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Schwalbe, R. (2007). The Mind of the Paedophile: Psychoanalytic perspectives, Charles W. Socarides and Loretta R. Loeb (Eds.), Karnac, London, 2004, 220 pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 67(1):116-118.

(2007). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 67(1):116-118

The Mind of the Paedophile: Psychoanalytic perspectives, Charles W. Socarides and Loretta R. Loeb (Eds.), Karnac, London, 2004, 220 pp.

Review by:
Robert Schwalbe, Ph.D.

In the preface to this collection, Socarides noted that during the 45 years preceding the publication of this volume, only three case histories of pedophiles had been reported in English in major psychoanalytic journals. He attributed the lack of scholarly attention to this group to: (1) the fact that pedophiles tend not to present themselves for analysis, due to their fear of the law; (2) the view that pedophiles are not appropriate candidates for analytic treatment; and (3) “the analyst's aversion to treat or report on such patients because of the revulsion and anger with which their perversion is viewed by the general public and society” (p. xviii). Socarides suggested that this volume would shed light on the origins of pedophilia, describe its dynamics, and describe its possible therapy. He expressed the hope that the volume “will be a spur to others to analyze pedophile perverts as well as to tenderly care for the wounds of the child victims who are described within its pages” (p. xix).

The book delivers on these promises in substantial measure. In his own chapter of the book, Socarides defines “true pedophiliacs” as individuals who “out of inner necessity must engage in sexual relations with a prepubertal child (before the development of secondary sex characteristics) in order to achieve sexual gratification and to obtain relief for unconscious conflicts” (pp. 9-10). Socarides presents a system for classifying the pedophilias based on: (1) motivation (conscious or unconscious); (2) the developmental stage from which the conflict arose; and (3) the degree of pathology of internalized object relations.

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