SlutWalk Toronto 2012 is coming up in a few weeks. My friend Lillian and I spent a whole night (about 5 hours) working on signs for the event! I decided that on the back of my sign, which quotes Girl, Interrupted on the front, I should write the statistic of how many women with mental health issues experience sexual assault. I was googling this yesterday with not much luck but came across something new to put on my sign, a new DSM V disorder called Paraphilic Coercive Disorder.
Here is the proposed definition from www.dsm5.org, Paraphilic Coercive Disorder.
Paraphilic Coercive Disorder
A. Over a period of at least 6 months, an equal or greater arousal from sexual coercion than from consensual interaction, as manifested by fantasies, urges, or behaviors.
B. The individual has acted on these sexual urges with a nonconsenting individual, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
C. The diagnosis of Paraphilic Coercive Disorder is not made if the patient meets criteria for a diagnosis of Sexual Sadism Disorder.
D. The individual is at least 18 years of age.
This new diagnosis would make individuals, but more specifically males, who commit or attempt rape be seen as ill instead of as a criminal. Rape and rape fantasies would become a mental illness.
Psychologists and psychiatrists have been telling the DSM 5 task force that this “disorder” should not be included but the DSM 5 website shows an update as of April 2012 which I interpret as it’s inclusion very likely.
I want to be calm, cool and professional in arguing this but I’m furious! I already disagree with so many new inclusions and exclusions that are being proposed for the DSM 5 that to find out about this new “disorder” is just another smack in the face, especially to women and men who have experienced sexual assault!
One of the issues with having a mental health diagnosis is navigating responsibility. “If I have an illness then how much of what I do, say and think actually within my control?” It gets very tricky. Paraphilic Coercive Disorder would experience the same.
I am disgusted thinking that some men could be diagnosed with this “disorder” and be excused from their destructive behaivour! I have a vision of men who commit rape being given Prozac instead of jail time and it makes me very nervous.
Not all undesirable behaviour should be disordered! Unfortunately we need to face the fact that humans do things bad things while being perfect “normal”.
The most important issue to mention while talking about Paraphilic Coercive Disorder is that it completely ignores patriarchy’s role in sexual violence! Patriarchy is an illness but it’s a social illness, not something we can blame on one individual person! Rape is about power! “I didn’t mean to rape her judge, I have a mental illness”……ugh! Women are already blamed for their rapes! This is another way to excuse men from their violent actions!
We need to acknowledge that our young men are being told from very young ages that they are supposed to be violent and that women are lesser than they are. This message encourages a rape culture to form and this DSM 5 proposal not only encourages a rape culture but validates it and gives yet another escape for men who commit sexual violence!
Societal roles have huge impact on mental health and that is acknowledged but still individualized. If we can teach our young men to appreciate women and that having emotions is something men are allowed to have then I guarantee that Paraphilic Coercive Disorder would disappear!
I am not qualified to say what is a disorder and what is not but clearly neither are these DSM task forces that keep pumping out these manuals! Sexual violence is a problem but it’s not a mental illness (if anyone has a mental illness it’s the victim of the assault. PTSD, depression, anxiety etc can occur after experiencing a rape). It is a deeply ingrained belief that men are dominate over women, that women ask to be raped and that men are not responsible for their violence because “boys will be boys”.
Rape is not a mental illness!
Here are some resources: