Unfortunately, most research about MAPs and mental health services for them start from the assumption that they constitute a serious risk to children (Houtepen, Sijtsema, & Bogaerts, 2015; Jahnke, Philipp, & Hoyer, 2014; Beier et al., 2007; “Pessimism about pedophilia,” 2010). This assumption is the root of stigma. MAPs who participate in research studies or seek mental health services want to be treated like any other person, and want to participate in studies or treatment focused on their mental health needs, rather than on protecting other people from them. Many, perhaps most, MAPs do not have difficulty controlling their behavior, but must deal with results of stigma and marginalization, such as self-hatred, depression, anxiety, suicidal feelings, lack of intimacy or sexual outlet, perceiving a need to live a double life, and feelings of alienation from society, friends, and family (Cacciatori, 2017; Cash, 2016; B4U-ACT, 2011b; Vogt, 2006).
Researchers and therapists who treat them differently from other people, by instead focusing on preventing them from offending, not only ignore their psychological needs, but also send the message that these needs are not important as they would be for “normal” people. MAPs sense they are being seen as objects to be controlled rather than as humans. This feels dehumanizing and adversarial, as if the researcher or therapist is an agent of law enforcement and social control rather than a member of a helping profession. It also feels discriminatory, since other people are not treated this way. All of this, of course, intensifies rather than ameliorates their symptoms and alienates MAPs from the mental health system (B4U-ACT, 2011b; B4U-ACT, 2011a; Levenson, Willis, & Vicencio, 2017; Houtepen, Sijtsema, & Bogaerts, 2015).
Many MAPs are also aware of the harmful treatment methods that historically have been used on sexual minorities as a result of social-control rationales. These include being forced to self-identify as dangerous and incurably deviant (Haywood & Grossman, 1994), to submit to phallometry (a procedure often described as degrading and humiliating, whereby a device is connected to the penis to measure erection while the person is required to be stimulated by sexual images or audio recordings) (Freund & Watson, 1991; Seto, Lalumière, & Blanchard, 2000; Seto, 2008; Krueger & Kaplan, 2002), and to repeatedly undergo some kind of arousal reconditioning method such as aversion therapy or covert sensitization (Maccio, 2011; Flentje, Heck, & Cochran, 2013; Cohen & Galynker, 2009; Krueger & Kaplan, 2002). None of these methods has seen wide success in altering underlying desires for any sexual minority (Haldeman, 1991; Haldeman, 1999; Laws & Marshall, 2003; Marshall & Laws, 2003; Seto, 2009). MAPs are aware that similar methods have been used in modern times coercively on MAPs, including young adolescents, and have reportedly led to severe psychiatric problems. MAPs may fear that researchers and therapists may approve of or advocate the use of such methods on them (B4U-ACT, 2011a).
B4U-ACT. (2011a). MENTAL HEALTH CARE & PROFESSIONAL LITERATURE. Retrieved from https://www.b4uact.org/research/survey-results/spring-2011-survey/.
B4U-ACT. (2011b). YOUTH, SUICIDALITY, AND SEEKING CARE. Retrieved from https://www.b4uact.org/research/survey-results/youth-suicidality-and-seeking-care/.
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