A tremendous amount of media attention has been directed towards sexual abuse perpetrated by Roman Catholic priests in recent years. While there are countless research studies on both sexual abuse victims and perpetrators in the professional literature, very few have specifically investigated Roman Catholic priests who sexually abuse minors. The purpose of this study is to investigate the role of personality and cognitive variables among hospitalized sex offending Roman Catholic priests using specific MMPI-2, WAIS-R, and Halstead-Reitan measurements. Specifically, the role of defensive coping styles as measured by the L, K, O-H, and R scales of the MMPI-2 along with IQ scores from the WAIS-R and the Halstead impairment index were investigated. A total of 160 Roman Catholic priests (80 who sexually abused minors and 80 nonabusing control patients) hospitalized in a private psychiatric facility specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of clergy were evaluated. Results suggest that overcontrolled-hostility (O-H) was the most reliable predictor of group membership while Verbal IQ approached statistical significance. Implications for further research are offered.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Berry, J. (1992).Lead us not into temptation: Catholic priests and the sexual abuse of children. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Blanchard, G.T. (1991). Sexually abusive clergymen: A conceptual framework for intervention and recovery.Pastoral Psychology, 39, 237–245.
Camargo, R.J., & Loftus, J.A. (1992). Child sexual abuse among troubled clergy: A descriptive study. Paper presented at the 101st Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C.
Cassera, G., Ford, M., Lothstein, L., & Gallenstein, T. (1988). Neuropsychological dysfunction and brain imaging studies in paraphiles: Preliminary studies.Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 10, 73.
Chandler, R. (1990, August 3). Sex abuse rocks the American clergy,L.A. Times, p. A1.
de la Houssays, N. (1993) Liability of the church for the sexual misconduct of church leaders.Loyola Law Review, 39, 313–338.
Duckworth, J., & Barley, W. (1988). Within-normal-limit profiles. In R. Greene,The MMPI: Use with special populations (pp. 13–31). Philadelphia, PA: Grune and Stratton.
Duthie, B., & McIvor, D. (1990). A new system for cluster-coding child molester MMPI profile types.Criminal Justice and Behavior, 17, 199–214.
Erickson, W.D., Luxenberg, M.G., Walbek, N.H., & Seely, R.K. (1987). Frequency of MMPI two-point code types among sex offenders.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 566–570.
Flor-Henry, P., Lang, R.A., Frenzel, R.R., & Koles, Z.J. (1991). Quantitative EEG studies of pedophilia.International Journal of Psychophysiology, 10, 253–258.
Hall, G., Maiuro, R., Vitaliano, P., & Proctor, W. (1986). The utility of the MMPI with men who have sexually assaulted children.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 111–112.
Haywood, T.W. (1994). Cleric misconduct with minors: Minimization and self-reported sexual functioning. Paper presented at the 13th annual conference of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, San Francisco, CA.
Hendricks, S.E., Fitzpatrick, D.F., Hartmann, K., Quaife, M.A., Stratbucker, R.A., & Graber, B. (1988). Brain structure and function in sexual molesters of children and adolescents.Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 49, 108–112.
Hucker, S., Langevin, R., Wortzman, R., Bain, J., Handy, L., Chambers, J., & Wright, S. (1986). Neuropsychological impairment in pedophiles.Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, 18, 440–448.
Kalichman, S.C. (1991). Psychopathology and personality characteristics of criminal sexual offenders as a function of victim age.Archives of Sexual Behavior, 20, 187–197.
Kalichman, S.C., Dwyer, M., Henderson, M.C., & Hoffman, L. (1992). Psychological and sexual functioning among outpatient sexual offenders against children: A Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) cluster analytic study.Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 14, 259–276.
Keddy, P.J., Erdberg, P., Sammon, S.D. (1990). The psychological assessment of Catholic clergy and religious referred for residential treatment.Pastoral Psychology, 38, 147–159.
Lang, R.A. (1993). Neuropsychological deficits in sexual offenders: Implications for treatment.Sexual and Marital Therapy, 8, 181–200.
Langevin, R., Wortzman, G., Wright, P., & Handy, L. (1989). Studies of brain damage and dysfunction in sex offenders.Annals of Sex Research, 2, 163–179.
Loftus, J.A. & Camargo, R.J. (1993). Treating the clergy.Annals of Sex Research, 6, 287–303.
Mann, J., Stenning, W., & Borman, C. (1992). The utility of the MMPI-2 with pedophiles.Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 18, 59–74.
Plante, T.G., Manuel, G., & Bryant, C. (1994). Catholic priests who sexually abuse minors: Intervention, assessment, and treatment Paper presented at the 13th annual conference of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, San Francisco, CA.
Plante, T.G. (1996) Catholic priests who sexually abuse minors: Why do we hear so much yet know so little?Pastoral Psychology, 44, 305–310.
Quade, V. (1992). Unholy wars.Human Rights, 19, 18–21, 30.
Robinson, T. (1994). Shadows of the lantern bearers: A study of sexually troubled clergy. Paper presented at the 23rd International Congress of Applied Psychology, Madrid, Spain.
Sipe, A.W.R. (1990).A secret world: Sexuality and the search for celibacy. New York, NY: Brunner Mazel.
About this article
Cite this article
Plante, T.G., Manuel, G. & Bryant, C. Personality and cognitive functioning among hospitalized sexual offending Roman Catholic priests. Pastoral Psychol 45, 129–139 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02260019
- Sexual Abuse
- Coping Style
- Cross Cultural Psychology
- Reliable Predictor
- Cognitive Variable