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Argument: Predation driven by sex more than aggressive psychology

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Supporting quotations

Atul Gawande. "The unkindest cut." Slate. 1997: "Legislators argue that castration is justified and appropriate, and that by controlling sex offenders' irresistible urges to rape or molest again, the operation allows them to be released without endangering the public. Studies of the European experience suggest they could be right. Of more than 700 Danish sex offenders castrated after multiple convictions, relapse rates dropped from between 17 percent and 50 percent to just 2 percent. A Norwegian study showed the same for selected male and female sex offenders (the women had their ovaries removed). In smaller studies of cyproproterone in Scandinavia and Italy, chemical castration was equally effective in some groups of volunteer prisoners, with the most dramatic reductions among pedophiles.

These studies suggest the common argument--that rape is all about power, not sex, and therefore castration won't work--is wrong. Interestingly, a German study found that up to half of the castrated men still could have erections and sex, but their desire was weakened or even extinguished. Over 80 percent no longer masturbated; 70 percent gave up sex. As Fred Berlin, a Johns Hopkins University psychiatrist and expert on treating sex offenders, points out, castration works "mainly in those who are sexually aroused by their crime ... sadists and pedophiles." Castration takes the impulse away from those with an aberrant sexual orientation, often to their relief."

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