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SEX OFFENDERS: EPILOGUE

From the viewpoint of practicality, it is impossible to summarize in any adequate way the enormous and highly diverse amount of data on which this sex-offender study is based. Consequently this epilogue should not be construed as any summary, but as more of a postscript listing some thoughts we wish to leave with the reader.

It is clear that there is such a wide variety of types and subtypes of offenders that no sweeping generalizations should be made. There is no common denominator distinguishing all sex offenders. One cannot speak of "the sex offender," and only in well-defined circumstances can one speak of "most sex offenders."

Certain variables of behavior or vital statistics are important in particular types of offenders as, for example, the high frequency of self-masturbation characteristic of homosexual offenders, but inconsequential in other types of offenders, and the sexual restraint typical of the incest offenders vs. adults.

Some of the variables common in the sex offenders are seen also in the prison group and should not be considered as peculiar to sex offenders, but rather as associated with poverty, emotional and material deprivation, familial and employment instability, and lesser education. Persons who have grown up under and never escaped from such adverse conditions are likely to be convicted for some sort of offense, sexual or otherwise.

We interpret our data to show that there are two broad classes of sex offenses:

1.     Offenses consisting of behavior which is statistically normal and otivated by desires which most laymen and clinicians would consider within our cultural norms. One might summarize these offenses as "normal" but for various reasons inappropriate and punishable. Such offenses would include sexual activity with willing postpubescent unrelated females and occasional opportunistic peeping. These offenses do not seriously threaten social organization, and psychological damage to the individuals is generally absent or minimal. Consequently our

social sanctions should be tempered accordingly and society should expend a minimum of time and money with such cases.

2.     Offenses consisting of behavior which is statistically uncommon and motivated by desires which most laymen and clinicians would consider definitely outside our cultural norms and/or pathological. Such offenses would include those involving force or serious duress, those involving prepubescent children, most incest offenses, exhibition, and compulsive peeping. These offenses tend to disrupt social organization, if only by the furor they cause; the possibility of individual psychological damage is greater; and the offense may constitute a public nuisance. It is on these offenders that society should focus attention and be prepared to spend money for detention, treatment, and research.

Some behavior, such as homosexuality between consenting adults, falls in neither broad class. When an activity does no direct harm to the individual or others and yet is frowned upon by the layman, clergyman, and clinician, we have a problem of great philosophical complexity. Concepts of individual freedom, the relation of the individual to society, religion, mental health, and social function are all interwoven. No single answer can be sufficient for this problem, and the solution probably lies in a series of alternatives of action and attitude gradated to suit circumstances and permitting freedom but preventing public affront.

It is obvious that within the foreseeable future there will be no great reduction in the number of sex offenders unless our laws are changed to an unlikely degree. Man's sexual drive inescapably clashes with the numerous, complex, and often contradictory demands society makes upon its members. Consequently, sexual behavior which is legally punishable is commonplace, and the question of who is caught and punished depends upon variables such as intelligence, impulse control, socioeconomic status, alcohol intake, and simple chance. However, we need not be pessimistic. With increasing knowledge we can ascertain more accurately what situations predispose toward the more serious sex offenses and, armed with such knowledge, prevent some of them. Given the data in this present volume and life histories of individuals comparable to the histories we took, one could predict with an accuracy better than chance what sort of sex offense an individual would commit were he to commit one. Deficient and crude though it may be at this stage of our knowledge, such predictability is most useful to the psychiatrist, psychologist, parole officer, and social worker. Furthermore, with increasing knowledge we can improve not only our diagnostic and therapeutic measures but also arrive at more rational viewpoints ourselves.

Ultimately our society may solve many of its sexual problems by

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Menís Health Erective Dysfunction