Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Relation of Physical and Sexual Abuse to Limbic System Functioning and Sociomoral Reasoning in Male Sex Offenders
by Amador, Bernard, Ph.D., Northcentral University, 2011, 149; 3447089
Abstract (Summary)

Risk factors for sex offending correlate with limbic system functioning, and sociomoral reasoning scores to strengthen the theoretical foundation in understanding the victim-to-perpetrator model. The victim-to-perpetrator model identifies sex abuse as the primary cause of sex offending. Sex abuse affects the limbic system (resulting in symptoms similar to temporal lobe epilepsy) and sociomoral reasoning (such as problems in social deficits, e.g., empathy, loneliness) as well as attitudinal/cognitive variables (e.g., attitudes towards rape, rationalizations), which present a significant problem that may contribute to increased perpetration of sexual offending. This quantitative post-hoc quasi-experimental study examined the relationship between four situational variables (no abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and both physical and sexual abuse). The SPAQ measured the situational variables; the LSCL-33 measured the mediating variable, limbic system function; and the SRM-SF measured the response variable, sociomoral reasoning, to understand the mediating variables associated with offending. The population included 630 sex offenders from the New York State Sex Offender Registry, surveyed to investigate the psycho-physiological correlates of past physical/sexual abuse and statistically analyzing their past victimization, limbic system functioning, and sociomoral reasoning scales. Sixty-eight participants completed and returned the research packets, which were analyzed using MANOVA. A follow-up ANOVA for the SPAQ and LSCL-33, applying the Bonferroni method at the .025 level, showed a significant relationship between past physical/sexual abuse and limbic system functioning, F(3, 64) = 3.20, p =.029 η 2= .13. SPAQ and SRM-SF scores were insignificant F(3, 64) = .65, p = .58 η2 = .03, and SRM-SF and LSCL-33 scores were insignificant, F(7, 60) = .61, p =.75 η2 = .07, indicating no relationship. Sex offenders were found to reason at the transitional stage 2(3). The sexually abused-sexual abuser hypothesis suggests a specific relationship between sex abuse history and sex offending. Predicting the self-report abuse history resulted in a 35% correct classification rate based on within-group correlations between predictors and discriminate functions as well as standardized weights. Certain risk factors identified sex offenders with past victimization. Therapeutic interventions with sex offenders should focus on past victimization, moral reasoning, and psychopharmacology for limbic system structures to break the victim-to-perpetrator cycle.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Chartrand, Max
School: Northcentral University
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 72/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Neurosciences, Behavioral psychology, Criminology, Physiological psychology
Keywords: Childhood abuse, Limbic system, Sex offenders, Sexual offending, Sociomoral reasoning, Victimization
Publication Number: 3447089
ISBN: 978-1-124-51034-7
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