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COLUMN p //Hazmats_with Judith Reisman/

Picture
and ignored the impact that
images have on the mind. Art
historian David Freedberg has
documented people being “sexu-

Poison
ally aroused by pictures and sculp-
tures”; they “mutilate them, kiss
them, cry before them,” he writes.
Sir Kenneth Clark notes that all
nudes arouse “some vestige of

Viewing Pornography for a


erotic feeling” in viewers. Neu-
rologist Richard Restak points out
that “the more bizarre the visual
Living Can Be Deadly image, the more likely we are to
see and remember it.”
Perhaps the FBI forgot my pre-
sentation to its Quantico behav-
ioral science unit in 1983. After
my briefing on the child pornog-
raphy, crime, and violence de-
picted in Playboy and Penthouse,
the agency purged both maga-
zines from its commissary—the FBI
behavioral science director had
grasped the causal role of sexual
images on behavior.
Aristotle likened mental im-
ages to “tracing with a signet
ring on wax.” Neuroscientists now
define this brain-body response
as “mirroring.” Could Patty Rust
sleep at night with those bi-
zarre images of torture cruising
through her brain, her body, and
her memory?

Viewers at Risk

I
Although the FBI may now claim
n Cries in the Desert (2007), John Glatt reported the that there is no causal link be-
tween pornographic images and
tragic suicide of FBI Agent Patty Rust. In 1999, Rust behavior, the National Center
was tasked with preparing “detailed drawings and for Missing and Exploited Chil-
dren (NCMEC) has faced reality.
diagrams of every item inside” the torture collection of It has established a “Safeguard”
David Ray, a pornography-addicted killer. Officer Rust was program to alleviate job trauma
resulting from visual exposure to
a “former Captain in the U.S. Army [and] an experienced sado-sexual materials. NCMEC’s
FBI agent with a degree in criminology.” Director of Family Advocacy Ser-
vices, Marsha Gilmer-Tullis, said,
After spending five days in couldn’t handle what she had “Law enforcement and the legal
a trailer viewing the sado-sexual seen and was exposed to in that profession have come to under-
evidence, Agent Rust “walked out trailer.” The FBI, however, of- stand the importance of ensuring
of the TOY BOX and shot herself ficially ruled that her suicide was that staff involved in this work
in the head with her service re- unconnected to her isolated week must be taken care of emotionally
volver, dying instantly.” A state of viewing and re-drawing the and psychologically.” “This work”
official involved in the investiga- grisly scenes. refers to pornography, especially,
tion stated, “She most probably The FBI disclaimer was hasty but not only, child pornography.

autumn 09 SALVO 23
COLUMN p
NCMEC’s Child Victim Identi- In other words, viewing por- members to minimize
fication Program (CVIP) is the US nographic images, especially of potential harm as a result
clearinghouse “for child-pornog- abused children, is toxic, what is of viewing objectionable
raphy cases and also serves as the termed an “erototoxin.” Such im- material.
main point of contact to interna- ages distress even “level-headed This quarter 88 hours
tional agencies for victim identi- professionals,” including FBI of direct psychological
fication,” Gilmer-Tullis explained. agents. NCMEC now has a psy- consultation were pro-
For a long time, she noted, people chologist on duty to help staff vided through individual
in law enforcement, the military, who must view this material. and group sessions with
social work, and similar profes- The April 23, 2009 edition of the a cumulative total of
sions whose job included view- NCMEC Quarterly Progress Report 971 hours during this 27-
ing images of child pornography noted that most agencies now of- month OJJDP [Office of
were afraid to admit they needed fer or even mandate counseling Juvenile Justice and Delin-
emotional help, lest this reveal for their affected staff members quency Prevention] grant
“an inability to perform one’s job rather than moving them to other period.
or prevent one from advancing in jobs. In detail: Through these ses-
their career.” sions 91% of all ECD staff
Fortunately, that fear has The CyberTipline Safe- members and 100% of
been diminishing, she said, as guard Project is a multi- staff members with less
“level minded professionals un- focused program . . . de- than 1 year of experience
derstand that this work . . . could signed to provide job- in the division reported
create incredible psychological specific training and con- they were able to identify
challenges for the viewer at pres- sultation to ECD [Exploit- and manage potential
ent and possibly in the future.” ed Children Division] staff negative issues that could

Porn Buzz
W
hen it comes to lust, neuroimaging confirms
that the prurient urge is all-encompassing.
Watching pornography calls upon brain re-
gions associated with reward, sensory interpretation,
and visual processing. It enlists the amygdala and the
hypothalamus, [two structures in the brain] which
deal with emotional information; it also stimulates
the reward-processing ventral striatum, probably due
to the satisfying nature of watching erotic stimuli.
All said, the most notable thing about lust is that it
sets nearly the whole brain buzzing, [Adam] Safron
says.” Safron is a research consultant at Northwestern
University who has conducted neuroimaging studies
focusing on sexual behavior.
“These responses are so unique and distinctive
that, in the context of an experiment, it is possible to
determine whether a man is aroused just by looking
at an fMRI brain scan. ‘These are huge effects,’ Safron
says. ‘You’re looking at the difference between some-
thing that elicits intense desire and something that
does not.’”
—from Kathleen McGowan,
“Seven Deadly Sins,” Discover,
September 2009, p. 50

24 SALVO issue 10
SEX
arise as a result of view- arousal responses such as hyper- many jury members, judges, police
ing objectionable materi- vigilance or difficulty concentrat- officers, and social scientists have
als on the job. . . . ing” (www.medicalnewstoday. been and are now being trau-
These goals are ac- com/articles/60266.php). matized in the line of duty, their
complished through the brains neuro-chemically restruc-
use of in-house profes-
sional social workers in
Dangerous Denial tured by erototoxins unleashed by
the viewing of pornography?
the Family Advocacy Divi- Dr. Francis warns that “if denied If NCMEC staff had not expe-
sion and weekly visits by a or ignored,” this trauma can so rienced emotional and psycho-
private psychologist. This change a person’s perspective that logical harm from seeing porno-
quarter the project team
continued holding indi-
vidual sessions with new
staff members . . . in an It could well be argued that executive, judi-
effort to provide neces-
sary support to help them ciary, and legislative denials of the toxic
manage possible concerns
that may arise. [Emphasis
effects of pornography have not only put the
added] immature brains of juveniles at risk, but also
The NCMEC study recommends those of adults, including public servants.
interventions for child-exploita-
tion investigators who must view
objectionable material. “Moni- it “may impede professional judg- graphic images, there would have
toring employees’ well-being” ment and interfere with one’s per- been no justification for the costly
should be proactive, the report sonal life.” It could well be argued investment of time, money, and
states, to prevent “severe second- that executive, judiciary, and leg- resources used to put the Safe-
ary traumatization.” Further, ana- islative denials of the toxic effects guards program in place. But in-
lysts need “support resources . . . of pornography have not only put quiries NCMEC has received from
safeguard programs, counseling, the immature brains of juveniles other protective organizations
[and] peer support” to create at risk, but also those of adults, in- about their own traumatized
“awareness of secondary trauma cluding public servants. Vernon J. staffs demonstrate the far-reach-
and compassion fatigue” and to Geberth, former Commanding ing impact of these stimuli among
mitigate their effects. Officer of the Bronx Homicide professionals.
In 2007, Juliet Francis, an Task Force, which handles over I am often asked about the
NCMEC psychologist, published 400 murder investigations a year, children and teenagers, women
“Helping the Helpers: Minimiz- stated, “This proliferation and ac- and men who are consuming “ob-
ing the Psychological Impact of cess to pornography via the Inter- jectionable material” at home, in
Investigators Viewing Objection- net in the privacy of one’s home the office, or at school, or in pris-
able Material.” This analysis is a catalyst for copy-cat crimes ons, hospitals, and other institu-
defines “objectionable materi- and disaster. We are in a sad state tions. Do they all have a full-time
als” as the toxic form of eros, or and it will get worse.” During psychologist available with whom
erototoxins. The report concluded one recent week, an FBI agent, a they can share their “so-called
that, although “investigators of sheriff’s deputy, and a mayor were arousal responses,” sexual trauma,
exploited children often experi- all arrested for child sexual abuse lust, fear, and shame?
ence satisfaction in their work to and/or child pornography. If the NCMEC needs to safe-
prevent child victimization . . . The elephant in the middle guard its trained adult staff from
viewing child pornography may of the room that no one wants to the known toxic effects of por-
increase one’s risk of exposure to acknowledge is that viewing “ob- nography, how much more vul-
the effects of secondary trauma.” jectionable materials,” once diag- nerable are ordinary citizens, and
Exposure to pornography fits the nosed as a form of “peeping,” is especially children, to these mate-
definition of “secondary traumat- deviant conduct; and that viewing rials? If an experienced FBI agent
ic stress disorder” given in Medi- such materials has actually led like Patty Rust couldn’t handle her
cal News Today as “repeated and some investigators into perpetrat- exposure to this poison, isn’t it
unwanted memories of the event, ing copycat sexual crimes against time to provide public protection
avoidance responses such as emo- the very children they pledged, from this modern deluge of eroto-
tional numbness, and so-called and planned, to protect. How toxic pollution?

autumn 09 SALVO 25