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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 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 ELEVEN: Mentalization based therapy (MBT) and other psychoanalytic treatment

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

“The self and its boundaries are at the heart of philosophical speculation on human nature, and the sense of self and its counterpart, the sense of other, are universal phenomena that profoundly influence all our social experience”

(Stern, 1985, p. 5)

The psychological profiles of psychopathic and affect-hungry juvenile sex offenders discussed in Chapter Eleven can be differentiated on the basis of their level of psychopathology, psychopathy, and their capacity for attachment and relatedness. In turn, these differences are reflected in their psychic structure and object relation configurations and associated psychological defences. These underpin distinct motivations reflected in different offence types. This has important implications for the type of psychological interventions selected for sub-groups of juvenile sex offenders.

Treatment and treatment outcome with juvenile sex offenders

The contemporary psychological interventions invoked with juvenile sex offenders have been predominantly cognitive–behavioural and skill-based approaches. Of these multi-systemic therapy (MST), which has socio-ecological components and works with different systems with which the juvenile sex offender comes into contact, has been the most successful (Henggeler&Borduin, 1995; Henggeler, Schoenwald, Borduin, Rowland,&Cunningham, 1998). All these approaches have tended to regard juvenile sex offenders as a homogenous group with the same treatment needs. The average effect size for treatment approaches with juvenile sex offenders overall has been estimated at 0.43, with a lack of superiority for cognitive–behavioural interventions found. Meta-analytic reviews of treatment outcomes for juvenile sex offenders have noted that a confounding variable concerning effect sizes might be the “one size fits all” approach to treatment (Reitzel&Carbonell, 2006).

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CHAPTER FOUR: Psychopathy and juvenile sex offending

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

“The determination at all costs not to risk again the disappointment and resulting rages and longings which wanting someone very much and not getting them involves”

(Bowlby, 1944, cited in Holmes, 1993, p. 87)

Psychopathy is synonymous with an obfuscation of the need for attachment. Bowlby (1944) described psychopaths as “detached”. Psychopathy can, therefore, be seen as representing psychopathology, which involves the most extreme incapacity for attachment. There is considerable evidence that implicates psychopathy in juvenile sex offending.

The nature of psychopathy

Psychopathy is regarded as a personality disorder. Drawing heavily on Cleckly’s (1941) work, Hare describes psychopathy as consisting of a characteristic pattern of interpersonal, affective, and behavioural symptoms so that, on an interpersonal level, psychopaths are shown to be grandiose, egocentric, manipulative, forceful, and cold-hearted. In terms of their affect, they display shallow and labile emotions and are unable to form long-lasting bonds to people, principles, and goals. They experience little anxiety, genuine guilt, or remorse. Behaviour-ally, psychopaths are impulsive and sensation seeking, and they readily violate social norms. The most obvious expressions of these predispositions “involve criminality, substance abuse, and a failure to fulfill social obligations and responsibilities” (Hare, 1991, p. 3).

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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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