Dave Bohon
New American
November 13, 2013

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has backtracked on its designation of pedophilia as a “sexual orientation,” following backlash from conservative family organizations. In May the APA, which according to its website represents more than 33,000 psychiatrists in the United States and elsewhere, released the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), in which pedophilia is described as a sexual “orientation.”

Image: CCHRINT.org

According to LifeSiteNews.com, the designation went largely unnoticed until an online news site called NeonTommy.com uncovered the updated listing. The news site noted that in DSM-5 the APA “drew a very distinct line between pedophilia and pedophilic disorder. Pedophilia refers to a sexual orientation or profession of sexual preference devoid of consummation, whereas pedophilic disorder is defined as a compulsion and is used in reference to individuals who act on their sexuality.”

The revelation led conservative groups such as Liberty Counsel and the American Family Association to condemn the new designation as the latest in the APA’s efforts to appear politically correct with regard to sexual aberrations. “Just as the American Psychiatric Association declared homosexuality an ‘orientation’ under tremendous pressure from homosexual activists in the early seventies,” said the AFA’s Sandy Rios, “now, under pressure from pedophile activists, they have declared the desire for sex with children an ‘orientation,’ too.”

The embarrassing exposure prompted the APA to issue a statement insisting that the designation was an error and attempting to make a clarification. “’Sexual orientation’ is not a term used in the diagnostic criteria for pedophilic disorder and its use in the DSM-5 text discussion is an error and should read ‘sexual interest,’” the APA said. “In fact, APA considers pedophilic disorder a ‘paraphilia,’ not a ‘sexual orientation.’ This error will be corrected in the electronic version of DSM-5 and the next printing of the manual.”

The Washington Times noted that other sexual deviations designated “paraphilia” in the APA’s DSM-5 include exhibitionistic disorder, fetishistic disorder, sexual masochism disorder, sexual sadism disorder, transvestic disorder, voyeuristic disorder, and pedophilic disorder. “Despite all these things being labeled a ‘disorder’ in DSMs for years,” reported the Times, “the actions some of them result in — for example, flashing, assault and battery, and ‘peeping Tom’ behavior — are all uncontroversially illegal.”

An anonymous APA source told LifeSiteNews.com that in using the term “sexual orientation” the APA “did not intend for it to be construed in the legal sense — as in a protected status under title IV and other legislation, but we learned that some may construe it that way. Therefore, we changed the word to ‘interest’ so that it would be clear that APA is speaking in medical terms, and is not commenting on legal status.”

The APA had earlier declared that the publication of its DSM-5 “marked the end of more than a decade’s journey in revising the criteria for the diagnosis and classification of mental disorders,” with collaboration from “professionals from the mental health and medical communities, patients and their families, and members of the public.”

But Matt Staver of the pro-family Liberty Counsel challenged that “if reclassifying pedophilia was merely an ‘error,’ it would have been caught in the ‘decade’s journey.’ Whether it is classified a ‘sexual orientation’ or a ‘sexual interest,’ any effort to legitimize pedophilia will provide pederasts with all the arguments they need to remove age of consent laws, and children will suffer.”

Liberty Counsel recalled that the APA’s dealings with the pedophilia classification over the past decade have been “ripe with controversy.” In DSM-3, for example, the “APA said that one who acted upon one’s sexual attraction to children was a pedophile,” noted Liberty Counsel. But by the fourth edition of the DSM, the APA had “changed the criteria,” continued the pro-family group, “saying that pedophilia was only a disorder if it ’caused clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.’”

Then came the notorious Rind study on child sexual abuse, which “concluded that man-boy ‘consensual’ relationships were not necessarily harmful,” recalled Liberty Counsel. “Following the public outcry of the Rind study, APA said moral values trumped the scientific study.”

The Liberty Counsel charged that the APA’s latest “error” in designating pedophilia a sexual “orientation” seemed more than a little calculated. “The DSM-V has been under consideration for ten years,” the group noted. “It is hard to accept that its publication was a mistake or an error. It is more likely that the public outcry prompted the APA’s recent press statement.”

The Liberty Counsel’s Matt Staver said that the most recent controversy has caused the APA to lose credibility as a professional psychiatric organization. “The APA has become co-opted by a political agenda,” said Staver. “It is hard to see the APA any other way. The implications of reclassifying natural law, whether it be for same-sex marriage or adult-children relationships, are far-reaching.”

In related news, among those who have expressed criticism over the APA’s DSM-5 is psychiatrist Dr. Allen Frances, who supervised publication of the DSM’s previous edition. “Though Frances may have himself contributed to the classification ‘controversies,’ his primary criticism of DSM-5 has been that it creates even more mental health disorder categories, and, consequently, an environment in which an increased number of human behaviors are open to the potential of being declared deviant,” reported Breitbart.com.

Frances wrote in the Psychiatric Times that it is a “sure sign of excess that 25% of us reportedly qualify for a mental disorder and that 20% are on psychiatric medication. Unless checked, DSM-5 will open the floodgates and may turn current diagnostic inflation into future hyperinflation.”

Breitbart noted that “Frances’ concern with some diagnostic categories such as those in the arena of sexual deviance is that, put simply, they are ‘pseudo-diagnoses’ and not true ‘mental disorders.’”

Wrote Frances: “There is no infallible definition guiding what should, and what should not, be included in the official manual of mental disorders.” He argued that the APA’s trend toward an ever-increasing number of “pseudo-diagnoses” in the area of sexual deviance “has already contributed significantly to a grave misuse of psychiatry by the legal system in the handling of sexually violent predators — a misuse much opposed by the APA in a task force report and amicus brief to the Supreme Court.”

Frances contended that such diagnoses “also medicalize undesirable sexual behavior and thereby provide a psychiatric excuse helpful to those who are attempting to evade personal responsibility.”

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