Volume 34, Issue 4 (July 1989)
Do Sex Offenders Minimize Psychiatric Symptoms?
With increasing frequency, forensic psychiatrists are called upon to evaluate sex offenders for the courts and criminal justice system. While many clinicians have observed that denial of paraphilia is common in sex offenders, few studies have examined whether this population has severe psychopathology other than paraphilia. Similarly, little is known about whether sex offenders minimize or deny symptoms of psychopathology when undergoing psychiatric evaluations. To study these questions, the authors administered the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) to 36 sex offenders, comparing the degree to which they minimized or denied psychopathology, dividing subjects along 2 dimensions: (a) whether they admitted to, or denied, paraphilia, and (b) whether or not they faced legal charges for sex offense. Results indicated that, first, patients who denied paraphilia were significantly more likely to minimize psychopathology than were those who admitted to paraphilia (P < 0.05); second, patients who faced no legal charges showed significantly more psychopathology than did those who faced charges (P < 0.05); and third, the most frequent forms of psychopathology were antisocial attitudes, depressive features, somatization, and thought disorder. These findings suggest that many sex offenders may experience, and deny, widespread and severe psychiatric symptoms in addition to their sexual disorders.