Showing posts sorted by relevance for query hebephilia. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query hebephilia. Sort by date Show all posts

August 14, 2016

Hebephilia flunks Frye test

Photo credit: NY Law Journal
In a strongly worded rejection of hebephilia, a New York judge has ruled that the controversial diagnosis cannot be used in legal proceedings because of “overwhelming opposition” to its validity among the psychiatric community.

Judge Daniel Conviser heard testimony from six experts (including this blogger) and reviewed more than 100 scholarly articles before issuing a long-awaited opinion this week in the case of “Ralph P.,” a 72-year-old man convicted in 2001 of a sex offense against a 14-year-old boy. The state of New York is seeking to civilly detain Ralph P. on the basis of alleged future dangerousness.

State psychologist Joel Lord had initially labeled Ralph P. with the unique diagnosis of sexual attraction to “sexually inexperienced young teenage males,” but later changed his diagnosis to hebephilia, a condition proposed but rejected for the current edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Under the Frye evidentiary standard, designed to bar novel scientific methods that are not sufficiently validated, a construct must be “generally accepted” by the relevant scientific community before it can be relied upon in legal proceedings.

Judge Conviser found that hebephilia (generally defined as sexual attraction to children in the early stages of puberty, or around the ages of 11 or 12 to 14) is being promoted by a tiny fringe of researchers and in practice is used almost exclusively as a tool to civilly commit convicted sex offenders. Under U.S. Supreme Court rulings, such offenders must have a mental disorder in order to qualify for prolonged detention after they have served their prison terms.

“It is not an accident, as Dr. Franklin outlined, that hebephilia became a prominent diagnosis only with the advent of SVP laws,” the judge wrote in his 75-page opinion. “It is also not a coincidence that each of the three expert witnesses who testified for the State at the instant hearing either work or formerly worked for state [Sexually Violent Predator] programs.”

Conviser’s ruling analyzed both the practical problems in reliably identifying hebephilia and the political controversies swirling around it: Without any standardized criteria, “clinicians are free to assign hebephilia diagnoses in widely disparate ways, many of which are just plainly wrong.” Using age as a proxy for pubertal stage is no guarantee of reliability because pubertal onset is highly variable. Ultimately, he concluded, whether erotic interest in pubescent minors is deemed "pathological" is more about moral values than science.

APA secrecy faulted

The judge was harshly critical of the American Psychiatric Association for its refusal to publicly explain why it rejected hebephilia from the DSM-5 in 2013. The diagnosis was aggressively promoted by a Canadian psychologist, Ray Blanchard, and fellow researchers from Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), who dominated the DSM-5 subcommittee on paraphilias.

Blanchard rewrote the DSM section on paraphilias (sexual deviances) in a broad way such that virtually all sexual interests other than a narrowly defined “normophilic” pattern became pathological. However, the APA rejected Blanchard’s proposal to expand pedophilia to pathologize adult sexual attractions to pubescent-aged (rather than just prepubescent) minors.

“The proposal was apparently rejected because it was greeted with a firestorm of criticism by the sex offender psychiatric community, which was communicated to the APA board…. As best as this Court can surmise, the APA rejected the pedohebephilia proposal because it was opposed by most of the psychiatrists and psychologists who worked in the field.”

“[S]trikingly,” wrote Judge Conviser, “the process through which proposed new diagnoses are approved or rejected is shrouded in a degree of secrecy which would be the envy of many totalitarian regimes…. With respect to hebephilia, the APA board’s actions will have a direct impact on both public safety and the fundamental liberty interests of hundreds or thousands of people.”

The APA forces those involved in the DSM revision process to sign nondisclosure contracts. That policy came in the wake of a series of published exposes – including Christopher Lane’s Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness, Jonathan Metzl's The Protest Psychosis, and Ethan Watters’s Crazy Like Us (to name just a few of my favorites) -- that embarrassed the world’s largest psychiatric organization by shining a light inside the often subjective and political process of diagnosis creation and expansion.

“Overwhelming” opposition

Blanchard and his CAMH colleagues’ 2009 proposal to expand pedophilia into a new “pedohebephilia” diagnosis in the DSM-5 spawned a massive outcry, which mushroomed into at least five dozen published critiques.

In preparation for my testimony at this and similar Frye hearings in New York, I expanded on my 2010 article in Behavioral Sciences and the Law tracing hebephilia’s rise from obscurity, to produce an updated chart containing all 116 articles addressing the construct. If one tallies only those articles that take a position (pro or con) on hebephilia and are not written by members of the CAMH team, fully 83% are critical as compared to only 17% that are favorable. This, Judge Conviser noted, is strong evidence against the government’s position that hebephilia is “generally accepted” by the relevant scientific communities.

“The thrust of the evidence at the hearing was … clear: there was overwhelming opposition to the pedohebephilia proposal in the sex offender psychiatric community,” he wrote. “There is overwhelming opposition to the hebephilia diagnosis today.”

Courts scrutinizing nouveau diagnoses

With the APA’s rejection of hebephilia as well as two other proposed sexual disorders (one for preferential rape and another for hypersexuality), government evaluators continue to shoehorn novel, case-specific diagnostic labels into the catchall DSM-5 category of “other specified paraphilic disorder” (OSPD) as a basis for civil commitment.

Under a 2012 New York appellate court ruling in the case of State v. Shannon S., upon a defense request, a Frye evidentiary hearing must be held on any such attempt to introduce an OSPD diagnosis into a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) case. That has triggered a spate of Frye hearings in the Empire State, affording greater scrutiny and judicial gatekeeping of scientifically questionable diagnoses.

Ironically, although the Shannon S. court upheld hebephilia by a narrow 4-3 margin, Shannon S. would not have met diagnostic criteria under the narrower definitions presented by the government experts at Ralph P.’s Frye hearing four years later, because his victims were older than 14.

“Assuming hebephilia is a legitimate diagnosis, Shannon S., like many SVP respondents, was apparently diagnosed with the condition not based on evidence he was preferentially attracted to underdeveloped pubescent body types but because he offended against underage victims,” Judge Conviser observed in his detailed summary of prior New York cases.

The three dissenting judges in Shannon S. were adamant that hebephilia was “absurd,” and an example of “junk science,” deployed with the pretextual goal of “locking up dangerous criminals” who had committed statutory rapes.

The opening of the Frye floodgates has led to a flurry of sometimes-competing opinions.

In 2015, in State v. Mercado, Judge Dineen Riviezzo ruled against “OSPD--sexually attracted to teenage females” as a legitimate diagnosis. However, she declined to rule on the general acceptance of hebephilia because it was not specifically diagnosed in that case.

A year later, relying on similar evidence, a judge in upstate New York ruled in State v. Paul V. that hebephilia was generally accepted, in large part because it was backed by the APA’s paraphilias sub-workgroup. Judge Conviser found that reasoning unpersuasive, pointing out that the subworkgroup was dominated by the very same CAMH researchers who were hebephilia’s primary advocates; it was therefore “not a valid proxy" for the scientific community.

In July, another court rejected both hebephilia and “OSPD--underage males” as valid diagnoses, in the cases of Hugh H. and Martello A. The court noted that hebephilia is inconsistently defined, was rejected for the DSM-5, and is primarily advanced by one research group; further, attraction to pubescent minors is not intrinsically abnormal.

Cynthia Calkins, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, echoed those points in her testimony at Ralph P.'s hearing. She noted that in the United States, the main psychologists advocating for hebephilia are government-retained evaluators in SVP cases, who make up only perhaps one-fourth of one percent of psychologists and psychiatrists in the U.S. and so cannot be a proxy for “general acceptance” in the scientific community.

The government’s choice of experts illustrated Calkins’ point: Testifying for the government were Christopher Kunkle, director of New York’s civil management program for sex offenders, David Thornton of Wisconsin’s civil commitment center, and Robin Wilson, formerly of Florida’s civil commitment center and a protégé of Ray Blanchard’s.

The third expert called by Ralph P.’s attorneys was Charles Ewing, a distinguished professor at the University at Buffalo Law School who is both an attorney and a forensic psychologist and has authored several books on forensic psychology.

Defense attorneys Maura Klugman and Jessica Botticelli of Mental Hygiene Legal Service represented Ralph P. Assistant New York Attorney General Elaine Yacyshyn represented the state.

Ultimately, New York State’s highest court may have to weigh in to resolve once and for all the question of whether novel psychiatric diagnoses like hebephilia are admissible for civil commitment purposes. But that could be years down the road.


The ruling in State v. Ralph P. is HERE. The subsequent order of Sept. 28, 2016 granting Ralph P.'s motion for summary judgment and dismissal of the civil commitment petition is HERE.

A New York Law Journal report on the case, "judge Rejects Diagnosis for Civil Confinement," is HERE.

A search of this blog site using the term hebephilia will produce my reports on this construct dating all the way back to my original post from 2007, "Invasion of the Hebephile Hunters."

June 5, 2009

Hebephilia struck by third blow

Down but not out?

It may be too soon to call it the death knell, but this week's ruling by a federal judge in Massachusetts certainly dealt a reeling blow to the highly contested pseudo-diagnosis of hebephilia and its ever-more-marginalized adherents.

In the third of three back-to-back decisions in federal court, U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro said hebephilia just doesn't pass muster as a basis for civilly committing someone as a "sexually dangerous offender."

Hebephilia -- sexual attraction to adolescents -- certainly exists in nature, but the Government failed to meet is burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence that it amounted to "a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder" as required for civil commitment, wrote the judge. Simply put, "hebephilia is not generally recognized as a serious mental illness by the psychological and psychiatric communities."

The case involved Todd Carta, who was due to be released from federal prison after serving time for computer-based child pornography. Carta has a lengthy history of sex with underage males, ages 13 on up, and has acknowledged an attraction to adolescent boys.

The Government's expert, psychologist Amy Phenix, diagnosed Carta with "Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified: Hebephilia," which she defined as a sexual preference for "young teens . . . 'till about age seventeen."

Phenix's position was countered by psychologist Leonard Bard, who testified that Carta had no diagnosable mental disorder. Bard identified numerous problems with the diagnosis of hebephilia, including its absence from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the prevalence of sexual attraction to adolescents among normal men.

The judge got it. In a thorough and well reasoned decision, he deconstructed the legal use of this nebulous diagnosis brick by brick. Perhaps most impressive was his clearly articulated understanding of the importance of adequate empirical research to support a diagnosis:
"Most importantly, the Government has failed to demonstrate that a diagnosis of hebephilia or paraphilia NOS: hebephilia is supported by research in the field of psychology…. Most of the articles put forward by the Government were published by coauthors Dr. Blanchard and Dr. Cantor. Dr. Bard criticized the work of Dr. Blanchard and Dr. Cantor, testifying that they are both on the editorial board of the journal that publishes their findings, which has at least the potential to damage the integrity of the peer-review process. Dr. Bard also criticized the research underlying their conclusions for failing to include a control group and for eliminating a large portion of the samples, among other problems. The five replies criticizing Dr. Blanchard's recent article proposing inclusion of hebephilia in the DSM-V suggest that Dr. Blanchard's work is not widely accepted. Dr. Bard testified that 'it’s the same group that is published over and over again trying to justify [a diagnosis of hebephilia], and they have failed.' "
The judge acknowledged that by ordering Carta's release he was not suggesting the convicted sex offender is a model citizen, but just drawing a line in the sand between criminality and mental disorder: Absent a widely recognized mental disorder it is Unconstitutional to "order indefinite commitment on the basis of the offensiveness of Respondent's conduct alone."

This is the third federal ruling in a row against hebephilia. The only other federal courts to address its use both rejected it as a basis for civil commitment. Those cases were U.S. v. Shields and U.S. v. Abregana, both decided last year.

Normally, this might be a "Three Strikes and You're Out" situation. Put the tired old construct to bed.

But fans are frantically trying to rehabilitate and rejuvenate hebephilia by getting it added to the next edition of the DSM (DSM-V). This would get around at least one of the many concerns expressed by Judge Tauro and others, over "the lack of any clear criteria" for making the diagnosis. Spearheading the DSM-V effort is Raymond Blanchard of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada, who not only sits on the editorial board of the journal that published his research (as Judge Tauro pointed out in his opinion), but also serves on the DSM-V Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group. From that influential position, he is lobbying for the addition of hebephilia or a newly minted term – pedohebephilic disorder (what a mouthful!) to the diagnostic bible.

With the DSM-V work groups stacked (see my related posts HERE), we may just have to wait and see. But in the meantime, All Hail to Massachusetts, for landing a solid blow against pseudoscience in the forensic arena.

Judge Tauro's decision is HERE. A list of articles on "Hebephilia and the DSM-V Controversy" is HERE; for more on hebephilia see my essay, "Invasion of the hebephile hunters: Or, the story of how an archaic word got a new lease on life."

Photo credit: Noel Kerns' "Closed," Creative Commons license (entrance to the defunct Mission Four Outdoor Theatre in San Antonio, Texas)

October 31, 2012

Forensic psychiatrists reject hebephilia - yet again!

Will American Psychiatric Association heed professional consensus?

Twenty years ago, Humbert Humbert went to prison for a series of sexual assaults on his 12-year-old stepdaughter, whom he famously nicknamed "Lolita." Now, as his lengthy prison term draws to a close, Wisconsin is petitioning to have the 60-year-old literature professor indefinitely detained as a Sexually Violent Predator.

The venue for last week's trial of Vladimir Nabokov's fictional protagonist was the annual convention of the American Association of Psychiatry and Law (AAPL) in Montreal. The central question, decided by audience vote, was whether the controversial diagnosis "hebephilia" qualified as a legitimate mental disorder justifying Mr. Humbert's indefinite civil detention.

The rousing theatrical performance featured an all-star cast of attorneys and psychologists, presided over by Toronto Judge Maureen D. Forestell. New Jersey Assistant Attorney General Mark Singer served as prosecutor. His expert witness was prominent psychiatrist Richard Krueger, a member of the paraphilias subworkgroup that has proposed adding "hebephilia" to the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). A hebephilic qualifier would extend pedophilia to men with sexual preferences for children who have entered puberty, such as the fictional Lolita.

Defending Mr. Humbert was preeminent Wisconsin attorney Robert LeBell. His expert was Washington psychologist Richard Wollert, who has published peer-reviewed articles on SVP-related topics and testifies for the defense in civil commitment proceedings. Appearing as the court's expert was prominent Canadian psychiatrist John Bradford, an advisor on paraphilia (or sexual deviance) to the DSM-IV, past president of the AAPL and clinical director of the Sexual Behaviors Clinic in Ottawa.

After a spirited and sometimes heated trial, the 131-member audience was given electronic clickers and voted overwhelmingly -- 82 percent -- against including hebephilia as a diagnosis in the DSM-5, due out in mid-2013. A majority also voted against even including the controversial diagnosis in a DSM-5 appendix as a condition meriting further study.

Third time's the charm?

This marks at least the third time in two years that respected professional bodies have voted against the idea of hebephilia as a new mental disorder. At a 2010 vote in Oslo, Norway, members of the International Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders (IATSO) were near-unanimously opposed to the newly proposed sexual paraphilia. U.S. forensic psychiatrists followed suit a month later at the 2010 AAPL conference, overwhelmingly voting against hebephilia as well as two other proposed paraphilias, "paraphilic coercive disorder" (aka rape) and hypersexuality, both since scrapped.

Earlier this year, more than 100 professionals, including prominent forensic psychologists and psychiatrists in the U.S. and internationally, sent an open letter to the DSM-5 revisers, urging them to nix hebephilia. Since then, at least two peer-reviewed articles have been published deconstructing its legitimacy, one in the respected Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases ("Hebephilia and the Construction of a Fictitious Diagnosis" by forensic psychologists Paul Good and the late Jules Burstein) and the other a broad review ("Hebephilia as mental disorder?") by scholars Bruce Rind and Richard Yuill in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Rind and Yuill said they undertook their extensive review of the historical and cross-cultural evidence after hebephilia proponent Raymond Blanchard (a member of the DSM-5 paraphilias subworkgroup) and his colleagues at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health brushed aside numerous published criticisms of the proposed disorder (see Table 1). Building on their earlier research, Rind and Yuill argue that hebephilia -- generally defined as sexual attraction to young pubescents in the age range of 11 to 14 -- is a biologically normal trait found to varying degrees in both human males and our closest mammalian relatives, such as higher apes. They blast hebephilia as a bold example of naked moral values masquerading as science:

"Blanchard et al. … did not invoke comparative evidence…. They did not invoke any evidence…. They declared it a disorder by fiat, bypassing scientific analysis in favor of a pre-given conclusion supportable only because it is, for the current time and place, culturally resonant. Had their pronouncement been the opposite (i.e., hebephilia is functional), their article would never have been accepted in a peer-reviewed journal without massive evidential backing. Strongly resonant opinion can facilely pass through without the kind of scrutiny demanded of non-resonant views."

Why hebephilia still clings to life, despite so much opposition and so little scientific support, is beyond me. It's like an unwanted house guest who just refuses to take the hint and pack his suitcase.

The evidence at trial 

In attacking the government's diagnosis of his client, defense attorney LeBell focused on the dearth of empirical studies on the condition, other than by researchers at a single Toronto clinic, and the likelihood of "false positive" diagnoses in legal cases.

The wording of the proposed new diagnosis has been changed again and again over the past couple of years. In its current iteration, pedophiles are defined as those who have "an equal or greater sexual arousal from prepubescent or early pubescent children than from physically mature persons, as manifested by fantasies, urges, or behaviors." (The requirements that the fantasies or urges be "recurrent" or "intense" have been removed, broadening the potential pool of sufferers.) Hebephiles are now defined as those with sexual attractions to "pubescent children" in Stages 2 to 3 of Tanner's pubertal stages (e.g., early development of pubic hair and breasts).

Defense expert Wollert testified that the problem of "false positives" -- people incorrectly identified as having a condition -- was extraordinarily high even in the controlled setting of the research laboratory. This problem would be much more acute in the forensic trenches where the hebephilia diagnosis is being deployed, he testified.

One insurmountable problem would be reliably identifying a sexual abuse victim's Tanner stage of pubertal development. Complicating this issue, testified the court's expert, John Bradford, Tanner Stages are highly variable. Because they reflect hormonal developments rather than specific ages, one could not assume a specific Tanner stage based on the age of a victim. About two years ago, alarming research indicated that girls are entering puberty far earlier than in previous generations; this month, a large study by the American Academy of Pediatrics identified a similar trend in boys.

Wisconsin psychiatrist Lynn Maskel, who organized and moderated the mock trial, labeled hebephilia a "weed diagnosis in the botanical garden of DSM."

"The question is not if sex with pubescent year old girls illegal, or if it is immoral," she told the audience of forensic psychiatrists. "The question to the psychiatric field is: Is it a disorder? And if it is, does this translate, for the expert witness, into a requisite mental disorder found in the specific SVP statute?"

Meanwhile, back in the real courtroom trenches …

In my seminal review, published in 2010 in Behavioral Sciences and the Law, I traced hebephilia's sudden emergence and rapid spread in legal discourse to the advent of Sexually Violent Predator laws, which require that the individual being considered for civil detention have a mental disorder that makes him qualitatively different from the garden-variety offender.

Since that article's publication, the introduction of hebephilia in U.S. courts has continued unabated, despite the lack of an official imprimatur by the American Psychiatric Association. In a string of SVP cases brought under the Adam Walsh Act, federal judges in North Carolina have ruled that the faux diagnosis is not a legitimate basis for civil detention.

However, other courts have been less circumspect. For example, just yesterday, in a narrow, 4-3 opinion, New York's high court upheld the civil commitment of a repeat sex offender named "Shannon S." based on the purported conditions of "paraphilia NOS" and "hebephilia." Mr. S. had engaged in a series of forcible rapes of adolescent girls, ages 13 through 16.

As the dissenters conceded, Shannon S. was a "very bad actor" and "the community may well be safer if he is kept behind bars."

"But, they added, "to put him there on the fiction that he has some sort of mental condition other than a tendency to commit the crimes for which he was convicted (and has served his time) is and should be constitutionally unacceptable."

Judge Robert Smith, writing for the minority, labeled as "absurd" the premise that attraction to adolescent girls is abnormal, as the government's two experts testified: "What is abnormal about appellant, and others who commit statutory rape by having sex with girls below the age of consent, is not that they find the girls attractive, but that they are willing to exploit them for their sexual pleasure -- in other words, they commit statutory rape."

Smith labeled hebephilia and the similarly disputed diagnosis of "paraphilia not otherwise specified" (rape) as "junk science devised for the purpose of locking up dangerous criminals." While such a practice might seem appealing from a public safety viewpoint, it creates "dangers of abuse," he eloquently warned:

"Many sex offenders are, or could reasonably be found to be, dangerous, and in common parlance they all have mental abnormalities: Mentally normal people do not commit sex crimes. Thus, unless 'mental abnormality' is defined with scientific rigor, such statutes could become a license to lock up indefinitely, without invoking the cumbersome procedures of the criminal law, every sex offender a judge or jury thinks likely to offend again.

"Some will intuitively respond: Not a bad idea. But it is a very bad idea, because not even a concern for public safety should be allowed to trump certain fundamental rules. Among them are that criminals can be confined only for crimes they have committed, after their guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt in a procedure in which they receive the many protections that our Constitution gives to those accused of crime, and that even when convicted they can be incarcerated for no more than the term of the maximum sentence provided by law. If the present sentences for sex offenders are too short, the Legislature should make them longer, but it should not, and constitutionally cannot, simply substitute civil for criminal proceedings as a means of keeping dangerous criminals off the streets."

As Judge Smith seems to recognize, it's a slippery slope. Bogus psychiatric diagnoses for sex offenders now, political dissidents (or others) tomorrow. That's the way they rolled in the former Soviet Union, after all.

Pretextual court rulings aside, the paraphilias subworkgroup has had more than two years to produce evidence for the reliability and validity of hebephilia, and it has not done so.

It is clear to most observers that hebephilia is not accepted by the relevant professional community. What remains unclear is whether the Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association will get the message in time to prevent yet another in a veritable maelstrom of public-relations disasters and historical mistakes.

* * * * *

Additional resources: My resource page on hebephilia is HERE.

Of related interest: DSM-5  field trials discredit the American Psychiatric Association, by Allen Frances, Huffington Post, 10/31/2012

Happy Halloween!

March 10, 2011

Psychiatrists ramp up opposition to forensic misuse of DSM

"Pedohebephilia" would make bad situation worse, they warn  

As you will recall, at a recent debate members of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL) were virtually unanimous in giving the thumbs-down to three controversial sexual disorders being proposed for the fifth edition of psychiatry’s diagnostic manual.

Piggy-backing on that sentiment, the Academy's official journal has just published two additional calls for caution. 

DSM's forensic influence cannot be ignored

Ralph Slovenko, an eminent professor of law and psychiatry at Wayne State University Law School, leads off with an editorial that counters a key claim of the proponents of diagnostic expansion. The oft-repeated claim is that the legal implications of a diagnosis are irrelevant, and should not be considered.

Rebutting this head-in-the-sand mentality, Slovenko gives a comprehensive overview of the DSM's impact in myriad areas of the law, from parental termination to disability determinations. As evidence of the DSM's vast influence, he cites language written into the statutes in 16 states mandating its use for various purposes.

As his overview makes clear, courts and legislatures across the United States have ignored the fine print in the introduction to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, stating that use of the manual for forensic purposes risks misunderstanding and misuse.

A case in point: Use of a made-up category, "Paraphilia Not Otherwise – Hebephilia," as justification for preventive detention of men who have served prisont time for sexual relations with adolescent.

No basis for fictional "hebephilia" disorder

Next, two psychiatrists who were influential in developing the current edition of the DSM launch a full-on assault on the use of the bogus diagnosis "hebephilia" in sexual predator civil commitment proceedings.

Michael First, editor and co-chair of the DSM-IV-TR, and Allen Frances, chair of the DSM-IV Task Force, clarify the intention of diagnosing paraphilias, or sexual deviances, and why diagnosing offenders against adolescents with "hebephilia" (a diagnosis that does not exist in any formal diagnostic system) is a flagrant abuse of psychiatric nomenclature. This is not the first time these authors have tried to set the record straight, but their current analysis is especially detailed and unequivocal.
The alleged diagnosis paraphilia not otherwise specified, hebephilia, arose, not out of psychiatry, but rather to meet a perceived need in the correctional system. This solution represents a misuse of the diagnostic system and of psychiatry. That a large number of forensic mental health workers have been mistrained to regard paraphilia NOS as a valid diagnostic category in SVP proceedings should not be construed as proper representation of the views of the entire mental health field. Similarly, the very preliminary studies conducted by a few research groups should not be construed to indicate that hebephilia has any solid scientific support. Hebephilia is not an accepted mental disorder that can be reliably diagnosed and should not be treated as such in SVP proceedings.
First and Frances issue a strong call against adding the pretextual diagnosis of "pedohebephilia" to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:
Among several radical proposals made by the DSM-5 Sexual Disorders Workgroup is the backdoor introduction of the hebephilia diagnosis into the DSM-5 by expanding the existing well-accepted pedophilia category to include sexual arousal to pubescent individuals and renaming the broadened construct pedohebephilic disorder. There is no apparent need or compelling rationale to include hebephilia in DSM-5 beyond the research interests of a few scientists and the questionable use of hebephilia in SVP proceedings.
Despite opposition from forensic psychiatry, no doubt the wheels will grind on. After all, as legal scholar Charles Patrick Ewing describes in Justice Perverted, preventive detention has taken on a life of its own, becoming a lucrative and self-perpetuating industry. More on psychology's role in that very soon….

Related resources:

On my website, I have created a page of resources on the hebephilia controversy. But if you really want to immerse yourself in these diagnostic controversies, the place to visit is the "DSM-5 Paraphilias Controversy." On one page, blogger Andrew Hinderliter has amassed an impressive array of literature on the disputed paraphilias, including not only hebephilia, hypersexuality, and sexual sadism but also related hot-button topics such as transvestic fetishism.

My comprehensive historical review of hebephilia is now available online. Or, for a shorter version, there's always my oldie but goodie blog post, from Halloween of 2007: "Invasion of the hebephile hunters: Or, the story of how an archaic word got a new lease on life."

April 7, 2012

Hebephilia bites the dust -- again

  Federal judge rules that faux diagnosis cannot be basis for civil detention 

In yet another blow to those seeking to expand mental illness in order to civilly detain U.S. citizens for possible future crimes, a judge has again held that the faux diagnosis of  "hebephilia" is not valid for this purpose.The Good Friday ruling was one in a string of defeats for the federal government in its efforts to civilly detain ex-convicts under the Adam Walsh Act.

Judge Terrence Boyle rejected the testimony of two government psychologists who had diagnosed George Hamelin with hebephilia based on his sexual misconduct with one 13-year-old boy and another boy under the age of 13 (whose precise age was not specified).

Calvin Klein billboard: Fashion industry banking on hebephilia
As opposed to pedophilia, hebephilia involves sexual attraction to youths who have reached puberty. The controversial diagnosis was first proposed by a team of psychologists at a sex clinic up in Toronto. Two members of the Canadian team also belong to the sexual disorders work group for the DSM-5, the upcoming revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s influential diagnostic manual. With sexually violent predator statutes enacted by the federal government and 20 U.S. states requiring a mental disorder as a prerequisite for civil commitment, government evaluators have taken to invoking the label against sex offenders who are neither pedophiles nor rapists.

Wrote the judge in rejecting the label as a basis for civil commitment:
Hebephilia is not listed as an accepted mental disorder in the DSM-IV-TR. Although hebephilia has been proposed to be included as a mental disorder in the revision of the DSM, it has been rejected as a proper mental disorder by numerous psychologists…. [N]oted mental health professionals have opined that sexual arousal to pubescent and post-pubescent minors is not an inherently deviant sexual interest, albeit one that, in this country, if acted on might violate the law.

The Court finds persuasive the testimony of Dr. [Joseph] Plaud on this issue, who states in his report that "a possible diagnosis of a deviant sexual interest in pubescent/post-pubescent males, termed by some psychologists as 'paraphilia NOS hebephilia/ephebophilia,' ... is an invalid diagnosis."

Given that the characterization of hebephilia is a contested issue in the mental health community, the Court finds that it would be inappropriate to predicate civil commitment on a diagnosis that a large number of clinical psychologists believe is not a diagnosis at all, at least for forensic purposes.
I hope the American Psychiatric Association is listening. If they let the proposed diagnosis of pedohebephilia sneak into the DSM-5, it will only contribute to the already massive outpouring of criticism being leveled against them for expanding the range of mental illnesses. A grassroots petition protesting the diagnostic expansions has garnered almost 13,000 signatures to date.

My report on Judge Boyle's January ruling rejecting hebephilia in the case of Jeffrey Neuhauser (Federal judge tosses hebephilia as basis for civil detention) is HERE. My online resource page on hebephilia is HERE. Wikipedia has further background and links on the controversial diagnosis. A USA Today probe of the beleaguered federal SVP program is HERE.

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.

October 31, 2007

Invasion of the hebephile hunters

Or, the story of how an archaic word
got a new lease on life

Stop a random passerby and ask what "hebephilia" means, and you’ll get a blank stare.

A few years ago, you would have gotten the same blank look from a forensic psychologist. Even from many who did risk assessments of sex offenders.

Not anymore. The obscure Greek word is gaining in popularity, and (for reasons I'll explain in a moment) may even be on the fast track to becoming a de facto psychiatric diagnosis. For that reason, it's a word worth knowing - and tracking.

Defining hebephilia is not as easy as you might think. I couldn't find it in my copy of Webster's dictionary, nor is it listed in several online dictionaries that I checked. Wikipedia (*) defines it as a variant of the word ephebophilia, meaning "sexual attraction to adolescents." Ephebia was the ancient Greek institution in which young men were trained as citizens and soldiers. Philein is the Greek "to love," as in philosophy (the love of wisdom) or philology (the study of literary texts).

Pioneering German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld is credited with coining the term around 1906-1908, as part of his efforts to catalogue the varieties of sexuality (the word transvestism is also his). A tireless campaigner for the rights of sexual minorities, Hirschfeld would roll over in his grave to see how his term is being used today - in the service of involuntarily committing people to state psychiatric hospitals.

Perhaps the most avid proponent of this creative new use is Dennis Doren, a psychologist who evaluates sex offenders for civil commitment and has authored a popular how-to manual for government experts, aptly named Evaluating Sex Offenders: A Manual for Civil Commitments and Beyond.

In his manual, Doren defines hebephilia as a "paraphilia." Another esoteric Greek word, paraphilia is a sexual deviancy characterized by sexual fantasies, urges, or activities involving nonhuman objects, suffering or humiliation of oneself or one's partner, or nonconsenting partners such as children. The paraphilias listed in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) include exhibitionism, fetishism, frotteurism, voyeurism, sexual masochism, sexual sadism, and pedophilia. Hebephilia is not among the listed paraphilias.

Since hebephilia is excluded from the diagnostic bible, Doren trains evaluators to give hebephiliacs a diagnosis of "Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified." This is but one of several efforts by Doren to broaden the diagnostic categories under which sex offenders can be civilly detained; in a previous post I discussed his use of the "Paraphilia NOS" diagnosis with rapists.

Hebephilia came close to extinction in 1933, when the Nazis plundered Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute of Sexual Science in Berlin and torched its massive archives in a public bonfire. Yet suddenly, 70-some years later and probably not coincidentally to the 2002 publication of Doren's manual, we are seeing a growing interest in the archaic construct.

In 2003, for example, a student researcher at the University of Montreal described "hebephiles" as an "alarming clinical reality" that was "almost completely absent from the scientific literature." In an unabashed display of self-promotion, she promised to "lift the veil of silence" on hebephilia through her research with Canadian men who had sexually offended against teens.

According to a 2007 publication by the esteemed Mayo Clinic, hebephilia is rapidly "becoming a generic term" to describe sexual interest in adolescents who are under the legal age of consent. The article defines a hebophile as someone interested in teenage girls, with ephebophile denoting attraction to post-pubescent boys. Basing a diagnosis on the legal age of consent seems to imply that a person could have a mental disorder in one jurisdiction but not in another, since the age of consent varies widely and adults may even marry teens under age 18 in many countries and U.S. states.

Hebephiles were the topic of another research study published this month in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. The study focused mainly on physical characteristics that purportedly distinguish pedophiles - men who are primarily attracted to prepubescent children - from normal men (who now have their very own label - teleiophiles). The study found that Canadian pedophiles are shorter on average than teleiophiles, with hebephiles somewhere in the middle of the height spectrum. This follows an earlier finding by the same research team, out of Toronto's Kurt Freund Laboratory, that pedophiles were more likely than teleiophiles to be left-handed. The researchers did not find any statistically meaningful relationship between hebephilia and handedness when using phallometry (penile erections) to measure primary erotic attraction. However, they still hypothesize that a neurological abnormality may underlie some men’s sexual attraction to teens.

The absurdity of describing erotic attraction to adolescents as a mental abnormality is that most normal heterosexual men are sexually attracted to teenage girls (who happen to be at the peak of their reproductive fertility). This fact is well established by multiple research studies over the past several decades. Such findings are certainly no surprise to the moguls of popular culture or to the advertising industry, which uses provocative images of teen girls and boys to sell everything from clothes to cars.

Given the scientifically unsupported nature of this emerging diagnosis, I suspect that clinicians will apply it arbitrarily, and especially to men who are sexually involved with male teenagers. I am already seeing this trend informally, in my reviews of forensic reports on sex offenders. Ironically, any such biased application will further turn the tables on Magnus Hirschfeld and the ancient Greeks' aesthetic appreciation for the adolescent male body.


* Postscript: At the time that this post was written, Wikipedia did not have a page on hebephilia. Now, it does.

Painting: "The Death of Hyacinth" by Jean Broc. Hyacinth was the young lover of the God Apollo. Wikipedia public domain.

April 29, 2010

"Hebephilia: Quintessence of Diagnostic Pretextuality"

New from Behavioral Sciences & the Law ...

I never set out to become an expert in this terra incognita. But, alas, here I am. Despite my mixed feelings, I am excited to announce that Behavioral Sciences & the Law has just published my research article deconstructing this pseudoscientific construct. Here is the abstract:
Hebephilia is an archaic term used to describe adult sexual attraction to adolescents. Prior to the advent of contemporary sexually violent predator laws, the term was not found in any dictionary or formal diagnostic system. Overnight, it is on the fast track toward recognition as a psychiatric condition meriting inclusion in the upcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This article traces the sudden emergence and popularity of hebephilia to pressure from the legal arena and, specifically, to the legal mandate of a serious mental abnormality for civil commitment of sex offenders. Hebephilia is proposed as a quintessential example of pretextuality, in which special interests promote a pseudoscientific construct that furthers an implicit, instrumental goal. Inherent problems with the construct's reliability and validity are discussed. A warning is issued about unintended consequences if hebephilia or its relative, pedohebephilia, make their way into the DSM-5, due out in 2013.
After providing the history and scientific status of hebephilia, I conclude:
Significant unintended consequences are likely if novel syndromes of primary benefit to the sex offender commitment industry are incorporated into the upcoming edition of the DSM. First, at a time of mounting controversy over partisan influence and lack of scientific rigor in the DSM diagnostic system, critics will seize on this as a glaring example of arbitrary and unscientific use of psychiatric diagnosis in the service of a pragmatic goal. This could have the paradoxical effect of reducing the scientific credibility of the DSM and the fields of psychiatry and psychology more broadly. In the forensic arena, where the diagnosis will most often be invoked, it may paradoxically invigorate defense challenges on the grounds that psychiatry is being deployed in a pretextual manner. In the end, hebephilia will come to haunt not only those who are civilly committed on pretextual grounds, but the entire mental health field, for years to come.
Links to more articles on this topic can be found on my HEBEPHILIA RESOURCES PAGE; my blog essay from 2007 on the "Invasion of the Hebephile Hunters" is HERE.

May 4, 2012

Hebephilia update: DSM-5 workgroup stubbornly clinging to pet diagnosis

Salvador Dali*: The Average Bureaucrat
A few weeks ago, I reported on an open letter to the American Psychiatric Association, calling for it to reject three controversial expansions of sexual paraphilia diagnoses that are being promoted by government evaluators in civil commitment cases.

A lot has happened since then. The only one of the three controversial diagnoses still in the running for official status has been altered for the umpteenth time. An esteemed journal is issuing a scathing critique. And the open letter is generating buzz in the blogosphere.

The open letter has garnered more than 100 signatures, many from prominent forensic psychologists and psychiatrists in the U.S. and internationally. If you intend to sign on but haven’t yet, act now because I understand it will be submitted very soon. (Click HERE to review the text; click HERE to email your name and professional title to co-author Richard Wollert.)

Hebephilia gets yet another makeover 

This week, the Sexual Disorders Workgroup for the upcoming fifth edition of the APA's diagnostic manual toned down its proposal to turn sexual attraction to young teens into a mental disorder. As psychiatrist Allen Frances explains at his DSM5 in Distress blog, hebephilia is still there -- you just have to read the small print to see it:
Dali: Enchanted Beach with Three Fluid Graces
Confronted by universal opposition from the rest of the field, the DSM 5 group has been forced progressively to whittle down their pet, but they so far have refused to just drop it altogether. 'Hebephilia' first lost its free-standing independence and was cloaked as Pedohebephilia. When this didn't fly, the term was dropped altogether in the title but the concept was slipped into the definition of Pedophilia -- which was expanded out of recognition by having a victim age cut-off of 14 years. No one accepted this outlandish suggestion and now finally the work group comes back with ‘early pubescent children' and tries to keep 'hebephilia' as a term in the subtype. The instability of the criteria sets associated with this concept is additional evidence that the fervor for its adoption stems from emotional loyalty rather than reasoned review of its weak conceptual and research base. How can the group vouch for the reliability of the diagnosis when the concept and criteria are changing every month? This is no way to develop a diagnostic system.
The staunch insistence on this transparent attempt to turn statutory rape into a mental disorder owes in large part to the makeup of the sexual disorders workgroup. As Frances notes, "the most wayward of all the DSM 5 work groups" is "lopsidedly dominated" by psychologists from a sex clinic up in Toronto, whose ambition is "to find a place in DSM 5 for their pet diagnosis."
Although the group's other outlandish proposals, Paraphilic Coercive Disorder and Hypersexuality, have been shelved for the time being, Frances worries that putting them in the appendix "for further study" is still risky:
Recognizing that the jig is up on the grand design, members of the DSM 5 sexual disorders work group have been heard saying they may have to settle for an Appendix placement for their three hothouse creations. This would create forensic dangers. We have learned from the abuse of "Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified" in Sexually Violent Predator cases that any (even remote) legitimization by DSM 5 is certain to be misconstrued and misused in the courtroom. 

Come on guys. This is absolutely absurd just on the face of it…. So back to the drawing board, DSM 5 sexual disorders work group. The grand dream is lost -- now at least make sure you don't mess up on the fine print.
On the professional listservs today, some conspiracy theorists were speculating that the new wording signifies a plot to enhance the standing of physiological testing in sex offender assessment. The latest proposed criteria for "pedophilia, hebephilic type" require "equal or greater sexual arousal from prepubescent or early pubescent children than from physically mature persons." How to determine that fuzzy standard? Enter the penile plethysmographer, a new niche career track, penis cuff at the ready to measure who is aroused by what.

"There is withering criticism already that the DSM is being expanded to sell more drugs," wrote one colleague. "Now it appears that psychiatry and psychology are conspiring to use the DSM to spur PPG tests -- tests which risk leaving patients with traumatic and indelible memory traces. Do most psychiatrists really want to open this door?!"

Orwellian thought police? 

The mere idea of allowing the American Psychiatric Association to dictate "normal" sexuality frightens English Professor Christopher Lane. Lane, whose book Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness exposed the unscientific inner workings of the DSM-III committee, expressed shock over the first listed criterion for the shelved disorder of hypersexuality: "Excessive time is consumed by sexual fantasies and urges, and by planning for and engaging in sexual behavior." On his Side Effects blog, Lane mused:
Dali: Femme a Tete de Roses
"Excessive time"? What exactly does that mean, and according to whose standards? That's not a small or trivial matter to settle when the APA is talking in vague generalities about the nation’s libido -- how much sex it wants and how much sex the APA thinks it should think about wanting. The APA is talking about how much time Americans can devote to sexual fantasy before it suggests that we’re mentally ill if our preoccupations are stronger than those set by the relevant task force.

Does that initiative seem to overreach a bit, even to the point of sounding almost Orwellian? It does so to me. If we're to have criteria, are quotas next, including for fantasy? It’s as if the East Coast offices of the APA had morphed into those of the Thought Police in Orwell's 1984, warning citizens that they’d overstepped their "sexual thought quota" for the week and must be rationed -- or punished accordingly.
Lane analyzed hebephilia through his characteristic historical lens:
It's an archaism, a throwback literally to 19th-century psychiatry, but refers to practices that were as central to the Classical age -- and thus to Western democracy -- as were Socrates, Plato, and especially Plato’s Symposium, one of the foundational books in the West on eros and love.

The APA is already trying to determine how long normal grief should last before it’s thought pathological. Its brisk, jaw-dropping answer: two weeks. Do we really want the same organization dictating how often we can think about sex? These kinds of proposals can only end badly.
Leading journal tackles the controversy

The good news this week, which should have all of us jumping up and down with joy, is that the APA has caved in under massive public pressure and dropped its plan for a new psychosis risk disorder. This disorder would have put thousands if not millions of youngsters at risk of being dosed up with dangerous antipsychotic drugs based on a suspicion that they might go crazy in the future. Mixed Anxiety Depression has also bit the dust.

Dali: Daddy Longlegs of the Evening Hope
But, as featured in a special issue of the esteemed Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases due out in June on the raging diagnostic controversies, there are still many battles ahead as the bloated DSM-5 enters the final stretch. The special issue will tackle diagnostic inflation, pharmacological conflicts of interest, controversies with the newly revamped personality disorders, and problems with diagnostic reliability in the recent field trials. Hebephilia, often neglected amidst controversies with wider impact such as psychosis risk syndrome and the pathologization of normal grief, merited an article in this special issue.

 In "Hebephilia and the Construction of a Fictitious Diagnosis," forensic psychologists Paul Good and the late Jules Burstein make a strong case for abandoning this faux disorder, which will only make the APA more of a laughingstock in the future.

Good and Burstein catalog an assortment of empirical problems. These range from the difficulty of reliably measuring "recurrent and intense" sexual arousal to problems determining the pubertal status of a young teenage victim. They also challenge the very idea that sexual attraction to pubescent minors is a mental illness, rather than merely illegal.

Although the Sexual Disorders Workgroup hides behind a fictive notion of a pure and ethereal "science," Good and Burstein clearly believe that hebephilia, if added to the DSM-5, will be mainly invoked in a partisan manner in forensic proceedings, in order to justify harsher punishment and involuntary civil detention. Because of its power to do harm, they say, its scientific grounding should be especially strong. If it does manage to worm its way into the DSM, they say, it should still be challenged in court:
We believe the admissibility of the proposed revision to DSM-5 that would include Hebephilia as a type of Pedophilia could be challenged in a court of law based on current legal standards. For example, since there is no professional consensus or general acceptance in the scientific community to support the notion of Hebephilia as a mental disorder, it would have difficulty passing the Frye test for admissibility. Similarly, without a widely established body of peer-reviewed, validation research and repeated studies showing inter-rater reliability in the laboratory and among clinicians in the field, Hebephilia would also have difficulty meeting the criteria specified in the Daubert standard.
Indeed, this is just what has been happening to hebephilia in federal court, where at least three civil detention petitions in a row have been thrown out due to the level of controversy in the field over this purported condition.

With all of this tumult, it seems that the DSM-5 excesses are producing a backlash against the American Psychiatric Association and, indeed, fueling disenchantment with the whole enterprise of psychiatric diagnosis.

As Frances writes, the turnaround on psychosis risk syndrome came about due to a combination of:
  • extensive criticism from experts in the field
  • public outrage
  • uniformly negative press coverage
  • abysmal results in DSM-5 field testing
For the first time in its history, DSM 5 has shown some flexibility and capacity to correct itself. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of what will turn out to be a number of other necessary DSM 5 retreats. Today's revisions should be just the first step in a systematic program of reform.… This is certainly no time for complacency. Much of the rest of DSM 5 is still a mess. The reliabilities achieved for many of the other disorders are apparently unbelievably low and the writing of the criteria sets is still unacceptably imprecise.
Who needs reliability? 

Frances calls for slowing down the process to allow for additional field testing and, more importantly, an independent scientific review of all the remaining controversial DSM-5 changes. But the DSM-5 folks are taking a different tack. Faced with field trial results showing very poor reliability -- not much better than chance -- for many of their proposed diagnoses, they want to change the definition of what counts as minimally adequate.

Dali: Autumn Cannibalism
It’s pretty ironic: The DSM-III went down in history for elevating the importance of reliability at the expense of validity. Remember, diagnostic reliability just means that similarly trained raters see a certain symptom presentation and call it by the same label. It says nothing about external validity, or whether the label is meaningful in explaining a real-world phenomenon. But reliability is basic. If a diagnostic label cannot be reliably applied, you can't even start talking about its validity. And now, the same psychiatric organization that reified the kappa reliability statistic as the be-all, end-all of science is trying to tell us that traditional kappa levels are unrealistically high for psychiatric research.

Historically, psychiatric reliability studies have adopted the Fleiss standard, in which kappas below 0.4 have been considered poor. In the January issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, Helena Kraemer and colleagues complained that this standard is unrealistically high, and lobbied for kappas as low as 0.2 -- traditionally considered poor -- to be deemed "acceptable."

Former DSM-III guru Robert Spitzer and colleagues object to this proposal in a letter in the latest issue of the Journal. "Calling for psychiatry to accept kappa values that are characterized as unreliable in other fields of medicine is taking a step backward," they state. "One hopes that the DSM-5 reliability results are at least as good as the DSM-III results, if not better."

Alas, just wishing won't make it so. Despite its grandly stated ambitions, the DSM-5 will likely go down in history as a major gaffe by American psychiatry in its continuing struggle for world dominance.  

Remember to check out the open letter 
and send in your name, if you are in agreement with it.

Further reading:
*Salvador Dali: "One day it will have to be officially admitted that what we have christened reality is an even greater illusion than the world of dreams."