God save us from SIN, because…


Adam Powell, today’s guest blogger, was a co-founder of the Forum for Understanding Minor Attraction (FUMA), which engaged with mental health support services in the UK with a view to improving what was on offer to those of us with “an emotional and erotic attraction to children or adolescents below the age of consent”. FUMA pursued this objective from its founding in 2012 to the abandonment of this aim in 2017, largely over frustrations that former maths teacher Adam writes about here. He has since emigrated to the Netherlands. 



I was acquainted with the UK branch of Stop it Now! (SIN) on and off from 2007 to 2015.

SIN began in the US and was founded by Frances Henry, who has said her father sexually assaulted her for four years, from age 12-16. She took it upon herself to visit men in prisons serving sentences for actual or perceived child sexual abuse. She went in to ask them one question: would they respond to therapy if it were offered? The overwhelming majority said they would. This is what she wanted to hear. It is also what I would expect them to say, having serious personal problems and wanting to get something off their chest; but I do not think that is what Henry had in mind.

SIN has spread its influence across the world to other countries including the UK and the Netherlands. The UK branch denies that minor attracted people exist. According to them, nobody is a paedophile. It is a “media stereotype”. They find the very idea that any adult person could be sexually attracted to a child preposterous in spite of many people telling them that this is the case. They believe a child has nothing to offer an adult. They have said on their website that they agree with Freud’s assertion that a child is a sexual being like anyone else, which would appear to contradict their salient message. It causes them consternation that an adult would have a social interest in children; when this is the case they tend to be judgmental and imagine there is something seriously wrong with that individual even if involves nothing sexual. They tend to see their own beliefs as axiomatic; somehow their own thinking is just “common sense”. It needs no explanation; anyone taking a contrary view must be either stupid or rebellious.

I think we need to look carefully at the context within which the UK branch operates, or did until at least 2015. There are significant differences between the UK and NL branches. SIN UK is a charity that works closely with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation (LFF) which has similar goals. They are being run by much the same people but for accounting purposes have to be treated separately. SIN struggles to raise money from members of the general public because MAPs do not attract much sympathy. Their staff have experienced a lot of flak too. They survive on government grants. Although strictly speaking a charity, SIN UK is a quasi non-governmental organisation. The government is outsourcing its duty of care for minor attracted persons to a charity, when I think the National Health Service should show greater responsibility. Neither SIN or LFF can say anything other than what the government wants to hear, so it is inevitably an abusive organisation reflecting the abusive attitudes of the government and of the wider public. If the staff at SIN were to move to the Netherlands and experience a different ethos they might learn a more compassionate response.

Baroness Lucy Faithfull was a Conservative member of the House of Lords, in which capacity she campaigned for MAPs to receive treatment aimed at a “cure”. This was absurd. Baroness Faithfull should have known that various attempts to “cure” gays had little success and caused enormous psychological damage to those involved. By repeating a broadly similar behaviourist approach but without electric shocks (which were outlawed in the UK in the 1980s) Baroness Faithfull should have been able to foresee that any attempts to “help” people who said that they were minor attracted was likely to have similarly disastrous results.

I think that the Baroness was just as naive as Frances Henry in believing that whatever your problem is, the answer somehow lies in counselling. This is the context within which SIN and child protection “professionals” work. They seem to believe that their moral judgement is enough for them to provide therapeutic services for others. I appreciate that moral judgement is necessary for us to make sense of our lives and to prevent us from harming ourselves and others but moral judgement is always made on the basis of inadequate knowledge.

Here lies the problem with SIN and their fellow travellers. They seldom allow themselves the luxury of accepting that they are frequently wrong, misled and shallow. Things that they see as axiomatic such as “adults are more powerful than children” are not always true. Sometimes a child is more powerful than an adult, within their own orbit. SIN UK is part of a wider movement that wants to see the complex questions about nature and the universe reduced to a few simple axioms, because they imagine this will make the world a happier place. They cannot have what they want so they tend to direct their anger at their clients.

They also have to work closely with the police, probation, child protection agencies, survivors’ groups, the media and mental health professionals, so they have to sing the tune these people want to hear even when it is contradictory. I think people have a better understanding now of the limitations of psychology (which were shown by John De Cecco in an interview with  Joseph Geraci in Paidika (Vol. 1 No.3, Winter 1988), in which he explained that psychology has sold its soul to money. The psychological opinions one gets depend on how much you are willing to pay for them, making the psychological community look very corrupt. One also hears stories about intimidation in British universities of academics who do not say what the government or wider public want to hear. I wonder if an honest psychologist is employable in this country?

I wonder how well SIN understand this? Very controversially they recruited Ray Wyre, who promoted himself as “the national expert on paedophilia”. At the time, Wyre had a background as a probation officer but with no directly relevant qualifications and no peer-reviewed publications to his name. He became the adviser to LFF and SIN. He was not without controversy. As a probation officer he had booked his meetings with sex offenders in groups. He did not ask either higher authority or the offenders themselves for permission to do this. He used this as a stepping stone to introduce sex offenders’ programmes imported from North America devised by Bill Marshall. These programmes are highly abusive mainly because they attempt to re-programme the mind to suit the state, as in the novel A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess (later film version directed by Stanley Kubrick). Inspired by Marshall, Wyre wrote a residential programme lasting nine months which was delivered by LFF/SIN. More seriously, Wyre was pre-occupied by MAPs who committed murder and was seeking to develop an hypothesis linking minor attraction and murder.

Initially, in 1992, they tried to open the Gracewell Clinic in Birmingham. Locally, this caused outrage because as a “progressive step” Wyre wanted to open the clinic next door to a children’s hospital. Even Lucy Faithfull had her doubts. Thankfully, the ghastly idea was shelved but in 1996 the Wolvercote Clinic opened in Epsom, Surrey. This clinic survived for six years and was confronted by local people waving placards saying what they would like to do to the clients and others like them. SIN/LFF were very dismissive of local concerns. They are also similarly dismissive whenever MAPs complain about the hatred and stigma they experience on a daily basis even though they have often witnessed this and know that people have been murdered because it was perceived that they were minor attracted. Their excuse is that whenever a “newspaper” screams extreme hatred about an “evil monster” it is not aimed at say, Adam Powell, but the reality of the media is that they promote hatred against all MAPs. There is an absurdity within British culture. On the one hand British people hold the media in very low regard indeed but then quote media prejudices as being absolute truth.

SIN believe that sex offending is a “learned behaviour” that can be “unlearned”. Such a statement is absurd because all behaviour is learned and no behaviour can be unlearned. For example, to be able to play the piano one first needs to learn how to play the piano and once learned the skill is not forgotten but may benefit from occasional practice. SIN make a practice of making sweeping statements that on examination make no sense such as “minor attraction cannot possibly exist because reciprocity in a relationship is important to me and a child can give nothing back”

When asked to explain their thinking, they attribute sex offending to exposure to violence. So a rapist, for example, probably will have greater exposure to violence than the general public. They then, very dishonestly categorise all sex offenders with the rapist and create an impression that all sex offenders are motivated by violence, which is clearly not the truth, whereas if they looked at sub-categories individually they would get different results.

It is like making the general observation that poverty is the most frequent cause of financial dishonesty and then claiming that a banker who commits fraud is motivated by poverty.  They like asserting that sex offending is not a mental illness and indeed it is not, but minor attraction is listed in DSM-5 as being a mental disorder (albeit not automatically so). This undermines SIN in two ways. First it shows that mental health professionals accept that minor attraction exists (even if the UK government refuses to accept this) and secondly SIN is seriously under-qualified to deal with these matters. When shown this, they become dismissive, seeing the work of psychiatrists more talented than themselves as a work of “American indulgence”.

Their tactic is to manipulate their clients into the belief that the client’s parents and others of significance are to blame for the client’s sex offending. Their reason for this is to preserve their own belief that if a person feels motivated towards adult-child sexual behaviour (even if it is only holding hands) there must be something very badly wrong with that person. Clearly “counselling” does not cause minor attraction to go away and the “therapist” systematically torments the client for admitting that they have these feelings. Their goal is to instil guilt so that the client develops a social phobia to the extent that they cannot travel on buses or trains or go to shops where children are present. According to SIN, this phobia is “empowerment”. According to them, anyone who experiences sexual feelings towards children does so by choice, because the client is not obliged to be wherever the child is. They also become personally abusive at this point, asserting that people choose to be minor attracted because they are low status among their “peer group” (although they cannot define what a peer group is) and then choose to be friendly with children (which then becomes sexualised) because this is “safer for them than seeking to develop relationships with adults”. SIN think that they have an educative role in “teaching” people to have “rewarding relationships” with adults. They seem to imagine that relationships are about “social skills” rather than falling in love, and they seem to think they can teach “social skills” even though they themselves are frequently rude.

SIN UK also view singles as people who are not fully fledged adults. They think that single MAPs should have adult partners; they fail to think through issues such as how the adult partner feels about minor attraction or whether the relationship gives access to children within the partner’s family.  For them, the most important thing in life is about “fitting in” suggesting they would persecute gays if this was necessary to “fit in”.

As they do not believe minor attraction exists, they cannot accept either that people can have paedophilic feelings but not act on them. They completely misunderstand homosexuality too. I remember a member of staff complaining to me that she could not understand what I was talking about when mentioning the combination of gay and celibate. In their imagination, anyone who is gay is homosexually active; so a child cannot be gay because they are “too young for that”. Due to their lack of separation between sexual attraction and sexual activity, they cannot accept that it is possible for a minor attracted person to live a responsible life as an MAP. They think MAPs must erase these emotions. SIN UK admitted that they have had complaints from clients alleging aggravation of existing mental health disorders (but still think there is a higher point of principle at stake). They also have difficulty understanding why a man sexually attracted to boys would describe himself as gay and minor attracted. For them being gay is adult-to-adult only. They don’t bother reading DSM, for example, which explains that homosexuality is sexual attraction between persons of the same sex and that age does not come into it.

Their rejection of minor attraction is partly because of perceived power difference; but power difference exists in all relationships, so objecting to power difference in relationships is opposition to all relationships. SIN become dismissive when this is explained to them and their response is to defend their own marriages as having equality of power. Even if this were true, it might not remain so. What if one partner happened to be in a car crash, was unable to work again and was left  dependant on their spouse for care? Such questions to SIN are dismissed as “unhelpful”. They do not seem to understand that power differences are not a problem when people sincerely love each other.

I have spoken a lot about SIN UK but I think that SIN NL is a good deal better than this. They do for example, accept that some people through no choice or fault of their own or anybody else’s are minor attracted and need to live responsible lives as MAPs and navigate a lot of stigma and ignorance. I remember a staff member of SIN UK becoming angry when I pointed this out and they become personally insulting.

Much of what they say is prefixed with “society says”. They get quite agitated when one points out that until a few years ago society hated gays for being gay and that one should not jump onto a bandwagon just because it has majority support. Their answer is that they don’t equate the two things, but then neither do I. They simply refuse to accept that if they repeat discredited behaviourist techniques that have failed with gays they will fail again, causing untold misery.

For all the controversy, SIN NL appears to be a much more humane organisation than its British equivalent. They work closely with Dr Frans Gieles and with JORis, a Dutch MAP group; JON is its counterpart in a different part of the country. They have shared ideas and materials. I do believe, however, that the only reason MAPs are treated with even a modicum of respect in the Netherlands is thanks to the pioneering work of Edward Brongersma and Frits Bernard. Until recently, MAPs had more political power in the NL than in the UK. Here lies the issue, in my opinion. Minor attraction is a political problem in need of a political solution and unfortunately, I do not think that things will get any better for MAPs without organising politically.

Mutual support aimed at self-acceptance


Support for those who are sexually attracted to minors and who feel lonely, depressed and desperate on account of their orientation is not conspicuously available in most countries. All that is offered is brain-washing aimed at bullying so-called “offenders” and presumptive “ticking time bombs” into cowed submission to the law.

At least in the Netherlands, though, there is an alternative. It has been pioneered by an old friend of mine, Dr Frans Gieles, who is well known in the kind community as the long-time leading light of the  organisation Ipce, which has run a discussion forum and annual conferences for many years and is now of global significance thanks to its superb online library of scientific and other scholarly resources. In today’s guest blog Frans put us in the picture regarding the humane – law-abiding but non-judgmental – mutual help groups he has organised and developed over several decades, with individual therapy offered as an alternative or supplement.

Frans, a true “wise old man” of our movement, was born in 1941. A grandfather now, many years ago he used to be a house-father and a staff member in children’s homes and a foster father at home. A qualified therapist and expert in education, his PhD thesis was on conflict management and meta-methodology.  Frans has his own website.



Looking back …

… to the 1980s: we then had 18 self-help groups in the Netherlands, mostly under the umbrella of the NVSH, the Dutch Association for Sexual Reform. This organization is unique, with nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world. Early in its history it played a pioneering role in the encouragement of family planning. Supporting openness about sexuality and the acceptance of sexual diversity, the NVSH offers counselling and support for minorities. This has long included paedophiles as well as gays.

Now, all that is left is a single self-help workgroup that organizes two “encounter groups”, one for the eastern part of the country and the other for the west. These offer individual counselling and therapy. The term “encounter groups” comes from the work of psychologist Carl Rogers, who developed the idea of non-directive therapy. Participants in the groups are encouraged to share thoughts and emotional reactions that arise in response to their fellow participants’ actions and statements. The emphasis is on sharing emotions, rather than on judging people.

What happened?

Internal conflicts, conflicts with the local NVSH board, misbehaviour of members or simply lack of members or leadership. Within society, the climate changed from around the mid-1980s onwards.  Relative tolerance towards paedophilia turned into rejection and hostility, so people became afraid to join groups associated with it.

A major development in 2014 cranked up this environment of hostility, when pro-paedophile organisation Vereniging Martijn (the Association Martijn, usually called just “Martijn”) was banned by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. Martijn had advocated for the societal acceptance of paedophilia and the legalization of sexual relationships between adults and children. The court reinstated (following a successful appeal) an earlier ruling in a lower court that the association’s actions and statements were in conflict with the accepted norms and values of Dutch society and that the ban was needed in order to protect children. In 2015, an appeal by the association to the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) was rejected.

Who survived?

The NVSH Workgroup, called “JORis”, a name which stands for “Youth-Adult Relationship, intimacy, sexuality”. This workshop survived under the umbrella of the national NVSH Board, now with two encounter groups: JON (= JORis East Netherlands) and West.

Especially after the end of the Association Martijn in 2014, more people became members of the JON group, who started a second encounter group in the West in 2015. New members kept coming in and continue to do so, so that there are now about 50 members. Regularly, both groups have to split themselves into two subgroups.

JORis and society: bridges to build

In the Netherlands, we have several institutions for “ambulant” forensic-psychiatric care. “Ambulant” means you get there under your own steam. You go along for an appointment at an office in town rather than being treated residentially in a clinic or other institution. Most of the clients are referred on a mandatory basis, sent by the court; but the care centres are also open for people going there voluntarily, most of them referred by health care institutions. But those who go voluntarily often complain that they are treated simply and solely as potential offenders, especially if they are obliged to join group sessions. So they leave.

These forensic-psychiatric institutions and the JORis groups used to exist in two almost entirely separate worlds. JORis, for their part, accepted the work of those institutions and their methodology, but the respect was not mutual. The institutions did not accept the existence and methodology of the JORis groups. Frequently, the institutions often forbade their clients from having contact with anyone else who admitted to paedophilic feelings: this made it impossible for them to join the self-help oriented JORis.

This has changed in the last couple of years.

At least, a bridgehead has been built. The forensic and mental health institutions have begun to refer clients to coordinators and therapists working with the JORis. With these professionally qualified figures seen as responsible intermediaries, clients are now being allowed to join the groups. Bridges not yet built are those over the gap between probation/rehabilitation officers and the JORis groups, and also between JORis and the closed forensic-psychiatric institutions.

The methodology: encounter groups

What kind of social setting works best for these help-seekers?

The encounter groups are primarily self-help groups. There is no “therapist” with “clients”: people help each other if they need help. Often, they are helped simply by the opportunity to speak openly.

The main methodology is narrative. Members are asked to tell their own, authentic personal story. They are asked to listen carefully, without expressing any kind of judgment or giving unwanted advice, and also without interruptions such as “Oh, in my case …” or “In my opinion …” They are stimulated to ask questions, to try to understand each other, and to acknowledge others’ contributions in their replies. Sometimes, a metaphor may be helpful: “Your story tells me you have been like a tortoise hiding fearfully under your shell; but now you are venturing out of it.”

Themes for the conversation are seldom set beforehand; rather, they should emanate from the group discussion. Sometimes, a theme will emerge in response to a topic that is clearly one of lively concern among the members.

We see this methodology working if members are asked to tell their narrative again, e.g. if a new member enters the group. We then hear that the narrative has changed, has developed itself, and thus that the person is developing himself. For instance, the first narrative is often something like, “I blame society for …” and “They” are held responsible. Later on the word “I” appears in the narrative instead of “they”.  Also, the first story is often “I am afraid of …, so I avoid …” or a story of fear, isolation or obsession. Later on, a kind of courage may appear, a kind of knowing how to live and to act – or how not to live and not to act.

The theme of “self-acceptance” is especially important and basic. Only with at least the beginnings of self-acceptance will people be able to search for ways of living that are legal, social, and maybe even happy. The members are mostly men, ranging from 18 to 81, so to say. Most questions come from our members in their twenties. The older ones may be a model for the younger ones, but also the younger ones for each other.

Also, downloading pictures is regularly a theme – not with the question “How can I do it?”, but “How can I stop it?”

The ethics of the group imply avoiding sexual contact with children, at least  in future. Most members do not even want such contacts; they want contact with children, not sex with children. Some say “I might want this if it were ever to become legal, but in reality I actually avoid sexual contacts”.

The group conversation is quite strictly led along these lines. This is to prevent the conversation from running in all directions, in which case members might complain “my head is getting overloaded”. This is an especially important consideration for members who are on the autistic spectrum but it applies to others too. They will say, “This group and what I am hearing here confronts me with myself. This is heavy. My head is quickly full.”

In the individual contacts, self-help and the narrative method is the first form. In some of the contacts, if these are more or less therapy, other methods may be used as well. The first is the non-directive way, but sometimes a more directive or cognition-led way may be better.

Our methodology is described in more detail here.

How does the group work in practice?

In 2015, the structure of both groups was changed. Both groups have a small team of coordinators, together with one central coordinator who is also the conversation leader of both groups: that person is me. Both groups have professional therapists connected to the group. We are able to give therapy to those who ask for it. I am a qualified therapist with a PhD.

The possibilities offered are:

  • Participating in one of the two encounter groups;
  • or in a smaller subgroup;
  • individual contact with one (or two) coordinators and/or active members;
  • individual contact with a professional counsellor or therapist, within JORis or without JORis;
  • partner interviews with (a pair of) professional counsellors.

All combinations are possible.

The individual contacts, offered in connection with group attendance or instead of it, were started because some members felt the group sessions were often “too heavy”. The individual sessions or subgroups allow the full groups to be lighter in tone.

Both groups meet each month on a Sunday from 3pm to 9pm, including a long pause and a dinner; these breaks provide opportunities for mutual contacts and for speaking about whatever one wishes.

Membership is free. Members are asked to make a donation towards the costs of running the group and for the dinner; their travel costs may be subsidised or fully covered. From last year onwards the NVSH has been providing a subsidy and a modest degree of financial recompense for the otherwise entirely unpaid voluntary work of the coordinator/therapist.

Whoever comes along to the groups makes their own personal introduction to the central coordinator. This introduction must be truly personal in the sense that their full identity must be given: that is, with their real name, address and photo ID, such as a passport. The coordinator listens carefully to the new person, without any judgment. The types of help on offer are described and there is a discussion as to what would be the best option for the newcomer. Using a nickname to participate in the groups is allowed, as long as the coordinators know the real data.

There is often anxiety over going into a group. In those cases, individual contact with the central coordinator, or a small subgroup, is offered. Such contacts can be lengthy, even lasting several years, before the person dares to enter a group – if ever.


Some important themes are:

  • Fear
  • Parents
  • Self-acceptance
  • “There is a monster within me”
  • Diagnoses
  • Isolation

These themes are mentioned with an explanation in our Report 2016 A.

  • “A group is scary and heavy”
  • Again: Self-acceptance
  • Therapists
  • “Downloading”

These themes are mentioned with an explanation in our Report 2016 B.

Secondary Problems

A number of people arrive with a history of problems, including “helpers” who failed to help. So they often have plural diagnoses and are on medication. There are also secondary problems: depression, suicidal thoughts, (severe) autism, neuroses, attachment problems, borderline personality disorder, psychosis, addiction – and more.

These problems are not inherently connected with paedophilic feelings, but, in our current society, they may occur in combination with it and so are said to be co-morbid. We do not know what causes what. It is hard to distinguish cause from effect. Causality could even run in both directions, or the association between different types of problem could be random.

Young people

Recent research confirms quite exactly our experience with young people.

The mean age for becoming conscious of one’s paedophilic feelings is 15. The mean age of “coming out” for the first time is … 22. To whom? Usually to one’s mother or a friend.

Note that between the mean of 15 and the mean of 22, lies a mean of seven years: seven years of lonely worrying and puzzling.

How many people in their teens or twenties are left facing all this anxiety on their own? We must reach out a hand to them.

Sooner or later they may reach the point of self-acceptance, and gradually find a manageable, and perhaps even happy, way of living sociably and within the law. Members in their thirties or forties, maybe in their mid-life crisis, as well as older people have also found that way.

They are not “offenders” and they surely do not want ever to become a perpetrator. They do not recognize themselves as in a “treatment” programme that approaches them only as a potential offender. They need to be approached as “non-offenders” – thus they need a methodology and an underlying theory quite different to that of current offender treatment.

Their narrative, and that of the JORis groups, is given above and in our annual reports.


Here below: (a) the recent research report just mentioned, (b) again our methodology described, (c) our three most recent (half-)annual reports, followed by (d) my website about “Helping People with Paedophilic Feelings”, in which I combat the current offender treatment methodology and offer alternatives for it.

  • (a) Cash, Brian Martin; Self-identifications, sexual development and well-being in minor-attracted people: an exploratory study – A Thesis – August 2016 – Faculty of the Graduate School of Cornell University.
  • (b) The narrative that may be told … in the self-help groups JON and JORis West.
  • (c) JON report 2016 a.
  • (c) JON report 2016 b.
  • (c) JON report 2017; and:
  • (d) Helping people.



MAP-ing the terrain of better therapy


What follows is a special announcement on behalf of a group being set up by people known and trusted by Heretic TOC. The subject is “therapy”. The track record of the mental health professions in relation to minor-attracted people has been so deeply unimpressive we might feel the best thing is to steer clear of them altogether. Thinkers such as Ben Capel (Notes From Another Country, Ch. 7) and Ipce’s Frans Gieles (Treatment, self-help and real therapy) have helped me keep an open mind. So I welcome this initiative and wish it every success.

I would like to draw the attention of the readers of Heretic TOC to a new group which is in the process of being formed: B4U-ACT UK. Many of you will know of the American organisation B4U-ACT. This a group of minor attracted people (MAPs) and mental health professionals (MHPs), whose main aim is to encourage the development of humane and professional mental health services for the minor attracted.  Our British organisation has similar aims but will be run separately with its own projects. We already have one project in progress, in which one of us, Adam Powell, is involved in discussions with a leading provider of ‘therapy’ for MAPs, discussing with him what we see as the shortcomings of his methods.

One thing I would like to make clear is that just by virtue of holding discussions with MHPs, we do not endorse the idea that minor attraction is an ‘illness’. What we do think is that MAPs generally face problems in their lives owing to societal rejection of their sexual orientation and that a professional therapist with the right sort of understanding of these problems should be able to help. But what we tend to see in practice is not helpful humane therapy but rather a form of dogmatic and ignorant treatment aimed at convincing the client or patient that he is perverted, sick, cognitively distorted and so on. We want this to change, not only for the sake of the MHPs who turn to therapy, but also for the sake of the young people to whom they are considered to be such a threat (since we do not think that the marginalization of MAPs helps to protect young people—quite the opposite.)

Tom has kindly given me this opportunity to use this forum to ask if any of his readers would like to join us. We would be particularly interested in hearing from people who have had some experience of seeking therapy for their minor attraction—we would like to hear how it turned out. We are also interested in recruiting ‘activists’ – people who would feel able to do the kind of liaising work that Adam is already doing, though we realise that this is not for everyone. If you are interested in any way, do get in touch by E-mailing me at StephenJames465@yahoo.co.uk

Stephen James

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