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4. PSYCHODYNAMIC APPROACHES 

Psychodynamically based theories of paedophilia are also rarely based on research. Clinical experience is usually their only empirical foundation. Much stems from Freud's (1905/1977} suggestion that 

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homosexuals in general may have sound personality structures. This did not extend to child molesters -- those who offend against children were seen as aberrations: 

"It is only exceptionally that children are the exclusive sexual objects in such a case. They usually come to play that part when someone who is cowardly or has become impotent adopts them as a substitute, or when an urgent instinct (one which will not allow of postponement) cannot at the moment get possession of any more appropriate object. ... One would be glad on aesthetic grounds to be able to ascribe these and other severe aberrations of the sexual instinct to insanity; but that cannot be done. Experience shows that disturbances of the sexual instinct among the insane do not differ from those that occur among the healthy." 
(Freud, 1905/1977, p. 60) 

This theme was reiterated many years later when Storr (1964) suggested that the paedophile 

"has been unable to find sexual satisfaction in an adult relationship" 
(Storr , 1964, p. 102). 

Freud's account of paedophilia is woefully inadequate; it explains virtually nothing that is known about such offenders. For example, the thesis accounts for few, if any, of the factors discussed by Araji and Finkelhor (1985, 1986). Freud's ideas would explain why any adult in sexual privation would turn to children. Since only some adults are sexual with children the theory is little more than a statement of what paedophiles do.

In a modern psychoanalytic account of paedophilia, Socarides (1991) distinguishes between what he calls paedophiliac behaviour or fantasy and the true obligatory paedophile pervert who must have sexual activity with a child or suffer "intolerable anxiety" (p. 185). The situational offender is by far the more common, according to Socarides, whereas the obligatory offender is relatively rare. 

The seductive and affectionate child causes some men to offend against their sexual natures, as do intoxication and privation of sex with other adults. He even goes so far as to suggest an epidemic of paedophile behaviour, similar to epidemics of homosexuality, which occurs when society fails to prohibit sexual license (Socarides, 1988)! 

According to him, there are two types of paedophile, differing in terms of the developmental stage at which their deep seated psychological conflicts were fixated. The evidence for this  is based entirely on clinical experience, and there is very little to suggest why paedophilia is the chosen psychological defence rather than any other of the possible mechanisms. Socarides concludes his position as being: 

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"... the major mechanism in homosexual pedophilia was incorporation of male children in order to reinforce the sense of masculinity, overcome death anxiety and remain young forever, as well as return to the maternal breast." 
(Socarides, 1991, p. 189) 

It is difficult to know where this leaves us in terms of insight into paedophilia, especially as it holds most child molestation to be the consequence of the child's seductive behaviour, the offender's inebriety and the lack of an alternative means of sexual relief. 

Paedophilia as a Perversion 

Common sense may suggest that paedophilia is a perversion. Caution is appropriate. Without a  clear concept of the  term "perversion" there is a danger of attributing too much to what may simply be somewhat unusual. 

Scruton (1986) regards perversions as the sexual interest in a less than fully regarded partner. Sexual interest in dead people (necrophilia) is the essence of a perversion since in this the very existence of another person is a threat to sexuality: 

"In other perversions, the other is wanted, not in absent, but in diminished form. The paradigm case is paedophilia, in which the other is wanted, not in spite of the fact that he is a child, but because he is a child. There is a natural instinct to cherish what is young, and to vent our desires upon what is fresh and beautiful. The paedophile, however, directs his attentions not to a 'young human being' , but to a 'child'. The difference here parallels that between sex and gender. The idea of the childlike belongs not to material, but to intentional, understanding ... 
The child is the prelude to the person, and with a child full reciprocity is neither possible nor desirable. ... When the childhood of the other plays a constitutive role in desire, desire is deflected from its interpersonal aim." 
(Scruton, 1986, pp. 284-285) 

Scruton's thesis works best as an identifying thread between activities such as sex with animals, dead bodies and children (Johnson, 1990). None of these can be regarded as complete or full persons. 

Johnson describes the theory as matching "a mass of ordinary intuitions" (p. 210) despite remaining a little vague: 

"Perversion is what happens when I seek sexual congress with some body without giving due recognition to the person who is that body ." 
(Johnson, 1990, p. 209) 

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It should be noted that masturbation may also be seen as a perversion since it ignores the pleasures and pains of adult interpersonal desire. Not only that, sexual fantasy seems also to possess the major defining feature of a perversion -- not dealing with the other as a complete human being. 

Much as it would be useful to know what is quintessentially a sexual perversion, Scruton, in fact, provides little other than a moral position on what proper sexual relationships should be -- that is, with the full person as a full person. In general, notions of deviance have not easily withstood psychological or sociological review. 

Sexual matters, since the Kinsey reports (Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin, 1948; Kinsey et al., 1953) have been difficult to define as deviant since it emerged that many socially condemned sexual activities are very common. 

The Jungian View 

Depth psychology has not contributed extensively to the theoretical treatment of paedophilia, with the exception of one group of Jungian analysts (Kraemer, 1976). 

Gordon (1976) suggests that in order to understand paedophilia it is essential to appreciate its healthy basis -- normal paedophilia. By this she means the sort of interaction  between adult and child that is mediated and altered by the characteristics of childhood. For example, a large forehead in relation to the length of the face is a stimulus that releases fond and pleasurable feelings towards the child. 

In humankind, there is an added dimension to the protection of the young -- the need to preserve the "inner child" in ourselves (qualities such as innocence of perception and curiosity). The loss of the "inner child" creates an inability to readjust to the environment or engage in aesthetic activities such as religious experience and artistic creativity. 

Initiation ceremonies and other rituals help to maintain a rigid distinction between adulthood and childhood, and provide the opportunity to emphasize the differences in the ways in which adults and children are regarded. In Western society this has included the definition of childhood as non-sexual. 

It is an aspect of perversions that one part of the structure of the personality predominates at the cost of disregarding the rest. Thus, another person may be related to only in part rather than totally -- for their age, their figure or some other partial characteristics: 

"This characteristic of deviation -- the sacrifice of wholeness and totality to a part - often goes with marked obsessive-compulsive characteristics. Hence the pervert is often ruthless, single-minded and driven in his need to satisfy his desire." 
(Gordon, 1976, pp. 41-42) 

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Perversions come from preoccupations and anxieties related to different aspects of development. In relation to the paedophile, these preoccupations may be with the size of the penis or fears of ridicule by potential adult sexual partners. In the paedophile, there may be a  tendency to hold an idealized longing for the purity and innocence of childhood. 

Gordon suggests that female paedophilia can be seen in those women who relate effectively only with younger children. One of the signs of this is the replacement of a child with a new baby at regular intervals: 

"the compulsive need to have more and more babies, always new, fresh babies" 
(p. 43). 

The reason why society has tended to ignore the perversion of such women is that their means of expressing it is socially acceptable. She argues that paedophilia is most easily recognized when it is directed to an external object such as a child; it is less easily seen when it is internally directed towards youthfulness (as in Dorian Gray). 

One feature to emerge out of the analysis of paedophiles is the great sense of vulnerability stemming from being the object of an unconscious sexual seduction by one or other or both of the parents. The means of dealing with this is to adopt a persona or fašade of toughness and adulthood; situations which disturb this can produce great feelings of panic. Furthermore, in later reliving the experience, the paedophile may reverse the roles in a sadomasochistic way --  repeating the threatening nature of the childhood experience. 

In one case study Gordon writes: 

"He remembers that he used to sleep in his mother's bed even when he was seven or eight, though he cannot remember when this stopped. He thinks that she wanted it and his conscious memory is of his wanting it too. Yet he also remembers that he used to put on all the available clothes before going to bed, because bed was thought of as a sort of polar region." 
(Gordon, 1976, p. 54) 

One of the difficulties with this explanation is that it does not explain the overt sexual acts that are the focus of the usual concerns about paedophilia. 

On this, Williams (1976) claims that 

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the horror of ageing is set against the renewing properties of sexuality: 

"Such morbid preoccupations could only be banished by erotic activities. The erect penis symbolized vigorous life which was constantly renewed and was indeed eternal. Alas! this renewal could be only transitory: hence its compulsive nature. Compulsive behaviour is always aimed at a once-and-for-all experience which inevitably fails to reassure." 
(Williams, 1976, p. 145) 

Lambert (1976) takes a similar perspective in recognizing an essential component of development in paedophilia: 

"The age-old phenomenon of paedophilia may be understood as an 1j environmental ingredient that is fundamental to the growth processes of children, even, to some extent, in its less benign seeming forms. However, if imperfections in the 'primal scene' become too great, then critical and cynical aspects of it in the child's mind begin to develop as a substitute: fantasies of sexually perverse, sadistic deviations. Perverse paedophiliac adults may lead the young thus prepared into premature sexual experiences of this sort in an over-enthusiastic attack upon the 'primal scene' and family life which have been experienced as 'not good enough'." 
(Lambert, 1976, p. 127) 

The primal scene involves the two patents, the boy, the girl and the unborn baby. This  provides the context for a powerful mix of emotions such as love and hate, creativity, violence and jealousy. When the dynamics of the family become stultifying or even destructive then this can dominate the whole personality. 

The Jungian perspective contrasts markedly with some other explanations in so far as paedophilia is used for something that can be positive, pathological only when the process is diverted from its relatively healthy course. It is also another perspective which holds the mother to be fundamentally responsible, since Kraemer (1976) believes that the origins of paedophile tendencies lie in early mother-child interactions. The self-loving qualities of the mother may be transmitted to the child in excessive proportions. Because of the need of the mother to be idealized in return by the child, the process by which the child and the mother become separate  individuals is substantially delayed. A crucial feature of this Jungian approach is the use of some case studies involving adult females as paedophiles. 

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A Psychiatric View 

The degree of psychological disturbance in the offender may be related to the age of his victim (Glasser, 1989). The younger the victim, the greater the psychological disturbance. He also has  negative feelings towards adult sexuality. These are feelings of fear or condemnation or a mixture of both. There is a secondary paedophilia which is the consequence of other pathologies such as schizophrenia, physical disorders of the brain and conditions in which the personality disintegrates, leading to a range of perverse behaviours. Primary paedophilia provides a certain amount of integration of the paedophile's ego and a consequent stability of his personality.

Glasser suggests that there are two broad classes of primary paedophiles, the invariant and pseudo-neurotics. The two types may be characterized as follows: 

(1) The invariant paedophile: 

a. Long-term and exclusive involvement with children or adolescents; 

b. Most often involved with boys; 

c. No interest sexually (and often socially) with adults; 

d. "Rigid, meagre personality"; 

e. Very limited interests and activities; 

f. Solitary; 

g. Little or no shame or guilt about offences; 

h. There is a characteristic "dullness", causing in others "mental paralysis", which Glasser sees as the consequence of the paedophile's disinterest in making contact with others driven by anxiety. 

(2) The pseudo-neurotic paedophile: 

a. Appears usually heterosexually orientated towards adults; 

b. Shows neurotic symptoms such as intermittent impotence, sexual apathy and tension and distress with his partners; 

c. Sometimes, apparently due to stress or some chance factor, offends against a child or adolescent; 

d. Claims great feelings of guilt or shame; 

e. In reality, below the surface veneer he is deeply and consistently paedophile; 

f. Paedophiliac fantasy may be used to enable seemingly normal intercourse with his adult partner. 

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This boils down to the pseudo-neurotic paedophile being fully perverted sexually towards children. Surface impressions have to be set aside, otherwise one would see these men as fairly normal adults pushed to paedophilia by circumstance. Quite clearly there are profound differences here from the fixated and regressed typology frequently mentioned, and discussed earlier. The pseudo-neurotic paedophile is truly eroticized towards children and not suffering from a regression in any meaningful sense. 

For Glasser, paedophilia is one of a group of perversions that share a "core complex" of two major components: 

(1) Aggression: this should not be confused with sadism, which has as its aim the imposition of suffering. This aggression is essentially to neutralize threats to the individual's mental or physical survival. 

(2) Annihilation: while people demonstrate a wish for close, intimate unions with other people, such relationships are seen as dangerous or destructive by the pervert since he will be taken over completely by that other person. 

He illustrates this with the case of a young Spanish man whose paedophiliac activities involved 7- to 11-year-old boys: 

"When a divorcee with whom he was on friendly terms expressed her desire to go to bed with him, the prospect of physical and emotional intimacy led him immediately to experience a mixture of terror and revulsion. He said he just couldn't stand her touching him and then said he had an image of steel arms clasping him to its belly and then of a Venus fly-trap closing round an insect." 
(Glasser, 1989, p. 4) 

Or, elsewhere, Glasser (1988) refers to Karpman's (1950) case description of a paedophile's early experience of a woman neighbour's paedophiliac approach to him. When he was seven years old, she told him to undress while she did also, revealing what he describes as the hairiest vagina he had ever seen. She lay with him on top of her, 

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when he felt that he "was going to be swallowed up within this mass of hideous hair". 

Such strong feelings of danger in terms of relationships with other adults can be dealt with either by narcissistic withdrawal into himself bringing about "profound isolation" and feelings of worthlessness or by destroying this threatening, dangerous individual. 

The problem in the latter case is that the threatening person in his early life is his mother -- the very person from whom the child seeks gratification. The outcome of all of this is that the pervert either converts this aggression sexually into sadism or into masochism where narcissistic withdrawal had taken place. 

The emotional focus of a paedophile's relationships with others is essentially on himself. In the case of the invariant paedophile, apart from family and one or two others, people are present as shadowy figures. They become significant only if they meet his needs. The pseudo-neurotic type accounts for the individuality of others rather better but in an exploitative manner: 

"His love is primarily self-gratifying and does not really concern itself with the autonomy and personal needs of the child itself. This is demonstrated indisputably in the paedophile's sexual activity with the child in its discounting of the child's own developmental relationship to sexuality, the stereotyped nature of the activities pursued and the inevitable sadomasochism involved. 
These considerations help us to understand why it is that the age of the children to whom he is attracted is generally the age at which he was himself sexually molested." 
(Glasser, 1989, p. 7) 

There is an important question -- how a paedophile can offend against children when the whole of society, including criminals, condemns such activities. 

Glasser's explanation is that societal standards (the superego) do not become integrated into the individual's personality because of the strong rejection he felt for parents and other authority figures who treated him badly in childhood. In paedophiliac activities, the protest against this is pursued. 

Nevertheless, there is inevitably a struggle between the individual's internal psychological needs and societal pressures (the superego) which results in the self-deception characteristic of  the paedophile. A directive or proscriptive therapist readily produces a sadomasochistic relationship during treatment as a consequence.

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