The world of forensic psychology is a dynamic one that involves ongoing research and debate regarding the motivations behind crimes, the role of mental illness, and proper place of medical professionals in determining someone’s punishment. The contributions made by psychologists are not without their run-ins with controversy. For instance, the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is due out in 2013 and workgroups are considering inclusion of a psychiatric diagnosis that is being met with strong resistance.
Hebephilia, or the sexual attraction to pubescent minors, is being discussed as a new mental disorder. This label would come into play into cases of statutory rape that involve victims between the ages of eleven and fourteen.
One vocal opponent of this proposed disorder is Dr. Allen Frances, who was chair of the DSM-4 Task Force and who serves as professor emeritus at Duke University. In a recent blog post published for Psychology Today, Frances asserts that sexual attraction to those who have reached puberty is hard-wired and very common, pointing to popular advertising campaigns and their use of sexualized teenagers in appealing to adults, and that these urges must be controlled. The feelings remain from a time in our history when people did not live long enough to delay sexual activity past adolescence. Frances believes that sex with a teenager in today’s society is indeed a heinous crime and such urges must be controlled, but that such an act is not a sign of a mental disorder.
What are your thoughts on defining sex with a child who has reached puberty as a mental disorder?
Is this a legitimate addition to our psychological labels, or are we making excuses for a rapist who made a very bad decision?
Crime Watch Blog: www.emilystonecrimewatch.wordpress.com/
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Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting