1977 Report by Psychiatrists call “Sex Offender” Label Invalid and Fallacious

Deiridre M Smith, “Dangerous Diagnoses, Risky Assumptions, and the Failed Experiment of ‘Sexually Violent Predator’ Commitment,” 67 OKLA. L. Rev. 619 (2015)

 

Forty-six years ago, the concept of the “sex offender” was considered conceptually invalid. The only thing that has changed in the near half-century since the below recorded report is that a cottage industry has grown up around the principle of “sex offender treatment” to feed off the criminal legal system and the burgeoning Treatment Industrial Complex. We offer the below citation from an excellent article by Deiridre M. Smith that cites to the original 1977 Report by the Committee on Forensic Psychiatry of the group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP).

The Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP) Committee on Forensic Psychiatry concluded in a 1977 report that there was little real prospect for effective treatment of sexual offenders and that the “discrepancy between the promises in sex statutes and performances have rarely been resolved.”51 “In retrospect,” the GAP Committee reported, “we view the sex psychopath statutes as social experiments that have failed and that lack redeeming social value. These experiments have been carried out by the joint participation of the psychiatric and legal professions with varying degrees of acquiescence by the general public.”52 The GAP Committee acknowledged the “unjustified optimism” at the time of the laws’ enactment regarding the “effectiveness of clinical approaches in identifying and predicting” those who posed a risk of engaging in sexual violence.53 The profession could not separate out the mentally ill sex offenders from the others, and there was little psychiatry could provide in the way of treatment once the men were committed. The report went on to starkly and unambiguously state:

“The notion is naive and confusing that a hybrid amalgam of law and psychiatry can validly label a person a “sex psychopath” or “sex offender” and then treat him in a manner consistent with a guarantee of community safety. The mere assumption that such a heterogeneous legal classification could define treatability and make people amenable to treatment is not only fallacious; it is startling.”54

 

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Footnote 50-54 reference: The GAP identifies itself as the “think tank” for American psychiatry. Psychiatry Think Tank, GROUP FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF PSYCHIATRY, http://ourgap.org/think-tank. aspx (last visited Mar. 29, 2015)

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