Pedophiliacs: Should we feel sympathy for them?

So in this thread over here we appear to be debating pedophiliac hypotheticals, God help us, and the question came up about ‘feeling sorry’ for those with such tendencies.

I admit, if my understanding of pedophilia is correct then I do feel a certain sympathy for people with these tendencies. If I understand correct, and please feel free to educate me, then the attraction to the underage as defined by pedophila is involuntary on the part of those who possess it. That is, this is the way their sexual attraction circuits are wired for whatever reason and they’re stuck with it. They could no more ‘unwire’ themselves than I could do so about being straight.

And that does lead to a certain amount of ‘Dude, sucks to be you’ feeling on my part. In a world that’s gotten much more liberal about things sexual over the last 50 years they find themselves in a spot that has a bright white line drawn around it and they can never be allowed to follow their sexual instincts without being in danger of the law and being utterly ostracized by society. They must, forever, refrain from sexual activity that seems right to them.

Heck, priests are committed to doing so but at least they made the decision consciously.

Inasmuch as it may be hard wired then there is a “sucks to be you” thing here.

That said some things go beyond feeling sorry for them. Some people who are exceptionally violent were made/born that way. Does not absolve them in the least bit for what they do to others.

If someone knows they have pedo tendencies then it is incumbent upon them to seek help and do everything they can to not indulge in their particular attraction. Yeah, sucks for them but then people are born with all sorts of maladies and deformities and retardation and so on that sucks too. At least a pedo can presumably do something about it. If they don’t and indulge their perversion then I have zero sympathy.

I feel sorry for them, too, for having said urges. I know that I don’t always consciously act on my own urges. I’m a heterosexual female, FTR (so we’re not talking about accidentally/on purpose brushing up against the Sea World orcas), but when I’m around a guy I’m attracted to, I’m not consciously thinking, “I’m going to do xyz.” It’s more like…“Ooooh, he’s sexy,” and I find myself leaning against him, or lying against him, or finding an excuse to be physical.

Okay, obviously, there are settings where that’s totally unprofessional and not kosher even for a person attracted exclusively to adults. But it’s natural for flirtatious behavior to happen in some settings. For a pedophile, though, it’s like you always have to be on guard. And since most pedophiles don’t necessarily violently rape the kid, it’s a lot harder–there are subtle grooming activities that you can do to make the kid think they’re really special or awesome and that this is normal.

Sorry to nitpick, but the word is “pedophiles.”

I’m not up to date on the psychological research here, but to whatever extent these people struggle with an attraction that’s beyond their control, yes, I feel sorry for them. Some of them seem to really do want to be rid of that attraction. Some were molested themselves, and it’s definitely sad that that can lead to a cycle of further abuse.

But when they act on their impulses or offer justifications for them? Forget it. That’s a choice. And while some of them may have impulses they can’t control, it’s still possible to have bad impulses and be a piece of crap at the same time. It’s not a catchall excuse.

So what kind of help can they get? Is there anything that can be done short of chemical castration? If it is actually inborn and not a condition, wouldn’t trying to change them be like trying to change a homosexual?

I’ve never been able to figure out how pedophiles manage to contact each other. How do you even bring it up with another person? I can’t imagine a more reviled group, and admitting you were one would risk pretty much every bad thing a society can do to an individual.

Thankx to an incident close to my family, my attitude towards pedophiles is far past ‘zero sympathy’.

Based on other discussions on the SDMB, my understanding is that chemical castration isn’t a cure-all. It can help if the person doesn’t want to do it anymore, but it does not completely eliminate sexual desire and impulses. Overall I’m skeptical of the whole “they can’t help it” defense, just like I’m skeptical of claims that pedophiles are nearly guaranteed to reoffend.

Isn’t that kind of a big word for an eight year old?

I think its tragic. They, for whatever reason, are in a position that does not allow them to live out their sexual fantasies in a way that others can.

I could care less what people fantasize about. If they want to beat off thinking about little Betty there is nothing ‘wrong’ about that to me. It’s equivalent to them doing so to Jenna Jamison or Janet Reno to me. Not my place to judge.

I have no sympathy for those that actively partake or pursue fantasies in a way that abuses or exploits actual children. It is not ok with me for them to impact the lives of children.

I think one of the reasons it’s so hard is because you can tell yourself if you’re not raping the kid, it’s okay. Obviously, it’s not okay to fondle or stroke a kid either, but I think there are a lot of mental justifications going on there. And there are a lot of blurry areas. This got me a lot of eye rolls from Cesario in the thread where he admitted his inclinations, but I think there are ways of making a kid uncomfortable out of attraction without necessarily molesting them. I know I’ve been in situations where a person has been attracted to me when I’ve been unable to reciprocate and it’s sort of creepy. I imagine it’s even more so when you add the power differential.

If they have urges they don’t like and want to get help so they do not act on the urges, then yeah I feel sympathy for them. It would suck to feel compelled to do something as destructive and shameful as that.

If you type in the phrase ‘child molestation prevention’ or ‘child molestation treatment’ the first website that comes up is

Which has info about where potential abusers can go for help and what kinds of help are available. So its not like help is impossible to find, 10 seconds on google leads you to the right place. So I feel sympathy, but in the age of information it isn’t too hard to get help if someone wants it and can admit to themselves that they need it.

Closeted sexual abuse is the worst public health problem we have right now. It leads to a life that will likely be filled with (or at least prone to) emotional suffering, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, immune dysfunction, relationship problems, domestic violence, suicide attempts, etc.

"Children seldom tell. Those millions of children are a secret. They are the secret in family after family after family. Even adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse seldom tell. What we do know from studies of adult men and women is that the number is at least three million. At least three million children are molested before they finish their 13th year. In 1998, there were 103,000 reported and confirmed cases of child molestation. For comparison, at the height of the polio epidemic that struck children in the 1950s, there were 21,000 cases reported in a year. For rubella, there were 57,000 cases reported. For child molestation, those numbers of reported and confirmed molestations are only the tip of the iceberg. For every case reported there are at least two and maybe three more cases that never get reported.

That’s why we may never know the exact number of child victims. We do know that if we use the conservative estimate that two in every ten little girls and one in every ten little boys are victims (based on the population reported in the 1999 U.S. Census statistical abstract) well over three million children are victims.

Take a moment to think about that. Three million children is a staggering number of children. That’s 46 National Football League stadiums packed with children who are, today, being sexually abused, and who believe they have no adult to go to for help."

Yes we should feel sorry for the children.
Now back to the point, I do feel sorry for them. They have urges that will result in them being ostracized or jailed. That can not be a good feeling when you are young and look at what life will bring. I suppose depression is a problem for them. There are no easy solutions. If they admit to authorities they have such urges, cops will arrest them anytime someone in the area is molested. That would alert the neighborhood . Would they be better off staying hidden and not seek help? Then if a useful drug comes along they will not get it. They are trapped in an ugly world.

I feel almost ashamed to admit it but, yes, I feel sorry for them - insofar - that they have these unquenchable urges but the pity stops there. This is not a society that allows for adult-minor relationships nor should it be.

As much as I support convicted pedophiles going to jail, I believe, deep down, that these people belong in psychiatric wards not in jail cells. These people need to learn how to integrate into society without humping on a toddler that strolls by. I don’t know if its possible to reverse pedophilia in a psychiatric setting, but it has to be better than jail, where the certainty of them committing the crime again is all but certain.

Americans will have to make a painful shift from looking at pedophiles as monsters to human beings who have been aberrantly wired. I don’t think this will happen in our lifetime. It is unfortunate because research in this area is scarce. Would be pretty cool to find that a pill could reverse or, at least, blunt some of these behaviors. I do support the idea pharmacologically or surgically manipulating pedophiles so that they won’t have a sex drive but I don’t know all of the ramifications of it.

It’s certainly a sticky subject and wish there were easy answers. Very thought-provoking thread.

I don’t imagine you have any more choice about it than somebody who is gay. Or straight, for that matter. You’re wired how you’re wired. As long as they understand that their preferred sexual encounter necessarily involves rape and so ensure that they never act on their urges, I do feel sorry for them. What a miserable way to have to go through the world.

When they try to rationalize that ‘well, under this set of circumstances it might be ok,’ or, ‘if the child is mature for their age,’ or something like that, I stop feeling sorry for them and start to worry that they’re starting down the path of a child predator.

Yeah, some of Cesario’s posts about how it’s society that infantilizes kids and how some kids are mature and he wouldn’t stop a six year old who had already started going down on me skeeve the hell out of me.

Keep in mind while discussing sexual urges that these urges (and by that I mean sexual drives in general, not just pedophilia) are almost as compelling as the urge to eat and drink and interact socially with others. One may repress them and try to re-direct them, but inevitably, one’s sexuality is going to get expressed somehow, some way in that person’s lifetime.

A lucky few find more socially acceptable ways to channel unacceptable sexuality. Many don’t manage that feat.

Of course that’s no excuse for having sexual encounters with minors. But it’s still a tough situation.

My thoughts, exactly. Imagine if we “normal” people could never have sexual relations of any kind with another consenting adult of our choice. Take a cold shower? Sooner or later, something is likely to give.

Not just sexual relations, though. Any physical contact. I mean, sometimes you just want to be close to someone you’re attracted to…for a hug, or a cuddle. I can’t imagine being unable to do anything like that to someone I felt turned on by. It’s like every single time you come in physical proximity to the object of your desire, you’re going to be magnifying its importance because you can’t have it.

I agree. After all, most of us agree that “abstinence-only” isn’t a very realistic expectation, but that’s pretty much what we tell pedophiles to do.

Not that I would feel particularly comfortable having one around my kids unsupervised, but I do feel sorry for their situation.

Guaranteed? No. But recidivism rates are rather high just the same and the danger posed continues for a long time:

And that’s what I’m getting at. They’re stuck in a terrible situation from which I doubt there’s an escape. As Qadgop says, some of the more basic drives will attempt to find expression. But it’s not like we, as a society, can condone it (though others certainly have).

A harsh situation, indeed.