Treating Paedophilia with Hormonal Injections

Paedophilia ruins lives. We have the means for preventing sex offenders from repeating their activities, but as usual the Government in Whitehall is resisting change. Given that it is difficult to detect paedophiles before they have been
convicted, the place for Government to start is in preventing convicted paedophiles from re-offending.
The strategy chosen by the Home Office to achieve this aim is a programme of Cognitive Behavioural Training, or CBT. Unfortunately, Government figures show that only 14% of sex offenders (which includes paedophiles, but also
rapists and sundry other offenders) get CBT. The 86% majority of sex offenders serve their stretch of time being hounded by their fellow prisoners, but without any contact with the Government's preferred treatment. After release, it is only their parole conditions which prevent their re-offending.

To make matters worse, the Home Office has admitted that there is no evidence that its CBT is effective, so some of the 14% who are reached by the treatment programme can be expected to offend again. Despite its admitted inability to apply a non effective form of treatment, the Home Office is resisting a much more effective therapy which is
available. Anti-androgen medication physically blocks the effects of male hormones (testosterone) on the nervous system. Abnormal sexual libido is substantially reduced or eliminated. Some who have received the treatment have even finds that their interest in regular sexual activity is enhanced. Compliance with treatment is ensured by giving it in the form of injections, which are repeated every few weeks.

Why does the Home Office not use this treatment option? They give two reasons for this: first, they are using CBT. This is par for the course, and another example of Whitehall's obstinacy in continuing with current policy for no other reason than that it is current policy. They ignore the fact that drug therapy can be used alongside CBT.

The second given reason given by Whitehall is that in paedophilia and other sex offences the desire to dominate and control is a factor in the offence. The policy makers overlook the fact that testosterone itself boosts the
desire to dominate. It is true that there is more going on than just excessive hormonal activity. But the existence of psychological factors is in addition to, rather than in opposition to, physical conditions.

A third objection that will be advanced by some is that hormonal treatment for sex offenders is an invasion of the freedom of the individual. Tabloid editors will dub the approach "chemical castration". This is not a persuasive argument. Similar long acting injections are already in routine use in psychiatry, usually with the patient's consent, since they find that
the lessening of their hallucinations and delusions is well worth the inconvenience, mild discomfort and side effects that the injections may cause. Many paedophiles find their injections a welcome relief from their obsessive, intrusive and dangerous sexual thoughts.

There are therefore no compelling arguments against the use of androgen antagonists in paedophilia. There is every reason to research, design and implement a pilot programme immediately. Yet it is not happening, and will
not happen unless a great number of people devote a great deal of effort to campaigning and lobbying for anti-androgen therapy. The role of Whitehall will be to avoid, obstruct and delay the introduction of the programme for
as long as it can.


© 2001 R. Lawson This page was last updated on January 19, 2002