Therapeutically speaking: As the pedophile subject of Susy Buchanan's "Very Bad Thoughts" article (February 6), I'd like to reply to some of the letters published in New Times.
I am not seeking sympathy from people. My desire is to point out the complete lack of preventive programs available for this problem. The fact that I have to attend a group consisting of rapists and child molesters indicates just how much we have failed to proactively treat pedophilia. There is nothing available for therapy except offender groups. Considering I'm a victim of abuse and not an offender, this constitutes a failure in my eyes.
To those who indicate I should be institutionalized, castrated or killed, I point out I have committed no crime. Without a criminal record, I don't have to be in therapy. It is my choice because I know this problem can lead to horrible consequences if I don't. I also use management techniques learned in therapy including avoiding malls, movie houses, parks, youth sports or even driving down streets where schools are present. The assertion that I am "a sick puppy who refuses to take any responsibility for his problem" is the opposite of what has really happened here. I've taken more responsibility than anybody could expect. I have hospitalized myself on two occasions when I felt like acting out. I've sought therapy voluntarily at my own expense.
Regarding castration, I have inquired with my doctor about Depo-Provera and am considering it. Again, because I have committed no crime, I can't be forced to do this. I am doing this of my own free will because it may help. This doesn't sound like someone who "isn't taking responsibility" to me.
If you have been the victim of a sexual assault and not developed this issue, you're very lucky. A Department of Justice study in 1998 showed that, nationwide, 42 percent of offenders in custody identified with being abused as children. While certainly not all offenders are victims, it is important to note many are. It is also important to note that I am a victim, not an offender. Yet the hostile tone of reactions seems to prove my point that the public isn't mature enough to recognize this illness and provide help for it.
This teacher was turned in after I was discharged from the Navy. He was investigated by the state police, and the state attorney general's office looked into the case. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations had run out to criminally charge him. As indicated in the article, I was able to successfully sue the school district for civil damages. He was "turned in."
The article failed to mention one point, in closing. I explained to the author that I will eventually commit suicide. I didn't move in with my parents so much for support as to care for them. I have a good job and make decent money. I was out of the house for more than 22 years before moving in last fall. The point is that living with them frees up enough cash for me to attend therapy for the time being. In the end, though, once they pass on, I will be leaving as well. I will never act on my urges and will know God will have a place for me because of that. I didn't ask for this condition; it sure isn't a "choice" and I wish I wasn't like this. I know it's an illness, not an orientation or anything else, and I've done nothing to deserve it. It's too bad society can't figure that out.
Psycho babble: As a psychoanalyst with a degree in clinical psychology currently living in France, I read your article with interest. I feel that one major point should be made about Derek's pedophilia: He has pedophilic fantasies; he is not a pedophile. To "qualify" as a pedophile, he would have to act upon them. Need I really go into tremendous detail about the fact that there is nothing "squeaky clean" about adult (or infantile) sexuality, that married and "respectable" men and women are busy pushing available protruding parts into every orifice in the human body?
Debra Weston Mervant
Anguish management: Thank you for your article on pedophilia. It's enlightening to hear about the anguish of a person going through these feelings, when so often it is presented one-sidedly, making these people out to be unforgivable monsters. As a society we tend to forget they were often abused themselves, and that we need to apply our resources to finding assistance, once a person finds themselves in this predicament, rather than focusing on punishment. And thank you for making the distinction that there are those out there who are suffering and not perpetrating.