Ralph Underwager Defends Child Rape/Verbatim Comments

     "Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose. They
can say that what they want is to find the best way to love. . . .
Paedophiles can make the assertion that the pursuit of intimacy and love is
what they choose. With boldness they can say, "I believe this is in fact
part of God's will. ‹ RALPH UNDERWAGER in this interview with Paidika, a
European pro-pedophile publication.
     Ralph Underwager responds to critics who have cited the Paidika
Interview: "Beginning with two articles (Lawrence, 1993a, 1993b) in an
incest survivors network newsletter, there have been subsequent articles
around the world claiming that in the interview given to Paidika we say that
adult-child sexual contacts are good, that they are good for children, that
pedophilia is God's will, that pedophilia should be decriminalized, and that
we approve of pedophilia.... People have written and called us from around
the world to threaten, inquire, dump venom and anger on us, and label us the
most reprehensible of villains. Articles that we know of have been in
several survivors' network newsletters, in the Family Violence and Sexual
Assault Bulletin, and in newspapers and magazines including the London
Sunday Times, Dublin Irish Times, Toronto Now Magazine, Boston Globe,
Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and Christians and Society Today. Every trial that
we appear in now includes an attempt at impeachment by the adversary
attorney using the Paidika interview and implying to the jury or judge that
we approve of child molestation and guilt by association by linking us with
those vile, reprehensible pedophiles.
How could this happen?"
     HOW IT HAPPENED: The reader is encouraged to judge for himself, not to
listen to the equivocations of child abuse "skeptics," who attempt to
program public opinion with their oily revisionist tactics and flagrant lies
intended to discredit child victims of rape. The original interview is
attached in its entirety. ‹ AC

Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose. They can
say that what they want is to find the best way to love. . . . Paedophiles
can make the assertion that the pursuit of intimacy and love is what they
choose. With boldness they can say, "I believe this is in fact part of God's
will.  --Dr. Ralph Underwager in this interview with Paidika, 
a European pro-pedophile publication.
Dr. Ralph Underwager earned his masters of Divinity from Concordia Seminary,
St. Louis, Missouri, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, and has
been, since 1974, Director of the Institute for Psychological Therapies in
Northfield, Minnesota. Besides being a staff psychologist in a clinic, Dr.
Underwager has also been a pastor at Lutheran churches in Iowa and
Minnesota. He is a member of the National Council for Children's Rights, the
American Psychological Association, the Lutheran Academy for Scholarship,
and the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, among others. 
     Hollida Wakefield received her M.A., from the University of Maryland,
where she also completed the course work for her Ph.D. She has worked as an
elementary school teacher, a college psychology instructor, and since 1976
as a staff psychologist at the Institute of Psychological Therapies. Her
memberships include the National Council for Children's Rights, the
International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, and the
American College of Forensic Psychology. She and Dr. Underwager are
     Ms. Wakefield and Dr. Underwager are the publishers of the journal,
"Issues in Child Abuse Accusations." They co-edited the volumes:
"Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse" and "The Real World of Child
Interrogations." They have written numerous articles on the interrogation of
children, the role of the psychologist in assessing child abuse cases, the
evaluation of child witnesses, and the manipulation of the child abuse
system. They regularly appear as expert witnesses and give training sessions
to jurists, psychologists, and laymen.  
     This interview was conducted in Amsterdam in June 1991 by "Paidika,"
Editor-in-Chief, Joseph Geraci.
PAIDIKA: Could you describe your views on paedophilia, from your prospective
as psychologists in the U. S.? 
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: Our main idea about paedophilia is that it's learned
behavior. We don't think it's inborn, genetic, or hormonal. Like
homosexuality, we believe it's learned at a young age and that the person
has the subjective reality that they've always been this way. 
There's an absence of anything in the research to show that paedophilia is
anything other than learned. Such things as sexual orientation are an
interaction. There may well be more of a propensity among some people to be
affected by learning of various types. At the American Psychological
Association's 1989 annual conference, we went to a presentation on
homosexuality. The research was reviewed and the bottom line was that
nothing biological had been established. 
RALPH UNDERWAGER: We've been heavily involved in dealing with issues of
child sexual abuse for a number of years. We've also been involved for a
number of years in providing therapy for a variety of sexual dysfunctions,
dysphorias, and paraphilias.  
     To our knowledge, there has not been any convincing research that
suggests there is a hormonal component, a hormonal involvement to sexual
orientation. There's also nothing we know of that suggests there's a genetic
component. As psychologists, we're more persuaded that behavior patterns are
learned, rather than influenced by genes. We're also aware that the
Minnesota twins studies are demonstrating a significant genetic component to
some behavior, though I don't think they have come up with any data about
PAIDIKA: Is heterosexuality for you also learned behavior? 
PAIDIKA: What do you mean when you say sexual orientation is learned
behavior; where do you go from there? 
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: It means that a person has more freedom. There is an
element of choice for someone not happy with whatever their sexual life is.
They can learn to improve it. If it's a sexual dysfunction, somebody who's a
premature ejaculator or impotent for example, they can learn something
different. If a homosexual did not want to be homosexual, really wanted to
be a heterosexual, there would be techniques that would have a decent chance
of allowing that person to change. I'm not saying the person should want to
change. I'm only saying that there is an element of choice. A person can
determine their own sexual direction, and there are many behavioral
techniques available that would allow the person to change. 
RALPH UNDERWAGER: The theory of learned behavior permits individuals to take
personal responsibility for their own behavior. We find it difficult when
people try to place the responsibility for their behavior on something else.
In the great American game, the blame is placed on bad parents who make bad
kids. Explanations for homosexuality and paedophilia center on some kind of
parental influence: mothers who are castrating, dominant, controlling, and
hostile; fathers who are weak, and insipid. To say that my sexual responses
at some level are learned is also to say that I am responsible for them.  
     Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose. They
can say that what they want is to find the best way to love.
PAIDIKA: Is choosing paedophilia for you a responsible choice for the
RALPH UNDERWAGER: Certainly it is responsible. What I have been struck by as
I have come to know more about and understand people who choose paedophilia
is that they let themselves be too much defined by other people. That is
usually an essentially negative definition. Paedophiles spend a lot of time
and energy defending their choice. I don't think that a paedophile needs to
do that. Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose.
They can say that what they want is to find the best way to love. I am also
a theologian and as a theologian, I believe it is God's will that there be
closeness and intimacy, unity of the flesh, between people. A paedophile can
say: "This closeness is possible for me within the choices that I've
     Paedophiles are too defensive. They go around saying, "You people out
there are saying that what I choose is bad, that it's no good. You're
putting me in prison, you're doing all these terrible things to me. I have
to define my love as being in some way or other illicit." What I think is
that paedophiles can make the assertion that the pursuit of intimacy and
love is what they choose. With boldness, they can say, "I believe this is in
fact part of God's will." They have the right to make these statements for
themselves as personal choices. Now whether or not they can persuade other
people they are right is another matter (laughs). 
Positive and Negative Views of Paedophilia
PAIDIKA: You've said that paedophiles speaks negatively about themselves;
they are defensive; they act negatively. Paedophiles are a disparate group,
like any human group, so what kind of individuals are you talking about, and
with whom are you having contact? 
RALPH UNDERWAGER: Well, they are paedophiles I have come to know, to talk
with as patients while providing treatment. But my contacts have not been
limited to the therapeutic setting. I've also met others in a general
context, here in the Netherlands, and in the U. S., and I've read some of
the literature.  
     Let me give you another example. The paedophile literature keeps
talking about relationships. Every time I hear the word "relationship" I
wince. It's a peculiarly bloodless, essentially Latin word that may have a
lot of intellectual or cognitive content, but has little emotion. I think it
would be much more honest to use the good old Anglo-Saxon four letter word
"love," more honest for paedophiles to say, "I want to love somebody." Not,
"I want a relationship." I mean, what the hell's a relationship?  
     Paedophiles can make the assertion that the pursuit of intimacy and
love is what they choose. With boldness they can say, "I believe this is in
fact part of God's will. 
PAIDIKA: You say that paedophiles should affirm the fact that they believe
that paedophilia is a part of "God's will." Are you also saying that for the
paedophile to make this claim about "God's will, is also to state what God's
will is? 
RALPH UNDERWAGER: (laughing) Of course, I'm not privy to God's will. I do
believe it is God's will that we have freedom. I believe that God's will is
that we have absolute freedom. No conditions, no contingencies. When the
blessed apostle Paul says, "All things are lawful for me," he says it not
once but four times. "All things are lawful for me." He also adds that not
everything works.
PAIDIKA: Hollida, I can see you want to say something. Do you have a
different point of view from Ralph's? 
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: I'd add one qualification to what Ralph has just said
about there being no conditions or contingencies to the freedom given us by
God. I would add, you have to take the consequences of this freedom. That
said, well, I guess I do feel differently about some things. For example, I
find it difficult too envision how a paedophile relationship can have the
potential of being the type of close, intimate, constantly developing
relationship that would be possible in more traditional relationships,
whether in heterosexual marriages, or a committed adult homosexual
relationship. Speaking only about men and boys at least, what I have seen is
that once the young man gets to be a certain age, the paedophile is no
longer interested in the young man sexually. These relationships start at
around the age of eleven or twelve, and then by sixteen, seventeen, the
paedophile is ready for a new one. The old relationship is, if not thrust
aside, at least radically changed. It's hard for me to see that is a deep,
meaningful relationship, even if I'm using the word Ralph doesn't like. It
doesn't have the same bad connotations for me.  
     I'm no expert on the way these relationships develop or on what happens
to them when the boy turns seventeen, eighteen or twenty. I can't imagine it
just stays the same. It poses certain questions for me. Do paedophiles
retain a close, intimate relationship with the boy, although the sex ends?
Did they then add another boy while keeping the first boy, and then later
repeat the pattern and add another and just keep adding new boys until they
have a whole harem, ranging in age from let's say twelve to forty? Or
perhaps the paedophile doesn't keep the first boy around. Perhaps he
disappears out of his life altogether only to be replaced by the next? If
that is the way it is, which seems from my observation to be the case, then
I don't understand how there can ever be a close, intimate, constantly
progressing and developing relationship. Perhaps it is possible. I'm not
saying it is not possible, but it does strike me as being a limitation of
these relationships.  
     There's also a second set of questions I have around a completely
different matter. The problem, as I would state it, is that in the United
States, paedophilia is viewed so negatively that I think the possibility of
harming the young man would be very real. I don't know if a positive model
is possible in the United States. The climate is such in the United States
that it would be very, very difficult for a paedophile, even with the most
idealistic of motives and aspirations, to make his relationship actually
work in practice.  
     Even if the boy at some point viewed it as positive, after coming into
contact with the way the society as a whole viewed it, the very real danger
would be created of making the experience harmful. Relationships and
societal attitudes are, of course, two completely different areas. In such a
negative climate, I don't know if it would be possible for the relationship
to be good for the parties involved when the entire society is so
     When I think about paedophiles, these are some of the theoretical
difficulties I have with it. In practice, how these relationships turn out
is a totally different issue. It might be that the relationships continue to
grow but change in form and become positive. They might also develop
negatively. As I said these are theoretical problems. For example, if the
sex continued, we would have to call that male homosexuality, not
paedophilia. If a relationship started when the individuals were
respectively twenty-two and twelve, and they stayed together until they were
forty-two and thirty-two, we would not define that any longer as a
paedophile relationship.
RALPH UNDERWAGER: I think that Holly and I agree that sexuality is a smaller
part set within a large whole of our humanity: our capacity for love, our
ability to approach some form of unity with another person. Sexuality takes
place within this larger context, but it is not exhaustive, nor necessary,
nor sufficient as a cause unto itself. The necessary and sufficient cause of
sexuality for us is the unity, the wholeness, the intimacy.  
     The history of human behavior surely demonstrates that sexual behavior
can become a very volatile, explosive part of intimacy and closeness, such
as in jealousy and possessiveness. There is, in other words, a potential for
sexuality, even if it is a small part of the whole, to erupt into what can
be pervasive, cataclysmic experiences. When the sex ends abruptly and the
man has been saying to the boy, "I love you, I care for you. You and I are
one in mind, body, spirit," and then suddenly says, "That's all fine, but we
ain't gonna do it no more." What happens then? 
PAIDIKA: Perhaps a loving friendship continues. I've certainly encountered
relationships where it has. Aren't you saying that we should define
relationships in terms of love? 
RALPH UNDERWAGER: I was urging earlier that you make the loving image
clearer to the outside world. What appears to the public is not the picture
of a loving man but rather the picture of the dirty old man lurking in
alleys, waiting for nice innocent young lads to come by, grabbing their
genitalia and hustling them off and sort of casting them aside and waiting
for the next one. 
PAIDIKA: Perhaps the question is, should we only define paedophilia or
paedophiles by the worst examples of individual behaviors?
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: Well these terrible examples exist. We have to take them
in. There are very negative aspects of paedophilia that we see from our
experience in the United States. We saw a priest, for example, who started
having sex with a child when the boy was nine. He told the child that he
loved only him. But, in fact, at the same time, he was also involved with
half a dozen other nine-and-ten-year-olds. He had had anal sex with the kid.
And then he cast him aside at age fifteen. The boy was totally and
hopelessly screwed up, his whole sexuality in confusion. Worse, the story
leaked out, so the child was mercilessly teased at school, called a
homosexual and gossiped about. There are children who have been abused,
raped, and dropped on the side of the road.  
     I want to be clear though. Nobody has talked to us in the U. S. about
their paedophilia who's engaged in an on-going relationship, just
individuals who were ordered into therapy. You have to remember, if somebody
in the United States talked to us and said, "You know, I'm a paedophile and
I have a sexual relationship with this boy and it's good," we would have to
call the police and turn him in. We would turn him in too, because we would
be in jail if we didn't. So, when we say we've talked to people, we mean
individuals sent to us for therapy.  
     The climate is such in the United States that the discussion would have
to be carefully sanitized, completely abstract. There couldn't be any
reference whatsoever to somebody who might be in an on-going relationship,
because we would have to call the police and say, "That person has been
sexual with minors," and if we didn't do that, we would lose our licenses as
psychologists, face a fine of $5,000, and six months in jail. 
PAIDIKA: There is research and some scientific opinion that demonstrates
that more positive examples and personal experiences exist. Theo Sandfort's
research, cross-cultural models, the writings of the German sexologist
Bomemann. Shouldn't we be putting positive views into the picture in order
to come to an understanding? 
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: We don't know about The Netherlands. Our impression is
that it's somewhat easier here than at home.  
     But your point is that potentially there can be good, healthy, positive
relationships between men and boys. It would be difficult to come up with
sexual research for that in the United States because it would frankly be
suppressed. When I did a review of the literature on boy victims of child
sexual abuse, some of the studies show not just negative effects in some of
the boys. The authors try to explain this away. Their rationale is that
because they didn't find negative things in their study, does not mean there
are none. They just haven't shown up yet! If anyone in the United States
were to do a study that showed positive outcomes and then wrote it up as a
scientific paper, they probably would not succeed in getting it published.
It could only be published if they found a way to explain away any positive
findings. They would have to make it look like they found something other
than what they found. They would be entirely vilified. 
PAIDIKA: Doesn't your book, Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse, suggest that
all sexual relationships between adults and children in the United States
are abusive relationships? 
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: No. I think we would claim that these sexual
relationships, in the U. S., at least, could range from neutral to harmful.
We don't envision or hypothesize that they could be positive, but at best

PAIDIKA: You are speaking mostly about paedophiles in the U. S. What tack
should they take given the societal attitudes? What solutions do you
envision for their lives?
RALPH UNDERWAGER: The solution that I'm suggesting is that paedophiles
become much more positive. They should directly attack the concept, the
image, the picture of the paedophile as an evil, wicked, and reprehensible
exploiter of children.
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: The United States is really pretty schizophrenic right
now in its attitudes. On the one hand it glorifies sex in things like
underwear advertisements, or James Bond movies. On the other hand it's very
puritanical. You don't have good sex education in the schools, just these
ridiculous prevention programs. 
     Let me give another example. Video recorders and video cameras are in
right now. Couples are making their own pornographic movies. The comparison
is on the one hand people running around making their own pornographic
movies but on the other hand reacting hysterically to child sexuality
issues. There was actually the case of a man who had had the nine-year-old
son of a friend spend the night at his house. He kissed him on the neck,
patted him on the rear, told him good-night, ad was later sentenced to two
years in prison for these acts. They were labeled sexual abuse. The child
later told his mother that it made him uncomfortable when the man kissed him
on the cheek. 
     Given this schizophrenia and these hysterical attitudes about childhood
sexuality, it's going to be difficult for paedophiles to appear more
positive, to start saying they're not exploiters of children, that they love
children, the sexual part included, even if it's a minor part. If they made
such statements, they would be arrested. 
     What we see going on in the United States is the most vitriolic and
virulent anti-sexuality I know of in our history. It may take people being
arrested. Revolutionaries have always risked arrest.
RALPH UNDERWAGER: I was in the courtroom for the case that Holly just cited
and I actually heard the prosecution say, "No man should ever be permitted
to claim as an excuse that he was just being affectionate when a child says
they were uncomfortable." I don't know; I don't think we can just label
these attitudes "hysteria." Perhaps "madness" is better, or "pathology."
What we see going on in the United States is the most vitriolic and virulent
anti-sexuality I know of in our history. It may take people being arrested.
Revolutionaries have always risked arrest.
PAIDIKA: In your book, you said that there was "a matter of national
interest and a focus of federal interest in child abuse in 1974, but then in
1984, it seemed to suddenly shift and become more hysterical." What reasons
do you see for the outbreak of a child abuse hysteria, or pathology, in the
mid-80's America?
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: I think that what we meant in that passage was that we
had personally been observing a steady progression of awareness about actual
child abuse up to around that period, 1984. We had routinely been dealing
with sex offenders and cases of incest. Around the mid-80's, we began to see
cases of false accusations to a degree we had not seen before. it was the
rise of this incidence of false accusations that led us to use the term
RALPH UNDERWAGER: Child abuse around that time became more a matter of
attention and discussion. There had been child abuse before but the earlier
focus was on rehabilitation and treatment. In the early 80's, this focus
shifted to prosecution. As more federal money became available, child
protection teams and child molestation units were set up in every county in
the United States. As this structure was put into place, the emphasis
changed to prosecution. This is where it is now, and as a consequence, there
is very little interest in treatment, rehabilitation, or healing. The
emphasis is: punish the bastards, put them in jail, hang them up by their
toes, or other appurtenances, get rid of them.
PAIDIKA: You seen to be saying that the shift to prosecution, and the sexual
hysteria, are connected. Could you clarify how such a shift might make a
country pathological about sex?
RALPH UNDERWAGER: I believe these shifts happen when the social contract in
a given country or culture breaks down. What is happening in the United
States is that the populace no longer has the sense that the country knows
what it is about. During the Second World War, when I was about fourteen
years old, it was a great time to live in America. We stood together.
Everybody knew and understood what we were all about, what we were doing in
the world. Beginning in the 60's and through the 70's into the 80's that
confidence disappeared. We became fractionalized into smaller and smaller
groups, each group fighting for its own to the point where we have now
evolved a political system of special interest groups. There's no longer
consensus politics in America. 
     The result of the breakdown of the social contract is that people do
not have sufficient ego to handle or tolerate the ambiguity in their
society. They don't have the inner resources. What they must do, then, is
find something outside of themselves, something external, to give them shape
and identity. Sex throughout history has played a specific role. It has
allowed people both to define themselves and to locate an enemy. A sexual
minority becomes a scapegoat. Whenever there has been social upheaval,
whenever the social contract has disappeared, there has always been violent
anti-sexuality outbursts. 
     The breakdown of the social contract and anti-sexuality outbursts are
interconnected because there is in times of social instability, a need to
say that someone else is evil, wicked. The blame for everything gets put on
the so-called deviants, while the true American remains at home, pure,
probably mortifying the flesh, crucifying the body, being a good citizen.
The citizen becomes the knight riding off into the sunset victorious,
leaving behind him a trail of battered and beaten people that they have
judged bad. And the citizen feels justified. 
     In a society in turmoil, people can't tolerate anything that is
different from whatever the myth of that society is. The society holds on to
the myth, the belief. The myth is what they must believe. There's not enough
strength in the society to deal with the facts.
PAIDIKA: Why is sex the focus of the hysteria in that situation, why not
something else?
RALPH UNDERWAGER: Sex has always been the penultimate answer to the ultimate
question, which is unity and wholeness. In theological terms, sex has been
the way that human beings have tried to avoid dealing with the mystery of
the Trinity, the mystery of Unity. Sex is penultimate. This is why the root
cause of sexual dysfunction is always some form of genitalization of
sexuality. Sexuality has become, in the dysfunction, limited to genital
tissue. It is not unified.
PAIDIKA: Would you say that the sexual hysteria is a kind of mystical or
religious dysfunction?
PAIDIKA: Your scenario for the child sexuality hysteria is the breakdown of
the social contract and a religious/mystical dysfunction. Do you recognize
other causes than these?
RALPH UNDERWAGER: I would add radical feminism, which includes a pretty
hefty dose of anti-males. I think in a very real way, these women may be
jealous that males are able to love each other, be comrades, friends, be
close, intimate, work cooperatively, function in groups. The point where men
may say that maleness can include the intimacy and closeness of sex may make
women jealous. This would hold true for male bonding, and paedophile sex
too. The woman is jealous of the connection. She says, "Wait a minute, we're
not going to let you do that!"
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: I would disagree with that one hundred percent. That
women are jealous because men have close bonds with one another doesn't seem
to me to make sense. The common wisdom, whether one agrees with it or not,
is that a man is handicapped in a divorce more than a woman, because the
woman has female friends she can talk to. Women are socialized for
relationships more than men. For women to become close and intimate is
easier than for a man. Men can't express feelings. These are the common
beliefs. And, after all, some of the most hostile, enraged people about
sexual abuse are males. Jim Peters of the National Center for the
Prosecution of Child Abuse, for example. 
     I think the radical feminist opposition to paedophilia comes out of the
general perception of men as aggressive and dominating. They use sex to
dominate the weak. The weak would be women and children. That the opposition
comes out of women's jealousy because men can have meaningful paedophile
relationships, and they wish they could, I don't agree with it.
RALPH UNDERWAGER: Certainly some men aid and abet the hysteria. They are
opportunists. They have opportunistic rage. What I am proposing is that
there is an aspect to femaleness that is hardly ever discussed. I believe
that women also are violent, cruel, and hostile. Possibly more so than men.
The radical feminists only express that side of femaleness against
     Among certain Indian tribes, the people who did the torture were the
women. A sociologist in Milwaukee who studied the records of domestic
violence found that women are much more violent in domestic disputes than
men, and paedophilia can be thought to be a domestic matter. My argument is
that the radical feminist position arises more from women's nature than from
a politics. That has been overlooked.
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: Well, I wouldn't agree with this point of view at all.
All statistics, history too, show that violent crimes are committed more by
men than by women. Violence, cruelty, hostility have been much more male
PAIDIKA: The main purpose of your book, it seems to me, is to devise a
method for determining the facts when there is an allegation of child abuse.
This has sometimes put you in opposition to the official system. How much
have your methods been adopted at this point, and how much are they being
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: Our main effort has been to develop methods that avoid
suggestive questioning, that lead the child on. It's becoming increasingly
apparent that what we are proposing is the right way to go. what we have
suggested, other people are also suggesting. There is a developing consensus
that this is the way to do it. 
     Not many people any more are advocating suggestive or leading
questioning. The problem is still that people who say they agree with us
still go ahead and do leading questioning anyway. They don't know they're
doing it. As you know, the main reason for the acquittals in the Mc Martin
case is that the interviews were so terrible that the jurors said, "You
can't tell what went on at all because the interviews are so suggestive." 
     Unfortunately, there are still very few people thinking about what
happens to the child if the adults make a mistake. The worst result of bad
questioning for the child is that if it is not abused, and is taught through
suggestive interviews that she has been abused, that is extremely harmful.
It runs the risk of making children psychotic. 
     Take the Mc Martin case. I think we can assume that nothing happened to
them. But now these children who are fourteen, fifteen years old believe
that they were subjected to horrible, bizarre, ritualistic abuse. That's now
part of their reality. How are these teenagers going to turn out as adults?
RALPH UNDERWAGER: Holly and I can demonstrate two basic things. We were the
first people to publicly say, "Let's be more cautious, there's a better way
to do this, we should be doing it differently." We're finding now that there
is a growing concensus joining us. We can be more accurate in making
discriminations between real abuse and false abuse. 
     In August, 1990, when we were at the American Psychological Association
convention, the majority of the programs were in the same direction that we
have been talking about. There were two or three programs that were still
saying, "Children must be believed at all cost, they can't talk about things
they haven't experienced." The audiences at those symposia were violently
critical of that approach. Four years ago that would never have happened.
When you get to the people who are doing the actual taped interviews,
though, it is another story. 
     We're urging caution because of the child, as Holly pointed out. What
you do, when you require a child who has not been abused to engage in
repeated statements about having been abused, is blur, if not destroy, the
capacity of that child to distinguish between reality and unreality. When a
child is reinforced by adults to repeat over and over accounts of having
been abused, of having been violated in these strange, bizarre ways,
children come to believe it. It becomes subjectively real. You end up with,
say, a sixteen year old who was never abused but who now has a subjective
experience of being abused. The person becomes convinced that all these
terribly bizarre things happened. I was led into a tunnel; I was undressed;
I was placed on an altar; I was drenched in sacrificial blood; I have
observed people cutting the heart out of others and eating it." That is now
subjectively real for that child. But, the person who's taught them to
believe that is the one who actually abused them. They've distorted their
reality. They've made them pathological.
PAIDIKA: Are you describing a distortion of reality that occurs because of
ignorance or because of malice and evil?
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: I think ignorance is a big part of it. These aren't evil,
wicked people who are purposely setting out to make children believe they
were abused when they weren't. They see themselves as child advocates, child
savers. They're more or less convinced they're doing a good thing. Ignorance
is a very large part of it. 
     We have no experimental verification of this, but our suspicion is that
the front-line people are young and have no children of their own. They're
not trained in child development. The social workers who do the initial
interviews just don't know about what a normal child is like, how
suggestible they are, how they behave. 
     Ignorance leads to a lot of things. ordinary exploratory sex play
between children is often misunderstood. It is seen as indicative of a child
sexual abuse, and can therefore result in false accusations. Say a parent
walks in and a four year old has a three year old's clothes off and they're
exploring. The parents becomes upset, angry. "Who taught you this? Where'd
you learn how to do that?" If it's a divorce and custody case, they might
say, "Did Daddy ever do this?" 
     You get bizarre things. For example, we consulted in a case of a three
year old child who reported that a four year old had poked her in the
genitals with a stick. This was in a pre-school. The social services were
called, and the first thing they did was go to the four year old's house to
see if the four year old was being sexually abused. Their reasoning was that
if the four year old poked the three year old in the genitals, he must have
been sexually abused, or where would he have learned to do this? 
     There was also the incident of a ten year old girl and a twelve year
old brother who were discovered fooling around with each other. The girl was
put in a sexual abuse victims treatment program and the boy was put in a
perpetrator's program. Seriously, these things are happening. The underlying
feeling is that if you see children being sexual, they must have learned it
from some adult who abused them.
RALPH UNDERWAGER: I agree with Holly. Ignorance is a very large part of
hysteria. Almost all the people we encounter who are involved in the system
of dealing with child sexual abuse allegations, have no knowledge, no
sophistication in developmental psychology. At most they have been given,
one, maybe two, weekend workshops. You can't make an expert in a weekend.
They form something called "multidisciplinary teams," which is one of the
favorite ways that abuse is somehow supposed to be controlled.
Multidisciplinary teams do not result in any increase in the effectiveness
of the decision. What it results in is a pooling of mediocrity and
ignorance. of course, the APA code of ethics maintains quite clearly that
both ignorance and ineptitude are unethical (laughs). 
     The dilemma, the reality is that we do savage things to our children;
we brutalize them. Children do require the protection of society, and the
protection of the law. 
     We've had a certain concept for a number of years. Simply stated, it is
that whenever two or more human beings get together and attempt to
accomplish some joint task, one of the first things they do is to set up
some rules. Now generally this works. You get the joint task accomplished.
Rule-making is rewarded. As you add more than two people and you increase
the resources and the complexity of whatever the joint tasks are,
rule-making does permit more effective functioning, and that's how making
laws get reinforced. 
     However, there is a finite number of laws in proportion to a given
population that work effectively. Any law above this number results in an
increment of ineffectiveness. Let's say the number of laws necessary in the
U. S. is 13,246. Law number 13,247 would then be over the threshold. Each
law you now add divides your society. People now begin to exploit. There is
more and more opportunity for malice, evasion of responsibility and so on.
The next effect is to begin to destroy that society. However, nobody
realizes or understands it so they keep on making laws. You have now reached
the point at which there is some form of revolution required to start the
process all over again.
PAIDIKA: one of your goals in formulating questions for the child about
possible abuse is to avoid distorting the child's reality. In your
interrogation methods, do your questions presuppose for the children that
they themselves see the sexual relationship as abuse?
RALPH UNDERWAGER: No, no. Not our methods.
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: No. What we would do is get the child to use free recall,
to describe what took place. As scientists, our goal would be to get as much
information from the child about what happened and what took place as
possible. We would see it as somebody else's responsibility to interpret
this, or see whether it's legal or illegal.
RALPH UNDERWAGER: We don't tell children things like, "Well, it's all the
other person's fault, you were helpless, you were powerless, and you're not
responsible." Some people are now saying that this is the best thing to tell
children. If you tell them they were powerless, it gives the children more
power. We don't do that.
PAIDIKA: We spoke at the beginning about paedophilia and spirituality. This
is not an issue that is very often discussed. Given the opposition to and
oppression of paedophilia in American society, how would you describe a
spirituality for paedophiles?
RALPH UNDERWAGER: For me, the beginning of spiritual life is in knowing that
God is gracious, knowing that it is God's purpose that we have a good life,
knowing that it is God's purpose that we be free. The freedom that God
intends for us to have is absolute. The only thing that can match absolute
killing, and judgments that condemn us, such as St. Paul's, "You have sinned
and come short of the glory of God," is the absolute, "You are free." You
are free, that is, from all accusation, nothing, no one can accuse you. 
     The issue is never what is right or wrong. That's mistaken question.
Paying attention to what is right and wrong is, I think, a penultimate goal
because the issue is not right and wrong but good and evil. That's totally
different. Right and wrong has to do with whether or not you hit the mark,
whether a given behavior matches a certain standard. If it doesn't, then
it's wrong. 
     Good and evil only pays attention to outcomes. You can never know the
outcomes until you have already acted. Spirituality that attends to the
issue of good and evil must always be courageous, bold, operating always
with incomplete information. You never know, so you are continually making a
responsible choice about which there's always risk. You can only know if
something is good subsequent to having acted, and observing the outcome. 
     As with all human behavior, I would suggest that paedophiles can't say,
"I have chosen; I choose; I will act in this fashion. I believe that the
outcome will be good. I will pay the price for that act, whatever that price
may be."
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: The price might be the difficulty of integrating oneself
into one's society.
RALPH UNDERWAGER: Or, going to jail, certainly. As I said before, it may
take people being arrested. In a sense, what is, well, I guess I can say
this, what is offensive about what I know about paedophiles is their
intention to be able to do what they choose without paying the price. "I
want to be able to do this, but the society should let me do it without
exacting any kind of price from me."
PAIDIKA: Is it reasonable for paedophiles to want and to work for the
decriminalization of what they believe is right?
RALPH UNDERWAGER: It's not reasonable if the goal is "I want to do it, and I
don't really care what other people tell me. I'm not going to engage in the
attempt to communicate or to talk to people." It's like saying to somebody,
"Accept me because after all, I'm really the same as you are." That's what
tolerance is supposed to be, and that's why tolerance always falls short. It
is never to me, acceptable. 
     I don't think it is honest to tolerate somebody only because they are
saying, "At rock bottom, I'm really the same as you." or, conversely to say,
I can tolerate you, I can accept you, because you are the same. I think it
is much more honest and direct to say, "Yes, we're different. You're black,
I'm white, you're smart, I'm not. I'm paedophile, you're heterosexual."
Those are real differences, real differences. Paedophiles should point out
how different they are, what the difference are.
PAIDIKA: Still isn't it a reasonable wish for paedophiles to want to see
paedophile sex decriminalized? It may not be realistic right now in the U.
S., but does that make it less legitimate a goal?
RALPH UNDERWAGER: oh yes, sure, sure. I mean Jesus said, "I really don't
want to do this. I don't want to go up there onto Calvary." But when it came
down to it, he said, "Well, okay, I'm going to walk the steps." As for
decriminalization, the question is really if you're not there, how are you
going to get there?
PAIDIKA: Any advice?
RALPH UNDERWAGER: Take the risk, the consequences of the risk, and make the
claim: this is something good. Paedophiles need to become more positive and
make the claim that paedophilia is an acceptable expression of God's will
for love and unity among human beings. This is the only way the question is
going to be answered, of whether or not it is possible. Does it happen? Can
it be good? That's what we don't know yet, the ways in which paedophiles can
conduct themselves in loving ways. That's what you need to talk about. You
need to get involved in discourse, and to do so while acting. Matthew 11
talks about the wisdom of God, and the way in which God's wisdom, like ours,
can only follow after. 
     Paedophiles need to become more positive and make the claim that
paedophiles is an acceptable expression of God's will for love and unity
among human beings. 
     I think the paedophile movement makes a mistake when it seeks to label
the church as the instrument of repression, and in a sense, the enemy. I'm
certainly aware of the accusation that it's the church that represses
sexuality. I don't believe that's the case at all. I believe that the
repression of sexuality begins with Greek thought. People who want to deal
positively with human sexuality will do best to see the church as an ally,
and to elicit from the church the positive responses about sexuality that
are there.
PAIDIKA: You spoke about the need for paedophiles to engage in a discourse.
What should that be?
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD: We can't presume to tell them specific behaviors, but in
terms of goals, certainly the goal is that the experience be positive, at
the very least not negative, for their partner and partner's family. And
nurturing. Even if it were a good relationship with the boy, if the boy was
not harmed and perhaps even benefited, it it tore the family of the boy
apart, that would be negative. 
     It would be nice if someone could get some kind of big research grant
to do a longitudinal study of, let's say, a hundred twelve year old boys in
relationships with loving paedophiles. Whoever was doing the study would
have to follow that at five year intervals for twenty years. This is
impossible in the U. S. right now. We're talking a long time in the

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