Cognitive deconstruction in child molesters

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Theses / Dissertations
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Master of Arts
University of Canterbury
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Sutcliffe-Thomas, Christina Jane

Child molesters present with a variety of characteristics that contribute to the development and perpetuation of their offending, which can be further utilised in the assessment of offender subtypes. Offenders' cognitive dysfunctions, while critical, are a largely uncharted area of theory and empirical investigation. More comprehensive examinations are needed to further elucidate the nature of offenders' cognitions, the mechanisms by which they are generated, and to inform treatment. Twenty-five child molesters from the Kia Marama unit at Rolleston Prison, provided a detailed narrative of their most recent or typical offence, structued according to stages of the relapse prevention model. First, in order to compile a descriptive profile of the men's dysfunctional cognitions, their interview transcripts were analysed according to a multilevel model of dysfunctional cognitions. Cognitive concepts were explored and identified for their thematic contents, operational processes and communication styles, via the multilevel system. Second, participants were classified as either preferential or situational childmolester subtypes, revealing a numb~ of differences on the cognitive variables examined. Third, it was predicted by the theory of cognitive deconstruction that the situational men would engage in more instances of denials and minimisations than preferential men. In a separate analysis, the men's versions of their offence behaviours were compared with judicial reports for discrepancies identified in a minimisations and denials checklist. The expected difference between the offender subtypes was confirmed, and the significance of the observed results are discussed for their implications in theory, practice and future investigations.

Child molesters--Psychology, Child sexual abuse--Psychological aspects, Cognition disorders, Cognitive psychology
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ANZSRC fields of research
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