WORRIED NEIL, ENGLAND, 1970S
“S.48: Neil”, a young civil servant in or near London, was one of the ten people interviewed in 1978 or 1979 by London psychologist D. N. Cox for his book, jointly written by G. D. Wilson, The Child-Lovers: A Study of Paedophiles in Society, published by Peter Owen, London in 1983.
Though the authors describe Neil’s sexual interests as “ a paedophile”, in conformity with the secondary title of their book, they implicitly used this term inaccurately as one of convenience to encompass anyone attracted to those below the prevailing age of consent (for girls) of 16. As a man exclusively attracted to those of 10 to 18, mostly boys, Neil was correctly a hebephile or ephebophile and his only love affair, ongoing with a boy of 13, was “Greek” in character.
Besides their interviews of child-lovers, Wilson and Cox provided “a summary of each person in terms of the unique features of that individual’s lifestyle as perceived by the interviewer, recognising that this represents a subjective impression rather than objective data.” Here is that of Neil:
At the time that he completed the initial questionnaire, Neil had not been sexually involved with a child; however, in the period prior to the interview, he had become deeply involved with a boy in a relationship that did involve a sexual component. The concern that he felt about taking this step was apparent, as was his confusion over how such a relationship should be conducted. The degree of personal anguish he expressed over his future, if this is the direction his life will take, was obvious. If one had not known that Neil is a paedophile and was describing a relationship with a boy, it would have been very easy to assume that he was recounting the trials and tribulations encountered in any ‘first love’ relation-ship as might be experienced by heterosexuals.
Neil is a young man of average build. He came to the interview straight from his work as a civil servant and was well dressed in a three-piece suit. Although he seemed rather guarded initially, he loosened up as the interview progressed and became quite forthcoming concerning his paedophilic interests, such that the interview lasted for almost two hours. It emerged that he had been somewhat hesitant about the interview as he thought that perhaps he was being ‘set up’. By the end of the interview he said that he had enjoyed the opportunity to talk with someone who was neither paedophilic nor condemning of paedophilia, as was his usual experience.
Asked about his preferences among children Neil indicated that it would be ‘90 per cent boys, although I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of a relationship with a girl as well’. The age range which is most attractive is 10-18, with the ideal age being twelve. When asked about the characteristics of children that he finds attractive, Neil replied, ‘In the first instance it would be their beauty.’ More specifically, the physical qualities would be the lack of body hair, the voice and the face (described as being smooth, unmarked and innocent in appearance). Psychologically, innocence and warmth are desirable in a child. ‘Children catch your affection in a very touching, moving way.’ The openness and lack of inhibition displayed by children is also enjoyed. ‘One’s talking about qualities that must disappear once the child matures, so you’re talking about something very transient.’ In that respect being a paedophile is admitted to be ‘essentially futile; the more emotionally involved one is the more one is going to lose. I suppose it is worse than the loss a parent feels when the child grows up and leaves home.’
Neil believes that children often enter into relationships because they are seeking love and affection which are not forthcoming from their parents, although it may also happen just because they welcome a relationship with another adult. A paedophilic relationship may fill a need that the child has at that particular time; it does not necessarily mean that the child is deprived.
Neil would not rule out the possibility of having sex with an adult over the age of eighteen. However, when asked if his preference would be for a paedophilic relationship, he said: ‘My preference would be for a relationship with somebody who is about twelve, that’s my preference for a relationship. . . . In terms of sexual relationships it might be just as appropriate to say someone about eighteen as someone about twelve. If one is talking about a relationship as a whole then I prefer the younger person.
Neil describes his parents as having been very strict with him. ‘Sex was never discussed at all.’ The first time it was mentioned was when his parents discovered he had a ‘crush’ on a boy at school. Although he argued with his parents, he says that he got along reasonably well, ‘even after the upset over the boy at school’. This particular boy was twelve while Neil was eighteen. This was described as a sentimental rather than a sexual relationship, but even so his parents were very disturbed by it. They are not aware of the development of his paedophilic interests since then. With respect to his schoolboy crush Neil adds: ‘I must point out that the boy himself had no idea of the strength of my feelings, I felt that it was impossible to tell him.’
Neil seemed reluctant to discuss his early sexual experiences as he did not see them as being relevant to the interview. It appears that his first sexual experience occurred before he was twelve and involved a girl. He says of it: ‘It doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect. . . there was nothing fantastic about it.’ Neil indicated on his questionnaire that the relationships he had had with children were only emotional. This is no longer true, for one of his long-standing relationships has since turned into a sexual one.
Asked to talk about his relationship in more detail, Neil indicated that this was difficult for him to do in a semiformal situation. He first saw the boy in a park but was too embarrassed to approach him. He saw him again several weeks later in the same park and this time the boy approached him. ‘For the first few months he was just as much interested in my money as a relationship . . . so at that stage I found it rather a harrowing experience, as he kept on demanding money.’ When Neil tried to stop paying out money the boy decreased the amount of contact they had for several months. Eventually Neil put him ‘back on the money’ and the boy began to come around and see him. ‘It was a few months after that we actually had sex.’ The relationship has deepened over the last six months and Neil expects it to last for some time. The boy is presently thirteen and since he lives just around the corner it is convenient for Neil to see him frequently. The boy’s parents know that their son is friendly with Neil but ‘obviously they do not know how far it has gone - they wouldn’t like that.’ He doesn’t feel that the boy’s parents are concerned about their friendship as there are no indications that the boy ‘is developing in an undesirable direction’. As well as seeing Neil, the boy is going out with girls, which probably allays any suspicions the mother might have. Their relationship is described as being very active as they see each other every weekend. Neil feels that the boy enjoys their relationship, although he is not sure how he views it. The boy has told Neil that he has not had sex with another male, which Neil believes is true.
Asked how important the sexual aspect of the relationship was for him, Neil replied: ‘More important than it should be. When it happened it was quite unexpected. Before then I wouldn’t say that I was opposed to having sex, but certainly I doubted it would happen. I had no clear idea of the mechanics of it, not having had experience with anyone as young as that, or as small. I couldn’t visualise how it would happen anyway. He sort of prepared the way as he likes having wrestling matches and so gradually the wrestling became more and more involved. So it developed that way. I suppose that made it easier.’ Neil admits that he greatly enjoys the physical contact with the boy and wishes in a way that it was not as important to him as it has become. A possible solution would be to have sex with someone else (for example, a young adult of about eighteen) as a means to perhaps devaluing its importance with this particular boy. This is unlikely, however, because Neil sees the current relationship as one which should last for a long time and one that demands a measure of loyalty from him.
As regards the issue of responsibility, Neil says the boy that he is involved with is fully aware of what he is getting into and has been so from the beginning. He thinks that the boy has the situation more under control than he does. Neil believes that this boy will develop towards relationships with girls, although he feels that he may be basically bisexual. It is important that the boy sees the relationship as something to be proud of rather than ashamed of. He thinks the boy looks up to him and talks to others about him. He is concerned that he might cling too much to the boy at a later stage when the relationship is moving towards a natural ending with the boy beginning to expand his horizons. Even now Neil finds the relationship somewhat frightening and a strain in that ‘there is always the fear of losing him’. He sees this as somewhat irrational as there is nothing in the boy’s behaviour to justify these feelings.
Neil says he does not worry about the legal implications of his behaviour. He is not ashamed of his actions because ‘the boy wanted the involvement’ and ‘is not being harmed in any way’. With respect to his status as a paedophile, Neil says: ‘I suppose that overall I don’t regret it, but obviously I have good reason to wish it was not so. I would live an easier life.’
Before the relationship began Neil experienced feelings of guilt and frustration, wondering if a paedophilic relationship would be possible and how it might begin. As a child he appears to have been emotionally isolated and detached from other children. It was when he was about seventeen that he became aware of an interest in younger boys. He describes a memory of sitting down opposite a younger schoolmate in the dining-room and suddenly becoming aware of a ‘deep emotional desire for him’. He claims it was not a physical longing even though ‘it was his beauty that caused me to suffer the emotional involvement’. At that point he still thought of sex in terms of girls. As a result of an ‘inquisition’ by his father he came to realise the strength of his feelings towards males and subsequently that this was focused primarily on young boys.
Neil has seen a psychiatrist at the request of his parents. The consultation period was brief and he found it to be of little help. At some level he hoped that there might have been a ‘magical formula’ that would stop him feeling the way he did towards young boys. However, the psychiatrist’s main aim seemed to have been to get him to accept his homosexuality (which he felt he had already done). He is concerned about what will happen to him in the future, about ‘the likely prospect of reaching middle age and older and still being attracted to boys. I don’t see how one can have a good relationship. I don’t think it is even desirable for a middle-aged chap to have a relationship with boys. The trouble is that I can see that I will carry on exactly in the same way.... I can’t see any way that the drive in that direction is going to stop. . . . This is what worries me.’ In the case of his present relationship he does not feel that the age difference is great enough to be ‘grotesque’. He recognises that he may change as he grows older himself, but at present the idea of ‘a young boy going with a middle-aged man’ does not appeal to him. He sees himself as living for his present relationship, and ‘the question is where do I go from there? When he grows up what do I do then? Do I start again with someone else? By then I will be a damn sight older. I must admit that it does amaze me that I find a boy so attractive. I do wonder why he should have this strange effect.’
Neil’s ambivalence towards his condition was highlighted in various other comments. ‘I think that in the end I shall probably regret what has happened. I don’t regret the relationship at all but I regret the fact that by allowing myself to go in this direction I am depriving myself of marriage and a family, which I would like.... But getting married would be a risk; it might not work out. I would be repressing myself, to no purpose.
Neil also indicated that he disagreed with the aims of PIE in that he rejects the idea that adults should have a ‘carte blanche’ with children. Such a privilege would very likely be abused. He is concerned about the attitude of the organisation towards sex with children as he thinks it reflects self-interests which do not respect the needs of the children involved. Children, he feels, do need to be protected to some extent.