Anomalous Preference Targeting

The world of psychotherapy has a catchall title for pedophilia: anomalous preference targeting. When I first heard this phrase from a psychotherapist friend, it tumbled and rolled around in my brain for a good five minutes; the abstract wording anomalous preference targeting was noteworthy in and of itself for its qualities of disassociation; talk that sanitizes a heinous behavior with vague abstractions.

This morning I repeated the convoluted phraseology - anomalous preference targeting - to my husband over a cup of strong black tea, which helped get the neurons firing in order to wrap itself around those three long words again. This new terminology is mystifying because it could be applied to anything and everything, from overt weird behaviors to food choices to an outstanding trait that appears unexpectedly in a family or culture.

For example, a woman could have an aversion to any prospective mates under 6'5" tall, scrupulously avoiding contact with any males under that height. To this civilian, that could be an anomaly and a clear preference that targets uber-tall men only.

Or, a learned doctor might decide that his preferred cuisine consists of three squares from McDonalds. Defying all known information about health and nutrition, his behavior could well be described as anomalous preference targeting.

For that matter, the word anomaly could be applied to  Bill Clinton, who rose from a poor and alcoholic home in the Deep South to become a Rhodes Scholar and two time President of the United States. And preference targeting could refer to any woman other than his wife for his dangerous liasions. (By the way, I voted for Bill twice, lest the reader get the impression he is on my shit list.)

The above examples are why this latest pseudo-scientific lingo takes the bite out of pedophilia - by giving it a name that applies to anything out of the ordinary that becomes habitual. For an underage person who has been the target of a pedophile or knows someone who is a pedophile, the vague new moniker seems offensive in that it places the behavior in a gray zone of lukewarm impact. And any victim knows that child molestation is by no means an abstract experience.


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