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Is stranger rape a strategy to avoid female courtship behavior?: a parallel fMRI and penile plethysmography study

Androvicova, R1; Novak, O2; Hula, M3; Tomecek, D4; Hlinka, J5; Weiss, P6; Klapilova, K7

1: National Institute of Mental Health, Czech Republic; 2: National Institute of Mental Health, Czech Republic; Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic ; 3: National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic; Faculty of science, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic ; 4: National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic ; 5: National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic; Institute of computer science, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic ; 6: National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic; Institute of Sexology, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic ; 7: National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic; Faculty of Humanities, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

Objectives: The absence of pleasant and friendly interaction with a woman prior to attack is a typical feature of stranger rape. This might indicate several mechanisms – the impulsivity of a perpetrator (cannot control their sex drive), the preference for humiliation and control (sadistic-like motivation) or their inability to achieve satisfactory sexual satisfaction in the context of normal female courtship behavior. Given that there is empirical evidence against first two possibilities (Harris et al., 2012; Seto et al., 2012), we tested the third possibility. We hypothesized that genital display of a female preceded by courtship behavior will create lesser penile reaction and lesser brain activation in rapists as opposed to controls, while the ratio will be reversed for the naked female displaying her genitalia preceded by non-courtship-like behaviors.

Materials and methods: The sample consisted of 15 convicted male rapists (diagnosed mainly as F65.9 “disorder of sexual preference not otherwise specified” in ICD-11) and 15 control males matched for demographic characteristics. Participants were exposed to the set of still pictures representing following conditions: 1) genital display preceded by courtship-like facial expressions, 2) genital display preceded by lustful facial expressions, 3) genital display preceded by facial expressions of distress, 4) genital display preceded by pictures of nature (control condition). Duration of each set of stimuli (a unit of analysis) was 18 seconds. The experiment lasted 36 minutes in total. Stimuli were presented in pseudo-random order. During the experiment, we simultaneously measured sexual arousal and brain response, using custom-built volumetric penile plethysmography (Heinrich SOM) and 3 Tesla magnetic resonance device, respectively. Other related variables (e.g. frequencies of solitary and dyadic sexual activities, sexual fantasies, ability for attachment and romantic love and specifics of courtship behavior) were assessed using questionnaires and anamnestic interview. SPSS 20 and SPM 12 software (MATLAB-associated) were used for data analysis.

Results: Data are still being analyzed. Final results are expected in January 2018.

Conclusions: Conclusions will be available in January 2018.

This research was funded by ESSM Research grant, awarded in 2015 to the project “The study of sexual variation: physiological and neural correlates during experimental exposure to erotic stimuli” (Prof.Petr Weiss).

Funded by the Czech Science Foundation project GACR (GA17-11004S), by National Institute of Mental Health (project number: LO1611, programme of the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports: NPU I), by the ESSM grant “The study of sexual variation: physiological and neural correlates during experimental exposure to erotic stimuli” and by the 3rd Medical Faculty Charles University in Prague (GAUK232415).

Disclosure:

Work supported by industry: no.

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