Clinical and Research News
Multiple Challenges
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 10 page 37-37

Not surprisingly, treating pedophiles can be a daunting task. One challenge, Fabian Saleh, M.D., pointed out, is determining whether child molesters understand that "having sex with a child is inappropriate, illegal, and causes harm. If they don't have any insight into that, then it is going to be difficult to treat them because they consider that type of behavior appropriate."

In addition to being an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts, Saleh is director of the university's sexual disorders clinic.

A second hurdle "is to establish whether a treatment was successful or not," Richard Krueger, M.D., medical director of the sexual behavior clinic at New York State Psychiatric Institute, said. "This is a group of individuals who, even if they are under court compunction, are unreliable self reporters"—perhaps because they don't have insight into their problem, perhaps because they are in denial, or perhaps because they are deliberately deceptive.

But probably the major challenge "is to appreciate that if treatment fails, innocent children could suffer," declared Fred Berlin, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and a leading pedophile authority.

Nonetheless, "when treatment succeeds, the community is made a safer place," Berlin pointed out. Such achievements, he said, are deeply satisfying.

Linda Grasswick, M.D., a Canadian psychiatrist who has treated pedophiles, agreed. "One of the rewards is that we are reducing their risk of re-offending and helping the public."

Grasswick is unit director of forensic assessment at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group-Brockville Campus in Ottawa.

And helping pedophiles themselves "to live safely in the community is also, when successful, a very satisfying feeling," Berlin reported." These are human beings who do not choose to be sexually attracted to children and discover they are afflicted with this aberration of their sexual makeup, and in many other ways they are often fundamentally decent people with families who are concerned for them."

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