The LA Times Article on pedophiles is misleading at best. The title of the January 14, 2013 article reads, “Many researchers taking a different view of pedophilia”. While an interesting title even more intriguing is that only one (not many) researcher is referenced, James Cantor of the Center of Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto.
Dr. Cantor also serves as the editor of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment contributes to the APA’s newsletter on Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender psychology. The significance is that this division is very politically motivated to find a biological explanation for sexual minorities, including in this case, pedophilia. In a 2003 editorial article Dr. Cantor argues for the APA’s increased focus on the “biological research on sexual orientation” at its conventions.
In fact, Dr. Cantor’s single research project, amongst a Canadian prison population, is the only “research” project that suggests a biological origin for pedophilia. Further, Cantor, in his own research, makes it clear that in utero developmental influencers are only 1 of many possible explanations for the findings.
The other two professionals cited in the LA Times article, Dr. Fred Berlin and Dr. Russell Swerdlow, only say that “good people are struggling” and that brain tumors can cause obsessive thinking. Neither suggest a biological cause for pedophilia.
Chicken or Egg?
Brain patterns are shaped by environment and life experience. Often people make the mistake that assuming because an MRI or PET scan shows a pattern in brain activity or structure for a particular diagnosis that this indicates causation. The misnomer is, “They do ABC because their brain structure is XYZ.”
The truth is that environment and behavior patterns shape neuro-structure and brain activity. Just because brain scans show a certain pattern does not mean that the brain structure caused the behavior. It’s just as possible, if not likely, that the behavior / environment resulted in the brain structures / patterns.
Attractions do not CONTROL behavior.
Being attracted to my neighbor’s wife does not mean I have to sleep with her. Being attracted to my prepubescent step daughter does not mean I have to molest her. The experience of attractions does not compel behavior.
Christian Theological Perspective
From a spiritual perspective, sexual behavior and even intent for behavior, has moral implications. That is engaging in sexual behavior outside God’s design for our sexuality, including pedophilia, or the intent to if you could get away with it, is in the Bible’s language, sin.
That doesn’t mean that struggling with distressing attractions is sin. There are many people who experience distressing attractions that do not act on them, choosing instead to live in a way that honors their values. The Christian’s attitude towards those who experiencing distressing attractions should be one of compassion.
Help is available.
If you or someone you love struggles with distressing attractions the counselors at The Relationship Center know how to help. Visit TheRelationshipCenter.us for more information.
Check out these resources for more trustworthy information.
- Shaun Lotter, MA, LPC , a therapist at The Relationship Center has written an insightful article on this topic: Is pedophilia biological?