The Zero
"Child pornography" is a deceptive term, a sleight-of-hand that disguises the reality of the crime.
A child is sexually assaulted. Humans record the assault with photography, audio and videotape, or even in a live-stream over the Internet, creating a product called “child pornography.” Without the sexual assault, the product would not exist. “Child pornography” is the image of a crime: its import is not about the image; it’s about the crime.
Therein lies the sleight of hand. The term “pornography” generally refers to recorded sex acts between adults. Whatever your opinion of it, “pornography” is legal. But the rape of children isn’t legal, and it isn’t a debatable issue. Calling these images of crime “child pornography” analogizes it to a legal product; it leads us away from the underlying crime, and thus desensitizes us to its victims.
"First Amendment absolutists" take advantage of this desensitization to trivialize possession of child pornography. They claim that “mere possessors” are not dangerous to children. They agitate for nothing more than short-term jail sentences and probation for “simple possession,” convincing judges to ignore sentencing laws that require longer prison terms. 
But they cannot erase the truth: these images have a market because “possessors” want to possess them. Crime chases dollars. Although child pornography networks grab headlines, without individual customers, the networks are out of business.
Criminals use the Internet for their own ends, but changes in technology are not to blame for this crime. Technology is neutral; people’s choices in utilizing technology are not. 
What has changed due to widespread access to the Internet is that the product, once created, can be “test-marketed” widely and distributed with great ease. This is a business so high-profit, so low-risk, that organized crime has entered the picture. 
After any drug bust, the police inform the media of the “street value” of what they seized. When it comes to child pornography arrests, the lack of information about street value helps to hide the vicious reality of the market.
If we raise the stakes and impose penalties that match the crime, we could damage these vermin, instead of allowing them to damage our children. Our society pretends it has accomplished something when we tell our children to “Just Say No.” But a victim can’t “Just Say No;” it’s up to us to do that!
Join us at PROTECT and help us force our representatives into passing an asset forfeiture bill. If “both sides of the aisle” can’t agree to taking the profit out of raping children, (without their private earmarks attached,) we don’t have a government — we have a collection of morons, thieves, and those sympathetic to the enemies of our entire species.
If we sentenced distributors of “child pornography” proportionate to the damage they do, or even to the value of their “product,” they would all be doing life sentences. Their victims are.

"Child pornography" is a deceptive term, a sleight-of-hand that disguises the reality of the crime.

A child is sexually assaulted. Humans record the assault with photography, audio and videotape, or even in a live-stream over the Internet, creating a product called “child pornography.” Without the sexual assault, the product would not exist. “Child pornography” is the image of a crime: its import is not about the image; it’s about the crime.

Therein lies the sleight of hand. The term “pornography” generally refers to recorded sex acts between adults. Whatever your opinion of it, “pornography” is legal. But the rape of children isn’t legal, and it isn’t a debatable issue. Calling these images of crime “child pornography” analogizes it to a legal product; it leads us away from the underlying crime, and thus desensitizes us to its victims.

"First Amendment absolutists" take advantage of this desensitization to trivialize possession of child pornography. They claim that “mere possessors” are not dangerous to children. They agitate for nothing more than short-term jail sentences and probation for “simple possession,” convincing judges to ignore sentencing laws that require longer prison terms. 

But they cannot erase the truth: these images have a market because “possessors” want to possess them. Crime chases dollars. Although child pornography networks grab headlines, without individual customers, the networks are out of business.

Criminals use the Internet for their own ends, but changes in technology are not to blame for this crime. Technology is neutral; people’s choices in utilizing technology are not. 

What has changed due to widespread access to the Internet is that the product, once created, can be “test-marketed” widely and distributed with great ease. This is a business so high-profit, so low-risk, that organized crime has entered the picture. 

After any drug bust, the police inform the media of the “street value” of what they seized. When it comes to child pornography arrests, the lack of information about street value helps to hide the vicious reality of the market.

If we raise the stakes and impose penalties that match the crime, we could damage these vermin, instead of allowing them to damage our children. Our society pretends it has accomplished something when we tell our children to “Just Say No.” But a victim can’t “Just Say No;” it’s up to us to do that!

Join us at PROTECT and help us force our representatives into passing an asset forfeiture bill. If “both sides of the aisle” can’t agree to taking the profit out of raping children, (without their private earmarks attached,) we don’t have a government — we have a collection of morons, thieves, and those sympathetic to the enemies of our entire species.

If we sentenced distributors of “child pornography” proportionate to the damage they do, or even to the value of their “product,” they would all be doing life sentences. Their victims are.

Belle sipped her tea, prim and proper. Her eyes were soft. “If I was a flower, I know what kind I’d be,” she said, half to herself.
— Blue Belle, by Andrew Vachss

Belle sipped her tea, prim and proper. Her eyes were soft. “If I was a flower, I know what kind I’d be,” she said, half to herself.

— Blue Belle, by Andrew Vachss

From Two Trains Running, some thoughts for Inauguration Day:

1959 October 06 Tuesday 18:29

“You know what a pilgrimage is?” Rufus said.

“A holy journey,” Moses answered, as if he had been expecting the question.

“That’s right,” Rufus said, surprised. “And I took mine on September 3, 1955. On that day, I went to Chicago. So I could see that little boy, Emmett Till. See him in the coffin where the white man had put him.”

“I remember that.”

“His mother left the casket open so people could see—so the whole world could see—how they had tortured her child before they murdered him,” Rufus said, his voice throbbing. “It was supposed to be because the boy had whistled at a white woman. Not raped her, not killed her—whistled at her. Men came in the night and took him; didn’t make no secret about it. Everybody knew who they were. And they bragged about it all over town, too. Took some cracker jury about ten minutes to find them not guilty. Probably some of them on that jury, they were along for the ride that night themselves.”

“Mississippi,” Moses said.

“Yeah, Mississippi. And then the men who did it, they got paid for it. I read it in Look magazine, the whole thing. After that jury cut them loose, some reporter paid them to tell the true story, because you can’t try a man twice for the same crime. Every cracker’s dream, kill a black boy and get paid for it, too. Like a bounty on niggers.”

“I read that story,” Moses said, evenly.

“Didn’t it make you want to … kill a whole lot of whites?”

“I don’t believe in killing by color.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, if I could pick, there’d be a whole lot of whites I’ve met in my life that needed killing. But I wouldn’t go kill a bunch of white men for what some other white men did.”

“You mean, like they do us?” Rufus said, every syllable a challenge.

“That’s not why they kill us,” Moses said, a teacher correcting a pupil. “Not for anything we ever did. That’s just their excuse. Like that ‘wolf whistle’ the Till boy was supposed to have done to that white woman.”

“There’s plenty of them would kill all of us, they had the chance,” Rufus said.

“Sure. Or put us back on the plantations. Or ship us back to Africa. But no matter how much they hate us, things is never going back to the way they was—the way they liked it.”

Two Trains Running (2005), by Andrew Vachss

   The recent events in Steubenville, Ohio, require us to confront the reality that a “rape culture” exists in this country, as well as in so-called “Muslim” theocracies around the world. 
   I say “so-called” because I do not believe that the Koran in any way supports the subhuman conduct some bizarrely call “honor rape" any more than I believe that the Bible supports the brutalizing of women. (Of course, a collection of so-called ”Christians" would have us believe it demands all manner of perversions, including this creature’s claim that the Bible supports the death penalty for children.)
   Most underpinnings of rape culture are not so overt. How many juries have decided an accused rapist’s guilt or innocence based on the attire or occupation of the victim? Why is virtually all “rape porn” designed to show that “she really wanted it all along?” How many people insist that “a handsome man would never stoop to raping an ugly woman”? How many secretly believe that any underage male student victimized by a female teacher is someone who “got lucky?”
   Even attempts to measure the infusion of rape myths into our culture can have the effect of creating those myths. Consider this:


















Race and prior victimization did not appear to affect the general acceptance or rejection of rape myths among this sample of college women. It is interesting to note that although most women in the sample rejected the rape myths, one rape myth received an unusual degree of support. This myth is the following:
   "One reason that women falsely report a rape is that they  frequently have a need to call attention to themselves.”
-Carmody and Washington, “Rape Myth Acceptance among College Women,” 16 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 424, 432 (2001).



















   Other rape myths examined in this study were accurately isolated and clearly presented, (for example: "Women who dress provocatively are asking to be raped.") But, in the excerpt above, which part of the convoluted statement is the “one rape myth?” Is it that women falsely report rapes? Or that women do so “frequently?” Or, perhaps, that women who "falsely" and "frequently" report a non-existent rape do so out of a "need to call attention to themselves?” The plain reading of that statement is that women falsely report rapes, and that they do so “frequently.” The only question presented is whether they do so because they “have a need to call attention to themselves.” Unable to ask for clarification, the respondents had only their own interpretation of the statement to react to, making their responses to the statement useless. Worse, the myth that “women falsely report rape frequently” may have been unwittingly propagated to some respondents.
   It’s time to acknowledge that a rape culture exists, not just in "other places," but here in our own country. We don’t have “honor rape,” but plenty of American judges believe rape victims “ask for it.” 
   Sadly, we need only look to Congress’ refusal to continue funding for the Violence Against Women Act for all the proof any reasonable individual would ever need. So now what, America?

© 2013 Andrew Vachss. All rights reserved. 

   The recent events in Steubenville, Ohio, require us to confront the reality that a rape culture exists in this country, as well as in so-called “Muslim” theocracies around the world. 

   I say “so-called” because I do not believe that the Koran in any way supports the subhuman conduct some bizarrely call “honor rapeany more than I believe that the Bible supports the brutalizing of women. (Of course, a collection of so-called Christianswould have us believe it demands all manner of perversions, including this creature’s claim that the Bible supports the death penalty for children.)

   Most underpinnings of rape culture are not so overt. How many juries have decided an accused rapist’s guilt or innocence based on the attire or occupation of the victim? Why is virtually all “rape porn” designed to show that “she really wanted it all along?” How many people insist that “a handsome man would never stoop to raping an ugly woman”? How many secretly believe that any underage male student victimized by a female teacher is someone who “got lucky?”

   Even attempts to measure the infusion of rape myths into our culture can have the effect of creating those myths. Consider this:

Race and prior victimization did not appear to affect the general acceptance or rejection of rape myths among this sample of college women. It is interesting to note that although most women in the sample rejected the rape myths, one rape myth received an unusual degree of support. This myth is the following:

   "One reason that women falsely report a rape is that they  frequently have a need to call attention to themselves.”

-Carmody and Washington,Rape Myth Acceptance among College Women,” 16 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 424, 432 (2001).

   Other rape myths examined in this study were accurately isolated and clearly presented, (for example: "Women who dress provocatively are asking to be raped.") But, in the excerpt above, which part of the convoluted statement is the “one rape myth?” Is it that women falsely report rapes? Or that women do so “frequently?” Or, perhaps, that women who "falsely" and "frequently" report a non-existent rape do so out of a "need to call attention to themselves?” The plain reading of that statement is that women falsely report rapes, and that they do so “frequently.” The only question presented is whether they do so because they “have a need to call attention to themselves.” Unable to ask for clarification, the respondents had only their own interpretation of the statement to react to, making their responses to the statement useless. Worse, the myth that “women falsely report rape frequently” may have been unwittingly propagated to some respondents.

   It’s time to acknowledge that a rape culture exists, not just in "other places," but here in our own countryWe don’t have “honor rape,” but plenty of American judges believe rape victims “ask for it.” 

   Sadly, we need only look to Congress’ refusal to continue funding for the Violence Against Women Act for all the proof any reasonable individual would ever need. So now what, America?


© 2013 Andrew Vachss. All rights reserved

   For many years, this has been Oprah’s New Year’s toast to the world: ”Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right!”



Conversations with Oprah: Andrew Vachss
Originally broadcast on The Oprah Winfrey Show, July 16, 1993


Winfrey:   So Andrew Vachss writes in “Another Chance To Get It Right” when he speaks of children, “Children of the world,” he says, “future flowers, now seeds. Some hand-raised, nourished in love-richened ground. Others tossed carelessly on the coldest concrete, struggling beneath Darwin’s dispassionate sunlight. Each unique snowflake, individualized and all the same. Our race, the human race, one color, many shades. Treasures to some, toys to others. They will reach the stars and stalk the shadows. What children are, more than anything else, is this: another chance for our flawed species, another chance to get it right.”
  (Applause)
Winfrey:   If you want a copy of this …
  (Visual: Book cover for “Another Chance To Get It Right” shown)

   For many years, this has been Oprah’s New Year’s toast to the world: ”Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right!”


Conversations with Oprah: Andrew Vachss

Originally broadcast on The Oprah Winfrey Show, July 16, 1993

Winfrey:   So Andrew Vachss writes inAnother Chance To Get It Right when he speaks of children, “Children of the world,” he says, “future flowers, now seeds. Some hand-raised, nourished in love-richened ground. Others tossed carelessly on the coldest concrete, struggling beneath Darwin’s dispassionate sunlight. Each unique snowflake, individualized and all the same. Our race, the human race, one color, many shades. Treasures to some, toys to others. They will reach the stars and stalk the shadows. What children are, more than anything else, is this: another chance for our flawed species, another chance to get it right.”

  (Applause)

Winfrey:   If you want a copy of this …

  (Visual: Book cover for “Another Chance To Get It Right” shown)

Theocracy was dealt a crushing blow yesterday. Let’s keep it that way.

Theocracy was dealt a crushing blow yesterday. Let’s keep it that way.

No woman should be forced to bear a child because *someone else* says so.


• • •

U.S. ELECTION, TALIBAN-STYLE

    At this point, the pattern is clear. The election has given these candidates (and more to come) the courage to publicly wallow in their own filth. And their dreams of a country where women are subjugated by law are nearing reality.

   I am not suggesting that anyone should base their vote for President on the statements of candidates running within any particular party. Mitt vs. Barack snipes are as pointless as those “liberal” or “conservative” TV shows which pretend to be news programs. A vote for Mitt doesn’t mean you endorse the repression of women, just as a vote for Barack doesn’t mean you are fighting against it.

    This isn’t about political parties; it’s about the looming danger of living under a theocracy—about a US version of Taliban rule. I am aiming at the elections of individuals who would, if elected, enact laws which are inherently repressive.

   These individuals would never have been brave enough to come out from under their rocks unless they believed their statements would increase their chances of winning. They know that anyone disgusted by what they say wasn’t going to vote for them anyway. They know some voters will vote the “straight ticket” without looking past the presidential slot on the ballot—party devotees who will never move off that square. They also know that some people will even throw away their vote entirely, either because they are disgusted with both presidential candidates, or because casting a ballot for a no-chance fringe candidate makes them feel good about themselves.

   But some people are working very hard to form a deliverable bloc of votes—and that bloc will go to the candidate who reflects their belief-system.

   So merely expressing outrage on social media is worthless. On Election Day, maggots like these won’t count your facebook “likes,” but they will count your votes. If you want to make your voice heard, focus on the races of the individuals whose public statements reveal their true agenda (no matter what they call it). If they aren’t running in your state, so what? If there’s anything more to “social media” than posturing and posing, now is the time to find out. So reach out … and let’s see if we can touch them. 

© 2012 Andrew Vachss. All rights reserved


• • •

U.S. ELECTION, TALIBAN-STYLE

    At this point, the pattern is clear. The election has given these three (and more to come) the courage to publicly wallow in their own filth. And their dreams of a country where women are subjugated by law are nearing reality.

   I am not suggesting that anyone should base their vote for President on the statements of candidates running within any particular party. Mitt vs. Barack snipes are as pointless as those “liberal” or “conservative” TV shows which pretend to be news programs. A vote for Mitt doesn’t mean you endorse the repression of women, just as a vote for Barack doesn’t mean you are fighting against it.

    This isn’t about political parties; it’s about the looming danger of living under a theocracy—about a US version of Taliban rule. I am aiming at the elections of individuals who would, if elected, enact laws which are inherently repressive.

   These individuals would never have been brave enough to come out from under their rocks unless they believed their statements would increase their chances of winning. They know that anyone disgusted by what they say wasn’t going to vote for them anyway. They know some voters will vote the “straight ticket” without looking past the presidential slot on the ballot—party devotees who will never move off that square. They also know that some people will even throw away their vote entirely, either because they are disgusted with both presidential candidates, or because casting a ballot for a no-chance fringe candidate makes them feel good about themselves.

   But some people are working very hard to form a deliverable bloc of votes—and that bloc will go to the candidate who reflects their belief-system.

   So merely expressing outrage on social media is worthless. On Election Day, maggots like these won’t count your facebook “likes,” but they will count your votes. If you want to make your voice heard, focus on the races of the individuals whose public statements reveal their true agenda (no matter what they call it). If they aren’t running in your state, so what? If there’s anything more to “social media” than posturing and posing, now is the time to find out. So reach out … and let’s see if we can touch them. 

© 2012 Andrew Vachss. All rights reserved

Labeling Mental Disorders Doesn’t Answer the Real Question: Does a “Diagnosis” Mean There’s a Cure?
    The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), periodically issued by the American Psychiatric Association, is not a guide to treatment, but merely a nosology—a system of classification. So what is it used for? (1) To code for billing, to ensure reimbursement from health plans, whether private or Medicaid, and (2) to reflect politics—for example, to placate the “false accusations” crowd, Multiple Personality Disorder in the DSM-III gave way to Dissociative Identity Disorder in the DSM-IV. In contrast, the same group’s attempt to insert “false memory syndrome” was unsuccessful. And despite fervent advocacy, defense attorneys’ dreams such as “rapism” and “parental alienation syndrome" have never made the cut.
    Various personality disorders may cause distress to an individual, but, generally, such distress occurs only when the individual’s delusion is not accepted or acknowledged by the rest of the world. For example: a narcissist will keep moving from therapist to therapist, as each in turn proves incapable of explaining why society does not recognize the narcissist’s unique superiority and personal perfection.
    When a personality disorder goes red-zone, there are only three possible results: (1) criminal conduct, (2) psychosis, and/or (3) suicide. Attempts to fake psychosis are not uncommon when there is irrefutable proof of criminal conduct, or when seeking a Disability diagnosis, which will entitle the applicant to financial support. And these attempts occur so frequently that the DSM even has a term for it: malingering.
    The “paraphilias” are diagnosed only when they are dystonic (i.e., cause significant stress to the individual), or when the individual engages in a paraphilia that violates the law … and actually is caught doing so. Therefore an individual diagnosed with “pedophilia” could fantasize at will and never come to our attention. Only the predatory pedophile has turned his feelings into behavior. In such a case, so-called “pedophilia” would not succeed as an insanity defense—because we are finally learning to separate “sick” from “sickening." 
    The DSM is full of disorders for which there is no treatment, including Anti-Social Personality Disorder, which is the DSM’s latest label for what it used to call “sociopathy.” Television, whether in fictional soft-porn or in repulsive “true-crime reenactments,” would have us believe that all sociopaths are handsome, charming, and intelligent, and capture only young, attractive women to play with. And the media has far more impact on juries than any diagnostic manual. Since the only truly distinguishing characteristic of any sociopath is a total lack of empathy combined with a profound sense of entitlement, how exactly does calling a serial rapist a “sociopath” help us?
    The DSM’s definition of mental disorders may be useful for making notes on charts and sending out reimbursement requests, but it does not reflect real-world understanding. Worse, it plays directly into the fascist paradigm: the power to interpret the meaning of “The Word” constitutes the power to rule all those who follow it. Ask Joe McCarthy. Or Jerry Falwell. Or any ayatollah who came to power by force.
    Those who want their theocracy to control the world will always claim to be standing against the abuses of an allegedly opposing theocracy, but it is an inherent characteristic of theocracies to demand that all accept domination or suffer a fate worse than death … again and again. What is the difference between “Christian” and “Muslim” pretexts for executing “disobedient” children? Neither of those religions actually condones such grotesque interpretations. But the power to force such interpretations on others is the single greatest threat to democracy, justice, and freedom anywhere on earth
    What’s the difference when a combat veteran who is clearly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is kicked out of the military, supposedly because he has some “personality disorder” that wasn’t picked up by the recruiters? Oh, not much: a correct diagnosis of PTSD would have entitled the vet to a full panoply of (costly) services that the government affords to the returning war hero, whereas the “pre-existing personality disorder” label results in a dishonorable discharge for the “liar who hid his condition.”
    Whenever those with the power to interpret (in this case, diagnose) clearly benefit from one particular decision, what result would you expect? Remember, when the government makes a “diagnosis,” there is no second opinion.
    Why is this important? Imagine the power to decide a person is “insane.” And the consequences of such a decision. The DSM is a swell party game. What fun to sit around and diagnose others, or to spew terms like “sociopath” or “malignant narcissist” on the oh-so-reliable Internet. But it’s a very dangerous game when played for keeps.
    In America, we respect titles more than knowledge. But despite intellectualized attempts to merge the “psychopath” and the “sociopath,” there are significant differences between them. They share some characteristics—a total absence of empathy, a profound sense of entitlement, and a complete lack of conscience. The last explains why they never bounce the needles on a polygraph, a machine which does not detect lies, but only measures “guilty knowledge.” Neither ever feels guilt for their conduct, because they do not experience—or even conceptualize—guilt.
    Also, neither sociopaths nor psychopaths will seek “treatment” unless compelled to do so by a court, and even then they will simply use the opportunity to improve their skill-set, such as faking empathy for their victims while facing a parole board.
    But there are distinctions between the two. A psychopath is generally incapable of (or dismissive of) cost-benefit analysis, unlike a sociopath, who will engage in such calculation. So for example, a sociopath who is an intrafamilial child sexual offender is likely to continue his behavior with subsequent children of his own, or even to seek out “single moms” who advertise their status in various forms of social media … but he is not likely to abduct children of strangers. Both offenders are predatory pedophiles, but their target range will vary radically.
    A psychopath is capable of bonding only to the extent of creating a folie à deux relationship, which psychiatry calls a “shared psychosis,” (but would be more correctly termed a toxic gestalt, as there is always a far more dominant “half” in such a relationship). Examples include Bradley and Hindley, Leopold and Loeb, Bianchi and Buono. One psychopath might quote Nietzsche eloquently; another might not even be able to read his tripe. But a serial-killing psychopath always writes his own script, seeking a level of internal stimulation available to them only through the pain of others.
    The utter helplessness of their victims is always a trail-marker of psychopaths. Some, such as Gertrude Baniszewski, take advantage of opportunities; others, such as Ted Bundy, create them. Unlike sociopaths, psychopaths have no “goal” which, if attained, would cause their behavior to cease. Their need never goes away, although the fulfillment of that need is often dose-related … what once “satisfied” them eventually will no longer suffice. And escalation is virtually guaranteed.
    Psychopaths are characterized by implacable relentlessness. They can neither be deterred by any law (including the death penalty), nor benefit from any “treatment.” They have all the insight into their own behavior they need, because they know what they want to do. Fear of consequences is non-existent with them—the very possibility of consequences doesn’t register. 
    Psychopaths are the ultimate toxin in the bloodstream of humanity, but they are not “born bad.” Fetal alcoholism, pre-frontal lobe malformation,  closed-head injuries, the XXY chromosome … all have been found in psychopaths. And all have been found in those who never walk the psychopath’s chosen road.
    The essential difference between a sociopath and a psychopath is that a sociopath’s goals—money, success, attention—are shared by most of us, to some extent. But because they are not dragged down by all our ethical “baggage,” sociopaths can move more quickly toward such goals, and they would have no reservations about removing anything that stood between them and what they want. In contrast, a psychopath seeks gratification—rape, torture, murder-for-entertainment—that most of us don’t. We have great difficulty imagining why any human being would want to commit the acts psychopaths engage in.
    It gets murky when we run across sociopaths who produce child pornography but who are not what are generically called “pedophiles." They are simply selling a product, and completely indifferent as to how that product is produced, or to what use it is put. No different from arms dealers or contraband traffickers (from cocaine to children), the gratification is the money and the power that comes with accumulating it.
    Put more bluntly: a sociopath would sell a snuff film; a psychopath would make one.
    But when it comes to predatory pedophiles, knowing the difference makes no difference, because there is no cure. So the sooner we stop being lulled into a false sense of security by the mythology that peddles “treatment,” the safer our children will be.
    What we call something doesn’t matter. There is one undeniable truth about predators: if we refuse to see them while we still have a chance, we’ll never see them coming later—when we don’t.
© 2012 Andrew Vachss. All rights reserved.   

Labeling Mental Disorders Doesn’t Answer the Real Question: Does a “Diagnosis” Mean There’s a Cure?

    The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), periodically issued by the American Psychiatric Association, is not a guide to treatment, but merely a nosologya system of classification. So what is it used for? (1) To code for billing, to ensure reimbursement from health plans, whether private or Medicaid, and (2) to reflect politicsfor example, to placate the “false accusations” crowd, Multiple Personality Disorder in the DSM-III gave way to Dissociative Identity Disorder in the DSM-IV. In contrast, the same group’s attempt to insert “false memory syndrome” was unsuccessful. And despite fervent advocacy, defense attorneys’ dreams such as “rapism” and “parental alienation syndrome" have never made the cut.

    Various personality disorders may cause distress to an individual, but, generally, such distress occurs only when the individual’s delusion is not accepted or acknowledged by the rest of the world. For example: a narcissist will keep moving from therapist to therapist, as each in turn proves incapable of explaining why society does not recognize the narcissist’s unique superiority and personal perfection.

    When a personality disorder goes red-zone, there are only three possible results: (1) criminal conduct, (2) psychosis, and/or (3) suicide. Attempts to fake psychosis are not uncommon when there is irrefutable proof of criminal conduct, or when seeking a Disability diagnosis, which will entitle the applicant to financial support. And these attempts occur so frequently that the DSM even has a term for it: malingering.

    The “paraphilias” are diagnosed only when they are dystonic (i.e., cause significant stress to the individual), or when the individual engages in a paraphilia that violates the law … and actually is caught doing so. Therefore an individual diagnosed with “pedophilia” could fantasize at will and never come to our attention. Only the predatory pedophile has turned his feelings into behavior. In such a case, so-called “pedophilia” would not succeed as an insanity defense—because we are finally learning to separate “sick” from “sickening."

    The DSM is full of disorders for which there is no treatment, including Anti-Social Personality Disorder, which is the DSM’s latest label for what it used to call “sociopathy.” Television, whether in fictional soft-porn or in repulsive “true-crime reenactments,” would have us believe that all sociopaths are handsome, charming, and intelligent, and capture only young, attractive women to play with. And the media has far more impact on juries than any diagnostic manual. Since the only truly distinguishing characteristic of any sociopath is a total lack of empathy combined with a profound sense of entitlement, how exactly does calling a serial rapist a “sociopath” help us?

    The DSM’s definition of mental disorders may be useful for making notes on charts and sending out reimbursement requests, but it does not reflect real-world understanding. Worse, it plays directly into the fascist paradigm: the power to interpret the meaning of “The Word” constitutes the power to rule all those who follow it. Ask Joe McCarthy. Or Jerry Falwell. Or any ayatollah who came to power by force.

    Those who want their theocracy to control the world will always claim to be standing against the abuses of an allegedly opposing theocracy, but it is an inherent characteristic of theocracies to demand that all accept domination or suffer a fate worse than death … again and again. What is the difference between “Christian” and “Muslim” pretexts for executing “disobedient” children? Neither of those religions actually condones such grotesque interpretations. But the power to force such interpretations on others is the single greatest threat to democracy, justice, and freedom anywhere on earth

    What’s the difference when a combat veteran who is clearly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is kicked out of the military, supposedly because he has some “personality disorder” that wasn’t picked up by the recruiters? Oh, not much: a correct diagnosis of PTSD would have entitled the vet to a full panoply of (costly) services that the government affords to the returning war hero, whereas the “pre-existing personality disorder” label results in a dishonorable discharge for the “liar who hid his condition.”

    Whenever those with the power to interpret (in this case, diagnose) clearly benefit from one particular decision, what result would you expect? Remember, when the government makes a “diagnosis,” there is no second opinion.

    Why is this important? Imagine the power to decide a person is “insane.” And the consequences of such a decision. The DSM is a swell party game. What fun to sit around and diagnose others, or to spew terms like “sociopath” or “malignant narcissist” on the oh-so-reliable Internet. But it’s a very dangerous game when played for keeps.

    In America, we respect titles more than knowledge. But despite intellectualized attempts to merge the “psychopath” and the “sociopath,” there are significant differences between them. They share some characteristics—a total absence of empathy, a profound sense of entitlement, and a complete lack of conscience. The last explains why they never bounce the needles on a polygraph, a machine which does not detect lies, but only measures “guilty knowledge.” Neither ever feels guilt for their conduct, because they do not experience—or even conceptualize—guilt.

    Also, neither sociopaths nor psychopaths will seek “treatment” unless compelled to do so by a court, and even then they will simply use the opportunity to improve their skill-set, such as faking empathy for their victims while facing a parole board.

    But there are distinctions between the two. A psychopath is generally incapable of (or dismissive of) cost-benefit analysis, unlike a sociopath, who will engage in such calculation. So for example, a sociopath who is an intrafamilial child sexual offender is likely to continue his behavior with subsequent children of his own, or even to seek out “single moms” who advertise their status in various forms of social media … but he is not likely to abduct children of strangers. Both offenders are predatory pedophiles, but their target range will vary radically.

    A psychopath is capable of bonding only to the extent of creating a folie à deux relationship, which psychiatry calls a “shared psychosis,” (but would be more correctly termed a toxic gestalt, as there is always a far more dominant “half” in such a relationship). Examples include Bradley and Hindley, Leopold and Loeb, Bianchi and Buono. One psychopath might quote Nietzsche eloquently; another might not even be able to read his tripe. But a serial-killing psychopath always writes his own script, seeking a level of internal stimulation available to them only through the pain of others.

    The utter helplessness of their victims is always a trail-marker of psychopaths. Some, such as Gertrude Baniszewski, take advantage of opportunities; others, such as Ted Bundy, create them. Unlike sociopaths, psychopaths have no “goal” which, if attained, would cause their behavior to cease. Their need never goes away, although the fulfillment of that need is often dose-related … what once “satisfied” them eventually will no longer suffice. And escalation is virtually guaranteed.

    Psychopaths are characterized by implacable relentlessness. They can neither be deterred by any law (including the death penalty), nor benefit from any “treatment.” They have all the insight into their own behavior they need, because they know what they want to do. Fear of consequences is non-existent with them—the very possibility of consequences doesn’t register.

    Psychopaths are the ultimate toxin in the bloodstream of humanity, but they are not “born bad.” Fetal alcoholism, pre-frontal lobe malformation, closed-head injuries, the XXY chromosome … all have been found in psychopaths. And all have been found in those who never walk the psychopath’s chosen road.

    The essential difference between a sociopath and a psychopath is that a sociopath’s goals—money, success, attention—are shared by most of us, to some extent. But because they are not dragged down by all our ethical “baggage,” sociopaths can move more quickly toward such goals, and they would have no reservations about removing anything that stood between them and what they want. In contrast, a psychopath seeks gratification—rape, torture, murder-for-entertainment—that most of us don’t. We have great difficulty imagining why any human being would want to commit the acts psychopaths engage in.

    It gets murky when we run across sociopaths who produce child pornography but who are not what are generically called “pedophiles." They are simply selling a product, and completely indifferent as to how that product is produced, or to what use it is put. No different from arms dealers or contraband traffickers (from cocaine to children), the gratification is the money and the power that comes with accumulating it.

    Put more bluntly: a sociopath would sell a snuff film; a psychopath would make one.

    But when it comes to predatory pedophiles, knowing the difference makes no difference, because there is no cure. So the sooner we stop being lulled into a false sense of security by the mythology that peddles “treatment,” the safer our children will be.

    What we call something doesn’t matter. There is one undeniable truth about predators: if we refuse to see them while we still have a chance, we’ll never see them coming laterwhen we don’t.

© 2012 Andrew Vachss. All rights reserved.   

I promise you, there are people in America whose only problem with the Taliban is that they did it for the wrong god. Whether it’s incest, rape, terrorism or Nazism, it’s all the same thing—accumulating and abusing power.

I promise you, there are people in America whose only problem with the Taliban is that they did it for the wrong god. Whether it’s incest, rape, terrorism or Nazism, it’s all the same thing—accumulating and abusing power.

"Aberrance functions only within support groups. If aberrance is marginalized, it can’t metastasize.
"So, school bullying: if the bully were ostracized, if the bully was the lowest-status person, if the bully was someone no one wanted to associate with, bullying could not spread. When the culture actually supports bullying, when the culture considers bullying a sign of masculinity—then it spreads.
"The same thing with an institutional [prison] community: what’s tolerated; what’s not tolerated; what’s supported; what is a sign of actual manhood? So, for the first time, they [the inmates of the juvenile institution ANDROS II] were introduced to the concept that the most ‘man’ you can be is when you protect somebody weaker than you, and the least ‘man’ you can be is when you prey on them. Those were new messages, but they weren’t delivered in lectures; they were delivered by total bombardment, so the entire community reflected the culture.
"Essentially, you’re trying to overcome a culture by replacing it with a different one. In order to change the culture, you have to start in the culture. You can’t start from the outside. So, saying ‘we disapprove of bullying’—everybody always ‘disapproves’ of bullying. But as long as the bullies are embraced within the school culture, they’ll continue.
"If you look at bullying logically, then you can see it’s the root of all evil. Not money, but bullying. That’s all it takes: the imposition of your will, your desires, your wishes, on another human being by force or intimidation. You can see it in Rwanda just as easily as you can see it in the schoolyard. Different canvas, different color paint, but it’s exactly the same thing: ‘I can make you do what I want you to do, because I’m stronger than you. It’s not a question that I’m smarter or I’m more ethical or I’m more entitled. I’m simply stronger.’"
— Excerpted from An Interview with Andrew Vachss, by Jake Adelstein, Yomiuri Tokyo Bureau, 2002

"Aberrance functions only within support groups. If aberrance is marginalized, it can’t metastasize.

"So, school bullying: if the bully were ostracized, if the bully was the lowest-status person, if the bully was someone no one wanted to associate with, bullying could not spread. When the culture actually supports bullying, when the culture considers bullying a sign of masculinity—then it spreads.

"The same thing with an institutional [prison] community: what’s tolerated; what’s not tolerated; what’s supported; what is a sign of actual manhood? So, for the first time, they [the inmates of the juvenile institution ANDROS II] were introduced to the concept that the most ‘man’ you can be is when you protect somebody weaker than you, and the least ‘man’ you can be is when you prey on them. Those were new messages, but they weren’t delivered in lectures; they were delivered by total bombardment, so the entire community reflected the culture.

"Essentially, you’re trying to overcome a culture by replacing it with a different one. In order to change the culture, you have to start in the culture. You can’t start from the outside. So, saying ‘we disapprove of bullying’—everybody always ‘disapproves’ of bullying. But as long as the bullies are embraced within the school culture, they’ll continue.

"If you look at bullying logically, then you can see it’s the root of all evil. Not money, but bullying. That’s all it takes: the imposition of your will, your desires, your wishes, on another human being by force or intimidation. You can see it in Rwanda just as easily as you can see it in the schoolyard. Different canvas, different color paint, but it’s exactly the same thing: ‘I can make you do what I want you to do, because I’m stronger than you. It’s not a question that I’m smarter or I’m more ethical or I’m more entitled. I’m simply stronger.’"

— Excerpted from An Interview with Andrew Vachss, by Jake Adelstein, Yomiuri Tokyo Bureau, 2002

Read ”How to Fight Child Abuse,” written by NY Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey and Grier Weeks, executive director of PROTECT, The National Association to Protect Children. Click on the photo for links to the article and to R.A. Dickey’s personal story!

Read ”How to Fight Child Abuse,” written by NY Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey and Grier Weeks, executive director of PROTECT, The National Association to Protect Children. Click on the photo for links to the article and to R.A. Dickey’s personal story!

Let me be certain I understand this:

Todd Akin, a U.S. Congressman from Missouri, having ridden Tea Party support all the way to the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, has now returned the favor by going the anti-abortion theocrats one better: He demands that a woman prove she was “legitimately raped” to be allowed to terminate a pregnancy.

Leaving aside the fact that his IQ will never threaten room temperature — he’s not only an expert on gynecology (“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”) — but an expert statistical analyst as well (“women who are ‘legitimately’ raped are extremely unlikely to become pregnant,”) how would his fervent “beliefs” play out in the real world?

How about this: If the victim must prove she was “legitimately” raped — after all, you can’t just take their word for it — does that mean the police must apprehend the rapist and that the rapist must be convicted, all within the first trimester of pregnancy?

Granted, this humanoid would not be allowed to serve on a jury unless he committed perjury. Visualize his response to: “Juror #4, the victim in this case is pregnant. Do you believe she could not be pregnant if she had actually been raped?”

But that’s not even close to the depths this creature is wallowing in. What’s buried within all this filth is the “belief” that intrafamilial child sexual abuse, often called incest, is NOT rape. And the eager desire to impose this perverted “belief” on all female children.

So if a 13-year-old girl is raped by her father — and make no mistake, incest of a minor is rape under any definition you personally favor — and she becomes pregnant as a result, would she have to obtain “parental consent” before being allowed to rid herself of the ultimate in unwanted pregnancies? In the race to distance itself from this HONEST ADMISSION OF BELIEF by one of their own, Romney is already ahead of Ryan, who co-sponsored a bill to change the definition of “rape” to “forcible rape.”

Incest is nothing more than rape-by-extortion. If you don’t think so, or if you think that the victim should be punished for such a crime, you shouldn’t be voting — you should be emigrating to a country ruled by the Taliban.

© 2012 Andrew Vachss. All rights reserved.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) asked for permission to quote from You Carry the Cure in Your Own Heart to create this slide, which ACOG’s Family Violence Work Group uses in a presentation entitled "Domestic Violence: The Role of the Physician in Identification, Intervention, and Prevention."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) asked for permission to quote from You Carry the Cure in Your Own Heart to create this slide, which ACOG’s Family Violence Work Group uses in a presentation entitled "Domestic Violence: The Role of the Physician in Identification, Intervention, and Prevention."

Don’t all Americans agree that child protection is our most important obligation—not just as citizens in a democratic society, but as human beings?

The answer to this question cannot be found in studies or statistics. The essence of a culture is in its performance, not its proclamations.

Only behavior reveals truth. And where can this truth be found? We have one certain way to measure the importance of any subject: simply observe how it is addressed—or ignored—by those running for office.

In any major electoral race, the candidates are forced to take a position on every issue for which there is a constituency. This is a fact of American politics: one cannot run for national office without an unambiguous stance on abortion, gun control, the environment, capital punishment, and many other issues of deep concern to clearly identifiable groups. And such groups cannot be placated with nebulous generalities. They demand the details: what legislation will be passed? What programs will be funded?

Soon, the presidential candidates will meet to debate. But we know from past experience that child protection will not be on the agenda. All we ever ask of the candidates is a declaration that they “love children,” and “support the American family.” The candidates tacitly agree to a mutual non-aggression pact, never challenging their opponent’s pro forma platitudes. So the question, "What are you going to do about child abuse?" never gets asked, much less answered.

Politicians get away with this because the public demands nothing more. Any catchy-sounding phrase will suffice. Does anyone really believe that “no child is left behind” in America? Has anyone ever actually visited that mythical “village” that is raising our children?

Supposedly, debates are aimed at that special constituency which eludes the pollsters: the undecided. But any honest person will readily admit that, when it comes to hot-button issues that divide America, the undecided are a micro-minority … if they exist at all. The voters already have made up their minds on issues like abortion or gun control—all that remains is for the individual candidates to declare themselves, pro or con.

Despite all the pious rhetoric, there is no identifiable constituency whose vote is directly tied to child protection. Children may be important to us all, but child protection has never been a make-or-break issue when we vote for our leaders.

What Are You Going to Do about Child Abuse?" by Andrew Vachss, Parade Magazine, 2004