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3.2.5 Reconstructing Paedophilia

an analysis of current discourses and the construct of close relationships

Jonelle Naudé

Thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science at the University of Stellenbosch 

Supervisor: Mr C. Petty
December 2005 

Given here are the Abstract and Chapter 9, Conclusion. 
More will follow here in the Host section of the Ipce website. 


[Page 3] There is a growing need for research to facilitate a better understanding of paedophilia. This study aims to make a contribution in this regard by providing an analysis of current discourses in paedophilia research as well as a phenomenological exploration of how the male paedophile constructs his close relationships with children. 

Analysis reveals how the dominant positivist approach to paedophilia research embeds and perpetuates moral and often prejudicial positions that in turn influence the validity of empirical findings and theory, and tend to marginalise contradictory evidence. 

In an attempt to circumvent these obstacles, it is argued that the psychological need to form close relationships is a universal one. On this basis the central components of close relationships are presented as a conceptual framework. These components are then applied to an exploratory phenomenological investigation and analysis of the ways in which three paedophilic men interpret, understand and construct their relationships with children. 

Tentative conclusions include the suggestion that, since there was strong evidence that the participants constructed their relationships with children in terms of the constructs of close relationships, the framework of close relationships is useful for separating the psychological needs of paedophiles from 'deviant sexual behaviour'. 

Furthermore, it appears that the framework opens a discursive space in which the psychological dimensions of paedophilia may be problematised in ways that are less susceptible to implicit prejudice and bias, and therefore empirically more sound. The implications hereof for research, theory and psychotherapeutic intervention in the area of paedophilia are discussed briefly.

9. Conclusion

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This study attempted to answer the call of researchers such as Gie1es (2001), Kear-Colwell and Boer (2000), Levett (2004), Moser (2001), Rind et al. (2002) [* No: the References refer to Rind et al. 2000] and Schmidt (2002) for more research to facilitate a better understanding of paedophilia. 

It aimed to do so by 

(a) identifying and analyzing some of the problems inherent in current research discourses that are informed largely by underlying positivist assumptions and 
(b) by providing the psychological dimensions of close relationships as an alternative conceptual framework for constructing paedophilic sexuality.

This study began by outlining and analyzing current theories and approaches to paedophilia both in terms of their paradigmatic underpinnings and their specific content. 

The analysis suggested that, due to their implicit moral and deterministic nature, underlying positivist assumptions might partially be to blame for the apparent impasse in generating theory on paedophilia. 

In an attempt to address these issues, the alternative framework of the close relationship was presented. In applying it to the qualitative data gathered from three convicted paedophiles, it emerged that the forming of paedo-relationships is informed and motivated by expectations that their psychological needs for close relationship could be met with a child. 

There was strong evidence to suggest that paedophiles experience the same universal psychological needs for forming close relationships as anyone else and that, from the paedophile' s perspective, these needs are more likely to be met in a relationship with a child, than with an adult. 

As pointed out, the participants' experiences of paedo-relationships could be viewed as unstoried knowledges [not told knowledge] as they evidently experienced an acute lack of legitimate social narrative by which they could express their experience. This then manifests in the attempt to draw on fundamentally incompatible social discourses and resulting confused and often cognitively convoluted personal narratives such as marriage and family or criminality and pathology. It appears that the framework of the close relationship might serve as a tool to assist in the narrating and understanding of these

This study did not attempt to provide etiological explanations or to answer why a paedophile prefers a child in close relationships. The question "why?" evokes the need to search for an answer, cause, or an excuse (Jenkins, 1990). Instead, the study is an attempt to ask how and what it is to be in a close relationship with a child, thereby minimizing the need for self-justificatory explanation on the 
[page 108] 
part of the participants while creating a space in which to explore the question of how a paedophile experiences and creates meaning in his close relationships. 

This fundamental position could also be extended to the area of psychotherapeutic intervention with paedophiles. Acknowledging wrongdoing and taking full responsibility have been central to therapeutic interventions for sexual offenders (Jenkins, 1990). However, taking responsibility in an authentic manner is a slow and painful process (Van Greunen, Kotze, & Kotze, 2001). 

As demonstrated in this study, the positivist underpinnings of most current therapeutic interventions for paedophilia contain moral, social, legal and pathological assumptions. These assumptions reinforce splitting (McLean, 1996), psychological conflict and tension, and the psyche-fragmentation noted during treatment. As the paedophile has no other cognitive framework for processing his experience, he cannot feel heard or understood, and his psychological needs remain unmet. This, consequently, may decrease the chance of effective, lasting behavioural change. 

The themes and interpretations offered in this study might contribute to supportive therapeutic strategies. I would like to draw attention to the nonnative nature of the identified themes 

(such as close relationships, courtship, sexual desire, closeness, love, self-disclosure, power, masculinity. secrecy and relationship scripts). 

As such, these themes may enable the paedophile to relate to normative ideas and concepts. This could aid his process of creating a personal narrative from his experiences. 

Key to the issue of normative concepts would be the creation of a platform where the paedophile can approach and acknowledge his psychological needs as well as his ego-systonic and ego-dystonic behaviour. Once acceptance, acknowledgement and integration have occurred, the freedom of choice and change becomes more possible. Constructive strategies may then be developed and employed to create different scripts and mechanisms for meeting his psychological needs. 

In summary, 

the discourse of close relationship and themes provided in this study might contribute to less dualistic and more supportive therapeutic approaches. This will enable the therapist to explore with the paedophile how he experiences his paedo-relationships and to support him in acknowledging possible psychological conflict before, during and after the relationship. 

Consequently, the therapist and paedophile can work together to integrate the simultaneously arousing and distressing needs and emotions he previously has had to manage with limited cognitive and interpersonal resources. Ultimately, these approaches could contribute to the way in which we communicate with and treat any perceived 'deviant' phenomenon in our society.

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Future research could entail incorporating female participants and participants who have not been involved with the criminal justice system. 

A limitation of the current study was that all three participants were convicted and incarcerated male child sexual offenders, and were thus unrepresentative of the general population of paedophiles (Cossins, 2000; Howitt, 1995). 

As a qualitative study, no attempt was made to generalize to a population. However, the participants had all been subjected to therapeutic programmes such as the "sexual offenders group", which could have influenced their authentic perceptions and account of their experiences. 

In addition, a larger sample could enhance the validity of themes from the data. The emergent need for additional data to test the usefulness of close relationship as a framework allows me to conclude in support of Levett's (2004) request for more stories of paedophiles' experiences, as they will give us access to 

"new ideas ... and perhaps new and different links and inferences" 
(p. 430).

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