How do people properly understand the different natures of people and things?
What follows is a sketch of the cognitive-emotional transition during the treatment of paraphilias, from the perspective of potential therapy. As is the main focus, the examples used here will be on pedophilia and related chronophilias specifically.
I. Temporal Dynamics
The dynamics of interest are very individualized because of differences in countless variables. Interest changes can be affected by things such as environmental elements and arrangement, convictions and beliefs (wishes, etc.), sociability levels, age, and the presence or absence of CSA-induced trauma. In the future, if more clinics prescribe medical supplements to facilitate transitional treatment (that is, to facilitate the neurochemical processes involved in forming and inhibiting sexual interest), this could also influence duration between attraction to no-attraction. It can be safely assumed that any change in interest would not be instantaneous, because most cases of extinction in general aren’t, nor is the formation of the interest.
II. Interest Examination
Before probing into specific life events, any patients should self-reflect and closely examine what they define their object of attraction as. Pedophiles should be encouraged to define: what do “children” mean to them? How are children and adults (or peers, if the patient is an older minor) different? This should be taken seriously, because distortions in personality information are, in fact, large influencers of attractiveness judgments. Of course, the construal of contemporaries and adults is sometimes just as instrumental implicitly.
With the more flippant patient, it may be better to ask specifically: “What do you find attractive about them?”
At this point, efforts should be focused on demonstrating to the person, patiently, that these qualities, whatever they may be, are not inherent to the object of attraction. This is a rampant misconception that must be immediately dealt with, because the particular meaning placed (or projected) onto the object of attraction will shape all impressions, perceptions, etc. The separation of these two schemata, attraction and object, is why we generally refer to this as distillation (referencing the refinement of a chemical mineral), disentanglement (of the crossed “wires” or pathways), abstraction (extracting the essential qualities), etc. It is meant to be a guiding tool in the whole of interest correction. It involves the patients becoming more aware of their own conceptions and of children, of human development in general. This involves, through any necessary proofs, dialogues, and individual discovery, gradual adjustment of their schema of children. They should internalize this new awareness.
Very often by the same metric, the viewpoint of contemporaries becomes clouded and distorted. Recognition of the beauty and necessity of human development and the entire scope of life, of joy that can be found in fulfilling ways, is something that happens automatically as the resolution of people and humanity’s groups becomes differentiated, like the adjustment of a camera lens from the blur and confusion of the unwanted interest. People must recognize themselves as part of a greater, complementary whole within their generation and state in life. They belong to neither the future nor past, but the present.
IV. Reason and Authenticity
While seeking change, the patient should consider the motivation for these efforts. What is the purpose?
- The purpose should not be strictly offense control. Inhibition is not an intrinsic part of the attraction. In other words, there is no excuse for CSA.
- Instead, the proper way to see it is a burden being lifted off. The world of real attractions, meaningful relationships, romantic love, intimacy, and a sort of fulfillment in this regard. The mind’s attention, emotions, excitement, anxiety, and admiration will be directed to where they naturally call. There’s no excuse for offending in the first place, but now it’s all the more unnecessary.
- The purpose should not be guilt-related, either, not merely for the unchosen interest. “Acceptance” of the condition is often seen as the “best” approach, with the use it does have, only because there is confusion between the deviant interest and identity. These people mistake their condition for who they are. But identity is far much greater than that.
- Instead, the goal should be to first, detach from those thoughts and feelings, like watching dandelions in the air. They’re just there. Instruction must focus on the inherent worth and acceptance of the person beneath all this.
- This is why words and what they imply matter. Whenever the phrase “I’m a ____” pops up, it should be immediately replaced with “I have ______ attractions.” These things are ultimately something to let go of.
- The person has to actually want to do this, of course, not just because of social stigma or law enforcement. In fact, any idea that this is just a matter of “legality” (“you just can’t act on it because of the law”) and not an absolute wrong, something that is inherently undesirable, is not only unacceptable but unproductive. Time is just being wasted this way.
- Instead, it must be known deep down that there’s something fundamentally wrong and sick about the condition. It’s an illness. Like any other, it has a cure, and we will find it.
- The person has to get out of their head any nonsense about “human neurodiversity” when it comes to this. That’s fine anywhere else. It’s not only wrong and disturbed but totally backwards here. Children are important, but they’re not as complex and individual as adults. They can’t understand internally or appreciate anything to do with sexual interests or deeper connections for what they are. They’re not adults. They don’t have to be forced into adult interests or activities.
- This won’t be compromised, because the sexual interest will never change if the person can’t see things for what they are. If the patients hold on to any needless, twisted beliefs and excuses like this, they’re worth no one’s time and energy.
The purpose should be that the person wants to see people for what they are and be able to find fulfilling relationships, to have healthy attractions. It’s about letting the natural process of attractions work as it should.
V. Internal Understanding
Certainly, the patients would arrive at an understanding of not only how they define the world, as in how they see and relate to it, but themselves. A clear difference would emerge between the attraction and the drivers of it, such as other neglected mental needs. They would figure out what these interests or desires really need, then see the difference between constructive and destructive fulfillment of that. In the end, it’s seen how these are met with coevals and in solitude.
If there is any trauma from abuse, this should be worked out before anticipation of any change in the interest. In fact, it’s necessary to work through that during healing, because the attraction then is just thin ice that lies above a vast sea. Additionally, the patient(s) should be encouraged through any fears, negative beliefs (“change can’t happen” or “I’ll never change”), toxic shame or guilt, and other obstacles.
VI. Troubleshooting Overview
The potential difficulties are innumerable. This is just about the most important one for the purposes here: understanding the nature of people and things.
First, the patients have to carefully observe their thoughts about the relevant groups of people. Patience is the first “tool” to this. If the patients continue to hold to certain arbitrary or needless beliefs about groups, it’s a good opportunity to become more exposed to many different kinds of people in each group (qualitative psychological differences), whether in person or through learning on their own. Many people just aren’t aware of the full picture. Their frame of reference is too narrow, so they make generalizations and fit definitions based on that, instead of what definitions mean universally.
For any cultural messages, these should be understood as just static noise. They mean nothing. Those are just projections of preexisting and sometimes stubborn opinions. They’re often used to not confront the real, more complicated issues and self-justify in the process. As a matter of fact, a compilation of all the contradictory ideas of the object of attraction that exist should be made and shown to each patient.
The solutions here are more or less the same for cognitive restructuring and resolving other distortions. As for overall support, if any successful cases allow voluntary disclosure (anonymized, of course), this would be sufficient evidence to see how the condition is counteracted.
VII. Active Instruction
It’s important, even before there is real change in the paraphilic interest, to cease behaviors that involve or encourage it. Real efforts should be made to not subconsciously reinforce the condition. This is rather broad, but active actions to deter the preference (e.g. disgust-induction or forced association to negative events/stimuli) are not advised. Employing these techniques on another patient is both unethical and a waste of time. This is usually cited as evidence against the mutability of sexual interests, but it’s in fact only a disproof of the techniques in question. These require finding a direct link between the complex process (the sexual interest towards children) and the potential punishment. How can it be guaranteed that it covers just the paraphilic interest and not whatever represents it at the time (discrimination), all sexual interest (generalization), or an unintended stimulus entirely? The trial-and-error required to perfect aversion-creating techniques would be better put into identifying the cause of the interest itself.
This is not the same as isolated suppression or pushing it away. This is not abbot (blindly) “willing” or “wishing” it away. It has to go with addressing the circumstances that add to the actually-acquired condition, in order to avoid something iatrogenic. Before attempting any “techniques” of sorts, it should be asked if it would be a beneficial one in any other instance. That is, would it still be helpful (or at least not harmful) even without the paraphilic interest? This is about how things are and should be normally, when they’re left alone to work properly.
It would be narrow-sighted to only focus on the ailment without helping the patients build fulfilling connection and interrelation with their coeval groups. In a significant number of cases, the patients also has to work through abuse and/or learn to draw boundaries with the person(s) from their life that contributed to potential aversions, in order to overcome any enmeshment.
Throughout changes in thought patterns and behaviors, over time, this should lead to internal change, ascent, and freedom from the paraphilia. What’s important is not just that the erroneous interest is gone, that the wiring has been mended. It’s that the person now sees and relates to the world with different eyes. The person has overcome a battle never chosen but can be won.
(2020). Framework (main series).