In a fascinating New Yorker piece by Rachel Aviv, University of Toronto psychiatry professor Michael Seto says that men who collected child pornography online “did not have the antisocial traits like lack of empathy and impulsiveness that are common to all types of criminals.”
Seto calls these men “fantasy offenders.” He tells Aviv, “In this weird, disinhibiting space which lacks the usual social cues, they may do and say things they would never dare in real life.”
This idea is at odds with the most influential research on pornography offenders: the Butner Study Redux. Published in 2009, the study involved 155 child pornography convicts. After they received sex-offender treatment in prison, 85 percent confessed to sexually abusing children. The volume of abuse was either incredible or terrifying— an average of 13 victims for each man.
Well, this is a shock to me!