Dr Frans E.J. Gieles, forensic orthopedagoge, 2006
< http://www.helping-people.info/scapegoat.htm >
To the table of contents
With 'pitfalls', I refer to the pitfalls in the situation of a forensic personality investigation. If the investigator does not recognize these, they become 'traps' for the investigated. The latter is usually perplexed about what happens him. Beside the pitfalls and traps, there are several paradoxes and problems. There are also mistakes that can be made by the investigator, who has lots of power to handle. In the background, beliefs and visions play a role.
This report is based on general knowledge of the forensic field, but more specifically on the study of 25 reports made by experts for the court, in moral law cases concerning alleged abuse of minors or pictures of minors. It is a concrete concentration on a broader problem that I want to bring into attention, hoping for more study of these problems.
Table of Contents
1. A difficult situation at the start
Each forensic investigation for a court starts with a problem. It is aimed at a report and an advise for the court, who still has not judged. The investigator receives a dossier with the police investigation, or only the start of it.
In such a dossier, anything that later might lead to a conviction will be mentioned. Thus, it may mention facts that later will play no role in the trial and the judgment. Juridically, these facts do not count. However, clinically, for the psychological investigator they will be seen as facts to be included in the investigation.
A suspect may have admitted a crime under pressure of police, but may later revoke his admission. Also has to be told that the reports of police often contain lots of mistakes.
This characterizes the difficulties of the situation at the start. Factually, the investigators believe in committed crimes, be it that they always add "if proven". They assume the most somber scenario to be true. On this assumption, they base their view, report and advise. Usually, they do not revise these in later stage, even if the facts later appear to be different.
This is the way of reasoning. There must be a scapegoat.
2. Difficult paradoxes
a. The kind of paradox
The situation of forensic psychological investigation inherently has some paradoxes one has to see and mention, which seldom is done. In none of the reports studied here, any of those paradoxes is mentioned; supposedly, the are even not recognized at all. This is the reason I want to mention them.
Paradoxes are real or seeming antitheses, that can be solved, but that also may contain inherently contrasting data, situations, messages or commands. These cannot be resolved on the lever they are formulated, only on a logically higher level or meta-level. The most known is "You must do this spontaneously".
In treatment, one may use therapeutic paradoxes as "Sir, I cannot help you": the therapist only can help by not helping the patient. The patient has to help himself and starts to waken the inner forces to do that.
However, the forensic investigation is not a therapeutic situation. The psychologist as not a therapist but an investigator for the court; not the investigated but the court is his client. He has no oath of secrecy, but a plight to speak. The suspect might expect understanding and help from a psychologist or psychiatrist, but he can only expect a report with an advise - not any kind of help and usually no understanding. Thus, tell him so. Make your role clear from the very start.
b. 'By all means, speak frankly'
This kind of investigation is only possible if the suspect speaks. Thus, usually, the interview starts with "By all means, speak frankly and freely!" But the suspect must realize that he is not speaking with a therapist (oath of secrecy), but with an investigator for the court (a plight to speak). From the nature of this situation, a lot of problems arise, seen or not seen, mentioned or not mentioned.
'At long last, I can speak with someone'
The suspect has suddenly been arrested and kept alone for a period, a very difficult situation, in which he can speak with nobody except a lawyer. Then, suddenly, there appears somebody, in some of the cases a nice young female (student-)psychologist, who seems to listen with attention and understanding.
An interview is done by two. The investigator has power to influence the interview and to better the communication, to make it more two-sided. She was also responsible for the one-sidedness of the interview, but only blames the suspect for that.
Invited to speak frankly, some investigated people do this. They do what is asked them. Later, in the report, we read that 'the person concerned care freely speaks about his pedophile character, his feelings, visions and acts' or words like these. One concludes that there is no inhibition, no shame, no sense of guilt, no suffering. This doesn't look too good. There must be shame.
Lack of shame refers, at least in these reports, to a serious personality distortion that urgently has to be treated in compulsory and closed treatment, just because of that lack. Here is true: "anything you say can be used against you". Paradoxically enough, the contrary is also true.
Speaking with hesitation
Who speaks with hesitation, possibly just because the so needed shame, has another problem. The report will say that 'the person concerned has a misconception of reality' and will keep having that.' Or 'the person concerned tries to hide his crime, avoids to speak about it'. He has 'an avoiding character and personality', which does not look too good. Thus the man will also be avoiding in a community therapy situation, thus has to be treated in a closed clinic. There must be a scapegoat.
"Anything you do not say can be used against you."
In one of the psychiatric reports, we read this kind of absurdity.
We see this kind of situations also where the 'experts' carefree speak about 'the harm causes to the victims', without seeing or speaking, let alone having investigated them.
Lack of emotions
Who, during the interview, speaks cautiously and thoughtfully, might at that moment express few emotion. This looks not too good.
c. The paradox of shame
Who feels so much shame that he scarcely is able to speak about what has happened, has a problem: he has "an avoiding personality disorder". Who does not have, feel or express shame, has a greater problem: he has "a distorted conscience".
As I have said above, both persons give form and content to the interview. The choice of words of the reporter here above refers to his own ideas and feelings. Substitute shame is a pure individual emotion in the psyche of the investigator. Here, it is used as a diagnostic instrument. If the investigator feels substitute shame, the investigated has a lack of shame. Having shame is a condition to be declared healthy. Thus, this man is distorted and must be treated. There must be a scapegoat.
d. The paradox of having insight
If the suspect already has had a kind of treatment, or has thoroughly thought about himself, another paradox appears.
The usual treatment of sex offenders exclusively aims to the modification of the behavior and explicitly avoids inner problems. The therapists do not speak about inner feelings or desires, only about keeping away and avoiding feelings and desires. They teach to immediately suppress any sexual desire. What we read in the report is not a characteristic of the investigated person, but a characteristic of the kind of treatment he has had. Obediently he did was was asked him - the same is now used against him.
By doing so, the psychologist creates a paradox: in the treatment, the client is asked to acknowledge and tell about the feelings and desires, after which he has to learn to suppress the same. This is a paradox, but not a therapeutic one. Because the therapist, but in this case the investigator, cannot attribute an incorrect method of treatment to himself and his colleagues, the only way out of the paradox is to declare the investigated as distorted. There must be a scapegoat.
Who has undergone such a treatment, is confronted with this paradox. He has to show that he has learned from the therapy - changed behavior and avoiding the feelings. Bus as soon as he says this in an investigation, he is blamed for the same: avoiding or denying the inner. And if he reports the insights learned in that therapy, he is blamed for the fact that those insights are learned from without and not internalized - which was exactly the aim of the treatment.
He does not mention that most hetero relationships have the same characteristic, that this is absolutely normal. The target of the therapy was exactly to bring the patient to that normality. Obediently, the patient tries to do this - and is now blamed for the same as a psychic distortion. There must be a scapegoat.
Who has investigated his own psyche in depth, self or in a real psychotherapy, has also a problem. He is blamed to 'psychologize', 'to take the chair of the investigator' or 'to speak in therapists' jargon', ad so, clearly, 'tries to avoid treatment', and so on. The target of real psychotherapy, insight in one's own psyche, is clearly not wanted in the situation of an investigation. One has to keep the role of the unknowing suspect in front of the expert.
An expert writes, shortly summarized:
Suppose that the man was dull and mentally retarded. In that case, the danger would be that he was not able to understand the treatment, thus, also, compulsory and closed treatment is indicated. Intelligent or dull, there must be a scapegoat.
I never have heard or read that only people with a mean IQ would be able to receive a treatment. A good IQ gives also chance to successfully end a treatment, specifically a real psychotherapy, as it gives the chance on simulation. The first chance is not mentioned at all, the second one is concluded. There must be a scapegoat.
Who has no or little insight, about him is said that he "has no eye for the inner neurotic problems".
Unconsciousness of the inner problems is more or less by definition a characteristic of a neurosis. This may not be used as an argument against community treatment. An intelligent neurotic person may be very well able to go successfully through the therapy. If the inner problems were conscious, there would be no neurosis, thus no need for any treatment at all, at least no compulsory treatment in a closed clinic.
Only a few suspects have had the nerve to defend oneself against these reports. In no case this is taken seriously.
3. Other pitfalls
Sometimes, the prosecutor, judge or lawyer take the chair of a therapist, by telling which kind of therapy will be the best for the suspect. This is not their profession.
The same holds for the psychological investigator. He may take the chair of the detective, prosecutor or even judge. His subjective judgment may influence his diagnosis, report and advise. Let the cobbler stick to his last.
Only the professor keeps himself on the professional level. It is an aspect of the professionalism of the forensic psychological investigator to avoid judgment, let alone conviction. The investigator has a lot of power, his report will have much influence; he must be able to handle this power and avoid following his dominance fantasies. Let the cobbler stick to his last.
b. Extrapolation to other situations
One cannot avoid extrapolation in such investigations. The investigator observes what happens there and draws conclusions for other situations, but this is skating on thin ice with lots of pitfalls.
In the forensic interview the suspect is asked to speak frankly. But who speaks frankly, may not be blamed for lack of shame in other situations. This is what happened: the conclusion is that there is "a great danger for recidivism".
In my view, this extrapolation is not correct. Speaking frankly and without shame is a characteristic of the situation, not of the investigated person. It is one of the paradoxes mentioned above.
c. Extrapolation in time
The investigator observes some characteristics in the investigation situation and extrapolates this as a permanent characteristic to the past and the future. Just here above, we saw an example. We have also seen this above by the man who expressed few emotions and about whom was said that he generally not was and will be able to express emotions.
Investigators simply extrapolate from the far past to the future. In some of the cases, the crime had been done quite long time ago. The term of limitation is, in moral cases, quite long in the Netherlands. In the reports, the crime is broadly enlarged - the fact that there was no crime in many years is not mentioned at all and seems to play no role in the argumentation of the advise. One selects and extrapolates the negative and denies the positive.
d. Selection of the negative
Many investigated people utter this complaint. a suspect may have many relationships that were good and crime-free, except one. The reports do not say any word about the good ones, but they enlarge on the one.
e. Enlarging of and interpretation in the negative
What has been mentioned in the selection of the negative is then enlarged in the negative.
Enlarging of the negative also happens if people say that they in their relationships sought for appreciation, acceptation and confirmation. Everyone does search this, nevertheless, in the reports it appears as very negative. Also ambition, a normal and positive male characteristic, is interpreted negative and enlarged on domination. Who tries to speak with nuances, appears in the reports as "vague" and "avoiding". Who gives care to other people, appears as "with a disguise" or "with a mask". Sublimation is more or less the one and only acceptable way to cope with pedophilic feelings. Sublimation is usually seen as a mature form of a neurosis. In these reports it is interpreted as a bad neurotic mechanism. The human as a machine with mechanisms - i.e.: the investigated person, of course not the investigator.
Neurotic defenses are mentioned in several of the reports. Except in two reports, no differentiation has been made between mature and non-mature defense methods - this in contrast with the literature and clinical practice. Mature forms are for example rationalization, avoidance and sublimation. The reports, except two, describe every neurotic defense as negative: interpretation in the negative sense. There must be a scapegoat.
The enlargement of the negative:
This may go ad absurdum:
Make a small film of any grandfather or grandmother, psychologist or prosecutor, and you will see the same. It is absolutely normal behavior, but here enlarged and interpreted in the negative. There must be a scapegoat.
4. Difficult diagnostic
How do we know what is a mental distortion? Therefore, we have DSM, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual. This is made, and now and then changed, by vote of the APA. Once upon a time, masturbation and homosexuality was a mental distortion, later no longer. The "A" stands for "American", thus for the Western (and conservative) way of thinking.
After the general definition, diagnostic criteria are given per paraphile distortion.
Note: Do not include an individual in late adolescence involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old.
The criterion of "clinically significant distress" is removed for pedophilia [ as a mental distortion]:
Long discussions have been hold about these criteria and definitions. The core question is if deviance from the statistical mean refers to a mental disorder, or simply to a variance. Another question is: if someone break a law, is he or she by that only mentally distorted? In that case, there must be lots of mental distorted people.
The concept 'personality disorder' is questionable. It might be no reality, but only a concept in the mind of the observer (said psychiatrist R. Poll in the Dutch newspaper NRC, 29 August 2005).
We might remark that there is an inconsequence between "and cause clinically significant distress" in the definition of paraphilia, and "or the sexual urges or fantasies caused marked distress" in the criteria for one of them, pedophilia.
Who has or had deviant fantasies but no distress by them, has no mental distortion, but if it concerns pedophilic fantasies without distress, one has a distortion if one acted upon them in the last six months.
If one has distress with his feelings, the pedophilia is egodystone, not fitting with the ego. If one has no distress, the pedophilia is egosyntone, fitting with the ego. These words are standard used in diagnostic reports.
For a correct diagnosis as a mental distortion, acts has to been done. Those who only have fantasies and desires without distress and do not act upon them, have no mental distortion. However, in the actual practice of diagnostics and treatment, one does not take this into account, or one simply does not know this.
Modern diagnosticians follow their own way. Who has egosyntone pedophilic feelings and does not act on them, has no mental distortion, according to DSM. Nevertheless, according to the modern psychological investigator, the same person is heavily distorted.
A modern complication is, if one downloading if illegal pictures sees, or does not see, as an act mentioned in the diagnostic criteria. The trend is to do so. There must be a scapegoat.
Starting a car may possibly lead to traffic crimes, possibly with fatal consequences. This does not make starting a car to a crime or the sign of a mental distortion, for which one may deprive someone from freedom, not because he has done something wrong, but because one might do wrong.
The example of downloading pictures shows how strong politics and diagnostics are connected. In the Netherlands, quite recently, the law has been changed. By that, suddenly, possession of child pornography became a crime. If one connects politics and diagnostics too much, a downloading person is not distorted before a certain date, and suddenly distorted after that date. Who had had the idea to delete the pictures just before that date, has suddenly no mental distortion. This is a diagnostical monster.
Also strange is that criterion of six months. Having done an act, one is distorted. Having then had six months without an act, one is suddenly not distorted. Here we see that the DSM criteria not serve to stipulate mental disorders (diagnosis), but to treat and adapt people who do unwished acts (politics).
We see also a mix of diagnosis and politics is one of the cases, in which police wrote in the dossier about having found many illegal pictures. The diagnostician saw this as an act in the sense of DSM and declared that the man had a mental distortion. However, the court declared all pictures legal. There was no act, thus no distortion. Confusing. We might become distorted by this kinds of confusion.
More confusion: since, quite recently, the Dutch law sees the possession of child pornography as a crime, and sees downloading it as spreading it, which is also a crime. Will the diagnostician see downloading as the act, and take the six months criterion into consideration? Or will he see possession as the act, possibly far longer than six months? There is not any clarity here; all depends on the decision of the individual diagnostician.
In the actual practice of the studied reports, the criteria are usually not mentioned at all. If the investigated person has an egosyntone pedophile sexual orientation, the person is declared to be distorted. Having egosyntone pedophilia, especially if one is declared to be a core pedophile, is the worst thing to have, and compulsory treatment is the only way to go.
DSM has more ways out for who wants to create a scapegoat. There are several very vague diagnoses; no none who knows exactly where they stand for. Frequently used is PDD-NOS, Personality Development Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified, but meant to gather symptoms in the autism spectrum. Another way out is a not further defined personality distortion, and immature and avoiding traits. Vague, unclear, nobody knows, but you have found a distortion, thus you can create a scapegoat, because there must be a scapegoat.
In cases of pedophilia, narcissism is a routine diagnosis. It sounds 'distorted', but who knows what is is? In the reports studied here it is mentioned, but nowhere neither explained nor put in perspective. In our society, narcissism is quite normal. We see the symptoms in a lot of young people, politicians and TV-stars. An investigated person in a forensic situation might want to present himself as best as possible. From this to the diagnosis narcissism is a small step. The wish to present oneself as good as possible is a characteristic of the situation, not necessarily of the person.
The investigator asks the suspect 'to speak from and about himself'. If he does this, the report will mention that the person concerned 'only speaks out of himself, thus is egocentric'. The step to narcissism is again a small one. The person is blamed to have no sympathy with the victim(s), at least not in the politically correct way. This is interpreted as a distortion, and narcissism is a handy stepping-stone to use.
Narcissism is a difficult diagnosis for the investigated person. Characteristic is that the person concerned strongly denies the diagnosis, but this is just one of the characteristic symptoms. Who combats the diagnosis, confirms the same. There is no escape. This makes it possible to label anybody as narcissistic. But also for the diagnostician, it is not an easy diagnosis.
The same holds for the routine diagnosis "Oedipal conflict not solved". This is by definition unconscious, thus not understandable for the investigated person. Should the judge be able to understand this diagnosis? May a diagnostician conclude to such a distortion? No, this is only possible during a long-term psychotherapy. A diagnosis may not go further than a hypothesis. Nevertheless, the investigator report it as a solid conclusion of an expert. Which judge will combat the solid conclusion of an expert? The judge will continue the scapegoat process.
Another vague routine diagnosis is ADHD. This is not very clear and well defined, and the limit between variance and distortion is quite unclear. Most adults do not longer have ADHD. Nevertheless, several reports mention it. I do not see how ADHD might be one of the causes of the moral crime, if done. A psychiatrist reports, without arguments, that ADHD makes any treatment difficult, thus that intensive closed and compulsory treatment must be the advise.
Also MPS, multiple personality syndrome, is such a routine diagnosis. Not in the reports studied here; it seems to be seen by women only. But the existence of the syndrome as such is far from scientifically proven.
c. Hidden aggression
This problem arises in several of the reports studied. The investigated person has a peaceful attitude, certainly not aggressive, and says that this is his character. He never will use force and aggression, and has never done it. The astonished person reads later in the report that 'behind this peaceful mask, strong repressed aggression is hidden', which 'in situations of stress or frustration fully can come to the surface', or words like these. In other words: the person concerned looks peacefully, but is dangerous - and we have our scapegoat.
This is a clear example of creating a scapegoat: creating an aggressive and dangerous man from a man with a lack of aggression. The "thus", twice here above, is far from correct. Only the word "might" is correct here, but only with the explanation that this chance is present in every human. Aggression can be suppressed, and can come to the surface of everybody. It is as normal as it is. This putting in perspective could not be read in any of the reports.
The investigators seem not to be able to see normality; they search for distortion and they do see distortion. Who expresses aggression, has a distortion and has to learn to inhibit it. Who has done this, he has an "inhibition of aggression", thus also a distortion. One cannot use normality by creating a scapegoat.
d. Political correctness
One can have feelings and thoughts who are, in this contemporary society, politically incorrect, but which are not forbidden by any law. No diagnostic handbook reads that thinking along communistic, capitalistic, pacifistic, Islamic, catholic or liberal, Jewish or Palestinian ways is a distortion. But distortion isn't the point, something else is the matter here.
One of the pitfalls for the psychological investigator is to present and interpret politically incorrect feelings and ideas as mentally illness or distortion. Certain feelings and ideas are juridically allowed, but clinically and psychologically forbidden, with an advise 'a long treatment in a closed setting', thus lack of freedom, as the sanction.
In the former Soviet Russian Republic, people who did not think along communistic lines got a psychiatric treatment. In the USA, people who did think along communistic lines got such a treatment. Saddam Hussein did the same: who gave him not enough honor, was sent to psychiatric treatment. Here, we see happening the same in the former so liberal Netherlands, copying this from the US and the UK, at least I saw it happen in the reports studied.
One is not allowed to feel such an experience as positive and wanted, one ought to follow the politically correct line saying that such an experience must be only negative. Who, on request, says frankly the first, will be declared mentally, cognitively distorted and needs severe treatment. There must be a scapegoat.
It is no problem if one has felt such a contact as a problem. Who has not felt is as a problem, will now have a problem. He is said to have "a distorted view on reality". Oh no, the investigator has not such a kind of view. He knows reality, he knows the best, and he presents the experience of the investigated person as impossible, thus a kind of distorted thinking.
The same holds for politically incorrect norms. A person who has other norms and ethics, and who says to conscientiously follow them, he has no other norms, but "a distortion of the conscience".
Clearly we see here a conflict between politically correct thinking and clinical thinking. We see that clinical thinking looses the battle. But a clinician should be first and only a clinician, not a politician, prosecutor or judge.
We see the same problem in the nowadays usual treatment of sex offenders. This is no treatment, it is learning to think and act politically correct. As long as the patient does not think and act along these lines, he still is not cured, he keeps being mentally ill. This story, about treatment, is to be told in another article. For the time being, I present the confusion between political correctness and psychological health as a pitfall for the forensic psychological investigator and a trap for the investigated people.
But he, the scouts leader, was present at that camp fire, not the investigator. Clearly, the latter has the opinion that such a scene not should be true, thus cannot be true. A boy of that age cannot want such an awful thing as sitting on the lap of his leader, notably a man (a boy ought to be afraid for homosexuality). In Scouting, this is, at least in the Netherlands, completely normal and usual. But the investigator will be politically more correct than the scouts themselves. She confuses an idea that she does not like with a mental distortion. She has fallen into the pitfall and the investigated person is snared in the trap of the scapegoat process.
e. Narrative conflicts and narrative force
What is said here above, can also be described as a narrative conflict. The philosophy of human action, the communication theory and the narrative theory say that the human does not live in, and is steered by, an objective reality, but in and by a narrative reality: the narrative about the objective reality. In other words: not the facts, but the interpretation of the facts leads the human action. The human is a being who not only perceives himself, his fellow humans and his world, but who also interprets what he perceives. These interpretations form the personal narrative of the human and the common narrative of a community.
The acting human creates himself a biography, a personal narrative about the personal life. Not the facts steer the human, but the personal story does, the thread one sees, the sense or meaning one gives. This gives sense to life, and along the sense we live.
Human communication concerns more those narratives than the facts. People exchange their narratives, their interpretations, their feeling and meaning. To be able to live together in a community and society, we need to listen to the narratives of the other people, to recognize them as meaningful for them and to live with them. So, Christians, Islamite and humanists have their own narratives about life.
Let's now return to the forensic psychological interview. We see an investigator, who asks the investigated explicitly to tell his own narrative. 'First, speak freely and frankly'. We see a suspect who obediently does this, and than we see the investigator writing his or her report.
Every investigated person in the cases studied here was perplexed by the report. The personal narrative was completely not understood, not recognized, not accepted. In contrary, it was denied, declared untrue, not possible, and the persons were declared mentally ill, sick, distorted and dangerous: "Cognitive distortion", "personality disorder", "distortion of the conscience" or "distorted view of reality".
We can describe this as narrative conflicts: the narratives differ and conflict with each other. Who's narrative will win the battle? The politically correct one, thus that of the investigator. He declares the narrative, thus the teller, as untrue, distorted, and dangerous. He creates a scapegoat because there must be one. He advises compulsory treatment in a closed clinical setting.
Thus, what we see here is not a solid clinical diagnostic investigation, we see narrative force, already in the diagnostic phase of the whole process. We don't see clinicians, but hired investigators to track the deviants and to send them to the clinic. We see power working here, narrative force and power. We see a scapegoat process.
In the clinics, the narrative conflict will be go on. There, the personal narrative 'I had a young friend who loved me' is changed into 'I am an offender who have saddled my victim with my lust'. Who keeps telling the first, cannot leave the clinic. We do not see 'healing the psyche', we see narrative force. I will tell the story of treatment in another essay. Let's return now to the diagnostic phase.
f. Subjective impressions
In principle, subjective impressions of the investigator are permitted as a diagnostic instrument. However, it is skating on thin ice, especially in the forensic situation. The characteristics observed by the investigator can come from three sources: the investigator, the investigated, but also from the situation.
This observation might be correct, but it is more a characteristic of the forensic interview situation that the person concerned. Also the investigator is a partner in the interview, and especially he puts his stamp on it. More or less playing peek-a-boo with the investigator is inherent to the situation of a forensic psychological investigation. By itself, it in not pathologic. These kinds of processes take happen in each kind of investigation and treatment.
In a therapy situation, the therapist may use such observations by telling them and presenting them to the client. But the situation of an investigation for the court is completely different. In the case above, the investigator fails to see the crucial difference between both situations. The investigator may observe, but may not conclude too much from his observations. Note, that in this case the conclusion was compulsory treatment in a closed setting, thus many years of deprivation of freedom.
5. Mistakes that should not be made
a. Recidivism rates
The investigator has to judge the risk of recidivism. A vast and general belief is that this risk is always very high. This is not true. Recidivism rates in moral cases are significant lower than the general recidivism rates. The general rate is nowadays 67% or higher, in moral cases it is 13,4%. For treated people the rates are lower: between the three and ten percent. In a chapter at the end of this article, I will tell more about this and other solid beliefs.
This is principally impossible. In all reports, the risk of recidivism is estimated as high. De 'experts' seem not the have read the literature.
b. Tendentious and suggestive use of language
The investigators usually ask the investigated people to speak about their relationships. If these relationships do not have the politically correct form, hetero and same age, than the word relationship usually is placed within quotation marks: 'relationship'. Who does not have such a correct relationship, has "no relationship", irrespective of factually existing relationships. Who dares to speak about 'my young friend', the report places this within quotation marks and after "what he calls ...".
As I have said, the personal narrative of the investigated person is not accepted. Tendentious and suggestive use of language is a well known way of communicating in order to wipe the floor with the other's narrative and to declare one's own version for better.
In cases with a clear police report and a recent confessed crime, there is few doubt. There are also cases in which the crime has been done in a quite far past, after which the person concerned says to have committed no crime.
In many cases, the investigated person is simply not trusted and is suggested that he lies. However, it is not possible to prove that one has not done something evil. Several investigated persons have said the have had the problem not to be trusted at all. In treatment settings, this problem will arise in a sharper form.
With speaking 'blind', I refer to give declarations about somebody, without having seen or spoken the person, or not recently.
6. The procedure
a. The power of the expert
What stoke me mostly in the cased studies, was the power of the experts. We may say now also: their narrative power is very great. Their voice is decisive in the jurisdiction.
This is not completely unreasonable. A judge has at nine o'clock a case on agriculture toxin, at ten o'clock on tax fraud, at eleven a case on drugs, and so on. A judge cannot know everything, he must have trust in experts. This gives enormous power to the experts. The expert has to be able to cope with that power. The way he handles his power is crucial.
I fear that it is here where the shoe pitches. Already in the diagnostic phase, we see lots of narrative force used. In the 25 reports studies, only two, a psychiatrist and a professor in psychology, both aged, relativate their conclusions. The other investigators, mostly young and partly still student, are very sure about their conclusions and advises. Now and then, I give a lecture at an university. Students told me that they very scarcely, or nothing, have learned about pedophilia. Nevertheless, a couple of years later, they write sure reports without putting them in perspective.
I have no reports of probation officers included in this short study, just because of the low quality of those reports. We read subjective impressions and not grounded conclusions. Usually, they say the same as the psychiatrist and the psychologist. However, in the procedure, the probation officers play an important role that I have to mention, speaking about the procedure.
b. The request for an investigation
In the Netherlands, in each moral case a psychological investigation is requested, also if the case concerns only suspicion of having downloaded child pornography. The trend is to see distortions, to advise compulsory treatment, often in closed settings, to demand this and to convict to this.
A prosecutor justified this by saying that "in this kind of cases, mostly help is needed for the suspects". But probation officers give no more help, nowadays, only control. With help, the prosecutor referred to sex offenders treatment (SOT). This no help, but control, narrative force. In other words: no help but control is needed, and that is why the experts are asked to investigate the person. What they do, we saw, is using narrative force.
If the suspect agrees with such an investigation, he can be sure to be declared distorted, dangerous, and needy for treatment - that is: control. I have followed other cases who qualitate qua are excluded from this short study because the suspects refused to cooperate with such an investigation. Then, there is no report and no advice. I quote a prosecutor:
A lot has been told here above. I might still point to the kind of situation, knowingly before the court session and the verdict, thus in a very unsure and stressful situation, often in a prison. Already has been said that the investigator only has a police dossier or the start of it, in which usually more is written than what later will be declared proved and punishable.
All investigated people have said to be astonished about the shortness of the interview and the far reaching conclusions from it. Short: one half hour; longer: up to three hours or more.
Here above, I have written that the report often functions to draw the conclusion of a compulsory treatment. Frequently, I read "thus" without argumentation. If the kind of treatment was specified in the advise, it always was the nowadays usable sex offenders treatment along the lines of the cognitive-behavioral model. In several cases, I would have concluded to other kinds of help, support or treatment, like real therapy. The experts seem to follow the trends more than their critical professional knowledge.
Especially if one concludes to a neurotic personality, it would be more logical to advise a real psychotherapy, which not takes place in the cognitive-behavioral model. In this model, one tries to change the behavior and the thinking, actually also the feeling, and one leaves the underlying psychodynamics untouched, thus untreated.
About that kind of treatment, I have written a separate essay. What I saw in the diagnostic phase, was a kind of tunnel vision (as we say in Dutch), a narrow vision, a very one-sided narrative, reached by lack of respect for the personal narrative of the suspect and by narrative force.
d. The session in court
In the Dutch juridical system, only the prosecutor can call witnesses. The suspect nor the lawyer are permitted to do so; they only can politely ask the prosecutor to call a witness. The prosecutor calls the experts as witnesses, but seldom others.
I have already mentioned the 'expert' witness, who under oath declared a recidivism risk of 100%, which is by principle impossible, and I have mentioned the psychiatrist who during the session in court changed his advise without further investigation or consult.
How is this possible? Are they so sure of their own solid beliefs? Were they so impressed by the entourage of the court, or so honored with the invitation to witness, or so full of the power, or not fireproof enough against the pressing of the prosecutor, that they forgot their professional honor and oath of office? Do they identify themselves with the powerful party? Or are they afraid for later blames in case of recidivism?
The experts have enormous influence on the judicial process.
e. The route to treatment
Usually, already before the session in court and the verdict, the probation officers search for a clinic. Also in this phase, the role of the experts is crucial and their power is great. The clinic reads the same dossier, often not complete, and quite often containing 'facts' that later will appear not to exist as such. The first reports are usually very negative. Thus, the community clinics refuse the client, because of 'the gravity of the distortion and the high risk for recidivism'. They clearly want to reach success and to avoid risks.
This may have far-reaching consequences. After all, if no community clinic can be found for the suspect, compulsory treatment in a closed setting will be the only solution, thus the verdict will be so. Closed clinics managed by the state may not refuse patients.
If ultimately a clinic has been found, the treatment can start. About treatment, I have written a separate essay.
7. Solid beliefs
a. 'The recidivism risk is high'
Investigators and many others estimate the recidivism risk always high because of the belief that this risk always is high for sexual offenders ('It is well known that ...; a judge said: "I have read that ...). However, this is not true.
Hanson & Bussière conclude in their meta-analysis to a general recidivism rate of over 36%, for sexual offenders to 13,4%, thus a factor three lower instead of a frequently claimed factor three higher.
Recent data from the Netherlands and the USA give a much higher general recidivism rate: 67% or higher. However, for sexual offenders the rate became lower: for treated offenders between three and ten percent, thus a factor ten lower, which is surely not "high".
How is this solid wrong belief possible? Does one not read the literature? Is one afraid for later blames? Does one react on ground of fear instead of professional knowledge? Or is the real ground 'There must be a scapegoat'?
We only may guess. False but solid beliefs are difficult to understand and not easy to combat.
DSM tells us that acts or tryouts to acts in the last six month are a criterion for pedophilia as a mental distortion. Another criterion is the egodystone character of those feelings. Thus, egosyntone (core) pedophilia without acting it out is, according to the DSM not a mental distortion. Nevertheless, as we saw above, egosyntone core pedophilia is, in the present practice, the worst distortion an person can have. This is strange, in my view it is irrational.
The experts seem to confuse the risk of a crime (which is low, as we saw) with the offending of a crime. They confuse the breaking of a law with having a mental distortion. They confuse the (non) politically-correct thinking with mentally being healthy or ill, political thinking with clinical thinking. They have a lack of self-critic and follow the trend. They belief their own politically correct narrative and call the narrative of the other untrue, sick and dangerous.
The concept 'personality disorder' is a matter of dispute. Also disputed is the view that having pedophile feelings inherently equates having a mental distortion. Those feelings may be strange or not pleasant, maybe also undesirable for society, but this does not mean inherently mentally ill.
In the cases studied, the experts and thus the prosecutors and courts took the view that sexual contacts with children always cause enduring harm. Nearly routinely, damages are claimed and granted, usually without investigating if there actually is harm. All investigators take this view, without having seen, let alone investigated the children, always named 'victims'. It is a solid belief.
Nevertheless, it is not true. Rind, Bauserman & Tromovitch conclude in their meta-analysis to enduring harm in only four percent of the cases, knowingly forced father-daughter contacts. Thus surely not 100%.
There are also positive experiences.
If we overview the three mentioned solid beliefs
we see not only three beliefs solid as rocks, together a mountain of beliefs, leading to calling people sick and dangerous, thus to control them in clinics - because of what they ever might do. This is what happens on ground of solid but disputable beliefs.
Let's view what, on turn, grounds those beliefs.
d. A mechanistic view on the human
Recent psychology and, be it lesser, psychiatry take a very mechanistic view on the human being. In a word play with the Dutch terms, they call themselves no longer psychologists, but behaviorists. The basic concept is behavior and a human is viewed as a behaving being.
Behavior is caused by genes, hormones or stimuli and is lead by cognitions along certain laws that determine behavior. Change, or treatment, means: modification of behavior and cognitions. By doing so, the stimuli loose their causative power. A quite simple model without any attention for the much more complex underlying psychodynamics.
All present-day sex offender treatment is based on this model, the cognitive-behavioral model. In treatment, one has no eye for the psychodynamics. Feelings are not seen as such, but only as cognitions, the young fellow human is only a stimulus, especially one in a offence chain, who looks quite mechanical. The clients learn to avoid the first stimulus and the wrong cognitions, and so to break that chain.
This is partly correct: sometimes, a human is a behaving being who more or less automatically creates behavior. But a human can also be an acting being who chooses her or his acts on reasonable grounds and ethically acceptable aims, and who takes responsibility for her or his acts. In the sex offender treatment, one tries to change the 'automatic behavior' into 'rationally and ethically acting' and 'taking responsibility'. These are fine words and aims, of course.
Contrasting to this fine aim is that the vision of the behaving human dominates and the vision of the acting human has lost a lot of ground. Not completely: after all, the investigator and the therapist will still view themselves as acting humans, but see, describe and approach their client as a behaving being.
In another article, I will show that the treatment practice follows this model. Here we have to establish the fact that in the diagnostic practice the cognitive-behavioral model grounds the thinking of the investigators, thus their reports - and greatly influences the verdicts of the courts.
Frequently, we have seen the word "thus" in the quotes and summaries above. This "thus" is only logical within the cognitive-behavioral way of thinking. In the model of the acting human, it is frequently far from rational.
In the forensic field in the Netherlands, a kind of combat takes place between two visions. The one uses mostly standardized test, the other wants to meet the person and his or her feelings. The latter calls the first "The McDonaldisizing of the psychiatry" and blames the first to do no more than give labels to anybody: anti-social, paranoid, schizophrenic" (Machiel Polak in the Dutch Newspaper NRC-Handelsblad June 20, 2005).
This psychiatrist does neither believe in determinism, nor genetic, nor otherwise. We do not know the causes of the human behavior and cannot foresee it. This refers to rejecting the deterministic and causality vision on the human, i.e. the vision of the behavioral model.
What we need is a new philosophical rethinking of the ideological basis, the vision on the human, grounding the psychology and psychiatry, especially the forensic, as well as the criminology and sexology.
Dessaur has written a book - in Dutch - asking for a "criminosophie'. She describes that the philosophy, since the Enlightenment, has developed a vision on the human as an autonomous, self-choosing, reasoning and ethical being. In my words: the human as an acting being. In contrast, the social sciences work more and more with a mechanistic view on the human, in my words the vision on the human as a behaving being, causes by stimuli and cognitions. Her plea is that the social sciences, especially the criminology, choose the first model instead of the latter.
My plea is the same. What we see is that the alpha and the gamma sciences more and more work with the scientific models of the beta sciences, the physics. By doing so, one reduces the human from an acting being into a behaving being, one reduces the human to an offender. No, not 'the human', only the client, because the investigator or therapist will keep seeing himself as an acting being.
Dennis Howitt gives in his standard work "Paedophiles and sexual offences against children", John Wiley & Sons, New York e.a. 1996, in de chapters 5 en 8, nine models in which pedophilia can be explained. Each model has another explanation, thus also another kind of treatment.
Thus, we should first think about the model, or models, we choose as correct, and than think about explanation, diagnosis and treatment. Each model is on turn grounded by a vision on the human, thus, we should think about the vision we view as correct. I may hope that one does not choose the one vision for the client and another for oneself. This seems me not logically consistent. Nevertheless, this is what is happening in the forensic field.
In 25 reports - so many not seen pitfalls, traps, problems and mistakes. This may ask for more study and thinking on a fundamental level, the level of the grounding models and visions, thus on a philosophical level.
Thus, if I may invite you: be self-critical and be critical on hypes and trends in the field. Do not follow automatically Skinner with his mechanistic and automatic vision on the human, better follow Kant with his Sapere aude, dare to think - to think self.
Are you such a mechanic human? I don't think so. Supposedly, you will see yourself as an acting human being, not lead by mechanic stimuli. And your client? Does he only follow mechanical stimuli? Do you view yourself and your client in a totally different view? If not, why are present-day diagnostics and treatment so one-sided based on the behavioral model?
Visit a library or your book shelf, if I may invite you. Start with Confucius and the Tao, go via the Buddhism to Plato and Aristotle, don't forget Plotinus; go on with the Islamite Enlightenment and come at the European Enlightenment and her philosophers. Go on to modernity, don't forget Foucault and Habermas.
Start, if I may invite you, profoundly thinking about a vision on the human, his feelings, thoughts and acts, and the best way to approach the fellow humans, also in the forensic field, hoping to avoid the mentioned pitfalls, traps and mistakes.