Pathological Abnormalities in Sex Offenders

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1) Biological Theories
Genetics, abnormal hormonal levels and brain dysfunction have all been linked to sexual offending. To date, there is no evidence of a genetic in sex-offending (Langevin, 1993), although case reports of pedophilic fathers and sons have been reported (Gaffner, Lurie & Berlin, 1984). Some researchers have hypothesised this to be reflective of neuro-endocrine abnormalities, such that abnormal hormonal levels may disrupt the sexual arousability of an individual. This is based on the belief that the endocrine system drives sexual behaviour (Langevin, 1993). There is some evidence for this in the literature with peripheral blood samples of pedophiles indicating abnormal testosterone levels (Bain et al., 1988) and increased plasma testosterone levels in rapists (Berlin, 1989). However, the use of anti-androgen medication in the treatment of sex offenders aims to reduce sexual arousal by decreasing testosterone levels (Maletzky & Field, 2003). Therefore, there does appear to be some current support for the belief that biologically driven sexual urges may contribute to the motivation of sexual offences.

An alternative position in this realm is the neurophysiological hypothesis proposed by Flor-Henry (1987).. As such, he proposed that the observed EEG differences in sex-offenders were reflective of a pathological neural organisation in the dominant hemisphere thus giving rise to abnormal sexual representations, which in turn lead to, disrupted connections with the non-dominant hemisphere. Consequently, only these abnormal ideas are capable of eliciting an orgasmic response. Contrary to these theories is the hypothesis that brain dysfunction may not produce the sexual urges; rather it may function to weaken an individu...

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...ists may not have the same strength of inhibition to the rape stimuli (Barbaree & Marshall, 1991). Similarly, the response compatibility perspective (Blader & Marshall, 1989) identifies differences in inhibitory mechanisms. This position argues that rape cues cannot stimulate an individual to rape as non-consent and violence occur as a product of rape not as an antecedent. These authors postulate that aggression and sexual arousal are mutually inhibitory mechanisms in the normal male. Such that, if an individual is sexually aroused, it precludes an aggressive response at the same time. However, in the rapist these two mechanisms function together and are thus seen as compatible. It is argued that this is the defining feature of rape. There is some evidence for this inhibitory model in the literature (Lohr, Adams & Davis, 1997), although much remains to be conducted.

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