Wednesday, June 18, 2003

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) wisely rejected the recommendation of some psychiatrists at an APA symposium held in San Francisco on May 19 that pedophilia be removed from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Several categories of mental illness were debated for possible removal from the upcoming annual edition of the manual. Among other illnesses suggested for removal were exhibitionism, transvestism and sadomasochism.

Psychiatrist Charles Moses and Peggy Kleinplatz, Ph.D., presented a paper at the conference titled, “DSM-IV-TR and the Paraphilias: An Argument for Removal.” According to Dr. Moses and Ms. Kleinplatz, people whose sexual interests do not comply with the norm of heterosexuality should not be labeled mentally ill, and culture and religion are not good parameters to define healthy sexual instincts. Moreover, they conclude that psychiatry does not have a theoretical model that “constitutes normal and healthy sexuality to which it could compare people whose sexual interests draw them to children or sadomasochism.” They believe that “any sexual interest can be healthy and life-enhancing.”

The APA has long categorized behavior as mental illness based on “its psychological, emotional or developmental origins, along with the unconscious motivations that were theorized to cause the condition.” Whatever the root cause, it is safe to say that someone who desires to have sex with a minor is not in his right mind, even if he is conscious of what he is doing. The APA defines a pedophile as “a person who over at least a six-month period has recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children 13 years old or younger.” The person must also be “at least 16 years old and at least five years older than the child or children” he or she is molesting.

On Tuesday, the APA issued a statement that pedophilia continues to be on its list of mental disorders. According to Dr. Darrel A. Reiger, APA director of research, “The APA never had any intention of removing pedophilia from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In fact, when revising the 2000 manual, the APA strengthened the criteria for pedophilia to include any action that involved molestation toward a child, regardless of whether or not the person was conflicted about it.” We congratulate the APA for not buckling under pressure to take pedophilia off its list of mental disorders. We hope that it will keep a sane attitude about this. The safety of our children depends upon it.

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