Mind of the Pedophile

The crimes committed by child predators are some of the most unthinkable, making it hard to understand, what makes a person a pedophile?

You read it in the newspaper and hear the stories on your local news everyday. There are even shows like NBC’s To Catch A Predator that remind us everyday that pedophiles are all around us. They are in our communities and on the internet. We know what they do, but one question often left unanswered is why they do it?

Dr. Timothy Allen, a Forensic Psychiatrist from the University of Kentucky says each pedophile has their own reasons that have led them to commit their horrific crimes. Allen knows that first hand because he also works at K.C.P.C., a Kentucky prison where he sees incarcerated patients and speaks to them about what led to their actions, and why they did what they did. “It tends to be that they’ve more likely been abused as a child themselves” said Allen. Though it is agreed that many pedophiles may have been abused as children, Dr. Allen says the statistics on abuse vary. A history of abuse however isn’t the only common thread among pedophiles.

Lower IQ and a person’s social network are also common issues among some pedophiles. “Most pedophiles, most child abusers, did not have a wide social network as children, they don’t have a lot of friends, they tend to be loners, they tend to feel inadequate in social situations and they tend to be somewhat immature for their age” Dr. Timothy Allen said. There are also many psychiatric disorders that follow pedophiles, a common one is impulse control disorder. “Impulse control is a diagnosis that we have in psychiatry that describes people that can’t control their actions” said Dr. Allen. The disorder is similar to what impulsive gamblers go through, but is there evidence that points toward a biological basis for pedophilia? Researchers say the answer may be found on a brain scan.

Dr. Timothy Allen says there is evidence now from M.R.I.’s of the brain of pedophiles that they have smaller gray matter, otherwise known as the thinking part of the brain. Interestingly you don’t have to be born with smaller gray matter to have the brain of a pedophile.

Brain trauma is something else that could lead to pedophilia. Allen says a person could have had an attraction to children but never acted on it, and then a brain trauma could damage the mechanism that tells a person they shouldn’t be doing something. Just as important as the social and biological reasons as to why pedophiles do what they do may be justification.

Justification is used by many pedophiles after they have abused their victim, and it is used to justify their behavior in their own minds and to the rest of society.

Dr. Timothy Allen said, “They justify in their own minds after they’ve done it that ‘society just doesn’t understand’ and ‘I really love the children’ and ‘I’m just teaching the children how to love’ and all of these other justifications in their mind”. Allen says that is one of the reasons pedophiles can be so hard to treat, because they themselves don’t believe they are doing anything wrong.

Before you think you know everything there is to know about the mind of a pedophile, think again. “Sometimes we wonder if we have a bias in how we describe these people because we’re only looking at the ones who are sort of clumsy enough to be arrested and then talk about it; so the ones that are really higher intelligence may not be getting caught.” Allen said.

Doctors say pedophilia is not something that can be cured because you can’t change a person’s thinking, what you can change is their behavior.

Some treatment options include anti-depressant medications and hormone therapy which are known to decrease a person’s sex drive. Group therapy and individual psychotherapy is also recommended. On the extreme end of treatment options, some pedophiles are offered the option of castration.

Doctors say however that pedophilia is something that must be treated for the rest of a person’s life.

Megan Skaggs
Published in: on November 11, 2007 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mind of the Pedophile

The crimes committed by child predators are some of the most unthinkable, making it hard to understand, what makes a person a pedophile?

You read it in the newspaper and hear the stories on your local news everyday. There are even shows like NBC’s To Catch A Predator that remind us everyday that pedophiles are all around us. They are in our communities and on the internet. We know what they do, but one question often left unanswered is why they do it?

Dr. Timothy Allen, a Forensic Psychiatrist from the University of Kentucky says each pedophile has their own reasons that have led them to commit their horrific crimes. Allen knows that first hand because he also works at K.C.P.C., a Kentucky prison where he sees incarcerated patients and speaks to them about what led to their actions, and why they did what they did. “It tends to be that they’ve more likely been abused as a child themselves” said Allen. Though it is agreed that many pedophiles may have been abused as children, Dr. Allen says the statistics on abuse vary. A history of abuse however isn’t the only common thread among pedophiles.

Lower IQ and a person’s social network are also common issues among some pedophiles. “Most pedophiles, most child abusers, did not have a wide social network as children, they don’t have a lot of friends, they tend to be loners, they tend to feel inadequate in social situations and they tend to be somewhat immature for their age” Dr. Timothy Allen said. There are also many psychiatric disorders that follow pedophiles, a common one is impulse control disorder. “Impulse control is a diagnosis that we have in psychiatry that describes people that can’t control their actions” said Dr. Allen. The disorder is similar to what impulsive gamblers go through, but is there evidence that points toward a biological basis for pedophilia? Researchers say the answer may be found on a brain scan.

Dr. Timothy Allen says there is evidence now from M.R.I.’s of the brain of pedophiles that they have smaller gray matter, otherwise known as the thinking part of the brain. Interestingly you don’t have to be born with smaller gray matter to have the brain of a pedophile.

Brain trauma is something else that could lead to pedophilia. Allen says a person could have had an attraction to children but never acted on it, and then a brain trauma could damage the mechanism that tells a person they shouldn’t be doing something. Just as important as the social and biological reasons as to why pedophiles do what they do may be justification.

Justification is used by many pedophiles after they have abused their victim, and it is used to justify their behavior in their own minds and to the rest of society.

Dr. Timothy Allen said, “They justify in their own minds after they’ve done it that ‘society just doesn’t understand’ and ‘I really love the children’ and ‘I’m just teaching the children how to love’ and all of these other justifications in their mind”. Allen says that is one of the reasons pedophiles can be so hard to treat, because they themselves don’t believe they are doing anything wrong.

Before you think you know everything there is to know about the mind of a pedophile, think again. “Sometimes we wonder if we have a bias in how we describe these people because we’re only looking at the ones who are sort of clumsy enough to be arrested and then talk about it; so the ones that are really higher intelligence may not be getting caught.” Allen said.

Doctors say pedophilia is not something that can be cured because you can’t change a person’s thinking, what you can change is their behavior.

Some treatment options include anti-depressant medications and hormone therapy which are known to decrease a person’s sex drive. Group therapy and individual psychotherapy is also recommended. On the extreme end of treatment options, some pedophiles are offered the option of castration.

Doctors say however that pedophilia is something that must be treated for the rest of a person’s life.

Megan Skaggs
Published in: on November 11, 2007 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Child molester gets one year

The man convicted of sexually molesting a 5-year-old girl received five years probation and one year of jail time in Fifth Circuit court last week, with credit for time served.

Judge Randal Valenciano handed down the sentence to Tom Gonsalves Sr., a punishment that also will include a $10,000 fine, 800 hours of community service and a $150 victim compensation fee.

Though Valenciano sealed Gonsalves’ psychosexual evaluation, before giving the sentence the judge did allude to Gonsalves’ attempted suicide as part of what he took into consideration.

“Your attempted suicide is an acknowledgement by you that the situation you created is a serious situation,” Valenciano said.

First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn had asked for a harsher sentence than what Valenciano handed down — the maximum five years — because of the egregious nature of the crime given the age of the victim.

“I’ve heard this crime called an ‘incident’ and a ‘wrong,’” Winn Said. “But the defendant touched a 5-year-old girl’s vagina. He has a sexual preference for children.

“This 5-year-old girl didn’t realize what was happening or that it was wrong.”

Winn also said it wasn’t until details of the crime came to light after a conversation between the mother and child that the victim was informed that, in fact, what she endured was anything but right.

Following that conversation, further details surrounding other similar instances were brought to light as well, according to Winn.

“There were later disclosures of more incidences that had been happening for some time,” Winn said.

Mark Zenger, Gonsalves’ attorney, had asked Valenciano to sentence Gonsalves to probation without incarceration but under “extremely intensive supervision and treatment” in addition to requesting a deferred acceptance of sentencing. However, Valenciano denied both requests.

Zenger said that Gonsalves had suffered a serious past trauma to the brain. Zenger and a therapist who spoke on Gonsalves’ behalf said in court that in his group sessions Gonsalves was gaining greater understanding of the importance of having empathy for his victim and putting that emotion ahead of his own desires or feelings.

Alluding to the testimony given on his behalf, specifically that which was given by Gonsalves’ wife, Winn said, “In one sense it’s admirable — a wife supporting him — but we see it all the time.”

Winn went on to say that in addition to the trauma experienced by the victim, the family of the 5-year-old had been through trauma of their own over what their child had endured.

Factors Valenciano took into consideration, in addition to Gonsalves’ attempted suicide, included evaluating whether he believed Gonsalves would be likely to commit this type of crime again or whether he would have the ability to rehabilitate himself, Valenciano said.

Tips for preventing child molestation

• Pay attention to your child’s comfort level in going somewhere or being with someone.

• Let children know there is nothing they cannot tell you.

• At an early age, explain to them where it is and is not OK to be touched on their bodies, and by whom.

• Teach your kids that it is OK to say “No.”

• Teach them that secrets about touching body parts are not OK.

• Research caregivers and friends with whom you leave your child

• Be wary of teens or adults who offer to spend time with your child.

• Watch for warning signs: Isolation, bedwetting, moodiness, sleep disturbances or changes in eating habits.

Amanda C. Gregg
Published in: on November 11, 2007 at 4:43 pm  Leave a Comment