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3.2.3 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

[Here, in the Newsletter, a few quotes and summaries are given. On Ipce's website here is a file with more quotes, summaries and data.]


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 dividing line. 
[Summarized:] Since that year, the media weekly mentioned sexual abuse of children and pedophilia, before scarcely known by society and psychologists, presented as a monstrosity. 

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 punishment
The present-day speech in professional circles is not different from the speech in the media.

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. 

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.
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. 

[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.


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:] 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.


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'. 


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.  


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 pedophiles. 
[...] A general 'expectation of harm' can lead to conviction of a person, without any need to prove the harm in an individual case. [...]
The grade of maturity if the minor and consent do no longer play a role. [...] 
If we have to report a diagnosis of a pedophile, there is a problem with the prognosis of recidivism. We are obliged to view even cordial and consensual contacts with adolescents as recidivism. So, we are forced to label people with a born-in love orientation with an unavoidable recidivism prognosis. Often enough, those contacts are cordial and consensual. Most pedophiles or homosexual ephebophiles are only peacefully searching for love contacts. But now we actually raise the chance for lifelong imprisonment - together with real psychopaths, rapists and hypersexual people. 
[Summarized:] In cases of secondary pedophiles, we observe, since several recent years, more and more distortions of the brains. [The author gives a list. ...] In earlier years, this has not be seen at all, but now is is seen, those distortions do not lead to questioning the individual guilt, but give the label "mentally distorted sex offender" - with all the consequences for the suspect.

3.2 Therapy for pedophiles

For settled therapist, therapy for pedophiles has become a hot item. One of the bogeys is here the fear for recidivism, for which the therapist might be hold responsible [...] by the local press. 
Fear and generalized distrust [...] evoke therapists to abandon active help. [...]
Most unprofessional therapies create counter effects if they follow the punitive way of thinking and use the abuse jargon. 
Mistakes of therapists often break the motivation for therapy [... amongst others,]
by following the image of the media, and so disqualifying their client's feelings of love 
as false, or 
as denial, or 
as smoothing over, or
as a typical fantasy of a pedophilic, thus perfidious character. 
One of the working variables of e therapy is, according to research, authenticity [of the therapist]. However, a therapist becomes incredible if he or she follows the obligated but unscientific model of speaking and thinking, that any body contact with a pedophile causes enduring harm to any child. [...] 
[Summarized:] Frequently, justice inflicts a therapy as a condition to avoid prison. Justice believes that a therapy for primary pedophiles does exist, and we have not told them that this is a false belief. [...] The therapy, if started, must fail. [...] Thus the prosecutor will later on declare that the accused has broken the condition. 
[Summarized:] There is no scientific knowledge of the origins of primary pedophilia. Thus, there is no therapy, only for secondary pedophilia. As a real therapy does not exist, only a 'common sense approach' is possible - with its side effects as 
counter effects, 
damage, or at best 
pretending or playing a double game, induced by the therapists themselves - thus a Pygmalion effect - or in the worst case 
the label 'untreatable', leading to civil commitment. 

3.3 Contact with young victims as witnesses

In the meantime forgotten, denied and in psychological writings made a juridical issue,  are the problems of "de declared victims" (Baurmann) - with all its effects on their situation as involuntary 'victim witness' in court [... list ...]
[Summarized:] There is a risk on pseudo-memories of afterwards and by suggestion declared traumatic 'events'. 
Stories of others and the court process detach negative experiences from the natural process of coming to terms, and conserve them to a fixed inner picture. The original experience is by suggestion changed and so enlarged unto a negative and traumatic experience. 
A secondary profit is that 'the trauma' is hold responsible for all normal problems in puberty; even if these problems existed before [the sexual experience], they are now falsely seen as symptoms of abuse. 
A socially enforced role as 'the victim', thus always helpless. 
Viewing youth (14-16 years of age) still as 'children' - neglecting the fact that 20% of the girls and of the gay boys actively search for an adult partner. 
For parents, it is nearly impossible to prevent secondary harm (harm by intervention) by choosing for a responsible but not juridical solution of the conflict. The jurisdiction seems only to know the 'victim and (punishable) predator' way of thinking. 
Reactions to the accusation and interrogation during the process are now part of the accusation. Especially in cases of 'declared victims' and loving relationships, this is quite dramatic. [...] 
[Summarized:] 60% of the court trials against pedophiles concern homosexual relationships. Young gay teens have to witness against their adult fellow gays, their possible friends and models, in order to hide their own sexual orientation and so to prevent a coming out in public and family. 
For the young partner, such processes create feelings of de-individualization and loose of self control.  
Especially in cases of fathers and beloved adults, feelings of guilt accompany the telling of a victim narrative under social pressure. 
[Summarized:] In panic, the young person has to keep aloof from the stigmatized accused person - and their own original feelings. A positive testimony would make them 'a friend of a pervert' or an active partner in dirty acts. 
Every declared victim will stigmatize her- or himself from then on as abused, incurable, dirty, dishonored and multiple distorted.

4. Effects of the change on prevention of child sexual abuse

Some effects are already mentioned: [Summarized:]

First, the problems with and the counter effects of therapy are mentioned. One of them is that we, psychologists, have got the role of the extended arm of justice. This hinders a therapy before the law is broken. [...] Only therapists who offer a standard recidivism prevention therapy deny these conflicts. 
Secondly, with 'prevention of sexual experiences of children', we mean essentially 'prevention of possible harm'. But just the actual punitive practice changes negative experiences into a trauma. Declared victims and victims without a trauma get a secondary trauma by the juridical intervention itself. Possible nuances are disappeared from the laws, the juridical practice and from the psychological knowledge. 

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. 


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:] 'Pedophile men' are underrepresented in aggressive crimes. Most of them are not aggressive but shy. [...]

[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 adds [summarized] the question if some later murderers had become a murderer if they as a twelve-year old boy had been able to openly speak about their feelings with their father, a pastor or a psychologist. Regrettably, pedophile feelings and behavior on that age is still a great taboo.
This had been, he adds [summarized] far more cheaper than all processes, imprisonment, clinics and therapies (for predator and victim) later on.

[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

[A graphic with explanation is given in the file on the Ipce website with more quotes]

The result [...] took me by surprise. My original hypothesis was that pedophiles simply start earlier in their lives to be fascinated by other children of the same age, so that the period until puberty was longer. Thus, there might be a chance that in that longer period something might happen that the change to attraction to a more adult body might influence, so that they , by behavioral learning processes, keep fixated on children. 

This hypothesis was not confirmed [...]. By both groups, the age of the first feelings of bodily attraction was about nine years of age. Rather, we see another astonishing fact: on the same age in pre-puberty, on which the attraction to boys or girls was reported, already the nine years olds of both groups differ. The later pedophiles distinguish themselves from the control group because their objects of attraction are dramatically younger then themselves - on the average two years younger, while the later non-pedophiles tend to be felt attracted to older children - on average 10,8 years of age. 

Given the data, as now gathered, one might conclude that pedophilia develops itself already on a pre-pubertal age -although we don't know how. My own explanation is that at first an emotional attraction comes into life, based on visual attraction, while later on the attraction gets of a sexual nature. 


A nine-year-old may for a six-year-old fulfill the role of an admired and protecting figure, almost like a substitute father with it authority, and feel himself as competent to protect the affectionate younger friend. I may note that the pedophile respondents described their feelings of attraction to the first younger person not as sexual. What they described was protecting, embracing, fondling. In many clinical self-descriptions of pedophiles, we find an erotic tense as well as (sometimes maybe exaggerated) feelings of attraction and the desire to protect the younger one. This desire to protect comes into life in pre-puberty, thus before puberty adds an erotic or sexual color to it. Thus, it is not correct to label the feelings of those people - of any people - as exclusively sexual. 

[Examples from the research project follow]

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