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[Quotes from Introduction & four chapters] 

Pedophilia: Biosocial Dimensions.

Springer-Verlag New York Inc., 1990, 594 pages, Jay R. Feierman, MD, Editor.

Reviewed by Kathryn J. Dolan.

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Health and Preventive

Medicine at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, 3728 West 5th Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76107, U.S.A.

The business of talking about the biological bases of human social behavior is difficult, not only because of the tremendous scientific challenge in identifying and manipulating variables for hypothesis testing, but also because of the social and cultural milieu of scientists which influences even scientific concepts of phenomena. The same can be said about the business of studying "adult/child sexual behavior" in humans. Combining the two may have more than additive effects. 

This volume can be seen as an attempt to broaden the base of scientific inquiry into human pedophilia, by including data from other species, other societies, and other historical times. The chapters are organized into sections on background, evolution, cause, function, and development, to develop a framework for an ethological approach. The content is loosely oriented toward a refutation of the social learning hypothesis found in the sociological and social-psychological literature on "child sexual abuse". 

As is the case with many edited volumes based on conference presentations and invited papers, much of the job of developing bodies of data and lines of argument falls on the editor and reader. Perhaps one of the more difficult decisions Dr. Feierman had to make as the editor was the exclusion from this volume of any authors representing the field of "child sexual abuse". It seems clear that in doing so, there is an attempt at presenting a more thorough and objective view on the subject matter, free from 

"a narrow anthropo-, ethno- and chronocentrism that precludes any real understanding of the topic with anything more than the preconceptions of our times." 

It is not clear, however, that each of the chapters contributes soundly towards that goal.

The Background section includes three papers; 

an overview of biosocial factors in adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents by Feierman, 

an historical account of these behaviors in western societies by Bullough, and 

a discussion of sociopolitical biases in the literature on "child sexual abuse".

Feierman provides a lengthy behavioral/ethological analysis of components of sexual behavior between adults and children or adolescents, from sexual motivation, attraction, arousal, stimulus discrimination, reproduction, parental investment, to embryological hormonalization. 

He concludes the chapter with a brief discussion of the concepts of consent and harm to distinguish between adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents and sexual abuse of children and adolescents. These are pivotal issues in any discussion of pedophilia, and there is extensive discussion and research on them in the "child abuse" literature. Their treatment in two pages here seems far too brief for a reader unfamiliar with the topic, and does not directly address the question of when in the course of socio-bio-psych-sexual development does a child or adolescent have sufficient knowledge, judgment, and free choice to consent to sexual activity with an adult? 

Bullough addresses the question of how historical changes in prevalence and incidence as well as social attitudes and values effect current social and scientific understanding. The account is largely anecdotal, and not clearly related to the conclusion that adult/child and adult/adolescent sexual behavior occur less frequently now than in the past. He suggests that while attitudes towards adult/child sexual behavior have changed little over time, current policies and attitudes regarding adult/adolescent sexual behavior constitute a significant shift from the (more "tolerant") past. 

In the next chapter, Okami argues that much of the literature in "child sexual abuse" has a socio-political bias, and that there is a substantial body of research that contradicts the "victimology" research Okami is correct in stating that feminist theory has had an impact on this field. His highly selective quotes of the "sociopolitical biases" he finds in this literature however, is at times both inflammatory and a misrepresentation. 

One example is his neglect in defining the concepts of coercion and force in critiquing the notion that these behaviors are considered violent crimes. He states 

"virtually all research documents the low incidence of violence or forceful coercion in cases...." 
and goes on to argue that 
"(f)rom an empirical point of view, then, it is incongruous to categorize such interactions as violent crimes...". 

As ethologists, might we say by analogy then, that spatial displacement, because there is no empirical evidence of fighting, is incongruously categorized as a dominance interaction? Most unfortunately for the readers of this volume, much of this chapter is flawed by this lack of a careful examination of issues.

The section on Evolution addresses phylogenetic origins of sexual behavioral patterns. Medicus & Hopf, and Eibl-Eibesfeldt discuss the role of social hierarchy in sexual behavior in vertebrate courtship patterns. 

Both papers illustrate the relevance of male/female differences in sexual behavior in the animal kingdom, in particular the association between aggression, dominance, and successful courtship and mating in males. They also point out that some morphological traits and courtship behaviors in adult females resemble those of children. Both Medicus & Hopf, and Eibl-Eibesfeldt suggest that this pattern of dimorphism helps to explain 

"why adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents is almost exclusively an adult male phenomenon." 

Eibl-Eibesfeldt goes on to suggest that humans, perhaps due to fewer safeguards of phylogenetic adaptations, are more vulnerable to behavioral disorders than is the social behavior of other species. 

Anderson & Bielert, and Pusey discuss inbreeding avoidance and other factors that appear to account for the rare observation of adult/immature sexual relations in non-human primates.

Research based on animal models is again discussed in the section on Cause. Udine presents data which suggests early imprinting of cross-fostered rodents determines selection of mating partners later in life. 

Domjan's study of mating behavior in quail points to the role of learning in species-specific consummatory sexual behavior and shows how sexual behavior can be conditioned to "arbitrary stimuli" in both avian and mammalian species.

Gladue reports on hormonal and neuroendocrine correlates of sexual behavior in humans. He notes that pedophiles show markedly elevated LH response to LH-RH infusions, and that there is no apparent relationship between levels of T and sexual object choice. 

While this data suggests possible organizing effects of hormone levels on the development of the nervous system Gladue points out that there is as of yet no generally accepted model of the role of these factors in sexual object choice.

Mackey's contribution is one of the more difficult for this reviewer to relate to etiology of pedophilia. He presents data from observational studies of adult male/juvenile interactions in 19 societies which shows higher than expected frequencies of juvenile males in adult male only groups, and older juvenile male/adult male dyads. Mackey suggests these affiliative and alliance forming behaviors 

"reflect the primordial pattern in which older males recruit peripubescent males (e.g., hunting and scavenging groups)" 

The reader is left to wonder is it proximity, affiliation, or alliance forming behaviors that constitute these "biosocial roots of sexual behavior" and whether these are to be seen as proximate or ultimate causes.

Herman Diensie opens the discussion on Function with an overview of the concept of evolutionary function. He points out that while the concept of adaptive function provides useful insights into evolutionary mechanisms, there are many cases in which empirical demonstration of adaptive function can be "very difficult or impossible". 

He argues that with regard to the evolution of sexual development 

"the advantages of a general flexibility in.... the attributes to which one is sexually attracted may be so great for so many individuals that these advantages outweigh the disadvantage to the relatively small number of other indiviiluals who develop nonprocreative sexual attractions under particular or unusual environmental circumstances." 

It may be the case that this is the strongest argument that can be made for the role of natural selection in the case of pedophilia and pedosexual behavior. 

Taub reviews data On non-human primate paternalism and observes that male primates have a phylogenetically old capability to use infants as objects and to harm or put infants at risk for the selfish pupose of enhancing the male's social and competitive position. He also conludes that there are no behaviors or relationships between adult male and infant primates that are analogous 

"to human pedophilia in which the primary motivation, at least for the adult, appears to be sexuoerotic gratification." 

Frans de Waal's observations of sociosexual behavior in bonobos are remarkable for documenting high frequency levels and considerable variations in age, sex and behaviors in dyads. De Waal concludes that in bonobos 

"sociosexual behavior occurs in all possible age and sex combinations as a mechanism of reassurance and appeasement.... (however) males appear to limit penetration and ejaculation to contacts with mature females." 

The reader is left to draw their own conclusions on the functional significance of these behaviors.

Schiefenhovel's description of ritualized adult male/adolescent male sexual behavior in Melanesia is a valuable illustration of the role of culture in defining and shaping sexual development. Most importantly, Schiefenhovel describes widespread adult heterosexual practices typical of the Papuan societies in which adult males and adolescent males engage in sexual behavior within male initiation ceremonies. 

He argues that this behavior occurs in some Papuan societies and not in others with very similar culture and ecology due to variations in cultural beliefs regarding semen. The pattern of ritualized sexual behavior between adult and adolescent males in these societies does not lead to homosexual or pedosexual behavior in non-ritual contexts. 

Cross-generational sexual behavior in traditional Hawai'i is also described in a broader cultural context. Adults routinely instructed and trained both males and females considered "old enough". Sanctions for sexual behavior were related to social class. Intercourse between socially inferior males and female royalty could result in death, and while incest was acceptable for royalty, it was forbidden to commoners. 

Diamond concludes that traditional Hawai'ians view of sex as positive and pleasurable freed them from most of Western society's sexual fears and dysfunctions. Despite the limitations of relying on anecdotal historical accounts in reconstruction of the ethnographic records, descriptions such as these of the cultural context and adult sequelae are significant contributions to our understanding of bio-social dimensions of pedophilia.

The section on Development begins with John Money's theory that pedophilia originates in the development of paraphilic lovemaps. A lovemap is defined as a developmental representation or template in the mind and brain depicting the idealized lover and program of sexuoerotic activity. Money's concept of paraphilic lovemaps has tremendous implications for understanding the non-volitional nature of sexual attrrction for pedophiles. 

Money argues that for the pedophile, sexuoerotic bonding becomes entrained with parent/child bonding, and may have as its origin an error in the neurochemical differentiation of sexual pathways in the developing brain. He is careful to point out that the factor or factors leading to this vulnerability are not precisely known. 

The following chapter beings "I believe I was born as a pedophile" and goes on to give an autobiographical account of the social and sexual history of a pedophile from childhood, including his sexual experience with an adult at age 15, through medical training, a marriage, and finally incarceration. 

While this material has human interest and some value clinically, for individuals reading this volume with little or no previous exposure to clinical material on pedophiles, this chapter might be particularly misleading. For example, several statements made by this author would be considered "textbook" examples of denial, cognitive distortions, and rationalizations common to pedophiles. 

It may not have been feasible for the purposes of this volume to offer a clinical discussion following this case. As it is presented, however, there is no information for the reader to know how the children he was sexually involved with understood their experience. 

In the next chapter Garland & Doughter assert that it is 

"(a) widespread belief among the general public and professionals alike that sexual abuse causes sexual abuse." 

They go on to accurately report the lack of evidence supporting the abused/abuser hypothesis, however they do not correct the impression that current professional literature continues to support this hypothesis exclusively. They do point out the well accepted and thoroughly documented finding that 

"sexual contact with an adult during childhood and adolescence is neither a necessary nor a sufficient cause of adult sexual interest in children or adolescents." 

Hutchison & Hutchison discuss the organizational role of androgens in brain development with respect to sexual behavior. Research on the ontogeny and regulating mechanisms of steroid metabolizing enzymes in the intact brain during development may lead to further progress in establishing sensitive periods and target areas in the brain. 

And finally, Zivin addresses the need for models of behavioral development that can handle the complexity of such behaviors. A systems perspective allows for the synthesis of seemingly contradictory research results, and a move beyond the nature/nurture dichotomy.

Feierman, in his summary and conclusion, addresses not only issues of data and evidence, but also of social attitudes towards pedophilia. He closes expressing the hope that better understanding of pedophilia may lead to more opportunities for pedophiles "to receive help to lawfully live with the reality that the object of their sexual desires is socially proscribed as illegal."

This volume, and the conference that lead to its creation, represent an important step in our efforts to examine diverse data and initiate dialogue across vastly different disciplines and professional perspectives on the subject of human pedophilia. There is, however, a need for much greater cross-fertlization of data and theoretical perspectives if we are to develop a broader, more balanced understanding of the phenomena of pedophilia in human societies.


[Quotes from Introduction & four chapters]

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