Psychoanalytic Complexity Theory: An Application to the Treatment of Child Sexual Offenders

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Abstract

Most explanations of child sexual abuse perpetration have been premised on assumptions of the individualist/monologic paradigm. Child-abuse prevention programs, including treatment for people known to pose a risk of sexual harm to children (sexual offenders), are also based on monologic assumptions. Drawing from the case study of a Catholic priest who has sexually abused many children, this paper argues that psychoanalytic complexity theory (PCT) offers a high-definition lens through which the phenomenon of child sexual abuse perpetration can be understood. PCT is consistent with more humane and better informed societal values about the human rights, dignity, and worth of each unique person—regardless of whether he or she is the child victim, perpetrator, guardian, or bystander.

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