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John Money, Ph.D.

For those born and educated after the year 2000, we will be their history, and they will be mystified by our self-imposed, moralistic ignorance of the principles of sexual and erotic development in childhood. We who are today presiding over the demise of the twentieth century are defiantly proud of our ability to deny that sexual health has a developmental history that, like every other aspect of healthy functioning in adolescence and maturity, begins in childhood. We safeguard ourselves against evidence to the contrary by failing to fund basic pediatric sexological research, and by repudiating the findings of those who fund themselves.

In all of Europe and America, as well as everywhere else in the world, there exists no specialty division, clinic, or service dedicated to pediatric sexological health and pathology. Nor does there exist an ephebiatric (adolescent) clinic for teenaged sexual health and its maintenance; and there is also no completely comprehensive Department or Institute of Sexual Medicine and Research in any medical school.

The importance of the juvenile years in laying the developmental foundations of sexual health in maturity has been demonstrated in experimental studies of subhuman primates. If rhesus monkeys are reared in social isolation, they are deprived of normal age-mate play, which in the critical years of their early childhood, includes sexual rehearsal play. The outcome of this early deprivation is that they are permanently sexually impaired. When they reach adulthood they are unable to position themselves in mating, even with a gentle and cooperative partner, and they do not reproduce their kind.

To the extent that one can conjecture from one species to another, this finding would appear to have profound implications for the significance of juvenile sexual rehearsal play in the development of sexual health in our own children. It might very well be that deprivation of playful sexual rehearsal is the origin of a high proportion of the sexual syndromes of human adolescence and adulthood. it surely should be self-evident that we need a basic science of pediatric sexology, so as to have the actual data on which to base a sound policy of rearing children to be sexually healthy. There is, for example, a need for more data on the effects of age matching and age discrepancy in sexual rehearsal play. Most adults enjoy cuddling and caressing children, and children respond, reciprocally. Most adults however, do not respond to this type of intimacy by getting sexually and erotically aroused. Indeed, they may be quite incapable of arousal by someone too young. For them there is no overlap between parental love and sexual love.

Exactly the opposite is true in the case of adolescents and adults, male or female, heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual, who have the sexological syndrome of pedophilia. In the adulthood of the true pedophile, parental love is hybridized, so to speak, with sexual love. The adult pedophile continues to have the erotosexual status of a juvenile and is attracted toward, and attractive to juveniles. Likewise, the true ephebophile has an adolescent erotosexual status and is attracted toward, and attractive to teenagers. Conversely, juveniles and teenagers are attracted to the way their older lovers treat them as equals.

Pedophilia and ephebophilia are no more a matter of voluntary choice than are left-handedness or color blindness. There is no known method of treatment by which they may be effectively and permanently altered, suppressed, or replaced. Punishment is useless. There is no satisfactory hypothesis, evolutionary or otherwise, as to why they exist in nature's overall scheme of things. One must simply accept the fact that they do exist, and then, with optimum enlightenment, formulate a policy of what to do about it.

Herein lies the significance of Theo Sandfort's book. The most important thing about it, first and foremost, is that it exists as a source of information relevant to a vexacious and disputed issue in pediatric and ephebiatric sexological ethics. No matter that it may constitute only one wall of an unfinished edifice: its great scientific merit is that it does constitute that one wall on and around which more may be built. It is a very important book, and a very positive one.

The timeliness of Dr. Sandfort's book is that its findings predate the appearance of a new variable, one that will influence all of human sexological research henceforth, namely the epidemic spread of AIDS. It is a book that catches a moment in history which will never be repeated, certainly not until a method of prevention is found. It provides sexological science and policy with information of great pertinence in helping to shape the future wisely. The way this information will be used in public policy regarding the sexual rights of children will be subject to widespread dispute. There is no arguing, however, that the information does exist, and that it is factually and accurately recorded. It makes Boys on their Contacts with Men: a Study of Sexually Expressed Friendships a very valuable book. It is must reading for all those interested in the development of sexuality in childhood.
Dr. John Money is director of the Psychohormonal Research Unit of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore where he is Professor of Medical Psychology and Professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus. He is author of a great many professional papers and several books intended for the general reader, including the recent "Lovemaps."


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