Did The New APA Diagnostic Manual Classify Pedophilia As A Sexual Orientation?


Back in April, I wrote about a push to federalize a California state law that prohibits counseling aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation. The controversy surrounding this push involved the ambiguity inherent in the legislation’s language, which many feared would open the door to legitimizing deviant sexual inclinations such as pedophilia by classifying them as “orientations.”

What I did not know was that in May, the American Psychological Association (APA) released a new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders known as DSM-5. When it was released, the new DSM-5 stated that 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 distinction made here is significant: classifying those who have a sexual attraction to children but do not act on it as possessing an orientation rather than a disorder moves them closer to legitimacy and legal protection.

After facing significant backlash over the terminology, the APA issued a press release which admitted, “’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.’”

According to a report earlier this month from LifeSiteNews, an APA official made a very interesting admission:

The APA said the unwelcome attention from conservative Christians helped them turn out a more precise and accurate guide.

“In using [the term]sexual orientation, 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,” a spokesperson who asked to remain anonymous told LifeSiteNews.com. “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.”

Evidently, the APA wants us to believe that this is simply a mistake. That despite the legal significance of such terminology, the implications were merely overlooked in the development of the manual. Not everyone is buying that argument:

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver criticized this distinction, saying the APA’s publication could “provide pederasts with all the arguments they need to remove age of consent laws, and children will suffer.”

“If reclassifying pedophilia was merely an ‘error,’ it would have been caught” during the decade-long process of developing the new DSM, added Staver.

Just Facts President James Agresti told LifeSiteNews.com that the APA’s text changes – which only took place after aggressive action by social conservatives, and not through an internal corrective process – are a continuation of “a propensity for placing politics over science.”

People often say that a debate like this comes down to little more than a “semantic quibble”, but there was a saying that my high school theology teacher used to drill into our heads with great frequency: “Truth is a matter of semantics.”

When I think of the “decade-long process” of developing this diagnostic manual, that’s what comes to mind. Those writing the manual are, it is safe to assume, professionals at the top of their field. Mistakes like this, considering the legal ramifications, seem highly unlikely. We cannot know with certitude that this was not an error, but I find that such a suggestion strains credulity.

What is more likely is the advancement of a position, however incrementally, that establishes a foot-in-the-door for further expansion. Remember, as hard as it is to believe, there is an active movement within the academic, medical, and psychological community working to reclassify pedophilia and de-stigmatize it. Because the mores that see pedophilia as aberrant and disordered are, in their view, the “cultural baggage of wrongfulness”.

They’ve backed down this time, but I fully expect this isn’t the last we’ll see of this push. We have to remain vigilant.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


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