Thursday, October 05, 2006
Foley is not a pedophile
Any suggestion that Mark Foley is a pedophile is false," the former congressman's lawyer, David Roth, said Tuesday at a news conference in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was right, but not for the reasons he probably had in mind. According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, pedophilia involves "intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger)." The disorder is one of a number of conditions known as paraphilias, which the APA defines as sexual obsessions or fixations "that generally involve non-human subjects, children, or other non-consenting adults, or the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one's partner." Examples of other well-known paraphilias include bestiality, necrophilia, exhibitionism, sadomasochism, and voyeurism. Some therapies that focus on changing cognitive and behavioral patterns are believed to help sufferers of paraphilias control themselves, if they are motivated to do so. But fully overcoming their predilections is a more difficult challenge.
Based on what has been revealed so far, former Rep. Foley seems to suffer from a different condition: ephebophilia, which is defined as a sexual attraction to post-pubescent adolescents and older teenagers. The DSM IV doesn't include ephebophilia as a diagnostic category. Sexual contact with children is explicitly illegal in all jurisdictions in the United States. But such contact between older teenagers and adults presents a murkier legal picture. The laws on age of consent vary from state to state, and prosecutors have wide latitude to determine whether to charge an individual with a sexual offense.