By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Experts from Harvard and Johns Hopkins University will be among the panelists participating in a conference this week that aims at removing pedophilia from the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) list of mental illnesses, even though removal of the condition could lead to the decriminalization of pedophilia.
The Daily Caller (TheDC) is reporting that the August 17 conference, which will take place in Baltimore, is sponsored by B4U-ACT, a group of pro-pedophile mental health professionals and activists. The group wants to have pedophilia removed from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is set to be revised by 2013.
The conference brochure states that the event will examine “ways in which minor-attracted [pedophiles] can be involved in the DSM 5 revision process” and how to reform people’s opinions of pedophiles to encourage tolerance.
“What purpose does calling someone a ‘pervert’ or ‘predator’ serve anyway, other than to express contempt and hatred?” wrote B4U-ACT director of operations Dr. Richard Kramer in a March 14, 2009 blog entry on the website ReformSexOffenderLaws.org. “How is this productive? It certainly doesn’t protect children. I would urge all SO [sex offender] activists to listen to their own message: Stop buying into and promoting false stereotypes. Stop demonizing a whole class of people, and start learning the facts.”
Kramer and others like him claim that the APA’s rating “is based on data from prison studies, which completely ignore the existence of those who are law-abiding” but instead is based on a link between pedophilia and crime.
Panelists who will be participating in the event include Dr. Fred Berlin of Johns Hopkins University who has openly opposed sex offender notification laws and once served as a consultant to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse.
“Just as has been the case historically with homosexuality,” writes Berlin on the B4U-ACT website, “society is currently addressing the matter of pedophilia with a balance that is far more heavily weighted on the side of criminal justice solutions than on the side of mental health solutions.”
Other researchers include academics from Harvard, the University of Louisville and the University of Illinois.
Panelist Jacob Breslow, a graduate student in gender research at the London School of Economics, plans to discuss how political activists can exploit removing pedophilia from the next edition of the DSM for their own ends.
“Allowing for a form of non-diagnosable minor attraction is exciting, as it creates a sexual or political identity by which activists, scholars and clinicians can better understand Minor Attracted Persons,” Breslow writes in a summary of his upcoming August 17 presentation. “This understanding may displace the stigma, fear and objection that is naturalized as being attached to Minor Attracted Persons and may alter the terms by which non-normative sexualities are known.”
Child advocate Dr. Judith Reisman, a visiting professor at Liberty University’s School of Law, told TheDC that the conference is part of a strategy to condition people into accepting pedophiles, much like what was done years ago to desensitize the public to homosexuality.
“The first thing they do is to get the public to divest from thinking of what the offender does criminally, to thinking of the offender’s emotional state, to think of him as thinking of his emotional state, [and] to empathize and sympathize,” Reisman said.
She goes on to explain that mental health practitioners like Berlin want to place pedophilia on a par with neuroses or clinical depression, and counsel pedophiles rather than incarcerate them.
“The aim is to get them [pedophiles] out of prison,” she said.
She warns that declassifying pedophilia as a mental illness could result in the repeal of child-protection statutes because the law always follows the input of psychiatry. She points to psychiatry’s normalization of sadomasochism, exhibitionism, and homosexuality as precedents.
The APA has refused to comment on the conference.
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