Therapy of Sex Offenders

Therapy of sex offenders is a difficult subject, with much misinformation around. We have data in for three types:

  1. Pedophiles
  2. Exhibitionists
  3. Rapists

In general, therapy for pedophiles and exhibitionists has fared pretty well. The best techniques are probably cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Persons who go through therapy are significantly less likely to re-offend than those who do not. It is a lie that sex offenders are all incurable.

The therapy of rapists has been much more difficult and until recently, it had a bad track record. However, recent advances in CBT have shown that rapists can be treated with some success. Whether that success is at a higher or lower rate than the prior two offenders is not known.

The problems with the rapist are generally at least twofold.

1. Rage, anger and hatred. Most if not all rapists have extremely high levels of rage, anger and hatred. In fact, this is what typically motivates the crime. In addition, it is typical for them to have strong to extreme levels of hatred for women. It is the rage in general and the hatred for women in particular that tends to set off the crimes.

2. Low levels of empathy. Most if not all rapists have low to nonexistent levels of empathy for their victims. Although most sex offenses are characterized by similarly low levels of empathy, the lack of empathy in rapists is quite striking. In many cases, they simply do not care how their female victim feels. In other cases, they rationalize that the victim, or really all women, want to be raped, that is, they secretly desire it or enjoy it. Some say that unless the woman is violently fighting back, that means she wants it and enjoys it.

Low empathy levels are obviously a significant driver for offending, and it is one of the hardest things to deal with in therapy. Often there does not seem to be any way to get the offender to feel empathy for his potential victims. Why this is uncertain. Perhaps some people simply do not want to feel empathy. The therapy of individuals like this is to tell that even though they don’t feel empathy for their potential victims, they should not offend anyway because to do so might get them in trouble with the law. So you appeal to the offender’s self-interest in not offending. It’s not how you will make the victim feel, it is about what will happen to your life.

There is no one type of rapist. Not all rapists are serial rapists, though serial rapists are the worst kind by far. Some rapists rape only once and without warning. When asked, some of these types say they do not even know why they raped; they just did it. Others, serial rapists and single rapists, rape at a stressful point in their lives. Rape appears to be their way of blowing off steam so to speak.

Serial rapists may have gotten into a habit of compulsively raping. In this case, it is like an addiction, and it may be difficult to break the habit.

Antecedents of rape include voyeurism, exhibitionism, transvestic fetishism, frotteurism, panty fetishes and raiding women’s places to obtain them and burglary. All of these have in common a violation of the female victim in one way or another. While many who do these things do not escalate, some do.

2 Comments

Filed under CBT, Crime, Criminology, Pedophilia, Psychology, Psychopathology, Psychotherapy, Sex, Sociology

2 responses to “Therapy of Sex Offenders

  1. If what you say is correct, then one might hypothesise some MDMA with talk therapy may be useful in the rehabilitation of those who lack empathy, or lack the ability to turn theories about others’ secret desires into mature questions about what one’s partner might like to try.

  2. Marilyn

    “Rape appears to be their way of blowing off steam so to speak” I think that’s as accurate as it’s ever gonna get.

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