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  

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