Here’s the skinny.  Police have arrested Patrick A. Schroedl for felony voyeurism. He’s accused of lurking around homes and apartments in the University District and exposing himself. He made his first appearance in a King County courtroom on Wednesday where the judge found probable cause to hold the 26-year-old on $100,000 bond. He’s facing three counts of felony voyeurism and one count of indecent exposure.

Police say Schroedl peers into windows of homes and apartments, touches himself and taps the window for attention. Court documents say in some cases he would even take photos and video of people from outside residential windows.

For the young women who live around the campus of the University of Washington news of the arrest has brought tremendous relief. “I heard a knock and thought it was one of my friends and when I turned to see who is was, a man was masturbating pretty close to my window,” said one woman who asked to remain anonymous. “I now feel relief and I hope he stays in jail.” The bottom line is he needed to get arrested and he needs to stop but what does stop look like. If he takes his illegal behavior inside a strip club he will not risk getting arrested again, he might even see that as a step forward or at worst harm reduction but he still will not be well.

Schroedl is accused in dozens of felony voyeurism cases dating back to May. “This appears to be a pattern of what I would call compulsive behavior,” said the judge as he reviewed the case. Now police say students living around the UW campus can feel a little safer, especially those whose lives have been impacted. Schroedl will make his next court appearance on March 15. Truth is he’s toast.

The American Psychiatric Association has classified certain voyeuristic fantasies, urges and behavior patterns as a paraphilia. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) states if the person has acted on these urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty. It is described as a disorder of sexual preference. The DSM-V defines voyeurism as the act of looking at “unsuspecting individuals, usually strangers, who are naked, in the process of disrobing, or engaging in sexual activity.” The diagnosis would not be given to people who experience typical sexual arousal simply by seeing nudity or sexual activity. In order to be diagnosed with voyeuristic disorder the symptoms must persist for over six months and the person in question must be over the age of 18.

In 1983 Dr Patrick Carnes wrote “Out Of The Shadows” the seminal book on the topic of sex addiction. In that ground breaking book he came up with three separate categories of sexual behavior in order to give some separation to the field since addiction for many people equated with illegal.

Here are his three levels.

  1. Level one
    Contains behaviors regarded as normal, acceptable, or tolerable (e.g., masturbation, pornography, and prostitution), and are given general cultural acceptance. Though some of these behaviors may be considered illegal, widespread practice conveys a public tolerance. The healthiest forms of sexual expression (e.g., masturbation) can turn into self-defeating behaviors or the victimization of others. Many level one addicts feel they can control their behavior, and may rationalize they are no different than most people.
  2. Level two
    Extends to those behaviors which are clearly victimizing and for which legal sanctions are enforced. These are seen as nuisance offenses such as exhibitionism or voyeurism. One element common to all level two obsessions is that someone is victimized.
  3. Level three
    Behaviors have significant consequences for the victims and legal consequences for the addicts; examples are incest, child molestation, or rape. Compulsivity at this level represents a severe progression of the addiction and involves the violation of significant boundaries.

As Carnes sees it, Patrick A. Schroedl showed a level two behavior. It is illegal and there is a victim. Voyeurism is considered to be the most common of law-breaking sexual behaviors. The risk and prognostic factors of voyeuristic disorder are both temperamental and environmental. Voyeurism is considered as a precondition for voyeuristic disorder, so the risk factors of voyeurism increases the risk factors of voyeuristic disorder as well. According to DSM-V, the environmental risk factors are childhood sexual abuse, hyper sexuality, and substance abuse. I would add so is an addiction to porn and or the sex industry. This issue cannot be looked at with one dimensional lenses.

According to DSM-V, hyper sexuality and other paraphilic disorders, especially exhibitionistic disorder, are common comorbid conditions occurring with voyeuristic disorder. Depression, anxiety, attention deficit, anti-social behaviors, hyper sexuality, conduct and personality disorders, and bipolar condition are also some of the most common comorbid conditions of voyeuristic disorder.

Official treatment options for individuals with voyeuristic disorders include psychotherapy, marital therapy, group therapy, family therapy, cognitive therapy, psychoanalysis and pharmacotherapy as indicated. The patients, moreover, are also treated with prescribed medications including medicines that are aimed at inhibiting the levels of their sexual hormones. Paraphilic disorders, including voyeuristic disorders, belonged to the obsessive compulsive (O.C.D.) group and therefore, this condition would be improved by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). People tend to exhibit voyeuristic tendencies, according to DSM-V, when they find it difficult to suppress their unconventional sexual tendencies. Therefore, this inhibitors are used to alter the balance of this dysfunctional serotonergic system.

Most paraphilic disorders, especially voyeuristic disorder, develop accidentally and then turn into an obsession which leads to subsequent sexual gratification. Voyeurism is considered to be a sexual offense in some countries. Since individuals exhibiting voyeuristic disorder tendencies spy on the private activities of non-consenting partners, it is against the law and is considered as a misdemeanor.

Here’s the challenge for our 26 year old “Peeping Tom”. Sex addiction is not in the DSM so this treatment model will not work. What it fails to take into account is his shame, guilt and utter self-contempt that came long before this arrest. At the end of the day his feeling of isolation has engulfed him. The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is connection and this treatment method will not address that. I can only imagine how many times he swore off the behavior with or without a solemn oath that he would stop only to succumb again to the power of the addiction.

In the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, written in 1938, the first chapter is called the Doctor’s Opinion written by Dr William Silkworth. Dr. Silkworth treated more than 40,000 alcoholics in his career and was regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in the field. Crucially, he described the “powerlessness of alcoholism as an obsession of the mind that compels one to drink and an allergy of the body that condemns one to go mad or die.” Dr. Silkworth observed that alcoholics could recover if they could obtain an essential psychic change brought about with the aid of a Higher Power. He called that compulsion the “Phenomenon of Craving. Silkworth had a profound influence on AA’s founder Bill Wilson and encouraged him to realize that alcoholism was more than just an issue of moral weakness. He introduced Wilson to the idea that alcoholism had a pathological, disease-like basis.

Now look at voyeurism thru the lenses of alcoholism and it isn’t that hard to see a connection. Just an opinion I could be wrong. I would love to sit down and visit with this young man, but I doubt that will happen. The state will make him jump through its hoops hoping he does not re-offend. I hope he gets better not based on whether or not he stops the bad behavior but rather he can fill that God size whole in his heart. I will keep him in my thoughts and prayers.

If you or anyone you know might be struggling with any of these behaviors let’s get out in front of it before the state intervenes.

Contact me and remember misery is optional.

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