OCD: Sexually Intrusive Thoughts

OCD: Sexually Intrusive Thoughts

There are various domains of OCD and the sexually intrusive thoughts domain is one of the more common ones. It’s easily misunderstood and I hope this blog post can provide some eduction as to what this form of OCD really is. It’s important to keep in mind that regardless of the domain of OCD, OCD is simply the fear of uncertainty. OCD wants to rob people of joy and it can best do this by having people doubt who they are. 

Thoughts are not the same as desire!

The more common sexually intrusive thoughts involve sexual orientation. Those struggling with this form of OCD will develop doubt about whether they are gay or straight or whether they are a pedophile. They might even have incestuous thoughts about a close loved one or even thoughts about the family pet! OCD will try to sabotage any relationship! It has no boundaries.

Please understand that having sexually intrusive thoughts does not mean there is desire. In fact, if someone comes to us saying that they have intrusive thoughts related to children, we always evaluate whether he or she truly desires children. Those with OCD always say the same thing. “No, I’ve never been sexually attracted to a child.” “I could never imagine myself with a child.” They express their lack of desire in so many ways. This is so important to understand. Often times when someone is experiencing pedophilia OCD, they work with children, are about to have a child, are getting married soon, are teenagers (because sex is thought about very frequently) etc. OCD is predictable and it will morph to attack whatever someone is passionate or excited about during that time of their life.

Thoughts are not the same as judgments or stigma

Homosexual OCD is not homophobia. Often times when I have a client with homosexual OCD, they tell me, “I don’t care if I’m gay, I just want to know whether I’m gay.” In other words, you have to remember that OCD is the doubting disease. The fear is not really about the content of the obsession. So, if someone obsesses about whether they are gay, they are anxious from the uncertainty of not knowing and not about homosexuality.  

Treatment: find someone who specializes in OCD

Exposure response prevention is needed for all forms of OCD. Believe it or not, I find OCD involving sexually intrusive thoughts to be one of the easiest to treat. The triggers are obvious, making the creation of exposures to be very easy. ERP is behavioral therapy, meaning it does not take long to experience positive results. Delaying treatment with a specialist simply because the obsession might be sensitive would be foolish. However, I would be cautious about explaining some of these obsessions to a therapist who might not specialize in OCD. They might not understand that having intrusive thoughts does not necessarily mean there is desire. They might give you a ton of reassurance by telling you what you want to hear, which is only a compulsion and will make your OCD worse. If you are struggling with OCD, you can get better. Choose treatment and give us a call today!

Contact us if you have questions or wish to schedule an appointment. We are here for you!

You can also check out the www.iocdf.org website for more information.