A Priest’s Mental Disorder

A few days ago, American Catholic priest Fr. Kenneth Hendricks was arrested by the police at St. Isidore Chapel in Biliran, Philippines.

The charge: sexually abusing over 50 victims, mostly altar boys as young as 7 years old, acts of lasciviousness, and child abuse.

Pedophilia is called “pedophilic disorder” by the DSM 5, an official diagnostic manual of mental disorders, used globally by psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals.

The manual defines this type of mental disorder as “an intense and recurrent sexual urge towards and fantasies about prepubescent children”

Psychology Today says,

“The causes of pedophilia (and other paraphilias) are not known. There is some evidence that pedophilia may run in families, though it is unclear whether this stems from genetics or learned behavior.

A history of childhood sexual abuse is another potential factor in the development of pedophilias although this has not been proven. Behavioral learning models suggest that a child who is the victim or observer of inappropriate sexual behaviors may learn to imitate these same behaviors. These individuals, deprived of normal social and sexual contacts, may seek gratification through less socially acceptable means.

Physiological models are investigating the potential relationship between hormones and behavior, particualrly the role of aggression and male sexual hormones.

Individuals may become aware of their sexual interest in children around the time of puberty. Pedophilia may be a lifelong condition, but pedophilic disorder includes elements that may change over time, including distress, psychosocial impairment, and an individual’s tendency to act on urges.”

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