Does the DSM Say that the Bishops Were Right All Along?

DSM IV 2

How many times have you heard a bishop try to explain away his actions concerning a child-molesting priest by saying “But we got him counseling. It was what the experts advised?”

And how many times, when you heard that, did you think, “Mr Bishop, nobody’s that dumb?”

There appears to be a growing move to legitimize child sexual abuse in our culture. It started a long time ago with the book Lolita and moved forward through lots of movies, books and plays such as American Beauty and others. I remember quite clearly the outrage in certain quarters when the government took a stab at holding Roman Polanski accountable for raping a 13-year-old girl.

In the words of one famous comedienne “It wasn’t rape-rape.”

It is increasingly becoming a fact rather than a conjecture that the sexual abuse of children is only really terrible in our society when it is committed by a Catholic priest, or occasionally, a famous football coach.

My colleague Dr Gregory Popcak has published a post raising the question of whether or not the DSM has moved pedophilia into the gray area of “orientation.” The phrase “orientation” is loaded up to the top with political correctness. It has become something of a synonym in the popular imagination for an inborn trait or illness, like, say, Down’s Syndrome.

Dr Popcak makes clear that the DSM has not changed its definition. The gray area was there all along. It comes from the dilemma of how to define people who are sexually attracted to children but don’t molest them. My understanding is that the DSM considers the sexual attraction to children as an orientation and the practice of molesting children a disorder.

That’s a fine cut for a layperson, and it explains much of the confusion in the public mind.

All this takes us back to the cry of so many anguished bishops that they were just doing what the “experts” told them when they gave child molesting priests a dose of counseling and then put them back into parishes where they could molest again. The confusion about whether or not the DSM has moved pedophilia into the gray area of “orientation” is freighted with questions that can lead to all sorts of wrong-headed actions on the part of people ranging from law enforcement, to legislators and on to Catholic bishops.

We need to temper our enthusiasm for advice from various professional associations with the awareness that many of them are too much the captives of political pressure and public opinion. This can hamper the genuine scientific value they offer. Some of the psycho-babble we read is more an attempt at political blackmail aimed at changing laws or “normalizing” destructive behavior than it is actual scientific understanding.

If trendy public opinion is going to be the guide of our professional associations, then those associations become  worthless except as dues vacuums to pay for junkets, staff and glossy publications.

The bishops were wrong when they drop-kicked the Scriptures in order to follow the psychologists, especially since many of these psychologists were themselves hand-picked employees. They were morally wrong and they failed in their charge to be shepherds of the people God gave them to care for.

The fact that some of them can’t seem to get the message is not only infuriating, but it raises — at least for me — serious questions about the commitment to Christ on the part of these specific bishops. I am not talking about all bishops everywhere. But if, after all this time, a bishop still can’t figure out that priests should keep their hands off the children in their parishes, I am out of patience with them.

However, if Catholic priests are the only ones who are treated with public approbation because of their child molesting, then there’s something wrong with our mechanisms for public approbation. I read recently about a famous disk jockey who had made plans to meet a woman overseas so he could have sex with her seven year old daughter. British celebrities also come to mind. Where’s the approbation to equal the appall at priest child sexual abuse over these things?

You are broken trollcat

One thing I’ve learned from my time as a member of the board of directors of an organization that rescues trafficked women is that men purposely buy children for sex, and pimps purposely sell them right here in America. They do it all the time. Where, gentle reader, is the outrage over that?

The question — which is the same question each of these satanic moves backward into the pit asks of us — is are the victims of this things, or are they people? In this instance, the question is, are children things, or are they people?

When someone does something so terrible to a child, their “illness” becomes an academic question in my mind. As a lawmaker, my response is that they should be put in prison and never let out again. I mean that. They should live out the rest of their days and die in prison.

If that sounds harsh, so be it. I am not going to change. Not on this.

I know of no other way to keep our children safe from these people than to lock the predators up. 

  • Maggie Goff

    I agree with everything you said. Thank you for saying it.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Maggie.

  • kenofken

    There is no move afoot in the DSM or anywhere else in medical or psychiatric circles to normalize child abuse. Bishops have no excuse that professionals were misleading them. The chose to do the wrong thing thousands of times over over many decades and had a culture of leadership and sometimes even written policies supporting that evil. Even now, in the face of many years of strict internal policies, too many bishops actively look for excuses and loopholes to do the wrong thing.

    I don’t see that priests are the only ones whose child predation receives public approbation. There are plenty of failings in the private sector to be sure, but by and large, we aggressively prosecute these things when they come to light. The worst anger was and is reserved to the bishops for a reason. The trust that was placed in them, and the abuse of trust, was of a far greater magnitude. Nobody much looks to international slave traffickers, disc jockeys, or celebrities for moral leadership. Whether these folks receive their “fair” apportion of anger when they molest should not even enter the equation. If the ministry of bishops and priests and indeed their religion is to hold any meaning at all, they must aspire to, and be held to, a much higher standard of conduct than the least common denominator of society.

    • FW Ken

      Your claims aren’t born out by facts. They speak more to your personal bile than anything true about sex offenders, pedophiles, or Catholics.

    • FW Ken

      I can’t get this phone to post correctly, but Ken, your comments are generally more intelligent and thoughtful than this screed. In fact there are numerous signs that sex with children is the next sexual frontiers. I suggest that if you are interested in child welfare you research it. Of course, if you are only interested in bashing the Catholic Church, then you are already there.

  • pagansister

    Abuse of children by anyone, family member, clergy, etc. should be persecuted. They all belong in jail.

    • hamiltonr

      Pagansister, I edited this comment extensively. I apologize, but I don’t want to let things on this blog that are so personal about someone who isn’t speaking for themselves. I don’t doubt your integrity or that what you said is alright with this person, but this is a policy I just try to adhere to in order to protect people.

      If you would rather I delete the comment altogether rather than edit, let me know and I’ll do that. Rebecca

      • pagansister

        Thank you, Rebecca. No apology is necessary as I do tend to get carried away when it involves abuse of children (or adults). Leaving the above sentence is fine with me. I appreciate your continuing care for others. Thanks again.

        • hamiltonr

          de nada mi amiga.

        • hamiltonr

          de nada mi amiga.

      • pagansister

        I just realized the word should be “prosecuted” not “persecuted!” :-) New glasses necessary? :-)

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    Only one thing wrong. To call Vladimir Nabukov’s Lolita an endorsement of paedophilia is like calling Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus an endorsement of Nazism, or for that matter a doctor’s cancer diagnosis an endorsement of cancer. The idea may have arisen because Nabokov had done an artistically brave and dangerous thing: he had written the whole book in the voice of the abuser. We hear the sound of his rationalizations, his lies, his vanity and arrogance – not only at the expense of his victims, but also of the psychologists who seek to diagnose him and of most people he gets in touch with – till, I hope, we become aware of the sheer dishonesty and villainy of the man and of how he has been manipulating us too, the readers. The whole book is terrifyingly perceptive: written in 1958, when the so-called sexual revolution was still a decade away, it shows a clear sense that sexual obsessions and the abuse of minors and innocent are the end result of contemporary culture – both the vulgar popular culture in which poor Lolita grows and the meretricious upper-class learning that does nothing to keep Hubert Humbert from becoming a monster. Nabokov saw these things coming, like a monster at the end of the road, and described them as he saw them. But when he was asked, he clearly stated that he regarded Hubert Humbert as a repulsive wretch, and Lolita as a pitiful and rather sympathetic victim.

    • FW Ken

      That’s interesting. Because I keep tabs on the sex offender registry for my neighborhood, that word generated an invitation to a “true Lolita site”, which gave no indication of the true nature of the book. It was that against which Rebecca complains on a regular basis. I was so mad I called the FBI.

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        Well, of course the word “Lolita” – like Humbert’s own private word for his victims, “nymphets” – has passed into common slang and is used by people who have no idea of the book and would probably not be able to understand it if they did. To draw a comparison with another kind of sexual pervert, to call someone a Don Juan is to compare them with a multiple murderer and rapist who is eventually dragged down to Hell by the Devil himself. But most people just use it in the sense of a vaguely roguish admiration for a successful ladies’ man, without realizing Moliere and Mozart meant him for a monster.


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