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CHAPTER TWO: The characteristics and differences of juvenile sex offenders

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

“Knowledge becomes evil if the aim be not virtuous”

(Plato, 427 BC, cited in Wall, 2011, p. 247)

Juvenile sex offenders as a group have generally been shown to have significant psychopathology that is different from that of non-sexual offenders (Seto&Lalumière, 2010). They also appear to be different psychologically from other non-offending adolescents (Dolan, Holloway, Bailey,&Kroll, 1996; Kenny, Keogh,&Seidler, 2001; Kenny, Keogh, Seidler,&Blaszczynski 2000; Keogh&Hayes, 2003; van Wijk et al., 2006), although they may present as similar to other adolescents, often appearing like “the boy (or girl) next door” in many other respects. As a group, they also exhibit heterogeneity in terms of their psychopathology, which appears to account for differences in their sexual offence types.

Characteristics of juvenile sex offenders

Juvenile sex offenders have been found to be predominantly male, despite an increase in the number of female sex offenders (Burton, Miller,&Shill, 2002), with the typical offender being fourteen years old and offending against children who are female and seven years of age (Dolan, Holloway, Bailey,&Kroll, 1996; Kenny, Keogh, Seidler,&Blaszczynski, 2000). Although Afro-American and Hispanic offenders are over-represented in US samples (Davis&Leitenberg, 1987; Hsu&Starzynski, 1990; Vinogradov, Dishotsky, Doty,&Tinklenberg, 1988), juvenile sex offenders in other western cultures, including the UK and Australia, have been found to be from Anglo-Celtic and European backgrounds (Dolan, Holloway, Bailey,&Kroll, 1996; Kenny, Keogh, Seidler,&Blaszczynski, 2000; Manocha&Mezey, 1998; van Wijk, van Horn, Bullens, Bijleveld,&Doreleijers, 2005).

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CHAPTER SEVEN: The study and its findings

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

Clinical descriptions of juvenile sex offenders suggest that they may be a heterogeneous group with varied attachment styles and different levels of psychopathy. This profile is supported by the more prolific research with adult sex offenders (Marshall, Geris,&Cortoni, 2000; Marshall, Hudson,&Hodkinson, 1993).

Psychopathy in combination with sexual deviance has also been found to predict recidivism. It also predicts offence types among adult sex offenders. Adult rapists appear to have much higher levels of psychopathy than child molesters, with the latter group appearing to have other types of personal difficulties associated with social isolation and immaturity (Marshall, 1989; Marshall, Cripps, Anderson,&Cortoni, 1999). It is important to note that this does not preclude a group of psychopathic offenders (whose intent is primarily to hurt) who also target children.

Juvenile sex offenders have been found to reveal different levels of antisocialness which appeared to be linked with their offence type (Worling, 1995). Types of offending and victim choice also seem to link with different personality characteristics, which, in turn, appear to have some correlation with antisocialness (see Chapter Two). Related to this, adult sex offenders who molest children are less likely to be antisocial or to offend non-sexually. Their personality characteristics seem to be related to their inability to relate to adults in a mature, reciprocal, and emotionally meaningful way (Ward&Siegert, 2002).

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CHAPTER NINE: Implications for the assessment of the juvenile sex offender

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

The results of my study (discussed in Chapters Seven and Eight), along with the broad research literature base concerning juvenile sex offenders, make a case for the importance of assessing their capacity for attachment, level of detachment (psychopathy), psychopathology and empirical correlates of their internal world. In this chapter, I highlight some important issues in the assessment of juvenile sex offenders and recommend a battery of tests that facilitates the assessment of these constructs. I describe in some detail aspects of these instruments which I feel are particularly useful in articulating relevant motivational factors behind their offending. As the Rorschach (a part of the battery of tests I recommend) has been a somewhat controversial psycho-diagnostic test (despite the richness of assessment data it can yield), I also take up something of the controversy around the use of this instrument.

Starting with the proposition that juvenile sex offenders are not a homogeneous group in terms of their psychopathology, a careful assessment of differential offending-related variables is necessary to ensure the appropriateness of the approach to, and content of, their treatment. It is also important to determine who is most suitable for treatment and, in some rare instances, whether treatment is not indicated or is not feasible. These considerations relate in part to the issue of what has become known as treatment “responsivity”.

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CHAPTER EIGHT: A closer view into the internal world of the juvenile sex offender

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

“Out of infinite longings, rise finite deeds”

(From “Infinite”, Rilke, 2004)

On the basis of their landmark meta-analysis of research involving 3855 adolescent sex offenders, Seto and Lalumière (2010) concluded that “adolescent sex offending cannot be parsimoniously explained as a simple manifestation of anti-social tendencies” (p. 526). Their analysis highlighted that these offenders represent a heterogeneous group with a significant range of psycho-pathology. Further, many of the factors they isolated as having likely aetiological significance to juvenile sex offending are experiences likely to disrupt their attachment, once again highlighting the probable significance of attachment issues to juvenile sex offending.

The research (reported in Chapter Seven) is the first to demonstrate that sub-types of juvenile sex offenders could be predicted by measures of capacity for attachment, level of relatedness, psychopathy, psychopathology, and empirical correlates of the internal world. This research, which I will hereafter refer to as “my study”, showed that attachment capacity and human relatedness were lower in juvenile sex offenders when they were compared to a group of non-offending adolescents. It further showed that these variables, along with psychopathy, differentiated those offenders who molest children from those who have peer-aged or older victims. The results, therefore, suggested the diagnostic relevance of capacity for attachment, level of relatedness (and the associated object relations), and psychopathy with juvenile sex offenders.

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CHAPTER FIVE: Malignant narcissism, psychopathy, and perversion

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

“The human mind needs to relate to the other in order to develop”

(Ferro, 2005, p. 15)

Ihave previously noted how, as a result of disruptions to attachment and emotional development, some juvenile sex offenders relate to others through either sexualized or violently sexualized means. Indeed, what characterizes the psychopathic offender is his desire to hurt and coerce others. In this chapter, I explicate how narcissism, when it becomes “malignant”, links to the behaviours and attitudes which constitute what is described as psychopathy and to consider its connection to sexual perversion.

Malignant narcissism, as a term, has evolved over time. Eric Fromm (1964) in his book, The Heart of Man, described it as: “The most severe pathology and the root of the most vicious destructiveness and inhumanity” (p. 33).

Akhtar (2009) points to Weigert’s (1967) view of malignant narcissism as involving a regressive state, encompassing denial and a distortion of reality and coexisting with a benign narcissism, which she saw as a type of enhanced self-esteem linked to having survived adversity. Ahtkar notes that Weigert also felt that “there was no sharp division between the two forms of narcissism” (Akhtar, 2009, p. 163).

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