Do people with
pedophilic feelings differ from other people?
Frits Bernard, 1974
Thiist is a classic repport. Bernard investigated two specific groups: 73 persons who were conscious of their pedophilic feelings and were associated to a work group, and 200 others he had professionally met, people who asked for help or about whom his advice was asked. I quote Bernard (pp. 101-103) after he has concluded that the utter image of the investigated people did not differ from that of the other (Dutch) people.
Loes Rouweler-Wuts, 1976
This research also concerned members of work groups, 60 members. The assumption that people with pedophilic feelings would be afraid of adult women does not hold: 75% strongly denie this. As far as the investigated people who were married, the emotional relationship is felt as good, but the sexual relationship as weak. is there a lack of contacts? No, said 76%. Reticent in their friendships? No, said 54%. Problems on the job? No, said 66%. Friendship is more important than sexuality, said 74%. So far, I don not see any differences with the average Dutchman.
Looking to the sources of their feelings, and looking back to the own childhood, 47% estimated the family relationships as good, while 38% felt them as bad. The author has the opinion that the latter percentage is high.
Carl Huizinga, 1977
Again, members of work groups are speaking in his article, 21 members in this case. They said they have discovered their specific feelings for children around the age of 11, but to be able to give them a name and to accept them quite later, usually after the age of 17.
The investigated person remember themselves as a vulnerable, shy and sensitive child, sometimes also as a lonesome child.
In her post-graduate thesis, Monica Pieterse mentions the fact that nearly all of the people with pedophilic feelings who are studied are convicts. Thus, there exists a very one-sided and distorted view of these individuals. However, there are plenty who have no juridical problems or psychological distortions. To give an image of these people, she investigates the literature. Later, in her doctor's dissertation, she completes her own research.
In that report, again members of work groups speak out: 148 in a written inquiry and 13 in a spoken interview. Nearly unanimously the respondents strive for stable and open friendship with children, in may cases also to a care-giving relationship. The question of her research is not what concerns us here, the sources of the specific feelings. Most data apply the relationships factually engaged in by the respondents.
About the sources, we read that 29.1% of the respondents had had a sexual relationship in childhood. We also read that the consciousness of these feelings appeared about the age of ten, but - again - that the acceptation had taken place many years later. During this acceptation process, a period of obsession may take place. This diminishes according to the acceptation, which had happened in most cases.
Glenn Wilson & David Cox, 1983
Their research resembles the former reports mentioned, because a comparable group of 77 persons has been investigated, in this case in Great Britain. The authors found some differences with the general population, but they point to the fact that these differences, although statistically significant, are small. The differences are not to be labeled as abnormal: "no [...] clinically abnormal levels on any of the measures". Moreover, these differences are supposedly the effect, and not the cause of the pedophilic feelings.
Comparable to the "innate natural cheerfulness", fount by Bernard, is the finding that the investigated persons are more extroverted than others. Extroversion is hereditary and cannot be a cause, unless there have been also early experiences of isolation and feelings of inadequacy. The respondents appeared to be less assertive than most men, and sexually more inhibited. This combination makes it difficult to be competitive with other men to conquer the love of a woman. The respondents were significantly - but on a low level of significance - more shy and sensitive. Thus, maybe more lonesome than men on average. Also a low level of depressive, neurotic or sometimes a bit psychotic characteristics have been found, together with unpleasantness about the fact that one had to acknowledge to have pedophilic feelings.
The fathers of the respondents appear as absent for 83%, for one-third as distant or weak, for one-third as loving and OK, and for one-third as severe or scary. This seems to me the average situation. In contrast to of what is often said, there was no better relationship with the mother than usually is the case. Also, contrary to what is often claimed, no distorted thinking or aggression was found in the respondents.
Dennis Howitt, 1996
Reviewing the research, Howitt remarks that it is nearly always concerned with people in prisons or clinics. Thus, most research gives a one-sided and not representative image. Moreover, many found characteristics may be caused by the situation of being imprisoned or in treatment. So, for example, the high level of tress may be explained. The differences found are not so great that they might refer to an emotional distortion.
What was found, were more psycho-somatic symptoms. Usually, these indicate some level of neuroticism. These symptoms may also be explained because the investigated persons tend to retire in themselves instead of combating and competing with other men. Being busy with their problems, they are less sensitive to the emotional needs of themselves or of others. Again, we read the result that aggression is inhibited rather than exaggerated.
Désiré Palmen, 2001
Unless the subtitle of her research report reads "The unacceptable being different", her conclusion is that the investigated people were not completely different from other people: "normal people". Her group of respondents resembles those of Bernard and of Cox & Wilson: members of work groups in The Netherlands. The group is smaller (nine extended spoken interviews), but more up to date. Her conclusion based on the interviews is (in attachment 2, par. 1.5 of her report):
Via the Internet
A small and select group of 12 members of a private international e-mail group has replied to a short inquiry. They were requested to give a retrospect of their childhood. The image that appears is a more or less lonesome child with social skills below the average level. At the ages of eight or nine, one became conscious of erotic fantasies concerning young children. A good relationship with the mother, as often supposed, appeared to have existed. Usually, one supposes an absent or bad father, but the data do not support this here: the relationship with the father was told to be reasonably-good to good.
Another, comparable inquiry, done on a public web site, [but no more on line] says that about 80% of the 46 respondents look back to a reasonable happy childhood, with both parents present. The respondents appear to have discovered their specific feelings mostly between the ages of 11 to 15, but the have concluded 'to be so', much later. A majority of 65% views its disposition as present at birth (28%) or reached in early childhood (27%). A retrospect to childhood does, for a broad majority, not show any or only a few incidents of sexual play.
Generally, one supposes a close relationship with the mother but a standoffish father as the source of pedophilic feelings. However, first, this type of parents are common in our society. Secondly, this image does not fit with the data. The concerned people mostly has felt the relationship as good (with the mother) or as reasonably good (with the father).
In a variety of personality tests, only a few differences with the general population have been found. As far as these differences are significant, they are small. They may not be labeled as pathological, rather as a variance within the normal range.
As far as differences have been found, they refer to a more or less shy person, mostly a man, a bit lonesome in childhood, but with generally good relationships with both parents, both having been present. Research found not a great, but rather a low level of sexual urge. Also few tend to enter in competition with other men, and demonstrate little aggression. Rather, sensitivity is a characterizing feature.
Research found also a few more stress and psycho-dynamic symptoms, thus possibly some more neuroticism than average. But we may explain this rather as the effect instead of as the cause of the specific feelings experienced.
sensitive people who show little aggression and less sexual urge.