Classic Collision Atlanta Thank You Daniel #160

Posted on 14. Dec, 2016 by in Classic Collision Atlanta


New Studies Map the Mind of the Rapist

The mind of the rapist, one of the darkest realms of human sexuality, is being mapped with a new precision as scientists focus their research on the psychological forces that drive sexual violence.

In years past rape was seen as the expression of an overwhelming sexual urge, one that women could invite by provocative dress or behavior; more recently, it has been widely described as simple violence against women, expressed through sex. Now new findings suggest that there are many kinds of rapists and that violence and eroticism hold sway to differing degrees in each.

The new research suggests that only a small minority of rapists are sexual renegades driven by sadistic fantasies or hatred of women, and that far more common are men with a normal sexual orientation who rape impulsively as the opportunity presents itself, often while on a date.

In a 1987 survey of 3,187 college women, 15 percent said they had been raped. “Eight out of 10 said they knew the man who did it, and for 56 percent the rape occurred while on a date,” said Dr. Mary Koss, a psychologist at the University of Arizona Medical School in Tucson.

The trial of William K. Smith, accused of raping an acquaintance this year at the Kennedy family compound in Palm Beach, Fla., has heightened interest in research on rape. But experts cautioned that the new findings related to men in the aggregate and were not meant to describe any particular case.

The new findings are part of a recent wave of careful empirical studies of the psychology of rape that is replacing a spotty picture based largely on anecdotal reports. Some of the most compelling data about the psychological ingredients that can make the thought of rape appealing have emerged from physiological measures of men’s sexual arousal to depictions of erotic encounters.

The findings confirm that most men are not ordinarily aroused by depictions of sexual violence. But certain circumstances, like being angry at a woman, can alter that. And while the capacity to be aroused by sexual violence does not in itself suggest that a man is a potential rapist, it is a capacity a successful rapist must have.

Using a device called a “penile plethysmograph” researchers can precisely measure the blood flow to a man’s genitals as he views or listens to sexual scenes. By systematically varying the content of those scenes, researchers can detect exactly which details make the scene more or less arousing.

“For most men, hearing a description of an encounter where the man is forcing the woman to have sex, and the woman is in distress or pain, dampens the arousal by about 50 percent compared to arousal levels during a scene of consenting lovemaking,” said Dr. Howard Barbaree, a psychologist at Queen’s College in Kingston, Ontario, who is also director of a treatment program for sexual offenders. A report of Dr. Barbaree’s research was published in the October issue of The Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology. Violence as Sexual Inhibitor

“Ordinarily violence inhibits sexual arousal in men,” Dr. Barbaree said. “A blood flow loss of 50 percent means a man would not be able to penetrate a woman.”

When volunteers for the study responded to scenes of consenting and forced sex over several days, the loss of arousal to descriptions of forced sex became greater each day, Dr. Barbaree found.

But that was not true for men who had been convicted of rape. And in about 10 percent of rapists — including those with large numbers of victims — the arousal was markedly stronger to the rape scene than to consenting sex, Dr. Barbaree said. Indeed, in research with convicted rapists, Dr. Gene Abel, a psychiatrist at Emory University, found that the more a rapist became aroused by scenes of forced sex, the greater the number of his victims, and the more physical injuries the victims were likely to have suffered.

In a series of experiments, Dr. Barbaree and his colleagues investigated what circumstances might make the arousal patterns of normal men more like that of the rapists. Becoming angry at a woman, Dr. Barbaree found, is one such circumstance.

Men who thought they were participating in a study of the effects of physical exercise on sexual arousal were asked to pedal a stationary bicycle as fast as they could for one minute. After they had finished, a young woman confederate of the experimenter entered into the room, ostensibly on an errand, noticed the amount the man had pedaled, and made a disparaging remark: “Is that all you can do? I pedaled a lot more than that myself this morning.”

“When these men subsequently went into the lab, they had the same degree of arousal to the rape as to consenting sex,” Dr. Barbaree said.

In other experiments, Dr. Barbaree also found that men were more likely to be aroused by viewing a rape scene if they had been drinking or if they believed the woman portrayed had been “asking for it.” Theory Is Challenged

Dr. Barbaree sees this line of research as refuting the scientific theory that had seen rapists as unique in having a sexual preference for combining violence and sexual arousal. “With the right combination of factors, most men can be aroused by violent sex,” Dr. Barbaree said.

But that mix of psychological ingredients may not in itself be enough to set the psychological stage for rape, in the view of Dr. Barbaree and other researchers.

“Rapists often recall being intensely angry, depressed or feeling worthless for days or even months leading up to the rape,” Dr. Barbaree said. “Very often the rapists say that the trigger for the rape was when a woman made them angry, usually by rebuffing a sexual overture. The men experienced the rebuff as an insult to their manhood that intensified their emotional misery.”

Researchers caution that there is no single psychological formula that explains every rapist. “There is a huge variety among men jailed for rape,” said Dr. Robert Prentky, a professor of psychology at Boston University Medical School. Dr. Prentky has developed a typology based on an advanced computer analysis of the characteristics of close to 300 rapists. Early results were published in 1988 in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

The most frequent type is the “opportunist” whose rapes are impulsive, Dr. Prentky found. Among the convicted rapists, 23 percent fell into this category, though Dr. Prentky believes such rapists are far more common among those who are never caught or convicted. “For the opportunist, a sexual assault is part of a larger pattern of impulsive crimes,” said Dr. Prentky. “In their sexual assaults, they show no anger except in response to their victim’s resistance, and use little unnecessary force.” Factor in Date Rape

Date rapists fall into this category, he said, and men who commit date rape are also prone to other impulsive actions that may be illegal.

Men who are preoccupied with a fixed sexual fantasy, which they try to act out in the rape, are another common type, Dr. Prentky found, making up 25 percent of the convicted rapists. These men are often driven by a bizarre romantic fantasy in which they force a woman to have sex, and she then falls in love with them. “These men are often arrested because they try to make a date to see their victim again, and will name a time and place to meet,” Dr. Prentky said.

The least aggressive of rapists, such men are most likely to flee if a woman puts up a strong resistance. And in these rapes, for instance, “the rapist will take his coat off and put it on the ground for his victim to lie on,” he said.

Far more violent are the 32 percent of convicted rapists classified as the “vindictive” type. “Their assaults are physically harmful and their intent is clearly to degrade and humiliate the woman,” Dr. Prentky said. “They are woman-haters.”

Similar were another 11 percent of rapists whose compelling motive is anger at the world at large. But, unlike the woman-hating rapists, these men were angry at men and women alike; they were likely to have inflicted the most physical damage on their victims.

“They pick fights with men and rape women,” Dr. Prentky said. “They are unlike other rapists in having a long history of violent crimes of all sorts, from fights in bars to assaulting arresting officers.”

Sexual sadists were the rarest type, just 8 percent of convicted rapists. These men were obsessed with sadistic fantasies, which their rapes were meant to enact. “For the sadist, the victim’s fear is a sexual stimulus,” Dr. Prentky said. Role of Violence

But other research suggests that violence more than eroticism is the engine that drives the rapist’s behavior. In an as yet unpublished study, financed by the National Institute of Mental Health, psychologists were able to measure the sexual arousal patterns of about 200 men while they were of college age, and then 10 years later interviewed both the men and, for 52 of them, their wives or girl friends.

“If the men were aroused by rape scenes when they were college age, then they were very likely at age 32 to use physical force with their wife or girl friend to force her to have sex when she didn’t want to,” said Dr. Neil Malamuth, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, who conducted the study.

In a national survey of 2,652 men, Dr. Malamuth found that those who admitted having forced sex on women tended to have a hostile, adversarial relationship with women in general. “These men feel they have to be in control of their relationships with women, even in conversation,” Dr. Malamuth said. Links to Childhood

Men who fit this pattern were far more likely than others to have reported an atmosphere of family violence or having been victims of sexual abuse in their childhood, Dr. Malamuth found. Likewise, 56 percent of the convicted rapists who accounted for the most victims — an average of 30 — had been victims of childhood sexual abuse, according to a 1988 study by Ann Burgess, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. A study by Dr. Prentky among rapists who had committed an average of just three known rapes, found the incidence of childhood sexual abuse was only 23 percent. The researchers said the findings suggested that the more men were abused as children, the more they were likely to rape as adults.

In addition, these men typically had “an earlier sexual initiation, sometimes forced, and endorsed myths about rape such as the notion that if you know the woman, it’s not rape,” said Dr. Koss, who conducted the survey with Dr. Malamuth. “They are also more likely to socialize with other men who see women as sexual objects, and like to keep score of their sexual conquests.”

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