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The inevitable has happened. Ever since the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality as a disorder listed in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-III) in 1973, many of us have wondered by what logic they continued to list pedophilia, exhibitionism, sadism and masochism and other sexual aberrations as disorders in subsequent DSM revisions.
The premise that supported the 1973 deletion of homosexuality was that sexual behavior has no intrinsic or inherent purpose. Sex is a drive seeking to be fulfilled and the object of that fulfillment does not matter so long as you are not seriously disturbed by your sexual drives.
Now, the APA significantly modified its criteria for diagnosing pedophilia, exactly as they did with homosexuality. In the earlier DSM-III-R, pedophilia was diagnosed as a disorder if "The person has acted out on these urges, or is markedly distressed by them". (Page 285, paragraph B of Diagnostic criteria for 302.20 Pedophilia). In DSM-IV, Paragraph B of the same section (Page 528) is changed to read, "The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning." Simply acting out on the urges is no longer a basis for pedophilia being considered a disorder. If the individual is not distressed or impaired by what he is doing, then to the psychiatric community, it is healthy behavior.
Identical changes in the criteria for diagnosing sexual sadism and masochism, transvestitism, voyeurism and exhibitionism have also been made in DSM-IV.
Many homosexual activists had seen the 1973 deletion as a great victory for their cause -- the authoritative declaration that homosexuality is "normal." Many in the public bought into this as they failed to distinguish between what is "normal" and what is "right." It has often been stated that psychiatrists today, in trying to fill a role as the final judges of human behavior, have usurped the role of the church in earlier ages. With their having declared that there is nothing inherently disordered in pedophilia -- or in sadism or exhibitionism -- maybe we will recognize that it is time to take psychiatrists down off of the pedestal on which we have placed them.
It causes one to think. In declaring that pedophilia is not an aberration, perhaps the APA reveals that it -- the APA itself -- is aberrant.
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Copyright © 1994 Alan P. Medinger and Regeneration. Please request permission to reprint this article. All rights reserved. Posted on the web with permission.