ABSENCE OF RELIABLE RESEARCH
BY EDWARD BRONGERSMA
“Absence of Reliable Research” is the seventh part of “Man/Boy Relationships”, the third section of “Adult Lovers”, the second chapter of Loving Boys, the encyclopaedic study of Greek love by the eminent Dutch lawyer, Edward Brongersma, of which the first volume (including this) was published by Global Academic Publishers in New York in 1986.
Our hostile, taboo-ridden laws have yet another effect: they make proper research into boy-love and boy-lovers next to impossible. Science is unable to study a group which is treated by its social environment with so much hatred, contempt and fear that it renders itself open to punishment if it acts in accordance with its innate tendencies.
After the work of Lombroso many years ago, criminology had 36to abandon its hope of describing ”the criminal”. Previously this had seemed a simple job: you only had to analyse the characteristics of penitentiary inmates. It became apparent, however, that the penitentiary contains only a small selection of people who have committed the most serious crimes: petty delinquents, much more numerous, escape with fines or probation. Moreover, the question was raised as to how much a man might change by being caught, arrested, questioned, forced to face a judge, sentenced, jailed with other prisoners and excluded from society. In other words, is prisoner A still the same person as criminal A at the moment of his offence? At last, research into the extent of the so-called “dark numbers” (the figures for unknown, undetected crime) turned up the astonishing facts that more than 90% of young men are guilty of criminal activities. I once calculated, for a speech I gave in the Dutch parliament, that in a total of one million offenders guilty of serious criminal activity, only 260 will ultimately go to jail. The inmates of a prison, therefore, are in no way representative of the “typical criminal”, supposing such a creature really exists.
The environment in which research into criminal behaviour takes place is downright ideal when compared with that in which paedophile research must be carried out. For, originally, no distinction was made between paedophiles (men and women whose erotic feelings are directed mainly towards children) and pseudo-paedophiles (men and women whose erotic feelings are directed mainly towards adult partners but who use children as substitutes). The error which so completely invalidated older studies of homophilia was once again repeated here: “paedophile” subjects were sought among patients in psychiatric hospitals and people sentenced by the courts. Everyone who had committed an “indecent assault” upon a child was labelled “a paedophile”, just as, formerly, everyone who had had intercourse with a partner of his own sex was labelled a homophile. Freud, too, saw only pseudo-paedophiles. Implicit was the assumption of these authors that sexual behaviour was always indicative of one’s innermost sexual desire, as if the act rather than the configuration of his erotic instinct defined a man as a paedophile. Sexologically, this is an untenable simplification.
Albrecht, Baurmann, Crawford, Freund, Gebhard, Howells, McCaghy, Möller, Newton, Sandfort, Schorsch, Socarides Swanson, Wegner, Wyss and other authors mentioned earlier in this chapter made it clear that among the so-called sexual delinquents there was only a very small percentage of real paedophiles. The great majority are people who, through some inability to establish human contact, thus suffering from an inferiority complex, cannot establish relations with an adult partner. Wegner found many war invalids among them and noted the frequency of alcohol abuse; drinkers, according to him, took more easily to boys than to girls, although this latter finding was not substantiated by Baurmann.
By mixing the few real paedophiles with the large mass of these unhappy individuals in the same cauldron, earlier researchers created a porridge which they tried to analyse with the instruments of their science. How biased these learned men were is clearly revealed in their terminology: their subjects were “offenders”, “criminals”, “delinquents”, “molesters”, “convicts”, etc., the young partners were always “victims”, their activities together was “abuse”. The findings of these researchers inevitably conformed to their preconceived opinions.
Tootbert & Jones portrayed in The International Journal of Psychiatry their 120 convicts as sexually unsatisfied people suffering from contact inadequacy, guilt feelings and hypersensitivity to the judgement of other people; they were weak, had strong feelings of inferiority and thus took refuge in identifying with the physically weak and emotionally less corrupted child. Niemann detected among 173 sexual delinquents 68.8% with contact inadequacies. Michael Schofield (1965, 150) published a survey of the opinions of many authors. According to Fitch the “typical paedophile” comes from a bad environment or a broken family. Frosch & Bromberg believed him to be lonely, a social misfit; Mohr & Turner agreed. Wyss called him a shy man with weak impulses, uncertain of himself. Wilson & Cox claimed that he was shy and non-competitive. Schofield mentioned Bromberg, Bowman & Freedman who declared that the paedophile was generally impotent. Swenson & Grimes asserted that his professional activities were qualitatively below average. Mohr & Turner and Virkunen felt the same applied to his intelligence and athletic prowess; mentally he was immature. Alan P. Bell and Calvin S. Hall described their subject as a very infantile personality. Kurland was convinced that a man who has sex with children must be very disturbed – and even suggested that he suffered from a kind of schizophrenia. Mohr & Turner proposed a schizoid introversion and Karpman shared their opinion. Socarides, on the contrary, felt that such sexual contacts as these men had with children were their safety valve, preventing an otherwise inevitable outbreak of psychosis. Albrecht and De Wind found that many were feeble minded. All of these authors found paedophilia a severely pathological condition: the adult male who had sex with children was a “sexual psychopath” and possessed all the characteristics of this anomalous group.
We will have more to say about the “sexual psychopath” in our fifth chapter. Let us observe in passing that the image of him in the mind of the public has not the least correspondence to reality. He is not the bestial brute people believe him to be. Research reveals him as a man with extremely strong moral convictions, particularly with regard to sexual matters. Often he is very religious, a faithful church-goer. The age at which he begins his sexual activities is far later than average because his sexual inhibitions are stronger than in healthy individuals. His sex contacts therefore are relatively few. In 59 cases of indecency with children analysed by Albrecht, 29 of the offenders had had no sexual relations at all, 7 only a few times per year, 10 only once or twice monthly and only 10 regularly or frequently. Shame is strongly developed in the sexual psychopath who is, moreover, shy and uncommunicative. What makes him a sick person is precisely this exaggerated sense of morality, which places a crushing burden upon him until every so often he collapses under it and his dammed-up impulses break out in an explosion driven by despair. Less serious explosions lead to such acts as exhibitionism, graver ones to sexual assault, rape or even torture-killing. People who approach moral problems with a somewhat lighter touch, who can quietly accept their own personal weaknesses, have less difficulty controlling themselves and don’t let their behaviour run to extremes.
The picture drawn in these out-of-date publications of “the paedophiles” is horrifying. When I compare it to the over 400 practicing boy-lovers I personally know or with whom I exchange letters: I see clergymen of various churches, psychologists, authors, university professors, accountants, teachers, physicians, journalists, social workers, youth leaders, sculptors and painters, musicians, poets, army officers, public notaries, lawyers, civil servants, labourers, office managers, actors, publishers, employees, white collar workers, diplomats, photographers, mathematicians, stockbrokers, bankers, librarians, estate owners, members of the landed gentry, farmers, engineers, psychiatrists, janitors, architects. Some are good workers at jobs on a low social level; many occupy important or very important positions and are recognized as men of outstanding character. Among them are citizens of many nations, social misfits as well as highly intelligent men in the public eye. Some are tedious and boring, others vivid and fascinating in their conversation; some are shy and peculiar, others energetic and obstinate; some are very religious, some freethinkers; their ages vary from 17 to 70, the frequency of their sexual activity with boys from hardly ever to every day; some lead a monogamous life, others change their partners continually; some have had sex with countless boys without having any trouble from the police; others were arrested and punished at their first attempt; there are married men and bachelors among them.
When the Dutch authorities, shortly before World War II, suddenly launched a campaign against long-tolerated boy-love in The Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia), among the victims were the mayor of the capital city, a Roman Catholic bishop, the medical superintendent of Java’s largest hospital, nearly all artists living there and several journalists.
The contrast between reality and the ridiculous picture emerging from the supposedly scientific specialist literature would be laughable were it not for the enormous amount of misery, injustice, immorality and damage the latter has caused. As we have already pointed out, by mixing a low percentage of healthy boy-lovers with an overwhelmingly larger percentage of often mentally troubled pseudo-paedophiles, the results couldn’t be otherwise. A technical research sampling error – with fateful results. Its echos are resounding in some scientific publications – and still reverberate loudly in public opinion and the sensationalist press. More recent research, however, has come to very different conclusions. And new opportunities appeared when, beginning in 1970, paedophiles in various countries started to organize and come out in the open. They saw that “self-definition has been central to building identity for all oppressed people, and it is not the same as stigmatic labeling.” Nothing short of epoch-making was the study of the Dutch psychologist Frits Bernard who, in 1973, distributed a printed questionnaire during an international congress on paedophilia in Breda, and continued to do this at later meetings. His successors were: in The Netherlands, Rouweler-Wutz and Monica Pieterse who, likewise, distributed different sorts of questionnaires among members of the various paedophile workgroups and their acquaintances; in England the Paedophile Information Exchange, which carried out a “survey of members (published in 1976); in France, Léonard des Sables (pseudonym) with an enquiry among the members of Arcadie, a male homophile group (published 1976-1977). 
Now, neither the paedophile workgroup of the NVSH nor the English P.I.E., the German D.S.A.P. and A.K.P., the Swiss S.A.P. nor other similar organizations have ever managed, in their composition, to be really representative of paedophiles. Almost without exception, their membership was boy-loving male; the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) even explicitly so limits itself. Only Pieterse’s research sample (N = 148) was less one-sided, although the large majority of her subjects (79%) loved boys, 9.2% preferred girls and 11.8% loved both sexes.
The reason that boy-lovers predominate might well be that they are less inhibited in confessing their tendencies than are males loving girls. French feminist Leïla Sebbar explains the absence of women through female sexuality being closer to the eroticism of children and farther removed from the goal-oriented sexuality of men. Thus women might be expected to be less interested in legalising paedophilia.
Since our study is concerned only with male boy-love, this one-sidedness of “paedophile” organizations and the research carried out among their members is, for our purposes, no real disadvantage. But the bias in all contemporary research is caused not so much by the bias in the interests of the subjects as by the bias in their social selection. This has certainly influenced results.
For, inevitably, members of an organization fighting for the emancipation of a group of people subject to strong discrimination, and the abolition of laws directed against their activities, are not average citizens. The man who has a great deal to lose if his innermost erotic tendencies are discovered by the people surrounding him will be reluctant to join such a group, and will be even less inclined to turn up at its meetings. The fear of discovery, however, disappears after his cover has been destroyed by arrest. Among the paedophiles present at the first Breda meeting, Bernard found no less than 54% who had been sentenced by the courts. The number of those who had had less serious collisions with justice, collisions which didn’t result in conviction (not investigated by Bernard), might have increased this percentage considerably, because in The Netherlands the public prosecutor is free to not bring a case to court even if there is sufficient proof of guilt – and prosecutors tend to take full advantage of this discretionary power. Among Bernard’s subjects who had never been convicted, 20% had been or were still under psychiatric treatment, another indicator of conflict with the human environment in which these people existed.
Men lacking in fighting spirit, or having no desire to meet people with similar interests, or who haven’t been able to come to terms with their personal situation independent of the views of the surrounding majority – these men simply don’t join such work groups. Emancipatory movements are always made up of the fighters, the lonely independents and the intellectuals – hardly a cross-section sample of any society.
In the introduction to their report on male sexuality, Anthony Pietropinto and Jacqueline Simenauer share the opinion of Alexander Pope that he who wants to study mankind should go to man, not to psychiatric patients, to members of an organization or to his correspondents. Weinberg’s statement that public stigmatisation makes it impossible to compose a representative sample of homophiles, is even more applicable to paedophiles, labouring, as they do, under a far heavier burden of stigmatisation. Taylor points out that one simply cannot generalise from a sample taken from a paedophile work group.
Quite obviously, an active fighting spirit, independent judgement, and an unwillingness to submit to the moral values of neighbours, will not fail to influence sexual behaviour. The Kinsey reports as well as the investigation of Pietropinto & Simenauer established a relationship between intelligence and both the frequency of sexual activities and the form they take. This implies that a member of an unusually combative and intelligent emancipatory group will on average behave differently from his non-member counterpart. Therefore, all statistical data about sexual activity, promiscuity and sexual intentions deriving from members of paedophile action groups have only limited value. This likewise applies to Bernard’s findings concerning the supposed lower level of neuroticism of his subjects. Wilson, Green & Siegelman come to similar conclusions in their analysis of a group of lesbian women: its members were on average less neurotic than a heterosexual control sample. But here as well, the selection may have been decisive. Marinkelle had already discovered that, with respect to neuroticism, deviant groups are indistinguishable from heterophiles.
This is not to say that the work of these researchers is worthless or useless. It gives us a picture of the membership of previously uninvestigated organizations. But every temptation to generalise from these findings to paedophiles at large should be resisted. One appreciates the fact that P.I.E.’s English report modestly describes itself as a “survey of its members”; Léonard des Sables likewise published his study as “an enquiry among a group of boy-lovers”. Bernard’s research suffers in comparison by not being representative even of the action group as a whole: it includes only those present at a meeting and thus his sample is but a selection of a selection.
Rouweler-Wutz correctly and repeatedly maintained that the group she analysed was not representative. Monica Pieterse criticised Bernard on this point: he was swept away by his enthusiasm as a pioneer and couldn’t resist the temptation to generalise unduly from his findings by using such phrases as “the self-image of the average paedophile”, etc.
The paedophile, however, doesn’t exist, any more than the heterophile or the homophile The object toward which his sexual appetite is directed may be of immense importance to the person concerned, but as long as his desires go out to another human being it is not that being’s sex or age which form and characterise the personality of the lover. During the years prior to World War II it could still be believed that the homophile was a man with certain character peculiarities which distinguished him from “normal” people. Since then, thousands and thousands of homophiles have been carefully examined and it gradually became evident that the homophile in no way differs from the “normal” (i.e., the majority) man except with respect to the object of his sexual desires. I’m convinced that a more systematic study of paedophile individuals will lead ultimately to the same conclusion, that is to say, they have no essential characteristic qualities which distinguish them from those about them save the predominance of children as objects of their erotic feelings. Taylor and Wilson & Cox were of the same opinion: West said we knew nothing about boy-lovers - or just as much as about any other subdivision of mankind.
Continue to Personality Traits of Boy-Lovers
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