Trump missteps with Biden, Pelosi uses Kurd sympathies to move closer to the White House and the military locations in Turkey at risk.

While politican play with brass knuckles over who will be the next president of the US, the American military is front line and at risk. Military bases in Turkey are heavily exposed. While the attention of the public is focused on Trump and ‘what he’s done today’, the nation moves closer to a real war.

Your Air Force – From Air Force Times
With Turkey’s invasion of Syria, concerns mount over nukes at Incirlik
By: Stephen Losey   2 days ago

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle lands at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in November 2015. The deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and Turkey has led to concerns about the nuclear weapons reportedly housed there. (Airman 1st Class Cory Bush/Air Force)
The Air Force on Monday said it has made no changes to daily operations at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey even as Turkish forces continue to push into Syrian territory, which has prompted U.S. forces to pull back.

But concerns are growing over the reported presence of U.S. nuclear weapons at Incirlik, believed to be about 50 B61 gravity bombs. The New York Times on Monday reported that officials from the State and Energy departments over the weekend reviewed plans for evacuating the nuclear weapons there.

Not surprisingly, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek would not answer questions about possible nuclear weapons at Incirlik and whether they would be moved in a Monday email.

“The mission of the 39th [Air Base Wing at Incirlik] is to provide persistent surety and continuous air operations for the U.S., our allies and our partners and helps protect U.S. and NATO interests in the Southern Region by providing a responsive and operational air base ready to project integrated, forward-based airpower,” Stefanek said. But she stated there have been no daily operations changes at the base.

A senior official reportedly told the Times that the weapons “were now essentially [Turkish President Recep] Erdogan’s hostages” since removing the weapons would effectively spell the end of America’s alliance with Turkey, but keeping them there would leave them vulnerable.

The end of an era: 60,000 strong US-trained SDF partner force crumbles in a week under heavy Turkish assault
The end of an era: 60,000 strong US-trained SDF partner force crumbles in a week under heavy Turkish assault
The U.S.-trained force has been abandoned by its American partners and is under sustained assault by Turkish forces and their ragtag crew of proxy fighters — some who have reportedly fought under ISIS and al-Qaida banners.

By: Shawn Snow
The situation with Turkey, a NATO ally, has become increasingly volatile as Turkish forces tore into the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces after the U.S. pulled back and abandoned them.

A suspected Turkish artillery strike also landed about 300 meters from a U.S. commando outpost near Kobani, Syria, on Friday. Some troops and artillery experts believe the artillery strike was intentional, as the Turkish military had detailed grid coordinates showing them where American troops were. The Washington Post quoted a knowledgeable Army officer as saying artillery rounds had been fired on both sides of the outpost, creating a “bracketing effect.”

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In response to the Turkish artillery fire, arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis tweeted, “Seriously, it’s time to take our fucking nuclear weapons out of Turkey.”

Jeffrey Lewis

Seriously, it’s time to take our fucking nuclear weapons out of Turkey.

Paul Szoldra

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The presence of nuclear weapons at Incirlik, though never publicly confirmed or denied by the U.S. government, has long been essentially an open secret. It became even less of a secret earlier this year when a Canadian senator published, apparently by accident, a document containing the bases where the United States is keeping nuclear weapons.

In an interview this summer with Air Force Times on the future of Incirlik amid rising tensions with Turkey, former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James would not confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons there. But, hypothetically speaking, she said that if nuclear weapons did have to be removed from that base, it would be a complicated operation. It would require negotiations with the nation that would become the weapons’ new host, James said. And it would require a great deal of logistical and security work.

If the Air Force found a new nation willing to host the nukes, James said, it would have to take “the greatest of care” in their removal and transport. If the receiving base did not have the facilities or security necessary, James said, it would require a significant construction effort. And NATO would likely be involved.

“Any time nuclear weapons are moved from point A to point B, it is a major logistical challenge,” James said. “The security is enormous that goes with this.”

The question of whether nuclear weapons should remain at Incirlik took on greater urgency following the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, during which the air base’s power was cut off by Erdogan’s government.

Concerns have only increased along with tensions between Ankara and the rest of NATO, especially as Turkey decided to accept a Russian-made S-400 air defense system in July. The U.S. and other NATO allies are concerned that Turkey’s use of the S-400 could jeopardize secrecy on the F-35 and it’s stealth capabilities.

Bringing a Russian system into the alliance could lead to data leaks and security breaches and give the Russians critical information about the F-35. And flying U.S. Air Force F-35s so close to the S-400 would make it easier for the Russians to gather data on their stealth and other capabilities.

Days after Turkey accepted the S-400, the U.S. booted the nation from the F-35 program. In response, Russia offered to sell Turkey its upgraded Su-35 fighters, and Turkey threatened to attack then-U.S.-allied Kurdish units in Syria.

Aaron Mehta of Defense News contributed to this report.

The War in Syria has spilled over into Turkey with huge immigrant populations camped at the east border of Turkey. Now Turkey fights back with a high likelihood that superpowers will join in.

Do the words Viet Nam, land war and a war you can’t win, ring any bells? According to recent journalists and their articles; the Kurds were supported by Turkey, the US and Saudia Arabia. Now Turkey is siding much more with Russian and Iran and is attacking the Kurds. Iran is on the verge of war with Saudia Arabia and we are getting caught in the middle.

BBC Article; 15/10/19

There’s been a civil war in Syria for the last eight years, with different groups trying to seize control of the country.

The fighting has been between:

Soldiers who support the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad
Fighters known as rebels, who don’t want Assad to be in power anymore
The group that calls itself Islamic State (IS)
In the chaos of fighting between the government and anti-government fighters, IS took over large parts of Iraq and then moved into eastern Syria, where they were able to gain land and power.

By March 2019, IS had lost control of all the land they once occupied. More than 12,000 suspected IS members are now being held by Kurdish forces.

The situation is very complicated because other countries have got involved in the conflict.

The Syrian government’s key supporters are Russia and Iran, while the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia backed the rebels. The UK, France and other western countries have also provided varying levels of support to what they consider to be “moderate” rebels.

Fighting continues. Recently, the US removed troops from north-east of the country, which gave way for Turkey to launch a military attack against Kurdish-forces in northern Syria.

According to the United Nations (UN) – a group of countries working together to try to bring peace – at least 6.2 million ordinary people have had to leave their homes inside Syria, while another 5.6 million have left to go abroad.

As Nancy Pelosi eyes the White House; the US is on the brink of war with Turkey, a once ally.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The US and Turkey could go to war
by Michael Rubin
April 09, 2018 11:02 AM

A U.S. soldier sits in an armored vehicle on a road leading to the tense front line with Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, north Syria, Wednesday, April 4, 2018.
(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

It was the stuff of nationalist drivel and mad conspiracy, but in Turkey it was an instant best-seller. Almost 15 years ago, Turkish novelists Orkun Ucar and Burak Turna penned a thriller titled Metal Storm, which describes a U.S.-Turkey war in which the United States occupies Istanbul, a Turkish agent detonates a stolen nuclear warhead in Washington, and Russia and China ultimately come to Turkey’s rescue. While the premise was far-fetched, many Turkish commentators at the time suggested a U.S.-Turkey conflict could become reality. It is time to recognize that they were right.

No, the United States is neither going to launch a surprise attack on Turkey nor engage its putative NATO ally in the next several years, but the trajectory that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken Turkey suggests that enmity and conflict, rather than partnership and cooperation, are inevitable. While unlikely, it is no longer inconceivable that Turkey and the United States would one day be shooting at each other.

Consider the path down which Erdogan has taken Turkey:
Erdogan is now friendlier toward Russia and Iran than the United States. There’s a tendency in Washington to self-flagellate and assume deterioration in relations is our fault, but it’s not. Erdogan’s shift toward Russia had nothing to do with U.S. support for the Kurds. After all, Moscow has welcomed Syrian Kurdish political leaders while Washington has acceded to Ankara’s request to keep them isolated. And when Syrian Kurds have killed invading Turkish troops, they have done so with Kalashnikovs and RPGs, weaponry they had received from Russia or its clients, not the United States. Rather, Turkey’s turn toward Russia is driven by deep-seeded and ideological anti-American animus among Turkey’s top leaders. Anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-NATO incitement are daily themes of Erdogan’s speeches.
The Turkish military is now an engine for Islamism rather than a bastion of secularism. Every officer up to lieutenant colonel has now arisen in the Erdogan era and, because of Erdogan’s manipulation of promotions, pretty much every flag officer with two, three, or four stars is now Erdogan’s man as well. Hulusi Akar, the Turkish General Staff’s commander, betrayed both colleagues and oaths for the sake of personal ambition. In recent weeks, Fetih TV showed pictures of hardline Islamist mullahs visiting Turkish military units. Dogu Perincek, the Turkish military’s philosophical guide, is a former Maoist who is fiercely anti-NATO and pro-Russian. Adnan Tanriverdi, Erdogan’s military counselor, is an Islamist who founded SADAT, which now forms the core of Erdogan’s personal militia, the Turkish equivalent of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
There is very little discipline left in the Turkish military. Erdogan has purged most of the professional officers. Those left behind are now making videos honoring convicted mafia leaders like Sedat Peker or gang leaders like Burak Doner. While the United States may not want a shooting war with Turkey, it is conceivable that a radical Islamist within the military’s midst will undertake an action that will solicit a response.
Turkey has become a terror sponsor. Erdogan embraces Hamas’ most militant leaders and arms them. There would have been no Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had it not been for Turkey’s open door to tens of thousands of foreign fighters. Erdogan’s own son-in-law’s emails show he profited off the Islamic State while thousands perished at their hands. When Turkish journalists provided photographic proof that Erdogan was arming an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, he had the journalists jailed. The West may cheer Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for cracking down on extremism after decades of its Saudi sponsorship, but Turkey is picking up the slack in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Turkey’s financing of radical mosques now means that it is indoctrinating, funding, and training the next generation of extremists.
Turkish threats against the United States and its allies are becoming commonplace. After Houston-based Noble Energy began drilling in Cypriot waters in September 2011, Turkish Minister Egemen Bagis warned U.S. personnel not to enter the region, and said, “This is what we have the navy for. We have trained our marines for this; we have equipped the navy for this. All options are on the table; anything can be done.” Erdogan’s recent suggestions to create “an army of Islam” are, in Erdogan’s mind, not simple rhetoric.
Turkey has always been revanchist, but as Turkey’s economy falters (Turkey’s currency has lost more than half its value under Erdogan’s leadership) Erdogan has upped his claims to neighboring territory. Consider the following: Turkey occupies one-third of Cyprus, and occupies territory in both Iraq and Syria against the wishes of both those governments. In recent months, Erdogan has also laid claims to parts of Greece and Bulgaria. Again, this is not mere rhetoric: Incidents between Greece and Turkey have skyrocketed.
The West has a Turkey problem, and it is silly to pretend otherwise. Yes, Turkey is strategic, but it is lost. It has flipped into Russia’s camp, just as Egypt and Libya did during the Cold War. The difference then was that the West recognized the setback and moved to contain it; they did not pretend the alliance persisted and allow enemies open access to defense secrets nor share intelligence or latest-generation aircraft with an enemy.

While it is fashionable among diplomats and some analysts to argue that the transactional nature of Erdogan’s Turkey requires more and targeted engagement rather than coercion, such efforts have a very poor track record. Indeed, for much of the past 15 years, Turkish enmity has grown against the backdrop of NATO denial and Bush and Obama-era denial, coddling, and engagement. Rather than smart diplomacy, efforts to engage Erdogan now uncomfortably appear like efforts to coddle Saddam Hussein into moderation three decades ago. On June 15, 1990, the late Sen. Arlen Specter explained his opposition to military sanctions on Iraq. “There is an opportunity, or may be an opportunity, to pursue discussions with Iraq,” he said, “And I think that it is not the right time to impose sanctions.” When Specter took to the floor of the Senate, the notion of war with Iraq was considered crazy. But less than two months later, Saddam’s actions put the United States on war footing. What once was unimaginable became a possibility.

As Erdogan chooses his path, it behooves the United States and Europe to recognize that what once was outside the realm of possibility is now possible. And while all efforts should be taken to prevent such a scenario, at a minimum it is time to isolate rather than partner with Erdogan. It is time to remove all American personnel (and any remaining nuclear warheads) from the Incirlik Airbase and find another home, before repelling nationalist mobs at Incirlik itself becomes a flashpoint for conflict. It is essential for U.S. national security to cut Turkey off from intelligence sharing and military technology, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and recognize that prevention of conflict mandates better preparing regional states like Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Romania, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Iraq, as well as Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, to also counter the Turkish challenge. Historians can debate who lost Turkey, but what is obvious is that Turkey is not simply no longer a friend and ally, but rather it has become an adversary and potential belligerent.

Michael Rubin (@Mrubin1971) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official.

US Military Deaths in the Middle East- Civilians – Contractors

These tables show only some of the figures of the high cost of war in the Middle East on American military, contractors and civilians.

Table 1. Direct Deaths in Major War Zones: Afghanistan & Pakistan (Oct. 2001 – Oct.
2018) and Iraq (March 2003 – Oct. 2018)2
TOTAL (rounded to nearest
147,000 65,000 268,000-
Afghanistan Pakistan Iraq Total
US Military 2,4014 4,5505 6,951
US DOD Civilian Casualties 6 15 21
US Contractors 3,937 90 3,793 7,820
National Military and Police8 58,5969 8,83210 41,72611 109,154
Other Allied Troops12 1,141 323 1,464
Civilians 38,48013 23,37214 182,272-

Figure 2. Total US Military Fatalities in Afghanistan and Iraq War Zones, 2001-2018
But deaths do not tell the entire story. Since 2001, more than 53,700 US soldiers and sailors have been officially listed as wounded in the major post-9/11 war zones.
Figure 3. US Soldiers and Sailors Wounded in Post-9/11 Wars
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Total US Fatalities in Afghan and Iraq War Zones, 2001-2018

2007 Being the highest year with 1,000 American military casualities that year alone.


UA Troops Prepare to Leave Syria

U.S. Troops Prepare To Evacuate From Syria
October 13, 20191:00 PM ET


Enlarge this image
Turkey-backed Syrian fighters sit atop an armored personnel carrier in the southwestern neighborhoods of the border Syrian town of Tal Abyad on Sunday. The U.S. plans to evacuate its troops from northern Syria amid the Turkish offensive.
Bakr Alkasem/AFP via Getty Images
Updated at 6:49 p.m. ET
All U.S. forces involved in the anti-ISIS fight will withdraw from northeast Syria in the coming days, according to two U.S. officials close to the conflict. Only a small garrison of U.S. troops will remain at al-Tanf near Syria’s border with Iraq and Jordan.
The troops in border areas are endangered by Turkey’s incursion against Kurdish-led forces. The move is a sudden change in policy by the Trump administration.
“We’re preparing, waiting for the order,” a U.S. official close to the troops on the ground told NPR in an email. The situation is “getting untenable. Hundreds of ISIS getting free and we’re stuck between two fighting forces.”
Turkey’s rapid military offensive has put U.S. troops in significant danger. U.S. forces now have limited ability to move across northeast Syria without coming into contact with proxy fighters, many of whom are former members of ISIS and Al Qaeda, the official said. Turkey has reportedly provided the militants with armored vehicles that allow them to move quickly.

There are reports that gunfire from Turkish-backed forces has landed very close to the American forces in the region. U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper would not speculate on whether the gunfire was intentional or accidental.
“We need to sort that out,” Esper said in an interview that aired Sunday morning on CBS’s Face The Nation. “We’ve given them the locations of our forces. But look, I’ve been to war. I know what war’s like. There’s a fog out there and things happen and we want to make sure we don’t put our soldiers in a situation where they could be killed or injured. … It would be irresponsible for me to keep them in that position.”
Esper said that the U.S. is preparing to evacuate U.S. troops from northern Syria. “It’ll be a deliberate withdrawal and we want to conduct it as safely and quickly as possible,” he said. “We want to make sure we de-conflict a pullback of forces. We want to make sure we don’t leave equipment behind. So I’m not prepared to put a timeline on it, but that’s our general game plan.”
In the CBS interview, Esper suggested that 1,000 troops in northern Syria will be withdrawn.
A U.S. official told NPR that the withdrawal is not as sudden as it appears. “We didn’t just wake up today and see Secretary Esper say something and start ordering up cardboard boxes and duct tape. This has been preplanned for many months,” the official said, adding that the movement has already begun and would take days.
Esper said Turkey has more than 15,000 forces involved in its offensive against the Kurds, while the U.S. had fewer than 50 troops in the immediate area of attack.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, says that 52 civilians have been killed since the Turkish offensive began on Wednesday. Esper said that it appears that Turkish proxy forces have committed war crimes.
President Trump has come under significant criticism by both Democrats and Republicans, who say that the U.S. has abandoned the Kurdish-led forces who have been a key ally in the fight against ISIS.
Susan Rice, former national security adviser in the Obama administration, told NPR’s Sacha Pfeiffer on Sunday’s All Things Considered that the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria is “nothing short of a self-inflicted catastrophe.”
Rice warned that absent the pressure of U.S. forces, ISIS will be able to “rejuvenate and reconstitute itself.”
In response to people who agree with Trump’s position to end U.S. involvement in “endless wars,” Rice said the American role in the Syrian conflict can’t be compared to the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It was not a war that was costly in terms of casualties for the United States or in terms of resources.”
“Now, because of this withdrawal, all that work, all that investment is going to be at risk of loss,” she said. “There’ll be a humanitarian catastrophe for which the United States has blood on its hands. And Russia, Iran, and Assad will be the proximate beneficiaries in addition to the Turks.”
In tweets Sunday morning, Trump wrote that it was “Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change.”
“The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years,” Trump added. “Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!”
NPR Pentagon Reporter Tom Bowman and International Correspondent Ruth Sherlock contributed to this report.

Treating Chronic pain without Opioids

In Tiny Doses, An Addiction Medication Moonlights As A Treatment For Chronic Pain
September 23, 20194:02 PM ET
Heard on All Things Considered

KCUR 89.3

Lori Pinkley of Kansas City, Mo., has struggled with chronic pain since she was a teenager. She has found relief from low doses of naltrexone, a drug that at higher doses is used to treat addiction.
Alex Smith/KCUR
Lori Pinkley, a 50-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., has struggled with puzzling chronic pain since she was 15.

She’s had endless disappointing visits with doctors. Some said they couldn’t help her. Others diagnosed her with everything from fibromyalgia to lipedema to the rare Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Pinkley has taken opioids a few times after surgeries but says they never helped her underlying pain.

“I hate opioids with a passion,” Pinkley says. “An absolute passion.”

Recently, she joined a growing group of patients using an outside-the-box remedy: naltrexone. It is usually used to treat addiction, in a pill form for alcohol and as a pill or a monthly shot for opioids.

Poll: Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Says Pain Often Interferes With Daily Life
Poll: Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Says Pain Often Interferes With Daily Life
As the medical establishment tries to do a huge U-turn after two disastrous decades of pushing long-term opioid use for chronic pain, scientists have been struggling to develop safe, effective alternatives.

When naltrexone is used to treat addiction in pill form, it’s prescribed at 50 mg, but chronic-pain patients say it helps their pain at doses of less than a tenth of that.

Low-dose naltrexone has lurked for years on the fringes of medicine, but its zealous advocates worry that it may be stuck there. Naltrexone, which can be produced generically, is not even manufactured at the low doses that seem to be best for pain patients.

Instead, patients go to compounding pharmacies or resort to DIY methods — YouTube videos and online support groups show people how to turn 50 mg pills into a low liquid dose.

Some doctors prescribe it off-label even though it’s not FDA-approved for pain.

University of Kansas pain specialist Dr. Andrea Nicol has recently started prescribing it to her patients, including Pinkley. Nicol explains that for addiction patients, it works by blocking opioid receptors — some of the brain’s most important feel-good regions. So it prevents patients from feeling high and can help patients resist cravings.

At low doses of about 4.5 mgs, however, naltrexone seems to work completely differently.

“What it’s felt to do is not shut down the system, but restore some balance to the opioid system,” Nicol says.

How To Teach Future Doctors About Pain In The Midst Of The Opioid Crisis
How To Teach Future Doctors About Pain In The Midst Of The Opioid Crisis
Some of the hype over low-dose naltrexone has included some pretty extreme claims with limited research to back them, like using it to treat multiple sclerosis and neuropathic pain or even using it as a weight-loss drug.

In the past two years, however, there’s been a big increase in new studies published on low-dose naltrexone, many strengthening its claims as a treatment for chronic pain, though most of these were still small pilot studies.

Dr. Bruce Vrooman, an associate professor at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, was an author of a recent review of low-dose naltrexone research. Vrooman says that when it comes to treating some patients with complex chronic pain, low-dose naltrexone appears to be more effective and well-tolerated than the big-name opioids that dominated pain management for decades.

“Those patients may report that this is indeed a game changer,” Vrooman says. “It may truly help them with their activities, help them feel better.”

So how does it work? Scientists think that for many chronic pain patients, the central nervous system gets overworked and agitated. Pain signals fire in an out-of-control feedback loop that drowns out the body’s natural pain-relieving systems.

They suspect that low doses of naltrexone dampen that inflammation and kick-start the body’s production of pain-killing endorphins — all with relatively minor side effects.

Despite the promise of low-dose naltrexone, its advocates say few doctors know about it.

The low-dose version is generally not covered by insurance, so patients typically have to pay out of pocket to have it specially made at compounding pharmacies.

Exercising To Ease Pain: Taking Brisk Walks Can Help
Exercising To Ease Pain: Taking Brisk Walks Can Help
Advocates worry that the treatment is doomed to be stuck on the periphery of medicine because, as a 50-year-old drug, naltrexone can be made generically.

Patricia Danzon, a professor of health care management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that drug companies don’t have much interest in producing a new drug unless they can be the only maker of it.

“Bringing a new drug to market requires getting FDA approval and that requires doing clinical trials,” Danzon says. “That’s a significant investment, and companies — unsurprisingly — are not willing to do that unless they can get a patent and be the sole supplier of that drug for at least some period of time.”

And without a drug company’s backing, a treatment like low-dose naltrexone is unlikely to get the big promotional push out to doctors and TV advertisements that have turned drugs like Humira or Chantix into household names.

“It’s absolutely true that once a product becomes generic, you don’t see promotion happening, because it never pays a generic company to promote something if there are multiple versions of it available and they can’t be sure that they’ll capture the reward on that promotion,” Danzon says.

The drugmaker Alkermes has had huge success with its exclusive rights to the extended-release version of naltrexone, called Vivitrol. In a statement for this story, the company says it hasn’t seen enough evidence to support the use of low-dose naltrexone to treat chronic pain and therefore is remaining focused on opioid addiction treatment.

Pinkley says she is frustrated that there are so many missing pieces in the puzzle of understanding and treating chronic pain, but she, too, has become a believer in naltrexone.

She has been taking it for about a year now, at first paying $50 a month out of pocket to have the prescription filled at a compounding pharmacy. In July, her insurance started covering it.

“I can go from having days that I really don’t want to get out of bed because I hurt so bad,” she says, “to within a half-hour of taking it, I’m up and running, moving around, on the computer, able to do stuff.”

This story is part of NPR’s reporting project with KCUR and Kaiser Health News.

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Priests and celibacy

Modern times have been shaken profoundly by case after case of sexual abuse done by Catholic priests. The Vatican has finally taken a role in dealing with and controlling this as an ongoing problem.

Many people come up with different ideas of how to ‘solve’ the problem. The biggest one being to allow priests to marry. As shown in the last article on pedophiles, marriage does nothing to cure pedophiles. They are usually men (some women) who suffer from a deep seated obsessive-complusive disorder. Many pedophiles have been married and were married when they committed their crimes.

Another article I posted recently was one about people who should not marry for various reasons. In some interviews I have read men say (marriage is) ‘ too much trouble, they don’t want to bother with it and they like the simple life.’ There are many reasons a man chooses to become a priest and those reasons are probably as individual as the man. However; while we as a population cringe and worry about harm done by priests, what is the potential harm done to them?

The vows of celibacy allow the priest to have ‘relationships’ with a variety of women without there being a sexual component. He is not (as many single men must do)  apologizing to the lady for not taking her telephone number and/or not giving her a call. Since the priest (at this point) can’t marry; that commitment to the church protects them (to an extent) from being continually chased and hounded by marriage minded individuals of both sexes. It keeps the confessional from turning into an endless array of love-sick romantic quests. It allows the priest to do his job, which is to focus on the congregation and the greater good. As the following article shows, there are people currently who ‘hunt’ priests because they see them as ‘safe’. Well, they are often not only safe, but good looking, well educated, intelligent, and religious. What single women is not looking for that combination?

The ‘freedom’ to get married will probably doom the (especially young) priest to an endless parade of suitors and virtually no peace of mind. As indicated in the article on deacons, if a man wishes to marry and have children yet still serve the church, he can become a deacon and be of great service to the church. If a man chooses, instead, the priesthood, there have to be personal reasons for that and maybe, just maybe, one could be that he simply doesn’t want to get married. What follows here are some candid interviews with priests and their views on celibacy in the priesthood.

Priests, sex and celibacy

How do Catholic clergy deal with the church’s requirement for celibacy? Desmond Zwar spoke to four men about living a life where there should be no sex.

By Desmond Zwar

November 23, 2012 — 3.00am

A few years ago I began researching a book into how priests dealt with the requirement that they be celibate. I placed an advertisement in The Swag – the journal of the National Council of Priests – seeking priests who would be willing to talk to me about their relationship with celibacy, whether they found it easy or difficult to maintain. About eight priests responded. I interviewed them by phone, taped the conversations and returned the edited version to each priest for review. This is an edited extract of my conversations with four of them.


”We talked a lot about celibacy in the seminary. For me it means regular self-appraisal, and a bit of doubt as well. It was easier for me as I had 15 years teaching in the secondary system. As a single fellow, when you are teaching secondary students, you are teaching girls as well who are in many ways at their physical peak.

And I had to think to myself: ‘Well, how do I relate to these girls?’ I had to acknowledge to myself that they were attractive to me; I’d be a fool if I didn’t think that.

But that doesn’t mean taking the further step of trying to get a physical relationship.”

How did you suppress your sexual feelings?

”I think they are natural. If I tried to suppress them I’d be storing up trouble for myself in the future. So I acknowledge to myself: ‘Yes, that is a beautiful girl’. The thing that stood by me was: ‘God created it, but you are not allowed to play with it!’

It’s a gift from God – this beautiful person – and I find that gift precious.

We discussed celibacy a lot in the seminary. We looked at it not as a giving up, but a giving for. Being celibate means you are always able to be open to one more relationship. If you are in a relationship with another person, to a degree that has to be exclusive; other people have to be kept out.

Being celibate means there is always another friend you can make. When I entered the seminary there wasn’t a lot explained about celibacy, and I wasn’t sure whether to raise the question. But in the first year we looked at the whole issue of sexuality. What is sexuality? What is your sexuality? What is healthy sexuality? Is it something to be suppressed?”

Have you had relationships with women?

”Yes, but they didn’t become physical relationships. I felt that if I got married it would be a matter of respect to that person I married, that we explored sexuality together.

I’m 45 and I do have sexual longings. What do I do about it? I acknowledge them first of all. I don’t pretend they’re not there. I don’t try and drive them away. I ask what my body is trying to tell me – my body is telling me I’m still a normal male. But there’s a message from God as well. As a priest and a celibate some opportunities are cut off; but every path in life opens some road and closes others.

I don’t have feelings of guilt about my sexual feelings. Sexuality is a gift from God; if we deny it we are denying something that God has given us. But to deny having them is to fool oneself, and that can be dangerous.

To be aware of these feelings doesn’t mean to act on them. I would like celibacy to be an option. To be celibate is to be potentially available to all. It is a sign that we do not have to be obsessed with sex or sexual activity.

But to expect it of everybody – especially those who do not have the gift – is quite unfair.”


How much self-doubt have you had – or still have – regarding celibacy?

”Leading up to ordination I had no self-doubt. I undertook wanting to be a priest and being a member of a religious order; I accepted the fact that celibacy was a part and parcel of that. I did that – not without question – but with full acceptance. I was 26.

Two or three years after ordination I started to seriously question whether this would really be possible as a lifetime commitment.”

Was this because of your sexual urges?

”Yes. I tried to get advice from fellow priests as to what I should do about it. The people I went to took me seriously; it was never played down. I spoke to three priests over a period of five or six years and I don’t think any of them gave me great advice on how I might live with celibacy; more encouragement to accept the situation ‘as it is’.

I was told: ‘If you find yourself being caught in inappropriate behaviour, just accept that as being part of life … and re-dedicate yourself’.”

Did you find yourself in inappropriate situations?

”Yes, I did. I was going to a sauna – a place where it was easy to have casual sex. I never got in a situation where I was actually in a relationship with anybody. But I did find myself having casual sex. It went on pretty strongly for 20 years.”

How did you get away from it in the end?

”I developed a couple of very good relationships – friendship relationships – so that when I found myself looking for intimacy, I could have that intimacy with a couple of really good friends.

Prior to that, my needs for intimacy were addressed as being purely physical. I didn’t know what else to do, so I would go off and have sex. I got hooked on sex, and wanted more and more, even though I felt more and more guilty.

I am now 56 and celibacy is not a problem. I can live with it. I have a couple of friends – one male and one female – and I can discuss it with them.”

Have you been chased by women because you were considered to be ‘safe’?

”I have experienced that. I was working in a seminary, and not infrequently I came across women who got very attached to religious men of all ages. They were often women who had been hurt by men; they saw safety in male company that was not dangerous.

I would like to see celibacy relaxed; it should be optional. Celibacy for religious men and women is totally normal – if that’s what they wish to do. But to make it obligatory is ridiculous.”

JOHN (a Brother)

”Like priests we are bound by the rules of celibacy. I am 68 and there is always self-appraisal regarding celibacy. When I was 16 I went into a seminary where there was silence and prayers and I was told I had to be celibate. I was told very little about it, except it was a gift from God, and you were given the gift to use – to give your whole self to God.

There were no instructions about repressing feelings of sexuality. Even our parents told us nothing. Even as a kid in boarding school I had a wet dream. I tried to explain it to a priest and he said: ‘Oh, it just happens’. But I felt guilty about my wet dreams. As though I’d done something wrong.

Being celibate made me feel a bit awkward with women. Because of our strict training I didn’t see a woman for three years. I didn’t need to see a doctor or a dentist and didn’t leave the monastery. So I had no contact with women.

Nobody was doing anything for me in that regard at an important stage in my life. But when I was about 40 I met a woman and fell in love. We never had sex, we never went to bed. But she explained so much to me about the sex act – how women are attracted to men. She was a married woman in the middle of a divorce – she was lonely and I helped take her loneliness away.”

Did you have guilty feelings about being sexually aroused when you were younger?

”Oh yes! But I didn’t do much about it – I prayed a lot and went to confession. The priest just said it was part of growing up. I masturbated a lot and I confessed to that. I used to ring up a sex-line every three weeks and it cost me about $35. I ejaculated after just a minute listening. I have never seen a woman naked; I have only seen bare breasts at the Missions.

I often wonder if I could perform the act of sex. Would I be able to have sexual intercourse? Would I come too quickly, because I get aroused quickly?

I have never had any feelings of attraction to fellow priests. I am not homosexual. I believe celibacy for priests should be optional – remain celibate unless you can’t do without a woman.

We are kidding ourselves if we think priests don’t have their mistresses – and that gay priests don’t have gay boyfriends. I’m sure it happens. Priests go to brothels, but I have never been with a prostitute.”


Should celibacy should be retained for priests or relaxed?

”It should be an option for those priests living outside a community of priests. If you were a married priest living with three or four other priests it would be difficult.

I have been a priest for 18 years and – for me – celibacy is good.

It gives me plenty of time to deal with people who come to me for help; more time for my work. It also allows me an intimacy with Jesus in the sense that He is the only one I come to as my ultimate, intimate companion; rather than any non-divine person.

It isn’t a big step psychologically. Since my childhood, Jesus has been a person to dialogue with, someone who is actually standing there. He is present with me in any place, at any time I go to Him.”

How does celibacy compete with your sexual urges?

”Sometimes I have them, yes, but not very frequently; I have a low libido which is fortunate. I take this as a grace from God that He has given me this along with the call to priesthood. Some priests express a struggle with it. But they also talk about a positive side which they find worthwhile. The struggle (with celibacy) never goes away; you get more experienced handling it.”

Desmond Zwar is a journalist and author of 16 non-fiction books, including The Loneliest Man in the World – the Story of Rudolf Hess’s Imprisonment.

Should Priests be ‘allowed’ to marry?

This is a continuing series of articles addressing the hot topic out now about whether or not Catholic priests should be ‘allowed’ to marry. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone wants to get married!

relationships – Best Life Newsletter

40 Signs You Should Never Get Married



AUGUST 15, 2018


It’s assumed that everyone grows up fantasizing about meeting their soulmate and dreaming up the perfect wedding day before riding off into the sunset of lifetime marital bliss. Newsflash: marriage isn’t for everyone. Whether you simply don’t think it’s crucial to your happiness, don’t want to spend the money, or straight-up don’t believe in it (for whatever reason), deciding not to get married is perfectly okay. Before you sign those papers, you should be able to spot the signs that this longstanding tradition is not for you. Here they are.

  1. You don’t believe in it.

Some people consider marriage little more than piece of paper, and others think it’s the only way to truly commit. And there’s nothing wrong with either opinion. “Many people feel that you can be married in your heart and you don’t need a legal agreement to confirm your love,” says psychologist Dr. Paulette Sherman, author of Dating from the Inside Out and The Book of Sacred Baths. “They fear it just complicates things by making it about commingling property, assets, and taxes instead about your heartfelt commitment to that other person.”

  1. You want to save money.

Let’s be honest: weddings are expensive, and it’s not crazy to not want to spend your entire life’s savings on one day. Considering the average wedding cost in the United States is a whopping $33,391—a nice chunk of a down payment on a home—deciding not to get married so you can keep your money in the bank is a smart move.

  1. You don’t feel like you need to prove your love.

Weddings have one purpose: Aside from joining forces with another person for life, you’re also showing everyone important in your life just how much you love each other. Some people don’t see the need and are just fine being committed to someone minus the social display of affection.

  1. You have trust issues.

Trust is so important in relationships. Unfortunately, if it’s something you’ve lost in the past due to a partner betraying you—whether that’s through cheating or something else—it can be really hard to find it again in the future. If your trust issues are making it tough for you to commit to a partner through something as serious as marriage, don’t feel like you need to go through with a ceremony. There’s lots of time in the future if you change your mind.

  1. You’ve neverwanted to get married.

While some people grow up dreaming of their perfect wedding down to the dress and theme colors, that’s not the norm for everyone. If you’re not someone who already has a Pinterest board filled with everything you want on your special day—and it’s not something you see yourself getting excited about anytime soon—you can enjoy being in a relationship withoutthe “I do”s.

  1. You disagree with the definition of marriage.

Marriage has quite the colorful history—something not everyone is cool with being part of because they don’t agree with it politically. “Some people feel that historically marriage has been a way for society to repress certain groups,” Sherman says. “For example, at one point some women were treated as property of their husbands and weren’t allowed to vote. And in many countries, gay couples still can’t legally marry. Some people don’t want to take part in an institution that fosters this type of discrimination.”

  1. You don’t want to mess with the whole last name thing.

Traditionally, marriage means sharing the same last name. Even though that’s changed in recent years with it becoming increasing common to either keep your last names the same—or even for the man to take the woman’s last name—wanting to keep things simple and avoid the process altogether is a sign maybe it’s best to avoid the whole marriage thing.

  1. You want your freedom.

When you get married, you’re legally locked down to one person forever. For some, that sounds amazing—but for others, not so much. If you want to keep your freedom, marriage might not be the best fit for you. Avoiding the paperwork means you can continue doing what you want, when you want, without having to get permission from anyone else.

  1. You like things as they are.

If current things are feeling pretty great as they are, why make a big move and get married? “There’s an expression: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Some people feel that if their relationship is happy and works, they don’t need to complicate it with legal repercussions and a ceremony that validates their relationship from the outside,” Sherman says.

  1. You’re not sure about the other person.

Just because you’re with someone doesn’t mean you need to get married to them. If you’ve been together for quite a while but still aren’t entirely sure about spending the rest of your life with them, don’t rush off to the altar. Just enjoy being together and see where your relationship takes you.

  1. You don’t even like weddings.

If you feel a sense of dread the instant you open a piece of mail and discover it’s a wedding invite, it’s probably no secret that you’re not exactly a fan of weddings. If you don’t even enjoy going to other people’s weddings, don’t feel bad about not wanting one of your own, either.

  1. You don’t want to be the center of attention.

When it comes to weddings, there are two people all eyes are on the entire time: the bride and groom. While some people thrive on knowing they’ll be the center of attention and have guests from all over come to celebrate their love, others would rather crawl in a hole and not make awkward small talk with family members they haven’t seen or heard from in years.

  1. You don’t want the stress.

Weddings are supposed to be about love—but often times there’s a whole lot of stress behind all those smiles. If you don’t handle pressure well and try to keep your life as relaxed and stress-free as possible, getting married might not be your favorite thing. In fact, it could easily turn into a total nightmare.

  1. You hate the idea of planning a wedding.

Some people love getting to sit down and go over every detail of their wedding, from the flower arrangements to the DJ’s playlist. If you’re not a planner, though, you could have a real problem: getting married takes a lot of patience—and a lot of work. If you’d rather just pass on all the stress that comes with wedding checklists—and aren’t into the idea of hiring someone to do it for you—you’re not alone. It basically becomes a second job.

  1. You don’t have a real reason for wanting to get married.

When most people decide to get married, they have a very specific reason in mind—most commonly that they want to legalize their love for their partner. That doesn’t mean everyone feels the same way, though. If you don’t have a reason for wanting to tie the knot, don’t feel like you have to. It’s not a requirement of living a happy, fulfilled life, even if your friends make it seem that way.

  1. You’re already married—to your career.

Some people become infatuated with another person and want to spend their life making them happy. Then others have another one true love: their job. If you would rather spend your time advancing your career instead of your relationship, keep on being a total boss—there’s nothing wrong with choosing your passion over marriage.

  1. You don’t need someone to complete you.

Basically every romantic comedy ever revolves around someone finding the person who makes them feel whole. (You can thank Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire for the iconic “you complete me” quote.) The hopeless romantics of the world want nothing more than to share their life with their soulmate, but if you don’t feel like you need someone to complete you to be happy and satisfied with your life as it is, don’t feel like something is wrong with you. It’s totally okay to be your own soulmate.

  1. You don’t feel like marriage adds value to your life.

Between the lovey-dovey reasons and tax perks, there are plenty of draws to marriage. But if you don’t feel like getting married would add any value to your life, there’s no reason to complicate things. Just keep paving your own path and you’ll be just fine.

  1. You’d rather spend your money on traveling.

Some couples decide to save up and spend all their hard-earned money on their wedding—just one day of their entire lives. If you’d rather spend that $30,000 (or more) on something else—like traveling around the globe and crossing places off your bucket list—why not? There’s no reason to feel like you need to spend your money on a photographer and DJ if you’d much rather spend it backpacking through Europe.

  1. The two of you are always fighting.

Some fighting is totally fine: all couples do it, it’s unpreventable, and totally fine (even healthy). But if you and your partner are fighting non-stop and are never able to see anything eye to eye, getting married might not be your best option—at least not right now. Instead of rushing into a wedding, take your time and see if you can get on the same page before you do anything drastic.

  1. You love being independent.

Independence is an amazing thing. If you’re someone who loves taking care of yourself, supporting yourself, and being by yourself—and don’t want anyone else to do that for you—why get married? There’s nothing wrong with being content with “me, myself, and I.”

  1. You’ve witnessed the drawbacks to marriage.

If you’re really familiar with divorce, you know how much it can impact and devastate a family—especially when kids are involved. After experiencing something like that firsthand, it’s not uncommon to want to avoid the risk of going through something similar down the line—and instead just continue to build up your own happy relationship without a marriage because of that.

  1. You don’t want to burden other people.

Weddings cost the bride and groom a whole lot of money, but they’re not the only ones who take a financial hit. The parents of the bride and groom are also expected to chip in some hefty funds, bridesmaids buy pricey dresses, and travel costs aren’t cheap. If you feel like it’s not worth burdening yourself or the people you love and would rather just go marriage-free, you’ll probably save everyone thousands around the board.

  1. You’re not overly traditional.

Some people are incredibly traditional and live by the rules that have guided society for what feels like forever. And marriage is a big part of that tradition. If you don’t feel like you share those same traditional values, mabe a wedding isn’t something you see yourself doing and would be much happier just living life sans legal documents.

  1. You’re holding out on your partner changing.

Sorry to break it to you, but if you’re crossing your fingers that marriage is what finally changes your partner into the person you want (and need!) them to be, that’s probably not what’s going to happen. If they haven’t yet, they’re probably pretty stuck in their ways—and having a shiny new ring on their finger isn’t going to suddenly make a major difference.

  1. You want to spend your time on other things.

The year before your wedding basically involves one thing: planning, planning, and then some more planning. So any bit of free time you have instantly goes toward crossing all the to-dos off your list that are required for marriage. If you don’t want your wedding to take over your life and would rather spend your time doing other things, don’t feel guilty.

  1. Your relationship is like a hurricane.

Sometimes, you meet couples and wonder why they even got married in the first place. Before you decide to say “I do,” be sure to evaluate your own relationship: If it’s constantly full of ups and downs and never feels stable, it might not be the wisest move to make until those problems are resolved.

  1. You like being alone.

There are two types of people in the world: Those who need to be around other people 24/7, and those who love nothing more than being all alone. If you like flying solo and would prefer being by yourself, ditching the idea of marriage might work in your favor. (Plus, you’ll get to choose your Netflix shows in peace, which is always a perk.)

  1. You’re at different maturity levels.

Marriage is a big deal: you’re signing papers that legally recognize you as partners for as long as you both shall live. If one of you is taking the idea of a wedding much more seriously than the other, there’s a chance you shouldn’t be going through with it. If you do, both of you need to be equally on board with just how serious of a commitment it is so you don’t wind up getting a divorce once it sets in that you’re in totally different places in life.

  1. You’re not what you’d call “in love.”

Sure, you can love someone more than anything—but are you actually in love with them? If your love is more of a friendship than a deep relationship, marriage might not be the best next step. Instead, it’s probably better to evaluate where you’re at emotionally and if you’re content with the way things are going in your love life.

  1. You’re anathema to change.

If you already feel like you’re at your peak level of happiness in your relationship and would rather keep things the same than risk changing anything, don’t. Some people are perfectly happy without being officially married and already feel more married than couples who have been legally binded together for ages.

  1. You don’t like the idea of being a wife or husband.

Some people long for finally being able to call themselves a wife or husband, and others gag a little every time they hear it. If you don’t think the title has a nice ring to it and would rather just stay how you are, it’s probably a sign you shouldn’t be walking down the aisle.

  1. Compromising isn’t your thing.

Some people are stuck in their ways and don’t feel the need to adjust their lifestyle to make room for someone else’s. “Oftentimes, being married requires some compromise and joint decision-making because two people are joining their lives and may sometimes disagree on certain choices,” Sherman says. “A good marriage creates enough room for bothpeople’s needs to be honored, and some people would rather just do what they want all the time. They don’t want to consider how that choice will affect the other person.”

  1. You don’t want to build up any more debt.

As great as weddings are, the money aspects are pretty out of control. Sure, you can go down to the courthouse and get married without hardly any costs, but planning a big ceremony will put you back thousands and thousands of dollars—something some people decide to avoid altogether so they don’t go even further into debt.

  1. You think your partner is as good as you’re gonna get.

Being with someone because you love them is one thing, but only wanting to get married because you’re settling and have come to the conclusion that your partner is the best you can do isn’t good for anyone. If that’s the only reason you’re still in a relationship, it’s time to rethink that relationship.

  1. You don’t like monogamy.

When you get married, you’re joined with one other person “‘til death do us part.” While that’s an amazing thing for some, others see it as a roadblock. “For many people, marriage means monogamy, although there are some open marriages. Perhaps you’re someone who gets bored being with only one person, who doesn’t want to remain faithful, and wants to have a variety of partners and adventures and romantic relationships in the future,” Sherman says.

  1. You don’t like your partner’s family.

You might really care for your partner, but getting married means becoming family with their family too. If you feel like it’s going to cause you more unhappiness than happiness being added into a group you’re not too fond of, forget the paperwork and just enjoy being together without having to deal with the drama.

  1. You’re only following the steps.

If there’s really nothing excitement about marriage to you and it’s mostly just what you feel like is the next step in the progression of your relationship, don’t hit the altar. You should never get married just because you feel like it’s the right thing to do—you should only say “I do” if you’re excited and actually want to take that next step.

  1. You don’t believe in needing an other half.

The world lives by the mentality that everyone has an “other half,” and you’re not totally complete as a person until you find that missing puzzle piece. If you feel totally fulfilled on your own, keep doing you: not everyone needs to share their life with another person to be totally happy.

  1. You’re annoyed with your partner 24/7.

Little annoyances here and there are totally understandable—and, frankly, quite common. How can you not be annoyed at some things your partner does when you’re around them all the time? When everything they do seems to bother you, though, that’s a different story and is probably a major sign you shouldn’t get married.


Is Marriage a cure for Pedophilia?

Pedophilia: A guide to the disorder


The Week Staff

Roughly 4 percent of the U.S. population is believed to have pedophiliac urges. Blue Lantern Studio/Corbis

November 25, 2011

Bottom of Form

What is a pedophile?
It’s an adult with a sexual preference for prepubescent children (typically 13 or under) of either sex, though some prefer one gender. The term can be used to describe anyone who fantasizes about, is sexually aroused by, or experiences urges toward children, whether or not they act on them. Most psychologists believe that people with pedophilia will eventually act on it in some way — by exposing themselves to, spying on, or sexually touching children. About 4 percent of the population is believed to have pedophilic urges. Psychologists now categorize it as a sexual orientation much like heterosexuality and homosexuality, in the sense that the sexual attraction to children appears to be involuntary and remains stable over time. Pedophilia is also treated as a disorder, of course, because pedophiles who act on their urges cause grievous harm to young children, leaving them with emotional scars that can last for decades.

What kind of people are pedophiles?
Most are male, though about 6 percent are female. Although the stereotype of the pedophile is the trench-coated loner who hangs around playgrounds, in reality most pedophiles function as ordinary members of the community, like former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, the man accused of sexually abusing children in his care. About 44 percent of convicted pedophiles either are or have been married, and a vast majority of pedophiles have sexual relationships with adults — only 7 percent say they are exclusively attracted to children. The majority of child molesters do not abuse children at random. For all the worries about “stranger danger,” 70 percent of reported abuses involve an offender who knows the child, including relatives.

What goes through their heads?
Most pedophiles are driven by strong feelings of love and tenderness toward children, say psychologists, rather than a desire to hurt them. They romanticize children, seek out their company, and convince themselves that their feelings are mutual. “It’s not just sex, it’s romance,” said psychologist Dr. Leslie Lothstein. “They’re in love with the 5-year-old.” Many take voluntary positions or jobs that allow them to be close to children. Pedophiles usually select targets carefully, and “groom” them over a period of months with gifts, attention, and special trips. Only then, after gaining the child’s trust, do they initiate sexual contact. Pedophiles often feel guilt and shame about their activities, say therapists.

What causes pedophilia?
It’s not clear. It’s commonly thought that those who were sexually abused as children are at high risk of becoming pedophiles, but only one third of pedophiles admit to having been abused. Other kinds of emotional trauma in childhood, research suggests, may also lead a person to get “stuck” in an early stage of emotional development. Researchers who’ve studied pedophiles’ brains have found abnormalities that cause low impulse control and obsessive behavior. But the cause remains something of a mystery, just like much of human sexuality.

What happens when pedophiles are convicted?
The average jail sentence handed down to a convicted pedophile is 11 years, but several states go beyond simple jail terms. Florida, Louisiana, and California now allow or mandate “chemical castration” for sex offenders — drugs that suppress testosterone and quash sexual appetite. Texas even allows a judge to recommend surgical castration, if the offender gives consent. But the punishment doesn’t end with the sentence. All 50 states have reporting laws requiring sex offenders to register with local authorities, so that their whereabouts can be monitored. Megan’s Law, a federal mandate named after a 7-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in 1994, requires that a community be notified if a sex offender lives there. Though the law remains controversial, reporting requirements seem to have helped. In a recent 15-year period, sex crimes against children declined by 53 percent.

Can pedophilia be cured?
No. There’s no magic cure that can make the sexual attraction to children go away, and up to 50 percent of convicted pedophiles re-offend. But like drug addiction, gambling addiction, and other destructive obsessions, pedophilia can be successfully treated, if pedophiles are motivated to stop their behavior. The most common treatment for pedophiles is “relapse prevention,” a lifelong therapy similar to alcoholism treatment that conditions them to live with their obsession but not act on it. There are also drugs that can suppress a pedophile’s sex drive. With the right combination of drugs and therapy, pedophiles can learn to resist their urges, said Dr. Fred Berlin, founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic. “We’re not going to be able to put out the fire,” he said, “but we can do a nice job of containing [it].”

The dangers of the Internet
The Internet has given sexual predators a new way of finding victims, but most of these predators are not technically pedophiles. About 99 percent of the sex crimes committed through Internet-initiated contacts involve the statutory rape of teenagers, rather than little children. Pedophiles, who by definition prefer children who have not reached puberty, rarely meet victims online. But the Internet does give them a forum to communicate with one another. European and U.S. police recently busted 70,000 members of an online message board where pedophiles exchanged child pornography and stories of abuse, along with justifications for their behavior. This kind of community “allows [pedophiles] to avoid admitting that their desires are harmful and illegal,” said former police commander and anti-pedophile campaigner Bill Walsh. “That can allow them to take that final step and cross over from fantasy into real-world offenses.”