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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
[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
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]