The Love and Attraction Conference (1977) and book (1979)

One of the events which was most significant in drawing public attention to the Paedophile Information Exchange was the Love and Attraction conference at University College, Swansea, hosted by the British Psychological Society, which took place from September 5th to 9th, 1977 (advertised in Magpie, Issue No. 2 (March 1977), p. 7). This came very soon after the campaign by the Daily Mirror in August, leading to far right demonstrations outside PIE meetings at Conway Hall, Holborn, London (see Lucy Robinson, Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain: How the personal got political (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2007), pp. 134-135). Much of the Swansea conference was relatiely innocuous, but it was the involvement of PIE which gained attention (Mathew Thomson, Lost Freedom: The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-War Settlement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 169). The conference as a whole was organised by Mark Cook, whilst Kevin Howell convened the symposium on paedophilia

The Dominican priest Father Michael Ingram (see the article on Spotlight here) was due to give a paper at the conference (‘Priest’s child sex views repudiated’, The Guardian, September 9th, 1977), which had been described by Tom O’Carroll as ‘an extensive, and largely positive, study of paedophile relationships between men and boys (O’Carroll, writing in Magpie, Issue 5 (July 1977), p. 6); he argues that in all but a few cases child sex does more good than harm. Ingram was attacked by the Bishop of Nottingham, the Rt Rev James McGuinness, who adamantly pointed out that Ingram did not speak for the Church, and acknowledged sympathetically fears of parents (‘Priest’s child sex views repudiated’).

According to the account of the occasion by Tom O’Carroll (then chair of PIE) (O’Carroll, Paedophilia: The Radical Case (London: Owen, 1980), Chapter 4), all the papers on paedophilia and child sexuality, including one by Dutch psychologist (and frequent contributor to PIE publication Magpie) Dr Frits Bernard, were given in secret session. Various porters, kitchen staff and other workers, from the union NUPE, threatened strike action if O’Carroll were allowed to stay at the university, who acceded to their demands. O’Carroll, who was also physically attacked by one account, also recalls being accosted by one professor who thought that PIE’s ill-judged campaign had ‘put the case for paedophilia back at least ten years’, by turning an academic conference into a media sensation (O’Carroll, Paedophilia, Chapter 12; and ‘Notes & News’, Magpie, Issue 7 (September 1977), p. 2). Earlier this year, when PIE was once again in the news, Swansea University declined to comment upon the original invitation to O’Carroll (‘Swansea University silent on 1970s paedophilia advocate’, South Wales Evening Post, March 3rd, 2014). The Dutch politician and long-term paedophile advocate Edward Brongersma (1911-98) was rejected from the conference by Cook, who was concerned it would be used to make political statements. Brongersma would lambast the attitudes of the British to the subject (‘Conference ban puts paedophilia in the cold’, The Guardian, August 27th, 1977; ‘Dutch MP backs child sex’, The Guardian, August 28th, 1977; Iain Murray, ‘Britain ‘intolerant’ on child sex’, The Observer, September 4th, 1977; ‘The Forbidden Speech’, Childhood Rights, Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 1 – this issue of the PIE publication also contained Brongersma’s ‘On Loving Relationships Human and Humane’, pp. 1-4)

Christian right-wing activist and Law Professor Judith Reisman gave a research paper at the Swansea conference, speaking later of how:

I first met up with what I had come to call ‘The Academic Paedophile Lobby’ in 1977 at The British Psychological Society Conference on Love and Attraction, Swansea, Wales.”

I delivered a research paper on child pornography in Playboy 1954-1977.

Other conference academicians, some hired by pornographers, presented ‘scientific’ papers advocating the legalization of child pornography, prostitution and an end to age of consent.”

They promoted their ‘scientific’ claims for early childhood sexuality to lawmakers and fellow academicians via both legitimate and pornographic media.”

The DSM is typical of this degeneracy since they already had lightened the diagnosis of paedophilia as to make it almost meaningless, requiring that the paedophile be ‘bothered’ by his and her abuse of children and so on.

We now have women and children sexually violating children as well as men. This will continue to spiral down into, well, we’d have to say the abyss of hell, unless we retrieve our laws, our mass media and our schools. (‘Fears that academic conference will normalise paedophilia’, Christian Concern, August 18th, 2011)

(It should be noted that Reisman is a quite extreme homophobe, quick to equate homosexuality and paedophilia, and for this reason I would treat many of her wider views with caution. See ‘Judith Reisman: Homosexuality leads to “tyranny” and “slavery”‘, The Examiner, May 9th, 2013)

Another report on the conference told the following anecdote:

Up in the Press room at the university on the day I met a very charming and lively little boy who was passing his time making paper aeroplanes out of abstracts of delegates papers. I asked his father, one of the Department of Psychology, if he was hiding him up there in case Tom O’Carroll was about. “Good God no Man” he replied in an accent straight out of Milk Wood, “he’s such a little horror at home I’m hoping they do meet up. Might cure both of them” (Eric Trimmer, article in Medical News, September 21st, 1977, cited in ‘Read All About It’, Magpie Issue No. 8 (no date), p. 3).

Larry L. Constantine , a polymath figure who is also a computer software designer and composer, co-edited another key volume – Larry L. Constantine and Floyd M. Martinson (eds), Children and Sex: New Findings, New Perspectives (Boston: Little, Brown, 1981) – which collected various views on the subject, including Constantine’s own essay ‘The Effects of Early Sexual Experiences’, in which he notes that many studies have reported neutral or even positive reactions. More can be read on Ken Plummer (about who I will blog at length at a later date) here on Spotlight.

A book coming out of the conference was published in 1979: Mark Cook and Glenn Wilson (eds), Love and Attraction: An International Conference (Oxford: Pergamon, 1979). A full list of contents, with notes on contributors, can be found at this link. Below are some related articles, and the relevant chapters.

[A further book was produced in 1981, edited by the two Swansea conference organisers: Mark Cook and Kevin Howells (eds), Adult Sexual Interest in Children (New York: Academic Press, 1981). Includes Constance Avery-Clark, Joyce Ann O’Neil and D.R. Laws, ‘A comparison of intrafamilial sexual and physical child abuse’, pp. 3-39; J.W. Mohr, ‘Age structures in pedophilia’, pp. 41-54; Kevin Howells, ‘Adult sexual interest in children: considerations relevant to theories of aetiology’, pp. 55-94; Thore Langefeldt, ‘Sexual development in children’, pp. 99-120; Matti Virkkunen, ‘The child as participating victim’, pp. 121-134; Kurt Freund, ‘Assessment of pedophilia’, pp. 139-179; David Crawford, ‘Treatment approaches with pedophiles’, pp. 181-217; Kenneth Plummer, ‘Pedophilia: Constructing a Sociological Baseline’, pp. 221-250; Donald J. West, ‘Adult sexual interest in children: implications for social control’, pp. 251-270. ]


The Guardian
, August 27th, 1977

Guardian 270877 - Conference ban puts paedophile group further into the cold


The Guardian
, August 28th, 1977

Guardian 280877 - Dutch MP backs child sex

‘Priest to reveal startling facts about paedophilia’, The Sunday Times, September 4th, 1977.

Sunday Times 040977 - Priest to reveal startling facts about paedophilia


The Guardian
, September 9th, 1977
‘Priest’s child sex views repudiated’

Guardian 090977 - Priest's child sex views repudiated.


Section on ‘Infant and Child Sexuality’

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Section on Paedophilia 1

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Section on Paedophilia 2

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3 Comments on “The Love and Attraction Conference (1977) and book (1979)”

  1. […] The Love and Attraction Conference (1977) and Book (1979) (7/7/14) […]

  2. […] there was the Love and Attraction Conference from September 5th to 9th in Swansea, which became something of a media event when several members were ejected, forbidden to speak, or […]

  3. […] 1977 Sept 8 Love and Attraction Conference organised by the Psychological Society at University College Swansea at which Ingram was due to appear, after Tom O’Carroll submitted his paper [45] [3] [53] However Tom O’Carroll was banned after porters, kitchen staff and auxiliary staff threatened to go on strike. Good article by Ian Pace on the conference [55] […]


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