Sex Crimes Chronicles - 16 (Volume Sixteen)

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After taboo, and now after sexuality's revolution, is it not precisely the same marital and familial intimacies that are being accredited, and is it not enduringly some "paraphilic" deviation from that exalted norm that is to be destroyed, or cured, for the common good? The "radical extension" of incest can thus be understood as a notable vignette of a wider scientification and psychologisation of socio-sexual regulation across the Western world, articulating "universal" stakes but cross-cut by local and historical stakes.

Genealogical aspects of resultant science wars in South Africa, for instance, can be appreciated in work by Bowman , The evidentiary and litigious drift accompanying these wars increasingly trivialised such anthropological debates about whether or not incest taboos arose from a direct awareness by primordial humans of the deleterious effects of familial inbreeding eg Burton, - and indeed about how deleterious such effects are.

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The anthropological idea of taboo took hold in Victorian anthropology specifically to account for at first glance often bizarre, community-wide superstitions and tendentious belief systems. Disease and illness informing causal and genetic accounts of incest taboos are thus echoed in functional models and folk psychiatries that animate these taboos e. Frayser, - as the integrally moral accountancy of human action e.

Haslam, - with notions of mental derailment. As argued, one way of engaging here is to observe that incest prohibitions stipulating avoidance of kin categories, and thus coextensive with kinship structure and the posts science wars over "sexual abuse" stipulating age stratification overlap at the functional purview of incriminating potential for intra-domestic sexual rivalries, with the distinction that "sexual abuse", as Hacking notes, extended both the regulatory and the explanatory scope of impractical desires beyond the sphere of domestic intimacies, at the level of the administrative category "child".

In abuse and incest alike, both offender and victim are made to carry the evidentiary burden of an inevitable, ultimate, collective, and irreparable harm. Both categories personify the idiomatic and metaphoric ambiance of danger, lesions, scars, disorder, and collective survival, providing discrete occasions for the dramatisation of social order. Incest names a suspicion and warning against all family men, paedophilia names a suspicion and warning against all men. Incest's feminist and conservative, and soon etiological and epidemiological, turns since the late s effectively inaugurated a new industry both of victim reconvalescence and offender rehabilitation.

Transgression was increasingly dramatised as occasion to grasp, and salute, a new take on reality, a new concern for the true position of taboo's stakeholders. This dramatisation will be examined below, as it shows a strained reliance on empirical claims. Consider that laws and taboos alike operate on an ambient level of opportune professionalism, threatened reputations, stigma, bad advertisement, scandal, and generalised apprehension, from which neither the occasion of transgression nor negotiations over what constitutes "negative outcome" - in other words: what is supposed to be the meaning and relevance of transgression as event - can be methodologically isolated.

Effects of highly circumscribed events must be expected to importantly spring from this coordinated circumscription: events refer to the social situation that propels them into an acute eventuality and consequentiality, saturates them with meaning, accrediting some preferred and foreclosing all other interpretations. Ominous correlations between transgression and outcome, then, are said to inform the need for taboo but they can only ever indicate what is already the effect, indeed the success, of the taboo.

Taboo derives from and feeds back into an elaborate system of commonsense. Sex crimes are those encounters marked as violating an integral and spectral sense of congruity, good form, due respect, or social "grammaticality". A therapeutic cadre scrambles to make the most of such a marking, a circumscription on which careers, professions, and finally entire moral vistas come to depend; makeshift idioms of incident management become a way of applauding social order.

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The imposition of order is not on trial, and so what must consequently impress as an endless onslaught of "disorder", is all the more. The pinpointing of offender guilt and irrationality renders everybody else caring and rational: it assumes an ecumenical character. The "recognizing" and theoretical outlining of disorder becomes sociality's finest hour, its defining moment, finally - and tragically - its most pronounced articulation. Whether unleashing upon itself diagnosis or justice typically both , a sex offense is staged as an occasion for understanding what has gone wrong with someone's "sexuality" - a revolutionary compassion for a "damaged" victim, a scientific sympathy for an "impaired" offender.

But perhaps its dramaturgy is that of a desperate occasioning of the moral status quo, not so much the stage of a confirmed suspicion of, as a nomination as, alarming eventualities and individualities.

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A comprehensively anthropological reading of this scenario in the context of "child sexual abuse", a context that has largely and indeed explicitly marginalised anthropological notions such as taboo, remains to be written. There is need of a reanthropologisation of debates long marked by a fascinatingly militant psychologisation and medicalisation. Anatomizing taboos, such gestures will go against the grain of much intuition and sentiment, against most mainstream research, even against much critical commentary on that research.

This has to do with the way modern science is supposed to have already delivered the final critique: to have rendered empirical, and thus to have definitively demystified and surpassed, the "irrational" sphere of taboos it attested in "primitive" cultures. At the same time science has evidently been extending the regulatory scope and disciplinary effects of those taboos. Michel Foucault's work in the mids familiarised the world with this intrigue at the site of incest taboos.

In modern science an "analytics of sexuality" was being superimposed onto a "symbolics of blood" Foucault, , a gradual rearticulation of familial intimacies and solidarities through a new idiomatic, explanatory, and confessional vista of sexual identity, development, and deviation. Both old and new orders purported to take stock of the world as it is, although, Foucault suggested, much of their efficacy is discursive - constitutive of the categories claimed to be merely recognised.

The diagnostic frenzy and reparative work seen both in that alien context called taboo and that familiar, evermore ubiquitous scene of therapy, bring about a culturally pervasive pondering and forewarning of pending doom. This collapse is clear enough at a moment in circum-Atlantic history where the genealogical child my child, your child becomes an administrative abstraction "the minor" , and where private possession of mere cartoon images of what seems to be a child is construed as illegal.

What would simply constitute a reckoning with inevitable facts thus assumes a deep and pervasive repository of prognostications, omens, and validated correlations. Knowledge regimes importantly stipulate, or figure forth, what is then claimed to be merely encountered in the world.

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This produces an intricate entanglement of what is, triumphantly and heroically, attested as being the case and what, by stern implication, ought to be the case. A fundamental circularity is evident, as both in taboo and science one sees a forensics of facts said to inform and underlie rules held to be essential for social harmony, at the same time that "recognition" of such facts transparently derives from and is authorised by those rules. At the very least, major problems arise with the pinpointing of cognition, including those pertaining to direction of causality, causal pathway, and type of causality cf Coyne, This problem is pertinent in pondering facticity what gets taken to be the alarming facts in the context of cardinal taboos, motivating at least the anthropologist confronted with the once defining irrationality of taboos in other cultures.

Are the sponsored effects of taboo - a generalised mood of apprehension, trauma, and survival - endlessly offered up as a reason for it? Apropos: is culture-a system of campaigned and shared meanings - to blame or the transgressor who doesn't get it? Answering such questions becomes acutely delicate when the taboos of the anthropologist's own tribe are up for consideration. Mainstream science denies its constitutive agency by claiming a strictly epidemiological role, and thus the culture of science is never on trial: it is the incident the idiopathic paraphile that is said to stand between the good community and its realisation.

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The concomitant forensics of transgressions derives its legitimacy from the much more general and cross-culturally attested declaration of sex as "harmful to minors" always either too early, too fast, too much, too explicit, too "deviant", and so on, and so forth , an always curiously formulaic truism the empirical testing of which is either straightjacketed or barred altogether by that declaration. This leaves one to see the erratically codified and punitive retaliation against "paedophilia" in the tentative, broader light of a "radically extended" incest taboo.

Consider that the narrative of child sexual abuse remains ubiquitously a narrative of parental angst, outrage, and revenge; of family resolve, resilience, and "survival"; of family disclosures, resources, dysfunctions, and stakes. The superimposition of a politics of blood by an analytics of sexuality Foucault signalled, we may want to verify, remains acutely visible as such.

The remainder of this article chronicles and contextualises what it argues must be considered a specific outcome of this superimposition, namely the pathologisation of offender rationalisations, in the context of child sexual abuse, that goes by the clinical verdict of "cognitive distortions". All this is to say that both anthropology and psychology might claim to reflect on or to have definitively interpreted taboo but are also, beyond mere genuflections to its grip, modern taboo's approved handmaidens. In what follows, I will briefly dwell on this purported passage from sexual - in particular incest - taboos to transgressions, and the concomitant production and progressive hardening of the rubrics of child sexual abuse and paedophilia since the late s.

I will then zoom in on the historical emergence of a specific medicalisation of offenders' rationalizations "cognitions" seen as betraying what I will consider, following Foucault, to be cardinal disciplinary functions inhering in the idea of children's sexual development. Concomitant therapeutic figurations of the child and invasive concerns for its nascent "sexuality" become a way of naming and accomplishing objectives of social order, particularly the downplaying of potential for sexual rivalries within social units, especially the nuclear bi-generational and co-residing family.

Rehabilitating not the offender but the anthropological notion of taboo provides a background for understanding the late modern juxtaposition of rational society and irrational criminal. This specifies, but also provides an interpretative basis for, more general rejections of the medicalization of paedophilia eg Szasz, , Incest taboo theories notably gravitate onto universalist positions, whether motivated by recessive alleles, the unconscious, or biosocial appeals to family harmony. One observes that such universalism is part and parcel too of the child sexual abuse movement, which has had an extraordinary internationalist drive and appeal to human rights.

Indeed, universalism seems to be much better at home with sexual abuse than with incest, given the highly variable and typically disputed criminalisation of incest across the globe, unlike that of child molestation and pornography. Yet whereas only a few authors have tried to substantiate the suggestion of cultural imperialism or contagion effects in the globalisation of child sexual abuse discussions, historical reflection unanimously points out its US impetus, reaching acme in , and its gradual internationalisation over the following decades, especially now as a borderless, cyberforensic concern.

This history has been marked by a variety of interlocking science wars and one of the more interesting aspects here is a general marginalisation, if not programmatic scandalisation, of notions such as taboo, and a cognitive turn toward offender "responsibilisation" based on reification of deviant mentality, coercion, decontextualisation, and consolidation of the moral status quo Maruna, Given the administrative borderlessness of discussions today, the reputability of anthropology remains to be comprehensively historicised.

The official picture is that of an epochal indictment of structural "patriarchal" taboo theories by a new and increasingly sophisticated forensic psychiatry of offenders and victims. A concomitant marginalisation and indeed scandalisation of critical argument here was notable already in the early s. If anything, anthropology now is put to work at the cue of the new rubrics and conceptual slots "sexual abuse", "paraphilia" , not as an interpretive frame for that playing field.

This, for instance, sponsors culture-sensitive ways to diagnose and treat disorders, not reflection on what kind of culture would have a need for, or stake in, such medical routines. In line with this, one observes a substantial and tendentious domestication of those cross-cultural observations that do get to animate discussions from the margins Janssen, And although a very welcome expansion of viewpoints, the admirably anthropological study on sex offender "habilitation" by Waldram and the anthropologist's view on punitive sex laws offered by Lancaster stop short of appreciating the cognitive-medical turn of taboos in light of taboo's promotional scope of social structure, order, and regulation.

If incest provides an occasion for these inquiries, reflection is needed on the late 20 th century and on-going scene of incest's medicalisation and psychologisation, particularly its seeming generalization, abstraction, and transcription into the essentially new posts rubrics of "child sexual abuse" and "paedophilia" Janssen, How to appreciate this superimposition of conceptual archives is a long-standing question eg Parker, ; Twitchell, But to what extent can anthropologists ope to decode taboos obtaining in their own tribal lands?

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To empiricise, interpret or decode a taboo is always potentially to upset its pragmatic, rallying, metaphoric, and commonsensical mode of persuasion. Conversely, tendentious scientifications of taboo, for instance as organised around the rubric of abuse, may well help entrenching a functional scope of scandal, apprehension, and avoidance that otherwise would be hard to maintain.

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Spain cf finds that incest taboos pertain to, if rules, tacit rules, and they are all the more potent for it. Whether in theory, through data, or as informing political manifestoes, scrutinising such tacit rules can perhaps only ever either hope to brutalise or further legitimise their stronghold. But even the incidental insult to taboo will result in a reparative theatrics of outrage.

In any case, taboo always already presents itself simultaneously as universally valid local commonsense and as meriting a deferral of forensic exegesis and rituals of atonement to cliques of experts shamans, doctors, lawyers who always operate at the cue of the law. Neither a taboo expert nor an abuse expert would be wise to challenge a deep consensus over the necessity to intervene in rule violations: they would be persecuted and if nothing else, put themselves out of business.

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And it is thus that consensus becomes pronounced as "deep" in the first place. To sum up the foregoing, it would deserve speculating that 1 the makeshift paediatric and psychotherapeutic industry around "sexual abuse" effectively reiterates the functional scope of the taboo it is said to supersede, test empirically, or render transparent; that 2 this scope is a generalised, only partly codified mood of apprehension, suspicion, and avoidance known to solicit or call forth the particularly paediatric symptoms that are then, untiringly, offered up as a reason for it; and that 3 the purview of mainstream science is fully integral to this tendentious attribution of causality, leading to the paraphrasing of social rules in evermore technical pronouncements on what would be the inescapable, "psychological" defects of victim "traumatic sexualisation", "repressed memory", "dissociation", "multiple personality disorder" and offender "paraphilia", "rationalisations", "empathy deficit".

The proclaimed incongruity of whatever tabooed liaisons relies on the tirelessly repeated allegation of an outrageous and discrete absurdity, decoded only by phlegmatic experts as the corollary of the "mental disorder" of those liaisons' subjects and objects - whose predicaments can indeed be seen to have consolidated into acute, discrete, idiopathic, and uniquely therapy-resistant psychomedical states.

And if even up to the mids most of this consolidation remained vaguely circumscribed, even hardly empirical, in the tone-setting, circum-Atlantic world, today we have the benefit of being able to look back on three decades of an extraordinary hardening of a new clinical traumatology of "sexual harm". The specifically empirical postulations at work both in the "specification of the perverted" and the "sexualization of children" Foucault observed to be two of "four great strategies" in the familial and medical deployment of modern sexuality , could only lead to a specific and pervasive intuition: the pervert's crime is to misconstrue the veritable sexual habitus of the child.

The very thought of the crime must prove both sick and sickening. It refers to thinking habits that place people at odds with community-wide consensus over what constitutes palatable desires and wholesome actions. As this predicament marks all rebels, dissidents, revolutionaries and pioneers, the notion invites an intellectual sensitivity not seen in the clinics. What does this rubric imply precisely, how did it take shape historically, and how is it deployed?

Thus it cuts short what otherwise might develop into a discussion: reflection about sexuality's many impertinencies remains contained within "mental disorder", disqualified from debate and pride, quarantined away from the sane society. Before looking at how this was achieved historically and is being achieved practically, I will briefly suggest that this element of quarantine is salient beyond the casuistics of sex offences.

The reader will remember that apart from Foucault, both Freud and Kinsey are known for scandalously probing childhood sexuality, and albeit speaking from very different timeframes and gravitating onto very different conclusions, today their writings would, absurdly and chillingly, fall under the hammer of cognitive distortions the present article is clearly no exception.

Over the past decades discussions under the heading of seduction theory have become concomitantly burdened by a mistrust of asserted realities and advanced truths embarrassing here Freud, there Freud critics , resonating dutifully with an epoch-making popular embrace of notions such as "repression", "dissociation", and "denial". Incidentally, while suggestions that paedophilia should ever amount to a discussion are programmatically declared preposterous, the topic has always known pockets of academic dissent, and today ranks among the most hotly disputed of sexological concoctions.

One observes an episodically recurring but increasingly mainstreamed argument to renegotiate the medicalization of paedophilia after the model of "homosexualities", a manoeuvre that would relocate the assessment of ideas from forensic settings out onto the vista of social science and the humanities. Relocating thus, one would not so much dispute or reject the idea of cognitive distortions but interpret its historical eventfulness.

Until that day, argument alone is often met with drastic countermeasures.