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See Inside February/March 2007

Abnormal Attraction

Most people are repulsed by the idea of sex with children. But keeping children safe from pedophiles means trying to discover how this disastrous craving comes about--and how to tame it
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MANFRED ZENTSCH Gehirn & Geist

A girl and a man are sitting on a park bench. She's staring into a book; he's staring at her. After a while they start to talk and get into a friendly conversation. "Would you like to sit on my lap?" he asks softly. The stirrings of sexual excitement are faintly audible in his voice.

Uncomfortable, moviegoers squirm in their seats. They are watching Nicole Kassell's The Woodsman, a 2004 movie about the life of a pedophile. After 12 years behind bars for child molestation, Walter is trying to make a new life for himself. He has his own apartment, holds a job and has recently married. But the path to a normal existence is difficult. His co-workers are suspicious and give him the cold shoulder; his sister and the police have nothing but contempt for him. Viewers wonder whether such a man can ever find redemption. Perhaps he should be permanently removed from society.

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