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Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative

Upcoming Events

Patrick SingyPatrick Singy, Union College
Danger and Difference: The Stakes of Hebephilia

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
4:00 p.m.
2239 Lane Hall

In 2008 the diagnostic category of “hebephilia” (erotic preference for "pubescent children," or young adolescents) was suggested for inclusion in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, published May 2013). Immediately a vehement debate arose over whether or not this condition should be considered a disease, and in 2012 the proposal to include hebephilia in DSM-5 was finally rejected. In this talk Patrick Singy argues that the debate about the diagnostic validity of hebephilia was profoundly misguided. Diagnosis of hebephilia plays a role in “sexually violent predator” (SVP) laws, which can preventively deprive “dangerous” people of their liberty if, and only if, they are deemed mentally ill—for instance, by suffering from hebephilia. Singy contends that the legal requirement of mental illness for the application of SVP laws serves both to identify the most dangerous people and, more covertly, to define them as quasi-animals, outside humanity, and thus to safeguard the laws' constitutionality in a liberal context. According to Singy the requirement fails on both counts, and the debate over hebephilia should have targeted this unsound requirement itself. Instead, because it focused on the issue of diagnostic validity, the hebephilia debate rested implicitly on an acceptance of the requirement of mental illness for application of SVP laws.

Patrick Singy is an adjunct professor at Union College in Schenectady, NY. He received his PhD in history and philosophy of science from the University of Chicago in 2004 and has been a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University and Columbia University, as well as a scholar-in-residence in the Bioethics Center at Union Graduate College. His research interests include the history of medicine and sexuality, the historiography of science, and the history and philosophy of psychology and psychiatry. He has published essays in American and international journals including Representations, Journal of Modern History, Journal of the History of Sexuality, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, and Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. He is the author of L’Usage du sexe. Lettres au Dr Tissot, auteur de L’Onanisme (1760) (BHMS, 2014) and the co-editor, with Steeves Demazeux, of The DSM-5 in Perspective: Philosophical Reflections on the Psychiatric Babel (Springer, forthcoming).

Ramzi Fawaz, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Thursday, February 26, 2015
4:00 p.m.
2239 Lane Hall

Lauren Gutterman, University of Michigan

Monday, March 23, 2015
4:00 p.m.
2239 Lane Hall

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