December 13, 2011

Hebephilia hopes hidey-hole will help it slip into DSM-5

Jean Broc: The Death of Hyacinthos
Hebephilia, the controversial faux disorder proposed for the upcoming DSM-5, has been repackaged in the hopes that no one will notice its presence. Unfortunately for its survival, two newly published journal articles may make it harder to hide.

The proposed label of "pedohebephilia” has been quietly discarded. Instead, hebephilia – defined as sexual attraction to young pubescents – has been buried in the text of revamped criteria for pedophilia. Presumably hoping it will go unnoticed, the web page authors do not mention the change.

The questionable diagnosis is the brainchild of a Canadian sex offender clinic with inordinate influence on the Sexual Disorders Workgroup of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 revision committee.

It is the last of three quacky sexual paraphilia proposals still standing. Overwhelming opposition derailed paraphilic coercive disorder (which would have turned rape into a mental disorder) and hypersexuality.

These victories notwithstanding, the developers of the DSM-5, due out in 2013, have been remarkably deaf to an ever-increasing roar of concern from allied professions in the United States and internationally. The revision process steamrollers on despite a mushrooming petition by a coalition of psychology organizations, a scathing critique by the British Psychological Society and, most recently, public statements of concern by the 154,000-member American Psychological Association and the 120,000-strong American Counseling Association

More costly and ineffective civil detentions

Following on the heels of my historical review of hebephilia in Behavioral Sciences and the Law, the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law has just published two new critiques.

In an article focusing on the legal ramifications, forensic psychologist and attorney John Fabian warns that the primary result of adding this scientifically unproven diagnosis to the DSM-5 will be an increase in civil commitments of sex offenders.

Fabian outlines the inconsistent federal case interpretations of hebephilia, including the only federal court of appeals ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First District in the case of Todd Carta (the case I led off with in my review):
The court in Carta focused on the offender's behavior as causing him distress, impairment, and dysfunction in his life. However, the question of whether hebephilia is a type of paraphilia NOS, depends on whether it is considered deviant and abnormal to have a sexual attraction and to engage in subsequent sexual behaviors toward pubescent adolescents and postpubescent minors. To this date, neither the case law nor clinical research on sex offenders has clearly supported classifying hebephilia as an abnormal pathology.

As we can see through this psycholegal analysis, both clinicians and the courts disagree as to whether hebephilia is a pathological sexual deviance disorder. Given the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court recently denied certiorari in hearing McGee, Michael L. v. Bartow, Dir., WI Resource Center, addressing whether a rape paraphilia NOS, nonconsent, meets the constitutional threshold for legal mental abnormality for civil commitment, it is unlikely that the Court will hear such a case addressing hebephilia. More likely, the DSM-5 will provide guidance for clinicians, attorneys, and judges who evaluate and litigate this issue in civil commitment proceedings.
Focus on clinical impairment

In a commentary on Fabian's article, sex offender researchers Robert Prentky and Howard Barbaree try to take a middle road in the contentious debate. At the outset, they acknowledge the questionable nature of diagnosing a condition that is hard-wired in heterosexual men:
Brooke Shields was only 12 years old when she played a child prostitute in Pretty Baby, three years before she modeled Calvin Klein jeans, asking, "Want to know what gets between me and my Calvin's? Nothing." Klein's young teenage models were so provocative that the Justice Department investigated whether the ads violated federal child pornography and child exploitation laws. Penelope Cruz was only 13 years old when she played a child prostitute in the French soap opera Série Rose. Jodie Foster was 14 years old when she played a child prostitute in Taxi Driver. The model Maddison Gabriel, the official "face" of Australia's Gold Coast Fashion Week in 2007, was only 12 years old. Highly sexualized young girls would not be used in advertising, in movies, and on catwalks unless a great many adult males were paying close attention. It appears that heterosexual human males are hard wired to respond sexually to young females with secondary sexual characteristics.
But, they continue, men with an "exclusive sexual preference for young teenagers" (if such men can be found) may indeed be sufficiently impaired so as to meet the mental disorder requirement of "clinically significant deficits in social and interpersonal skills."

This was the approach taken by the appellate court in upholding the civil commitment of Todd Carta, and it is a tactic being used by government experts in sexually violent predator civil commitment proceedings. In a circular rationale, once the pseudo-diagnosis of “Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified-Hebephilia” is assigned, clinically significant impairment can be inferred from the mere fact of an arrest and criminal prosecution.

To their credit, Prentky and Barbaree do admit that the research base for hebephilia is insufficient at the present time:
The bright line in the sand should be the clinical and empirical integrity of the proposed diagnosis…. Examined in isolation, there does not appear to be adequate empirical evidence that sexual arousal in response to young adolescents constitutes a paraphilia…. Clearly, this is an area that warrants further research.
Let's just hope the DSM-5 gods tune in to the controversy in time to pull the plug on yet another half-baked idea that will only bring further embarrassment to the profession.

Both articles are freely available online:
The DSM-5 petition, spearheaded by the Society for Humanistic Psychology, is HERE.

"Invasion of the Hebephile Hunters," my oldie but goodie from 2007 (before all this hoopla got started), is HERE.


Anonymous said...

As for the webpage, the change isn't exactly hidden, merely categorized somewhat differently. I'm certain someone will notice it eventually. Who could miss it?

I wonder if the discarded "pedohebephilia" label is the first in a series of steps that will eventually lead to the dismissal of the the entire construct altogether. Apparently, the opposition is getting extremely heavy on this.

One good sign is that the APA and ACA are stepping in and insisting on empirical evidence and scientific support to substantiate all proposals. Hopefully, this, like the Paraphilic Coercive Disorder (i.e. rape), will be cast away in the process.

Neil B Fisher said...

I have talked a little regarding the need for damage repair and damage control to be brought to the attention of the general public. I truly feel that if the general population got wind that thoes in this field of science are in fact trying to pull some bull over upon them you would see the power of the people's watchful eye at work to confine any rulings regulations laws etc. that would come from and out of the DSM-5. Its simple what the people don't know is going to hurt them.
This site is all about damage control and damage repair and so much of it needs to be brought to the attention of the general population regarding what science is doing behind its back. Most of the general population is NOT! even aware of what or even ever heard of the DSM does anyone besides me feel the same? Get the people involved thay are a lot smater than one may think.

Neil B Fisher said...

Just to add a little to my comment. So, Who has the ability to go on NightLine,Good Morning America,or Oprah and give the needed Damage Repair and Damage Control regarding what is not known to the general population to the people. To give the real and honest facts regarding offenders in this country and abroad and the DSM and thoes behind it.
I have said it befor on this site and others that the moral majority is unaware to these facts and do not look at this site nor go to the many state's web pages and read the true facts it is going to have to be spoon fed to the general population if we expect to see any needed changes or protections. I was in contact with the California Sex Offender Managemnent Board recently(CASOMB)(California was the state that truly started this tracking insanity etc.back in the mid fortys and it admitted to,agreed with and supported my findings regarding the fact that the general population are making rules,laws,and regulations under the false information and myths and that most states follow and use California laws as templates for its own laws,rules and regulations and there are a great many registry abuses now occuring throughout this country. If it is not curbed, it is going to get worse and even more out of control if someone does not bring it to the attention of the American People So would someone please get the real and true facts to the american people

Anonymous said...

Hello Neil:

Yes, one objective that I have is to present a blog explaining the true nature of pedophilia (so many misuse it and argue that their [mis]interpretation is the correct one) as well as the truth behind the commonality of such an attraction, the myths regarding recidivism, the hackneyed way the court system treats such cases and how various judges (e.g. Joseph Tauro) are now standing up and speaking against civil commitment for an adult's attraction to adolescents (it is criminal, but not at all pathological). I plan on doing this when I am ready to do so.

The problem: The issue is so controversial and sensitive that anyone taking to the task will indeed get lambasted and accused of supporting/promoting "pedophilia." Who will listen, especially in a time of "predator panic"? After all, what has fueled such extremes in the first place? The task must be handled carefully and delicately. Still, to what end would such a task lead? What specific objectives do we want to see come out of such an effort? Would it be a change in public attitude toward the attraction? Should it be a change in law, legal proceedings and/or policy? Should forensic analysis be based more on actual evidence and advancements in science? Should those presently incarcerated be re-evaluated accordingly? The debate would likely carry on more fiercely rather than end. I have tried discussing these various topics with some individuals and have been abruptly shut down. Many people are adamant in their beliefs.

Believe it or not, many in mainstream society cannot distinguish between the pathological and the criminal. When clarifying that an adult's attraction to adolescents is not pathological and even normal, I have been met with fiery claims that I "support pedophilia" and "think it is okay." Some comments have revolved around the idea that such behavior is "against the law," to which I acquiesce, calmly explaining that it isn't necessarily an indication of a mental aberration. Never have I said that such behavior "is okay" or non-criminal. They just insisted on thinking that crime equals pathology and do not want to hear any more about it.

Don't get me wrong--I am never for breaking the law or abuse and/or exploitation of youth, but I am all for embracing truth and fact where both exist. I am all for freedom of expression of ideas, but I am equally an advocate of education and providing an informed opinion rather than basking in fear and/or ignorance. I do not claim to know everything involved in this and related issues, but I am always open to learning as much as I can.