October 26, 2010

Europeans first to shoot down controversial paraphilia

Resounding 100-to-1 vote against "pedohebephilia"

I was impressed by the unanimity of opposition to the sexual paraphilias among forensic psychiatrists at their annual conference last week in Tucson, Arizona.

But as it turns out, the sex experts of Europe had the Americans beat, both in numbers and timing.

At last month's meeting of the International Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders (IATSO) in Oslo, Norway, the vote was approximately 100 to 1 against the controversial diagnosis of "pedohebephilia," according to two reliable sources. The lone dissenting voice was a member of the DSM-5 committee.

I hope the DSM revisers are listening. If not, they are going to end up the laughingstock of the world.

Richard Green, MD: "Hebephilia is a Mental Disorder?"

The vote at the IATSO conference, where European psychiatry is strongly represented, came after a talk by Richard Green, a prominent psychiatrist, sexologist, and professor at the Imperial College of London. Green served on the Gender Identity Disorders subcommittee for DSM-IV, and was a leading advocate for removing homosexuality from the DSM back in the 1970s. In a published critique of the hebephilia proposal, he pointed out the parallels:
The parody of science masquerading as democracy made a laughing stock of psychiatry and the APA when it held a popular vote by its membership on whether homosexuality should remain a mental disorder. Decreeing in a few years time that 19-year-olds who prefer sex with 14-year-olds (5 years their junior) have a mental disorder … will not enhance psychiatry’s scientific credibility.
He has also pointed out that the age of legal consent in several European countries falls within the range that the proposed disorder would make pathological for the older participant.

A separate audience poll at the IATSO conference on the proposed diagnosis of hypersexuality was more mixed, with about a third favoring the diagnosis, a third opposing it, and a third undecided, according to one of my sources.

NPR report on AAPL debate

Meanwhile, National Public Radio has reported on Saturday's AAPL vote against the paraphilias. Reporter Alix Spiegel blogged about it on NPR's health blog, "SHOTS," under the heading "Forensic Psychiatrists Don't Favor Some Proposed Sexual Diagnoses."

These negative votes will have no a direct impact on the DSM-5, now due out in 2013. In the case of the controversial sexual paraphilias, one Canadian research group is dominating the process and most of the upcoming field trials will be done at government detention facilities where insular opinion runs heavily in favor of the diagnoses.

Proponents of the paraphilia revisions are urging supporters to lobby the DSM committee. It seems that, as we have seen in the past, lobbyists may have an inordinate impact, overshadowing valid science.

But if the American Psychiatric Association kowtows to this special interest niche and ignores the broader consensus of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals around the world, this will certainly reduce the credibility of the manual in years to come.

UPDATE: My Psychiatric Times coverage of the debate, "Forensic Psychiatrists Vote No on Proposed Paraphilias," is online HERE.


G.C.B. said...

Thank you, Dr Franklin, for your sensible posts on your sensible blog.

I am afraid, however, that backing off on this one incredibly stupid proposal will not be sufficient to prevent American psychiatry (with your noble exception) from being the laughingstock of the world, a distinction it will share with the United States court system.

Neuroskeptic said...

If it makes it into DSM-V despite this, DSM-V will be dead on arrival for forensic psychiatrists.

Likewise if it rejects Asperger's syndrome - ironically, a decision which has some rationale, but is very unpopular especially with patients - it will be dead on arrival for autism specialists... and so on.

rob said...

The "proposal" is an outrageous absurdity assaulting future youth and psychiatric credibility!
Dr. Rob Nilsen