Mind and Body

Understanding Female Pedophiles

Aimee Sword, 36, of Waterford Township, Mich., has been sentenced to nine to 30 years in prison for having sex with her 14-year-old son, whom she had given up for adoption as an infant. Sword used the Internet to track down the adolescent boy, and then seduced him.

Sword joins the growing list of female sexual predators, whose ranks are likely to have grown with gender equality. The fact that men and women both feel empowered sexually may also mean that both groups exhibit the pathological extremes of sexuality as well.

Sword did well to give her son up for adoption and insulate him for 14 years from her obviously predatory nature. It is hard to imagine the psychological injury that results from being reunited with one's mother, hoping for love, hoping for healing, only to have those hopes twisted into sexual union and, thereby, decimated.

Prison terms punish sexual offenders like Aimee Sword, but they obscure a goal worth pursuing in society. We very much need to acknowledge that men and women like Sword are sick, not just depraved. We need to label their behaviors as dangerous illnesses, not just evil. a

This would deposit them in the appropriate setting_ locked psychiatric facilities from which they would not be discharged until they could be proven safe in the community. aa

Realistically, that might mean a lifetime of hospitalization and/or the use of intensive psychotherapy in combination with medications to obliterate their sex drives - like Depo Provera, perhaps in combination with mood stabilizers.

Understand this: Aimee Sword was not the bad seed. At two or six or 10 or 14-years-old she wasn't thinking how she'd like to turn her life and that of her future son into a horror story and end up in jail for a decade or more. a

Probably very early in life, something very toxic and painful eroded Aimee Sword's capacity for reason and empathy. The same can almost certainly be said for every pedophile. The terrible truth is that once people are broken spiritually and emotionally, they are not only ill themselves, but infectious. They can pass their pathology on to others - and too often do.

Aimee Sword's life story, if we knew it, would make a terrible kind of sense. Every life story does. The chapter she just lived was foreshadowed by a much earlier one.

Now, Aimee Sword's son has been infected by the dark forces that must have invaded her existence when she was too young or too weak to defend against them. May he recover and may he be the one who passes such destructive energy to no one, turning his injury into empathy, and, thereby, honors that extraordinary potential for human healing we may as well call God.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatry correspondent for Fox News Channel and a New York Times bestselling author. His book, "Living the Truth: Transform Your Life Through the Power of Insight and Honesty" has launched a new self-help movement including www.livingthetruth.com.Dr. Ablow can be reached at info@keithablow.com.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team.