Defense Styles of Pedophiles Essay

Pages: 4 (1275 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Psychology

Defense Styles of Pedophilic Offenders

In their article, Drapeau et al. (2007) examine the defense styles of pedophiles. They were prompted do so because so many pedophiles use denial to either deny committing an offense or as a means of minimizing an offense. It is important to recognize that by defense mechanisms, Drapeau et al. are not necessarily referring to methods by which the pedophiles could legally or morally defend their crimes. Instead, they are talking about regulatory processes used by individuals to help ease cognitive dissonance and alter their own perceptions of events. These types of defense mechanisms are used by people to help increase their psychological adjustment and physical health. However, patients who fail to comply with their suggested medical treatments are more likely to use defenses. This changes as a patient grows increasingly aware of how their defenses function. They suggest that, even though defenses mechanisms have made a resurgence in mainstream psychology and psychiatry, they have not been adequately examined in specific regards to sexual abuse. Therefore, they began by examining the defense mechanisms used in pedophiles

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The research compared a group of pedophiles with a group of non-pedophiles seeking counseling for disorders with low-diagnostic severity. The pedophiles consisted of people between the age of 25 and 46, meeting DMS-IV criteria for pedophilia, convicted of sexual abuse, having molested people outside of the family, having never committed murder, and having not committed hebephilia (Drapeau et al., 2007). In order to assess defense mechanisms, the researchers used the Defense Mechanisms Rating Scale, which is an observer-rated method that can applied to recorded forms versions of interviews or therapy sessions (Drapeau et al., 2007).

TOPIC: Essay on Defense Styles of Pedophiles Assignment

The researchers did uncover significant differences between the defenses used by the controls and the defenses used by the pedophiles. First, pedophiles used significantly less obsessional-level defenses than the control group but more major image-distorting and action-level defenses (Drapeau et al., 2007). Though the researchers acknowledged that small sample size made it difficult to analyze those differences, they found that pedophiles "used more dissociation, displacement, denial, autistic fantasy, splitting of object, projective identification, acting out, and passive-aggressive behaviour but less intellectualization and rationalization" Drapeau et al., 2007). The researchers reached the preliminary conclusion that these pedophiles used less mature defense mechanisms than those mechanisms used by the controls. The fact that they so frequently failed to use intellectualization or rationalization was significant. Intellectualisation "is a cognitive strategy where the individual deals with emotional conflicts or stressors through the excessive use of abstract thinking. This is done to avoid distressing feelings and to distance oneself from a negative or undesirable thought, affect, or impulse" (Drapeau et al., 2007). Furthermore, the child-abusers were less likely to use rationalization, "which involves devising plausible-sounding and self-serving excuses and reasons to cover up facts and motives that one wishes to hide" (Drapeau et al., 2007). Instead of these more-mature defenses, the pedophiles used strategies such as dissociation, which implies that their actions were occurring outside of their normal consciousness (Drapeau et al., 2007). They may also use displacement, which "involves generalising or redirecting a feeling or a response to an object onto another usually less threatening object" (Drapeau et al., 2007). In fact, the researchers believed that sexual assaults could be triggered by a regressed abuser first having a conflict with an authority figure. In addition, child abusers often tried to elicit intimacy from their victims because they were unable to do so from appropriate partners (Drapeau et al., 2007). The sexual abusers often used fantasy as a way to avoid dealing with conflicts, drives, or impulses; in their fantasies, abuse may be recast as something helpful to the child (Drapeau et al., 2007). Splitting was another defense mechanism that was used prevalently by the abusers, which is where "one views oneself or others as all… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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