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Forest Hospital located in displaying the lanai presents the search for mental health and exploration of the newest advances in psychiatry. During this series physicians and other professional personnel working in the area of mental health at Forest Hospital a hundred bed Creek main facility will discuss the latest advances in mental health care research and education. Such topics as alcoholism adolescent behavior marital problems problems of the aged suicide emotional problems and others will be presented on the search for mental help. Your host for this series is Mr. Morris Squire administrators of Forest Hospital. This is the program search for mental health. This is Alford Sasser sitting in for your host Marc Squire. Here with me today is Dr. James Mathis of The University of
Oklahoma representing the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Matthews has a very interesting subject to share with us here concerning sexual offenders. Doctor I wonder if we could just kind of kick this off on an informal basis and lay forth a general question which is the general public know about sexual offenders sex or sexual offender of course is a legal term. And there is a great deal from one community to another. What it means. Most of the time is that some managers and almost 99 percent and man is caught wrecking some sexual while the public is concerned about the one that they feel threatens you to themselves or the community in some way and this means primarily the exhibits or the exhibitionist the man who wants to expose himself and decently I believe the word is in the law and the
second most common one is the child molester or the pedophile usually again man who wishes to have some sort of contact not genital just contact with a girl below the age of puberty. But again this varies from state to state as to where they draw the age line. I wonder. Whether we could prove this just a little bit further in terms of. Of what. What the public's attitude is how they react when one of these offenses occurs. This is something in which people get highly distressed and very upsetting. I wonder if you could share some of your your thoughts on this. And we've been interested in this area for some three or four years at the University of Oklahoma and it has become quite obvious that the public overreacts at all times and in the public mind a sexual offense or a sexual act of any kind that deviates even slightly gets generalized and by this I
mean for example if a man is picked up for quote indecent exposure they automatically assume that this man is a potential rapist that he's the type of person you read about having or like the recent I believe it was in the Michigan area wasn't it. Yes. Murder of two children and this sort of generalization is not true at all in the sexual offices or sexual deviations. Medically we see these as symptomatic of an underlying either character disorder or neuroses and they're just as different and just as definable as any other medical illness or any other act of behavior. And the man for example who is called the exhibitionist The exposer not only is he not apt to rape anybody he's probably a lot less apt to than the average citizen because he is not reported to have done this with as much frequency as Johnny on the street. Right. So to be afraid of this man is it is totally illogical to treat him as if he were a criminal is illogical.
I wonder if we could just pause a little bit within this particular point because I think that it would be reasonable to say that people's consternation from finding out through public media that this offense has taken place really reacted rather violent terms of contacting various officials you know something's got to be done about this this just can't go on in our community now. It would seem I'm perhaps I'm wrong you kind of let me know what you really think. Are we doing a sufficient job. In this day and age do you really make the public aware in the kinds of contacts is that you were just talking about that represent the cause of deviant behavior. You say it seems to me somewhere is we have a gap here and this is this this
impression right very crude but I think a program such as this represents a filling in of this gap it's been you know only the very very past few years and five at the outside when the whole topic of sex was even talkable in public it was something you know everybody sort of knew about and you differentiated it strictly into pornographic and the other married sort of intercourse but that's no longer true and now we're becoming aware of the fact that this is a physiological phenomenon it's a behavior phenomenon and much of just what you're talking about will have to be a process of education I think. The average housewife for example she cannot be expected to know and to differentiate between the true. And deranged person who may be dangerous and sexual behavior and for example the exhibitionist who is perfectly harmless and I think only by allowing the people through PTA everything or bridge club to the school to find out just what is true. Are we going to make progress. I think many people feel
something that I'm violently opposed to and that is that if you if one talks about these things it just makes bad matters worse. Trouble comes from misinformation and lack of information not from information if it's properly given. I think this is a very very good point along the same line. How would you suggest that there would be advise ability when you mention about education. I'd like to see whether there would be meaning in the consideration of educators in so far as public school systems are concerned. You know there has been the commentary that one of the big reasons for a misunderstanding by adults. Is their lack of adequate information from when they were much younger and they are carrying over many things which represent fisherman wild tales from or so forth. Would this be a point. Would you advise this kind of consideration. You know we talk about so many things of starting at a very young and early age of
preparation. Yes certainly. But we are allowed to have a problem and that is before we start this education for the children we've got to educate the educators. It's very and very unfortunate. There are very few people who feel comfortable doing this and there are probably even fewer who have the actual information. I spoke recently to some school teachers for example and about 80 of them interested in this going to ask them to raise their hand if they would feel comfortable in getting any sort of sexual education. Not a single one out of 80 felt at all comfortable and I think this was this was good in a sense of course they were admitting their own lack of information is where we should start is educating the educators. But it goes even deeper than that. The average person still thinks of the child as a little innocent creature who doesn't know all of these things and has no known need to know no feelings and this we know. Long long time ago just isn't true they do have feelings. Absolutely they do know and it's far better that this
knowing and this feeling be properly directed. And then we may produce a crop of adults who don't have all of these inhibitions and restrictions. The fear of course of the public is that the kids will act out on this information and yet I don't think there's one shred of evidence that this occurs. There are many pieces of evidence to prove just the opposite. What do you think it should be the community should do when offense actually occurs. This is a community responsibility is there something the community should do that it's not doing or should do in a better form than it is. Yes you do. I certainly think so. Well the first of course consideration must be the object or if you will the victim and the one that creates the most consternation. Of course it is rape but this is so rare and it is not really a pure sexual offense this is almost always someone who has far greater trouble so that I think we can dispense with that. But the pedophile or the child molester.
This of course creates all sorts of problems but number one should be the child. And how this is handled primarily and will determine what does happen to the child I do as a trauma. Nobody can say it's a good thing to have to occur but if the parents if the community of the church the police create a great disturbance if it hysterical people start running off with all angles this communicates the child with something horrible has happened to me my gosh you know what. What has occurred. But on the other hand if it's if it's handled just as well honey this is a very unfortunate affair this is a man who has difficulties or he's ill and that's that. Then there is no evidence that this is a traumatic affair. The number two has to be of course the patient or the man himself. Now in the state of Oklahoma we have a system worked quite well whereby these men that they have to be tried because it's it is against the law but they're given suspended sentences or they are put on probation for treatment. This is in our area at least as a group therapeutic
affair. And although you might say you can't force people into psychotherapy The fact is we have done it for several years and we can prove that it does work. And once it's treated as this as a deviation from behavior not as a criminal offense then. I think it becomes something we can we can handle much better. Putting a man in prison is exactly what one of my patients said one time he said it took five years out of my life I came out of prison exactly as I went in. Still a pedophile. And I caused my first child 24 hours later. Nobody profited from that experience in the community and or the victim. When you're talking about the type of treatment that is being used on sexual offenders you were just talking about the group psychotherapeutic approach and it might be well for you to just touch upon this in the more specific terms because perhaps some of our listeners are not quite as familiar as you and I are with who's going to
play. Well first it would be should probably back up just a bit. And I'm saying that not all men are amenable to this type of treatment. The first thing of course is to make some sort of a diagnostic evaluation. There are certain indications for example if that one into the extreme if an 18 year old boy has criminally raped and physically harm someone obviously we don't want this person in an outpatient treatment. They're going to need confinement and treatment may be a very very long term. But the the most common and I think it probably is 95 or over percent. The pedophile I mean exhibitionists are people who have difficulty in their own feelings of self esteem. They just see themselves as such. Unworthy individuals that this childlike sexual behavior seems to be their only outlet for tension in this thing called group psychotherapy and we don't refer to sex very much. This is a very very minor sidelight but we work
together on living patterns we work on. Why do you respond in a certain way. Why can't you talk this over with with your wife or with your boss. Why do you have to express anger. And like a 3 year old and we get on some pretty basic terms. And over a period of time with some sort of leadership these men develop new ideas about themselves. They feel differently about themselves and it will dawn upon them after a few months of this that we're not talking about sex talk. We're talking about living we're talking about being a man we're talking about how we want to interact in society. And then the sexual part disappears it gets lost in the mainstream. And yours is your experience Dr. Schoen. Good results in relationship to this kind of approach. I realize it's you know I try to pin you down but as a general kind of thing we feel it's showing superbe results in that we have had out of. 30 some odd we
finish now not a single repeat. This is the only real measuring rod of course is that wonderful and they're out and being functioning citizens raising families rather than being in the prison. Dr. Mathis you want to lay open another area which is related to the kinds of things that we've been talking about. Could we move in the direction of a kind of overview from the community standpoint towards those individuals who are ascribed as being homosexual. Yes. As you know sexual behavior is something that is not universally determined. What is perfectly normal behavior in one section of society may be totally abnormal and another and this even varies markedly in socio economic levels. I mean many many things written about. How much this differs so that if you just generalize your problem you're not talking about anything. The homosexual has been with us as long as
mankind has been here and is simply a person whose sexual object happens to be someone of the same sex. You know most of the time we look upon this with a bit of harm. I've never been quite able to understand why there is no evidence at all for example that the homosexual is of any trauma to the community he's a detriment to himself because he's an unhappy individual and he rarely functions as well as he could or should. But to have a law against this is just about as reasonable as having a law against having tuberculosis. I think the average homosexuals just as responsible for his condition as the average patient for example with cancer and perhaps even even less so than cancer the lung because those of us who continue to smoke and are asking for this maybe but homosexuals is a is not harming people. We do not need special laws against this. We have laws for example that for bid an adult male
from seducing a minor. This doesn't have to say it's hetero or homosexual. There's not a shred a shred of evidence to support what is written in many textbooks that a homosexual seduction of let's say a teenager is going to make that teenage boy. Homosexuals are our girls and the kids may be withholding just a second there. Why is it that the interpretation seems to be by people just the opposite of what you're saying. I think this is a very comfortable interpretation and I would like to think for example if my teenage boy became homosexual it would be very comforting to me to say that that man down the street did this and then I wouldn't have to assume some responsibility for how I'd raise that child. It would be a very easy way out if you will. And personally I would prefer that and I think 90 percent of people would because otherwise you have to start looking at yourself and say OK how did I treat my boy. What did I do. Where along this line did I. I MADE ME. Next up is recipe Inc. So in other words what you're really saying is that community
views symptoms and is not really looking at costs. That's right that's very well put because as long as we continue to view this sadly through the symptomatic aspect of it and try to prevent after the fact we're going to get nowhere and that we will never even catch up. And you know it was just like with polio you know for years we had to treat them with respirators et cetera. But we got nowhere with polio. Now it's no longer a problem when we finally put the money and the time and energy that work for prevention and sexual behavior is a very integral part of our lives it's a very important one and it is also a very important legal problem. But until it becomes a medical problem and a social problem until we look at it from how can we prevent this from developing we're not going to make any progress. And here again comes the citizenry I think because we in the academic world and the legal world eventually respond to what the population will help us do from the standpoint of the
the broad spectrum of supersymmetry. Is there a underlying significant factor here that has to do with social mores religious views because certainly we're talking about that which is deviant behavior in the whole spectrum of sexual occurrences by an individual. I don't think we have to identify all the various kinds of lenient behavior. But is there something there somewhere as I know to to my way of looking at it that this has some significance by social mores religious connotations I think of sermons I've heard by people from the pulpit you know this is the fire and brimstone type of thing. Is that is there a relationship that brings additional conflict to the impressions of this institute.
Yes I think so for example the sexual deviations are as common if not more so among ministers and any other single group of people is that. And we could not say will close talk ergo propter hoc they are lousy people because this just isn't true for you. But they are people who deal in life in such a manner that they they must follow very strict moral is or at least on the surface and they are people under continual anxieties and very frequently there are people who have many other problems to solve without looking at their own and the society that allows a fair degree of leeway that looks upon any sort of deviant behavior and we only have to call it a sexual duel and we can end any deviant behavior and tolerate this to some degree usually has less of it. The passing of a law or a religious prescription of this may be necessary because we do need outside help to inhibit some of our impulses.
But the major amount of deviant behavior is a compulsive sort of affair. It doesn't make a bit of difference how Roman quotes around the wrong a person thinks it may be he is not in control of this act. Most of the time we can always say this is true but the Samoan behavior for example you mentioned earlier that the media written about where in their younger years up until puberty they have complete sexual freedom no restrictions whatsoever. But when they are supposed to assume adult responsibilities apparently this drops out entirely. It's as if they are going to follow certain rules and regulations but these are not religious rules and regulations they are not alone as they are built in cultural rules and regulations and these we have on the whole these we have behaved remarkably. But the external restriction we don't think it's very similar for example to the alcoholic problem which is another form of deviant behavior in Orthodox Jewish individuals you seek prac and zero amount of alcoholism. This is not
because of the law against drinking it's because it's built into their whole system of cultural mores and beliefs that we will control alcoholic intake at a reasonable level. And then if we go directly over to our Irish friends we find a tremendous amount of alcoholic deviant behavior if you will because it's not built into their their social and cultural that use it. Do you think that there that is a relationship perhaps and and looking back to the days of Roger Williams and the introduction of the puritanical type of scrupulous living so to speak. Does this still have its counterparts interwoven into the culture of this kind it's still operating very strongly and will for another couple of generations this is not a thing that we have educate out and in one generation but although we're making headway. But this puritanical behavior puritanical attitude did not recognize
the physiology and the psychology part of it thought or attempted to say that all of this can be related only good and bad dichotomy and that one is totally responsible for one's behavior. Well we wish this were true and psychiatry we the whole aim of psychotherapy is to make one responsible for behavior not at the mercy of these impulses. But the good and bad dichotomy produces guilt the guilt produces more anxiety the anxiety leads to the sexual acting out. And we have a vicious cycle going on the guilt part the good bad part. We have found in treatment must be removed and this you don't even think about. I think this is very very significant and this is certainly been an extremely interesting sharing of information on not only your own views but experiences I had one last question and I wanted to put before you. In the cases that you've been dealing with at the University of Oklahoma
Do you recall any of these cases. That would would have the kind of backdrop that we've been talking about here in the past few moments. I think some of our listeners would would like to hear something of perhaps a more tangible than what we've been talking. But again generalization is dangerous but there seem to be two major categories of backgrounds one is this puritanical let us not mention sex at all and we all act as if it doesn't exist attitude. And the other is the very chaotic background. For example we have found that a far greater percentage of our our patients are orphans they have been raised without family structures. But one of these two we find almost invariably to find a background where a child has been raised by two parents who felt free and easy with each other and who liked each other and were sexually compatible themselves. This doesn't occur. You do not see sexual deviations springing from kids raised in this manner. Very very good this has been Dr. James Mathis University of Oklahoma the Department of
Psychiatry. This is behavior program search for mental health. This is offered Sasser sitting in for your host Tamar Squire. You have just turned another in the series the search for a mental health produced by Forest Hospital in displaying zeal and I mean cooperation with this station. During this series the stations and other professional personnel working in the area of mental health at Forest Hospital a hundred bed treatment facility well discuss the latest advances in mental health care research and education. Other topics such as alcoholism adolescent behavior marital problems problems of the aged and others will be presented on the search for mental health. The host for this series is Mr. Morris Squire administrator of Forest Hospital. The search for mental health is produced and directed by Jack Brigham or this
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Search for mental health
Sexual offenders
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University of Chicago
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features an interview with Dr. James Mathis about sexual offenders.
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A series of talks about the latest advances in psychiatry by staff members of Forest Hospital near Chicago.
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Host: Sasser, Alfred
Interviewee: Mathis, James L.
Producing Organization: University of Chicago
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-5-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:24:52
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Chicago: “Search for mental health; Sexual offenders,” 1968-02-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
MLA: “Search for mental health; Sexual offenders.” 1968-02-20. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Search for mental health; Sexual offenders. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from