Paedophilia-themed intrusive thoughts (POCD) are not to be confused with the psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to younger children.

Paedophile OCD or POCD has two components – obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are biologically generated intrusive thoughts that are paradoxical to your true values. Compulsions are the repetitive behaviours you do to counter the obsessions. These might include repeated avoidance/escape behaviours; or checking to prove or disprove whether you are truly capable of being sexually attracted to a child.

So what’s the solution?

First, whilst repeated behaviours give temporary anxiety relief they are not the long-term solution to the problem. The way out of this spiral is to engage in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a therapist who specialises in obsessive compulsive disorder. A therapist familiar with pure-o obsessional themes will understand the nature of your unwanted intrusive thoughts.

How will this work for me?

Therapy would include strategies to help you alter faulty interpretations you might have about your intrusive thoughts. For example: “I had an incredible urge to look at my child’s private area; I must be a paedophile.” The incredible urge is the strength of the obsession (involuntary urge) and the belief “I must be a paedophile” is a faulty interpretation.

What else would I do in therapy?

Together with cognitive strategies you would be encouraged to face your fears in graded steps. In doing so you would learn to resist the repeated behaviours that act counter to the thoughts. By doing this you actively alter your brain chemistry whereby your intrusive thoughts begin to weaken. This means biologically you start to live pretty much like a non-OCD person, which is that when you experience intrusive thoughts you discover you are able to let them pass without attaching meaning to them. Subsequently, you find you are able live with doubts about your true nature and what matters to you most – keeping children safe.

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“OCD dedicates itself in tormenting those susceptible to the disorder. Identify its absurdity, resist compulsions, and it will loosen its grip…” Carol Edwards