to prosecute in our work, and had to adapt their way of speaking.
[... Examples from both periods ...]
I may label the generation between 1950 and 1978 and the culture of
their discussion on this knotty problem as humanistic, and the
same after 1987 as characterized by a concentration on sexuality and
2. Results of the new trend in the research area
About political abuse of social-scientific data
How can we explain the great contrast concerning pedophilia in the two periods in Germany and its discussion culture?
2.1 Society's dynamics and converging of interests
A converging of interests has dramatically quick come over the scientific field, and has used it in a sensational way.
[Summarized:] Note that the discussion first concerned the abuse within the family, but in the second period concentrated upon 'the pedophile' outside the family. In the second period, 'family values' were the motive of the quick introduction of new more severe laws.
Summary [of the author]
Every group in society had its own interests to cook their own brew - research, publicity, popularity, politics - of the psychological phenomenon 'pedophilia'. This resulted in an unprecedented converging of interests, pressing on a factually tragic phenomenon. This all inflicted itself on a de-individualizing demonization of a social minority. Or, psychologically spoken, it resulted in a criminal hunt on people with a specific psychic disorder.
2.2 Effects on terminology
Even a seemingly neutral scientific term is not neutral and also not free of implications - which already linguistically hinder any reflection: sexual abuse. The term implies a brutal notion, that consequently is projected on the human. Only implements can be abused. Moreover, the concept sexual abuse implies the existence of a kind of right sexual use of children, otherwise the concept is empty. But also here we see the use as is the child an implement, the same act that passionately is attacked. It is a tricky concept that, in combination with child, suggests a violent act on a passive and static asexual person. The concept leads astray to mistake the phenomenon as reality. [....]
2.3. A Methodology of the Fall
[...] Suddenly, dramatic symptoms were mentioned, not based on continue research, but as an axiom that neglects the methodological standards of research. Suddenly, there was a breach in the research process, a change [of paradigm] without any comment [... and] without any room for relativizing data.
In 92% of the studies of abuse symptoms by children, are the notorious Rosental and Pygmalion effects not controlled. [...] Strikingly often the blunder is made to interpret correlations as causal connections - in only one selective direction.
In the case of a correlation between variable A (sexual conduct) an B (sexual offense), there are five interpretations possible. Usually, one chooses an interpretation without any thinking about it. [...] There might be a variable C that causes the correlation between A and B. [...]
[Summarized:] Several symptoms might be caused by the intervention after sexual acts are discovered and thus be seen together and correlating, but not caused by the sexual act itself.
Two low points of the trend breach must be mentioned:
[... For example - summarized:] The Meta-analyse by Rind, Tromovitch and Bauserman (1998) and its condemnation by the USA Congress in 1999.
Julia Erikson [...] has written about the meta-analysis as "Sexual liberation's last frontier". In 2002, she wrote: "Since than, the president of my university got bombed with letters, telephone calls and e-mails, in which the university was accused to give room to 'a dangerous pedophile' ". And Prof. P. Okami wrote: "I have seen that, if one writes about pedophilia, one has first to condemn it, in order to be taken for serious, and not to be suspected to be a pedophile oneself."
Christian Spoden mentions a boy who scold to him and accused him of
'child abuse'. Spoden is sure that the anger of the boy is not directed
to him, but is a transfer from the sexual abuser to the therapist. Once,
the boy ensconced himself on the therapist's lap and opens his shirt.
Now, Spoden is sure that the boy has been sexualized. He wrote: "It
is difficult to convince them that they are traumatized."
Factually, all conclusions about causality ('Abuse causes symptom X') are scientifically not correct and empirically impossible, because the only method is not allowed here: the experiment. [... Summarized:] Scientists in this field have to live with this limitation, and must therefore be very careful in their interpretations and conclusions.
[Summarized:] Another critical issue is that the central concept, seen as the causing factor, abuse, is often not or quite careless defined. Moreover, age groups are not defined: every victim is "a child". Also, types of (sexual) acts are often not defined or even mentioned. Thus, rape of a five-year old girl by a neighbor is put in the same category as homo-erotic play between a boy of fifteen and a man. Also, the kind of relationship is often not mentioned and taken into consideration. Thus, murders and pedophiles, incest fathers and relationships between runaways and an adult - are all put in the same category.
There is also a problem: observing, a problem that causes the greatest research problem. In psychological experiments can be observed what the researcher want to know: the independent variable. But by researching abuse, direct observation of the facts is not possible. [...] There is no objective 'photo' or 'film' that might help us to select traumatizing events and to reach consensus about what is observed. The only exception are records made by pedophile themselves - but those are otherwise used, but never for research.
What has happened, is always told by someone - [summarized:] and often in quite dramatic wording. Those narratives might be not objective. We don't know what really has happened. The type of information is 'someone has told me that someone has told me his subjective experience'.
Three factors make research even more difficult:
[...] In the recent victimology, one concludes to inevitable and incurable harm, independent of what really has happened. The basis are not the data, but interpretation of the data.
[Two examples - summarized:] An experience, told as a positive event, 'must' be interpreted as a "rationalization" or a "positive misinterpretation" (in Teegen 1993). And in Kloiber (1994): the author interprets a lack of negative effects after man-boy experiences as the effect of the male culture to not admit problems. His 'reasoning' seems to be: 'if a girl has negative feelings after seduce by her father, than a boy must have the same negative feelings by seduce by a man. If not, the boy hides his feelings. Kloiber puts 'events without bodily contact, sexual hug and kissing' in the category 'sexual violence'. Kloiber also says that those who criticizes his writings will play down the seriousness of the effects of the abuse of children.
Another effect of the methodological errors, there is a lot of literature that, without any critical thinking, emphasis that children are unripe and easily to manipulate by adults - if even 16-year-olds are asexual beings. This style of literature [...] gives an emotive bipartition Little child and monster. To make the monster, one broadens the concept 'violence'. [...]
3. Effects of the change on diagnosis and therapy
[Summarized:] The social stigmatizing since 1987 has ethical effects and also practical effects in three ways.
3.1 The assessment of such people
Step by step - by a gulf of more severe laws since 1993 - more and
more possibilities are added to prove individual guilt, especially for
3.2 Therapy for pedophiles
3.3 Contact with young victims as witnesses
4. Effects of the change on prevention of child sexual abuse
Some effects are already mentioned: [Summarized:]
There is a third kind of hinder for prevention of harm. [Summarized:] because of the draconic and public way if handling such cases, the real victims with real harm do not dare to be open. So, the real bad predator is not seen. People with fear for their own pedophile feelings do not dare to ask for help, fearing to be open, fearing to be prosecuted.
Primary pedophilia is a tragic and irreversible sexual orientation that develops itself in childhood. There is only one way of prevention [...]: early openness of parents, teachers and others who see the early signs of pedophilia before the child's puberty, and then real help by a caring psychological intervention. However, the actual trend of demonizing makes this a taboo that hinders such an openness. Because of that stigma, parents keep silence, shut their eyes, or suppress what they see under social pressure.
[Summarized:] The author views, basing himself on his research data, primary pedophilia as a weakness in the psychosexual development of the child, which seems to be irreversible after puberty. He explains that there is an age on which children are quite well able to learn reading and writing. If that learning process is hindered during that age, reading and writing will always be difficult for them. Likewise, the age for the psychosexual development is before and during puberty. If that development is hindered, a kind of childish sexual script writes itself in the brain - and keeps being there. The young pedophile feels this, but also sees the societal condemnation of his orientation, and feels to be part of an orwellian society with al its absurdities and doubleness. If family and friends realize his or her orientation, they feel the same conflict between the person and society - and usually the keep silence about it.
[The author continues with:]
If my view on primary pedophilia and the child's development is correct, we should help those children before their development will be irreversible. To do this, the phenomenon has to be freed of its mystification and demonization. What they read, hear and see in the media creates fear and shame, which on turn creates suppression and later on leads to hide themselves. Then, it is too late to help them.
[Summarized:] There are yearly on an average five murders of children, labeled as "sex murder". But sex is not the motive, the motive is panic, fear of discovery of sexual acts which are taboo. The same taboo creates secrecy in many other cases, and this kind of secrets may be traumatic, more than the acts themselves. Thus, if we would end this taboo, we may prevent murder and traumas. If not, we keep creating them.
[Summarized:] The author observes that the motive of a predator is no question: it must be a sexual motive, because he is such a monster. In the whole discussion about child sexual abuse, the perception of children is fixated on the supposed view of the predator - actually a projection.
[Summarized:] Actually, the average of five is low in comparison to the number of murder of women by man. 'Pedophile men' are underrepresented in aggressive crimes. Most of them are not aggressive but shy. Sexual acts before such a murder are often banal. Such crimes are mostly like the eruption of a volcano, after years of silence. The motives projected on the perpetrator are abstract, not the real personal motives.
[Summarized:] With a look on history, we may conclude that stopping a
taboo can safe lives. During eight centuries, most children are murdered
by young woman who tried to avoid the shame, or who lived in extreme
poverty. As soon as the taboos around shame (sexual intercourse) and
poverty were broken, those murders stopped and became very seldom.
[The author continues with:]
[Great clinics and prisons are built now for] what in the media are called "psychically distorted sexual offenders". Nowadays, these terms do not longer refer to serial murders or violent predators, but for lots of quite peaceful pedophiles because of their deviant love orientation. Under the feministic and conservative banners - and with political abuse of my profession - this orientation has got the label violence. So, we now have crimes without victims, false laws that create criminals. And we have love affairs that absurdly are labeled as violence. [...] Since 1987, crimes are created by abandoning the differentiation between artificial created and real, objective and clear sexual crimes against children. The costs of this nonsense are absurd.
5. Nautilus - [Research project]
Nautilus is a research project aimed to reconstruct the psychosexual development of the child. It addresses men and women with any sexual orientation and age between 16 and 70 years. [...]
One of the questions was the first feelings of bodily attraction in the biography, the first sexual activation, the age of the start of puberty, and many in this context relevant data of childhood. The sample exists now of about 150 men and women, among which 50 primary or secondary pedophiles. Except two women, all persons in the sample are men. I want to offer you two results of the project, which will go on.
5.1. First feelings of bodily attraction
Figure: Age of the first bodily feeling of attraction
The first contains people born before 1987, people who grew up in the welfare state.
The second contains people born after 1987 - regrettably only six people between 16 and 18 years of age.
I did the same with 18 people from the sample of non-pedophile men and women who have told to be declared or actually felt-as-such victims of pedophile interest or sexual acts in childhood.
For 14 of them, their childhood was before 1987,
for 4 of them, childhood was after 1987.
A sample of n=6 and n=4 is too small to compare both groups statistically. I limit myself to let only some of the victims and the pedophiles born after 1987 [and one 'victim' born before 1987] speak for themselves, as they have done in the inquiry.
Subject 3, 16 years, gay:
Subject 5, 18 years, girl lover:
Subject 6, 15 years, gay-pedophile:
In three of the ten scales for 'general stressing factors' ('childhood positive/negative', 'stress because of isolation', and 'psychosexual discouraging experiences'), the average score of these six subjects with their childhood after 1987 differs two standard deviations from the average score of those with their childhood before 1987. Also the scores for 'stress during childhood' were significantly different between the 15-35 age group and the 45-65age group.
Here below two examples that show a possible difference in
coping with the trauma between declared or actual victims before and after
Subject, 18 years, lesbian:
Subject, 62 years, married, two children: