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Sexual Obsessions in OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)

Sexual Obsessions and Sexual Thoughts - OCD

Sexual obsessions involve unwanted sexual thoughts, such as the fear of being attracted to something unwanted, taboo, or morally “unacceptable.”

Sexual obsessions in OCD are recurrent unwanted sexual thoughts, such as the fear of being attracted to something unwanted, taboo, or morally “unacceptable” based on one’s particular worldview.  Although all forms of OCD can be debilitating, sexual obsessions can be especially confusing and disabling for sufferers because sexual obsessions target one’s fundamental identity as a social being.

In addition to anxiety, which characterizes most obsessions, individuals with sexual obsessions often experience extreme guilt, shame, hopelessness, and depression.  Individuals with OCD with sexual symptoms often mistakenly consider themselves deviant, disgusting, or evil.

Moreover, incorrect assumptions about the true causes of their unwanted sexual thoughts make them less likely to seek treatment or to share their symptoms with others.  In my Palm Beach County, South Florida psychological practice, I treat many individuals who have lived with sexual obsessions for many years before seeking treatment.

Sexual obsessions often leave one feeling isolated and alone.  Moreover, in efforts to avoid symptom triggers, people with unwanted sexual thoughts often drop out of school, quit their jobs, end relationships, or make other life-altering decisions that paradoxically make their symptoms worse.

What are Sexual Obsessions?

Sexual obsessions in OCD can take many forms. Most sexual obsessions involve unwanted thoughts, ideas, impulses, or images focusing on sexual content.  Some individuals with sexual obsessions are bombarded by unwanted urges to act in a sexual way toward children, animals, or other populations.  They might experience intrusive images of sexual organs, envision themselves performing unwanted sexual acts, or have persistent doubts about their own sexual identity.

They experience repetitive thoughts like:

  • What if I’m attracted to that person?
  • What if I lose control and act out sexually?
  • What if I expose my genitals to that person?
  • What if I secretly want to have sex with that person?

Sexual obsessions often involve the fear of secretly being gay (if one is actually straight), being sexually attracted to children (fear of pedophilia), being sexually attracted to animals (fear of bestiality), or being sexually attracted to dead things (fear of necrophilia).  In fact, the variety and forms that unwanted sexual thoughts can take are limited only by the breadth of the human imagination. Societal and personal beliefs about these topics often lead to extreme distress whenever these obsessions occur.

Here are some common sexual obsessions / thoughts.

Types of OCD Sexual Obsessions / Thoughts


Many individuals with sexual obsessions spend significant amounts of time either berating themselves for having such thoughts or trying to convince themselves that the thoughts aren’t true.  In most cases, efforts to convince oneself that the thoughts are untrue is a form of mental reassurance, a ritual/compulsion that maintains the OCD cycle.

In cases of severe OCD, individuals may become confused about whether or not they have actually acted on their thoughts.  They may know logically that these events have not occurred, but OCD may cause them to doubt their memories.

Ways to Identify Sexual Obsessions in OCD


  • What is the prevailing emotion you experience when having these thoughts?  Dread/guilt or desire/lust?  Dread, confusion, guilt, and despair commonly accompany sexual obsessions.
  • What’s the difference between being a pedophile and having obsessions focusing on pedophilia?  Pedophiles enjoy the idea of having sex with children, whereas individuals with pedophilia related obsessions are often scared by the prospect of acting on their thoughts.
  • Also regarding pedophilia: If you could be guaranteed that you wouldn’t get caught, would you want to act on your thoughts?  Pedophiles answer “Yes” to this question.  People with OCD answer “No” or “I don’t know” (due to OCD-related doubt).
  • What’s the difference between being gay and having homosexual obsessions (HOCD)?  Gay individuals experience pleasure when having sexual thoughts involving same sex partners, whereas individuals with homosexual obsessions become scared or disgusted by these thoughts.
  • It’s also important to recognize cases in which individuals with OCD fear that they might have to inevitably give into their impulses in order to keep “from going crazy”.  They might not want to act on their thoughts but they think, “What if my mind is never at peace until I act on my thoughts?”  The idea of having relief from their thoughts can then make them feel unsure about whether or not they want to act on them.

Please note that the above questions are over-simplifications of complex ideas.  If you have sexual obsessions, you would likely experience doubt and confusion over the answers to many of these questions.

Treatment of Sexual Obsessions / Thoughts in OCD

Treatment of sexual obsessions is complex and individualized.  In my Palm Beach Gardens, FL practice, I treat many individuals with OCD sexual obsessions using exposure and response prevention (ERP) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Treatment involves confronting fear triggers in a systematic way while resisting rituals and avoidance behaviors. With consistent practice, these fear triggers lose their power over you.

Overcoming sexual obsessions is not based on definitively proving that these obsessions are unfounded. Although this outcome would be desirable (if possible), someone with a strong tendency toward OCD doubt can never eliminate all traces of doubt in a way that is fully satisfying. After all, if you have these types of symptoms, you’ve probably already spent months or years trying unsuccessfully to accomplish this goal.

Am I sure that I don’t secretly want to have sex with _________? Trying to answer this question with a resounding “No” is ultimately doomed to fail. It’s not the question itself that is the problem. It’s actually your exhaustive attempts to disprove the possibility that perpetuates your symptoms. I have discussed this idea in more detail in my posts on thought control and unwanted thoughts.

Instead, successful, effective treatment of OCD is based on learning to accept uncertainty about the things we can’t know for sure. You might not know with 100% certainty whether or not you could become a pedophile, but neither does anyone else. People without OCD-related sexual obsessions accept this doubt, without engaging in efforts to avoid or neutralize. This is the goal of treatment: to accept doubt without avoidance or neutralization. This is the key to breaking free from sexual obsessions and living a happy, healthy life.

My next post will discuss symptoms of homosexual OCD (HOCD), or the fear of becoming gay (or secretly being gay).

Questions? Comments? Struggling with OCD-related sexual obsessions? Sound off below.

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  1. Thank you Dr.
    Been struggling with this for months but I am slowly learning what is wrong with me and looking to correct it

    Truly appreciate this

    • That’s great, Gus. Keep working at it, and it will improve.

      • MR STEVEN I Want your help…when i masturbate in my mind are invading perverted thoughts about god i try to stop them and i can do this for now but i think one day i will can’t control my mind and my thought will go there please help me.i want to find a way to stop this it causes me unbelievable stress

      • Dr I have a exwife that is a diagonosed OCD she did it to me to the point of divorce.

        Yesterday she called the police on my 12 year old son to control him to go to a doctor pestering him till he ran into the kitchen and grabbed a knife to difuse the mothers ocd

        She in return called 911 which was a big mistake. I know she should of called a non emergency number .

        He was hand cuffed and taken to fort lauderdale hospital and we had a intervention with him and his reply is I dont know why i did what I did he is afraid to tell the truth about him mom. If he is honest then he gets punished for telling the truth because it exposes her problem.

        Also in the hospital a lady who was a nurse said to me that she does not want to affend me but I have to get my child away from her immediately what am i waiting for.

        I have had my son mother call me many times with our child present to hear her say I cant take it anymore I give u full custody of our son i need my space u only have him mon wed and every other friday and saturday.

        All my family and her family want to to have full custodity because of her ocd .

        I am ready to get her tested judicially she wont admit she is the cadalyst.

        Doctor what is your take of this situation

        Please let me know Christopher OBerg

        • I hope the situation is better now. Its been 4years, sounds very hard. Love from israel

      • I have been battling wit obsesive thoughts wit a few months now first it was I thought my child mite die I kept getting images of it now I have sexual intrusive thoughts I just really need help can’t tell anybody about dis I’m completely going mad about need some help bit can’t come to tell someone the images in my head my mind is trickin me into did n I can barely look at myself in mirror need help doc

        • It can be helpful to begin by further educating yourself about the condition. Pick up a book about OCD that discusses these topics. There are also many people who blog or vlog about sexual and/or violent obsessions. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) will be the most effective type of therapy for getting your life back.

          It can also be helpful to consult with a therapist or psychologist who specializes in OCD. They would be well-acquainted with these types of symptoms and would be able to help you identify the right steps to take to feel better.

          • OK I will its just so strange I would never do anything to hurt my child and if any1 else did I would kill them but it has been in my head now the sexual thoughts and it boders me so much wen I lie in bed in the morning and true the day I would imagine if I did act on these thoughts and I concentrate on my groin region to see if there is reaction its so hard to talk about doc I would love if u put my mind at rest I saw a woman on here who said she did the same thing about a cat Aldo it is different she had a very real groinal reaction I just need to know I have obsevive thoughts r sumtin to put mind at rest before I loved my life but now if I don’t get some help I can’t bring myself to tell a doctor even face to face dat is y I found this site and tryna get help here if it I keep having dese thoughts I won’t know what to do because I will be thinkin did I get aroused by this when I wouldn’t ever act on anything so sick I want to enjoy my life again and be the person I used to be please help doc r sum1 and don’t say see a shrink because I am not able to talk about this in person I am like a zombie everyday over this

          • Sexual obsessions can be very distressing and confusing, but treatment can help. Despite your fear, I would encourage you to talk with an OCD specialist about it. If you see someone who treats a lot of individuals with OCD, they’ll have familiarity with sexual obsessions. ERP can be game-changing. There are also a number of great books about sexual obsessions, which can help you better understand what makes it better vs. what makes it worse (i.e., avoidance and rituals–including mental rituals). Taking action on this will help you feel more like yourself again.

  2. Thanks for the post. I’ve been dealing with sexual obsessions now for the past month. I was listening to the news on the radio talking about pedophiles and then a thought came into my mind that said “what if you’re a pedophile.”. It scared me and I already take Zoloft for anxiety so when this thought came into my mind it wouldn’t leave. It grew into other unwanted thoughts that made me sick to my stomach. I stopped doing my daly routines because of this. I’m 24 and in a relationship with a woman I truly love yet these thoughts still plague me. I’ve had thoughts before regarding me believe I was HIV positive, had ALS, and Parkinson’s. I’ve been trying to not pay any attention towards these thoughts.

    • Im glad I’ve found this…I’ve been goingthrough the same thing. It just happened to me one day and I don’t know how it even started. I would imagine disgusting repulsive things about children. Especially my own brother whois three years old….Im was so disgusted and depressed how I would even think things like this now I don’t think as much like before and I feel peace for a while. But for some reason I manage to overcome my disturbing thoughts about children. But for some reason I still feel shameful and guilty for even thinking about. I would avoid my brother because Im scared I might do something to him that I can’t take back. Ive a few urges but I don’t act on them. All I can do is shut my self in my room and just cry and ask god for repentece for even thinking about. Im just really scared. I m doing good so far I don’t think sexual images as I used to but when Im around my brother, I feel guilt and fear that I might start thinking inappropriate sexual images. I hate it. I love children but not in a sexual perverted way. This is totally against my morals and beliefs. I just want everything to go back the way it wad before I had these vile thoughts. I REALLY do love my brother and family. Im ashamrd to even face my mother/father. I could never tell them….they don’t deserve this…

  3. I just want my old life back, Dr. The life that made me happy.

    • same problem as jake

  4. Hi, I saw this article on this. I am wanting to be a kindergarten teacher and I have had thoughts like “What if I touch one of my kids, what if I think a thought, what if I have sexual feelings towards kids, what if I do this and that and this and that. When I was a sunday school teacher I had thoughts towards kids I didnt want that grieved me. Sometimes I cant do my school work and throw up questioning whether or not I should be a teacher. Wondering why I don’t have a real love for kids when people tell me I’m great with them. Me wondering if I really should be in teaching because I didnt grow up babysitting or had little brothers and sisters. Wondering why I feel fear towards adults and kids all the time. I have been throwing up because of these thoughts lately and it wont stop. I have one thought and I tense up and are unable to control nausea.

    • You’ll be fine. It’ll be alright Hannah, I know how you feel. Trust me. It’ll be okay.

    • I have this type of thought pattern too! Relieved to know I’m not alone! The thought of intentionally hurting my students in any way terrifies me to no end.

  5. thank u so much this made me feel better.

  6. thanks dr…ive had many sleepless nights due to this,because of guilt, just cus these thoughts scare the shit out of me! now i know i have a disorder and they are not real!!! i even had suicidal thoughts because i thought i was a sick person and etc…. but you really helped me with this, god bless you sir

  7. Dear Dr. Steven

    Thank you very much for the the article on learning to accept the uncertainty. I have been suffering from this disease sinch childhood. Like most of the people who suffer from HOCD, I was afraid to speak out. I was a brillienat student till 10th Grade and as I started getting the unwanted thoughts could not concentrate on studies and passed the Graduation with average Marks. Also as my parents were not educated much, I could not talk to them or make them understand my condition. I had dual issues of both having OCD and HOCD which I understand now after reading your article. I did not leave the life battle as I got in to software profession and being perfectionist helped there from my growth, but it also brought with it unwanted stress and anxity. When I was 37, I completely got exhausted and that is when I met a Phychiatrist and he told me its a OCD and its a disease. He believed it can be treated with medicine. He trated me with Chlofranil, I had some relief and got the thoughts go away. I could work for 10 more years. But in the mean time got addicted to Porn and my family life suffered. I have been trying to prove the unwanted Gay thoughts and they have been bothering me repeatedly. Now I understand how to handle them. Thanks for the same. It gives me more courage to face life and work situations.


    Vincy, Asia

  8. hi dr.steven , and thank you for these great article . i hope you continue to help us . i have a question , does the four step of dr jeff schwarts is a good way for dealing with pure o ?

    • For some people, Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz’s 4 steps (discussed in Brain Lock) can be helpful. This model doesn’t work for everyone, though, so keep in mind that you might need some other techniques to round out your OCD-fighting toolkit. For example, I think it’s important to incorporate liberal amounts of active exposure as part of your recovery plan. I also know many individuals whose OCD interferes with the relabeling/reattributing steps.

      • thank you dr.steven

  9. hello doctor and thank you very much,
    i have repeating thoughts of enjoying being dominated by a female and even sometimes by a male. are these thoughts sexual obsessions as well ?
    are those people wanting to be dominated and humiliated (by a female for example)really enjoying performing their thoughts or deep in their heart they are suffering? are these rituals?
    i don’t know if i really want these thoughts or not!

  10. Hi, I’m a 20 year old male. I believe that I struggle and have struggled with OCD.

    From the ages of 13-18 I was addicted to pornography.
    13 is a really young age to get into pornography, and it has had severe consequences on my psych.

    I have been working with a local therapist for the last year about my extreme reaction to unwanted thoughts.
    The unwanted sexual thoughts about children or adults can overwhelm me so much that I can’t talk to people or do normal tasks because it interrupts my probing questions to myself. It also removed all my ability to focus or feel loved by God in prayer, all I feel is extreme anxiety and unrest.

    You’re article has been so powerful for me. I can’t believe it. I’ve talked about quite a lot of the same things with my therapist, but never all of this in the perfect context. I now really believe that I do have OCD and I’m going to take the steps to let go, and not be upset if everything doesn’t go perfectly.

    Thank you. This has helped heal my broken mind. Please don’t stop doing what you’re doing, you are helping people significantly.

    • Thanks for reading, Bryce. I’m glad some of the articles have been helpful to you. You’re not alone in this.

      • my coment is to all surferer as well as doctors to help to overcome unwanted thoughts(obc or schizoid helpful to both).
        Everone has unwanted thought. but its become problem when we provided meaning to those thoughts. so try to stop meaning to those thoughts by imagination. and strictly stop to surf pornographic content, stopping pornographic will solve your 50% problem. also strictlyy avoid isolation ,stay together with firnds,family and daily play with childrens it will show u good result. generally ocd and schizoid belives tht isolation is solution of every situation or problem and isolation increase imagination and hence unwanted thoughts(results in sexual addiction ,) it will reduce thoughts and hence reduces unwanted behaviour. also parallalyy focus on your goal of life related to career and concentrate to hit your career target.after practicing the above, u will see noticable reduction in unwanted thoughts. observe your own mind tendency and try to find your unwanted thinking cycle pattent. u will find that u r making object the subject unnecesarrily by providing them imagination.(may be due t o habit or addiction of pornograhic). dont loose hope keep determination powerfully stonglyy..
        revising treatment
        1) stop watching pornograph stictlyy..
        2) focus on your career goal and concentrate to hit target to fulfill dreams.stay with friend circle or family (avoide isolation stictlyy, bcoz isolation or sex is not permanent solution of any problem)
        3)observe your self and behaviour to understand your progress. 1% reduction in unwanted thoughts is also imp bcoz 100% is sum of such little 1%.
        4) practice dailyy the above tips .. and play with childrens.

        • very well written. i stop analysing these unwanted thoughts and now the frequency of obsessions are very low however i m unable to control obsessive trigger materials but now feeling very well.i know it is war between my ocd and me in which 70 percent of time ocd loose and never deviate me fro my goals.

  11. I want to reply again. I am undone. I was doubting myself while I read the stuff underneath, “How to Identify Sexual Obsessions in OCD” and then I read;

    “Please note that the above questions are over-simplifications of complex ideas. If you have sexual obsessions, you would likely experience doubt and confusion over the answers to many of these questions.”

    This whole thing reads me like a book. At the top where you say people often feel isolated because of the obsessions. Considering yourself sick, disgusting or evil.

    Thank you so much for this. This is like buckets of rain in a very hard dry place. There are tears in my eyes from the freedom I feel.

    • Educate yourself about your OCD and then do whatever you can to eliminate its impact on your life. Then spread the word that recovery is possible. 🙂

      • Hi dr. I haven’t wanted to talk to anyone about this and I’m shaking right now telling you. I have only been struggling with this for a little while but it’s been driving me crazy. I keep on having sexual thoughts towards girls and am scared to death I’m gay. I have always liked boys and had “crushes” on boys. But just a while ago I was on a social media website and there was a lesbian sex story. I thought ” oh god no it turned me on” but then I thought maybe my mind was just playing games and making me think I liked it but I didn’t know. I then would have homosexual dreams that would immediately make me feel extremely guilty. I came to the realization that maybe I was bisexual but even that made me sick to my stomach. I already know I have some OCD problems. But the column still hasn’t totally eased my mind. What if the pleasure I think I feel means I’m gay? I’ve had many other OCD types of problems like obsession of religion and mild obsession over appearance. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one but instill feel like I’m the only one which is confusing but it’s how I feel. I’d really like if you could comment back or something. I’ve told myself that if I’m homosexual a last resort is suicide. I hope it doesn’t escalate to that.

        • Hi! I’m not the the doctor, but I felt inclined to respond to your comment. It’s been a few months since you’ve posted your comment, so hopefully you have recovered from this if you’re lucky, but if you are like i was its probably still hanging around. I just wanted to say first of all, no suicide! No no no no suicide please. really, that’s not a good answer please dont think that you ever should do that under any circumstsnces. Which by the way you dont have anything wrong with your sexuality, no one does. Sexuality is rarely ever black and white for anyone either by the wat. Many totally straight women enjoy lrsbian pornography for multiple reasons, the main one I believe to be because they sense familiarity in the situations, as in they understand certain physical feelings that are presented. Not sure if this was all inappropriate for this website lol but anyways i just thought I’d include this information as a reasoning behind the fact that you shouldnt freak out because you could have enjoyed it but that doesnt make you any less straight. With that being said, the fact that you had feelings of fear and worry about it proves that you are indeed not a lesbian or bi. The way ive found to best beat this though if you are still worried, is to just not let your sexuality concern you. You dont have to worry about theoretical situations and what not. just go for whoever you like. I dont think that you will be going for a girl though based on your given ocd tendancies and fears of being a lesbian or bi, it doesnt seem like you are. But just please dont think that suicide is a good answer for whatever your sexuality is. sexuality is really nothing to be ashamed of no matter what it is.

        • I have always battled with obsessive anxiety based thoughts, i was obsesses over my looks, obsessed over dying and being afraid of it, and having obsessive thoughts about thinking i was various things which i was always totally against its such a battle. I am so sad cause all i want is peace and to enjoy my life. My husband wants children and i am so scared to have kids. How do i deal with this, i dont want him to leave me or let this disorder destroy me and my marriage.

      • I am having trouble with sexual thoughts about kids and what if I am a lesbian.The lesbian thoughts came from a time when I watched porn. The kids thoughts started about three years ago. I am miserable. I am 21 yes old. I am about to apply to the Nursing Program,but I am so miserable I took time off. I am going to therapy,but I have only been twice and I feel like my therapist doesn’t care. I am praying I get through this. It makes me question myself and I feel disgusting. All I wanted was a successful life and to have a family. I just wanted to be involved in church and I had a dream for myself. In the mind of my OCD that dream feels so distant:(. I just recently broke up with my fiance and my OCD is worse. I do have suicidal thoughts. It is the most hellish disorder.

        • Oh Wow. I thought I was the only one. I am going through this as well. I broke down to my fiance letting him know what was happening to me 🙁 I held him and just cried. I don’t want these thoughts to be true! I actually came across and OCD FORUM with a guy named Mark. He explained things well. He said that we have these thoughts because they are something we would never do! I keep telling myself that but its still very hard because its’ like my brain is trying to fight against me.I have prayed.. I have talked to friends.. I have talked to one counselor who made me feel like I was a complete NUT! I just want to be like I was before and never questioned my sexuality or had these thoughts! I am 27- hang in there and things will get better i promise! I know this is tough-i know.! Wish i could heal everyone that is going through this because I would. I have actually withdrew myself from a lot of my “Girl” friends because its scary when the thoughts occur.

        • You sound EXACTLY like me! I just recently had to withdrawal from the nursing program due to this illness so to speak that’s been causing me so much misery and confusion to the point of suicide as well. It’s been hindering me from accomplishing my dreams and living out my dreams just like yours. But I am just curious since it’s been over a year, how well are you doing now?

  12. Im only 17 and I’ve been dealing with this for the past couple of weeks Im really scared of being attracted to animals. I feel really sick right now thinking about it and Im really scared i will have to act on it just to get rid of the thoughts just like you said. Its ruining my life. I have a dog and i can’t sit down with him and talk to him and play with him like I used to because Im too scared to be near him. I also can’t tell my parents or sister about it because they won’t understand. I don’t know what to do. I can’t afford to go to a therapist. Im stuck. Im starting to think suicidal again and i feel like Im at rock bottom. I’ve had anxiety for 7 years now and I’ve gotten over all kinds of fears. Will this one go away you? How can I convince myself that its not something I want to do? I just need some help. 🙁

    • I don’t know if this response is to late but hopefully I can be of some help. I too suffer from severe OCD that has seemed to eventually evolve into Pure O for the most part. I suffer from sexual and relationship OCD. I often wonder if I would hurt a child but deep down I know I wouldn’t.

      It is the same way with you I suppose. YOU wouldn’t ever have sex with animals but your brain is taunting you repeatedly with the notion you would. The fact that you feel guilt and remorse for something you haven’t even done shows you are a good person with morals. It’s the disease that makes you have self-doubt.

      I recommend you see a therapist. I know it can be terrifying but I am currently seeing one and it has been helping immensely. One trick my Dr. taught me was to let the thoughts play through my mind and not try to repress them. In your case it would be letting yourself think about having sex with your dog. It might sound evil to do to someone but I assure you it can help. The purpose is to become bored by the thoughts, to not play into the OCD. You WILL feel anxious, sick, and that you’re going to die but just remember you will not die, it’s the OCD playing on your fears.

      I know it was awhile ago you posted this but hopefully you check back to this site on occasion. This could apply to anyone though so hopefully this will benefit someone and let them no they are not a bad person, and far from alone.

    • OCD isn’t convinced by logic. It thrives on doubts, uncertainties, and what-ifs. Attempts to prove and convince typically contribute to the problem because they reflect rituals. OCD resolves through giving up these rituals and learning to accept uncertainty. Treatment would likely be helpful to teach you how to do this. If financial constraints stand in your way, attend a free local support group or identify a therapist who has a sliding scale. You could also read one of the many self-help books about OCD or discuss medication-based options with your doctor.

  13. Dear Dr,

    My question pertains to the following part: ”In cases of severe OCD, individuals may become confused about whether or not they have actually acted on their thoughts. They may know logically that these events have not occurred, but OCD may cause them to doubt their memories.”

    What is the best treatment method then? I read it with interest and I guess I understood that if you suffer from OCD you need to accept uncertainty etc. but what if you question if these are only thoughts? How to recognize them and not let the OCD develop? I mean, if the thought can cause high anxiety, belief that it happened may be devastating.

    Could you please advise?

    Thank you.

    • If you have these types of symptoms, it is probably best to work with an OCD therapist who can provide direct guidance about the best approach for you. If your belief has the potential to be devastating, I would suggest that it is even more important to come to grips with it. Because OCD thrives on doubt and uncertainty about ambiguous situations, it will selectively target situations where you can’t know for sure.

      In my experience, it is important to avoid non-productive arguments with your OCD. If you insist that something didn’t happen and your OCD insists it did, you have to give up your efforts to convince or persuade. If you don’t, you are probably trying to convince your OCD (or yourself) of something that is essentially unknowable. This is a mental ritual. Neither you nor your OCD can know with 100% certainty.

      You must learn to sidestep this ritual. People do this in different ways. Some avoid engaging in the mental conversation; others agree with their unwanted thoughts without resisting them.

      If you have OCD, the whole point of exposure therapy is to induce anxiety and to develop a different type of relationship with your thoughts. In the process of doing this, you are likely to experience a whirlwind of emotions. Because this experience can be confusing, you might really benefit from some professional assistance.

      Wishing you all the best…

  14. this is exactly how i feel i want it to go away my mind is so stressed out and i just want to cry and it to go away

  15. Hi.i.have been.suffering with terrible.ocd and the fear of becoming a peadophile.because i have so.many sick unwanted thoughts and im gonna.loose all inabitions and act on them. I avoid hugging and bathing my kids i cry and get into panicks. I.shake and i feel sick
    I.hate it i wish i.was an ocd sufferer of hand washing or hoarding id kill.for.that instead

    • Almara, these types of symptoms are just as treatable as contamination symptoms. Find an OCD specialist and begin exposure and response prevention (ERP).

  16. Hi, I am currently going through these unwanted thoughts, and have just started my final year in school. I am very worried these thoughts will affect my grades as I was a top student. Would you recommend that I see a psychologist?

    • Hi A.S. – I was experiencing this in my final year of school as well, and would definitely recommend seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist – the psychiatrist may perscribe you medicine; this really helped me deal with everything, but I did need treatment from a psych as well. Getting help makes things much easier to deal with school-wise, and if you are struggling with studies due to the OCD a school counsellor may be able to work something out for you (they just need a note from your psychologist; I know as I didn’t want the school counsellor to know about my thoughts).

      As for me, I’m 19 now and my Pure O has recently come back. 🙁 I’ve experienced virtually all sexual forms of Pure O since I was 15, but it’s the necrophilia and incest thoughts that stick in my head the most, which is terribly disturbing for me… I’m seeking help again now – hopefully I can take control as I did with my last bout of OCD.
      Good luck to everyone.

    • Working with a professional who is experienced in treating OCD can certainly be helpful and accelerate your progress. If your symptoms are impacting your life, schedule a consultation with a local provider to see if treatment is right for you.

  17. Hi, I’m 17 and I have been struggling with Pure O thoughts since January, It all started with a panic attack over random harm thoughts, they all passed. I had looked up Pure O and read about other peoples thoughts and unfortunately a few days later I was hit with the fear that I was a lesbian. I experienced extreme anxiety but over due time the anxiety faded. For a while I switched back to harm thoughts and I had forgotten about the lesbian thoughts, but they came back. My anxiety isn’t there anymore I don’t feel panicky, just really frustrated. The thing is my thoughts are telling me I’m a lesbian and I get groinal responses but I generally do not find women attractive, being a lesbian doesn’t appeal to me, I’ve always liked men but right now I can’t feel it. I just want to feel attracted to men again and not feel like there is something stopping me. Sometimes I doubt it’s really OCD, but it just doesn’t make any sense. Do you think this is really OCD or am I just confused?

    • Thats exactly how i feel. i feel like im being forced to be labeled as something i know I’m not

  18. Doctor i am really uncomfortable saying this. I sugfer with all of this i think im a lesbian and i hate the thought. But i have had all of these thoughts. I have had them about little kids adults and what sickens me is ive ha them about my parents. I have had fears and doubts if im a pedophile or a lesbian. Or both i hate the thoughts so i stay home and drown in guilt and fear and struggle with the same questions to because i got them about my parents including my mom i started thinking i was a lesbian and felt strange around my best friend because i started getting guilty unwanted thoughts about her i have had EVERY doubt and thought you listed even violent ones and i hate it i am on depression medication and sometimes it feels like it doesnt work i. Take cilexa i heard most people try to see if they like these thoughts bye looking up pictures because they are afraid they will get aroused well thats why im to scared and i dont i feel like i cant go to the outside world anymore i cant even look at little kids wich sucks because my cousin who is 6 comes over alot and i get terrable thoughts about family member no matter ehat age animals old people and ten as i tryed to get more in to the bible i was afraid i ha sexual thoughts about god i have a therapist and i dint know what to do i am staying home sick tiday and i am only 12 i have had a boy around my age sexually touch me in preschool in a play house i have seen a couple of movies about rape wich i think triggered some and i have seen porn because of. A dsre wich i tealky regret but i dont even know were some of these thoughts came from i have thought of suicide because i feel there is no escape and i feel scared and alone this article kind of helps but i always go back to sick ess guilt shame fear anxiety and sadness i just want to go back to my normal life this all happend to fast

  19. You have to know this bad thinking come from evil in your mind , try to fight this by reading books , visit family , sit with your friends , don’t be alone , try to imagin you fight with your enemy , this bad thinking will not stop so try to be ready to fight , day after day you will feel better , try to stop watch the porn vides , porn photo , try to prayer to your god to help you , to show you the right way , blessing .

  20. This has been ongoing for me but I think it’s getting better, so it started like a month and a half ago and at first I was freaking out like there was no hope, then it was better for a few days then for a week I was having these thoughts of irreversible homosexuality, I was in total despair and just wanted to sleep because I felt like I couldn’t be gay if I was sleeping then I read countless articles on the web about how people are born gay and I felt better. For almost a week then it hit me so hard and I couldn’t focus in class and my social life was in peril I thought, then I saw something about anxiety and OCD and I felt like that had to be it because I knew I wasn’t gay and I still get turned on by just holding hands or non sexual contact like that with a girl and even felt normal for a couple of days at a time, but the confusing thing is when I try to get tuned on to prove it to myself I’m not gay, I do it then when I’m done I’m still confused, I know that I stare at breast and butts on women as they walk buy but something in my head is telling its fake and that’s just what your supposed to do as a male, and I’m just tired of this and want to be normal

  21. Very great article helped alot and thanks for taking your time to post and actually write this thank you so much

  22. whenever i see my brothers or parents or little kids or my dog or anyone it would be repulsive to have sex with i think about it and its just horrible and invading my life but your article has really helped i now know that i am not a creep or wierdo ps. whenever i get these horrible thoughts i think about having sex with this girl from school to cleanse myself, is this a sort of coping mechanism? by the way im not bothered if i think about sex with someone the same age as me (im 13) even though im underage

  23. First of all I would like to thank you. There is so much out there on the Internet and the information is vague or contradictory. This post was very thorough and I really appreciated the thoroughness by explaining that many of the questions are indeed complex and the answers never simple because the very act of rading the questions and trying to answer them creates doubt and speculation and the viscous cycle starts all over again. I am an otherwise extremely rational and logical thinker but what drives me so bonkers is that when I read this and relize the phenomenon of this disease does indeed exist and there are others that experience the same exact symptoms, thoughts, ruminations, fears and doubts that I experience-the logic tells me “Hooray! I’m just like everyone else. There are others all over the country that have the same issues in generally the same ways. It surley must be OCD.” Yet all I can say in return is “Yea, but maybe I’m different.” It’s as if this disease is a form of split personality disorder instead of an anxiety disorder. Ugh.

    • I tell my friend that if I ever get over this, I will be like an innocent prisoner set free from death row. I know pain can be relative, but nothing I have suffered from in my life compares to this. If I can leave the shame and guilt and intrusiveness of these thoughts and think about music and nature and pretty girls once again without this invasion, I will be walking on air the rest of my life.I wanted to add that what’s so incredibly hard for my mind to grasp is that I am 42 years old and never questioned my sexuality until a year ago. I had a completely “normal” heterosexual puberty by every definition i.e. adult women were the sole object of my fantasies, dreams and desires as far back as childhood. Dated only women and only wanted to date women. It just never occurred to me to even question my orientation. So it seems so absurd that I would doubt my sexuality after all these years. The pervasive question that haunts me most is this: has my true sexuality been repressed all these years? But it couldn’t. Just watching bikini clad women dancing in a music video made me extremely aroused as a young adult. Im wondering if this has more to do with a mid life crisis in combination with loss of testosterone and porn burn out? Ive read about studies that show internet porn can destroy arousal response and much like drugs, can burn out receptors in certain areas in the brain. Supposedly, this can be reverse thankfully. Thank for reading this long response.

  24. Is it normal for a 12 almost 13 year old to get pocd or pedophilic sexual obsessions im a little confused i experience all these problems and doubts that scare me sometimes i feel like im fighting something in my head with my own beliefs of whats right and wrong though i find it discusting but sometimes a voice says its fine wich scares the heck out of me and i fight back because my own belief says its not fine but a little voice talks to me and i dont even want that but sometimes something tells me i do i can ignor it sometimes but i sometimes fear that it means something an get scared i wonder if it happend because i was sexually abused when i was younger by an older child j was four he was ten i dont know but i always gi ti scientific resources about becoming a pedophile and pedophiles to see if i like them anni notice im not but later on i experience doubt and guilt i used to get way more anxiety but i have therapy and maintain it i am also being put on ocd medication i think i get less anxiety now because i started a deppresion medication but i still get ocd i actually have weeks were i dont obsess and i find the fears absurd and stupid i notice that i still am attracted to boys my age sometimes older and im not as scared and pretty happy but its a cycle sometimes i just experience tones of doibt all day to were im really scared i read pedophiles turn there life into some other world and dont think its wrong i fear that its gonna happen to me i also read they only care what sosciety thinks i fear that will happen to me so i repeat in my mind i dont care what society thinks and other things like i am not a pedophile over and over almost all day i dont really fear i will ever hurt a child when im around them i have only experienced an unwanted urge once around a boy that looked kind of like my abuser and it was in the nurses office the nurse left the room and i was so afraid i would molest him or something that i licked my self in the bathroom i started crying and freaking out and the boy looked so confused wondering what was wrong with me i felt so bad that he had to watch it it looked so stupid im never extremely aroused by these thoughts at all and when i am its not pleasent i fear i wont develope healthily through puberty and im worried!!! Ughhh sorry this is so long i hope im not really becoming one

  25. What if I feel like I want to hurt someone helpless and I feel like I kind of want to do it when I am not that kind of person and would only do it in my head and in a virtual world to see if I am that kind of person, but the thoughts still horrify me?

  26. Does this type of therapy help on intrusive thoughts about your girlfriend’s past sex life?

  27. Hi Doctor, I am puzzle what should I call to my disorder..whenever I am worshiping God pornographic thoughts come in my mind, I see genitals and all other similar thoughts. I am really afraid this is becoming a trouble for me. What this indicates….am I atheist why such thoughts come when I am doing any religious ritual BTW I am a Hindu and at times question the existence of God. Please help me.Why such thoughts are appearing only when I try to do ritualistic acts prescribed in Hinduism..are these signals indicating me something..

  28. hi Doctor ,i m a man , i have a story of sexual abuse in my childhood , until my 20 i was fine , than my 1rst crisis starts , after few months every things was normal , after few years a 2 nd , same thing , at the 3 rd one i figured that my abuse was the cause , after i thought that it was finished , for 6 years i lived happy life and now i m in my 4th crisis , so i try to understand , and i found that from my first crisis i had symptoms related to my abuse and symptoms of pure OCD with sexual themes , they come together and disappear together , is that normal , for example of my pure OCD , i read an articl that 10 % of men who was abused will become abuser , so how can i know that i will not become an abuser ,after i told to my self i can not know , and even if i will become one it will not be my fault ,and this is a reality , after another thought comes , if it s reality i have to fight it , i told to my self , i ll try my best this all what i can do , another thought comes , what a horror if this is my reality , how can i live with this being a pedophile , with other worries like becoming gay , or being pedophile and acting against my loved ones
    in normal periods these thoughts do not cross my mind , i m confident person , happy person , with high moral values ,considered like a an intelligent and wise and trustful person and suddenly finding my self dealing with such thoughts is just unimaginable but with the crisis its like falling from the sky , is that normal that it disappear for years and come back like an explosion and always with the symptoms of PTSD related to my abuse knowing that it takes more to the symptoms of pure OCD to disappear and they make me suffer a lot , it s doubt that does not end ,and also there is a fear if even if its end now it can comeback in the future if i will have children ,
    my OCD asks me questions which for them i do not have answers , and if i tell my self these are only thoughts i do not have to worry about them , another worry appears , if i m not worry that means that they are true , what a horror , when i m in crisis it seems like it will never end and i have the fear that it will never end , but with my experience i know it will end , but now i know it s a pure OCD , and i hope that i will find a way to make it end quickly and that it will have not a big place in my future life

  29. HELP ME. WOW! Relief just reading your page. You hit the nail on the head on something I haven’t been able to talk about to anybody. OCD seems to be my problem. I would like to learn more. Please help me.

  30. I been feeling like I’m going insane almost. I’ve experimented with drugs trying to cure it, and they only get harder. Trying to have sex as a rituial instead of pleasure. It’s like I think that my ejaculation is connected with my thought at the time. And if the thought bothers me then I’m down and depressed and feel like I can’t go forward til I can at least have sex again. And if the female and I get into an arguement and she wants to leave me and I’m not ok with the thought I had in my head the last nut, then I’m a sucker for her to stay all because of OCD. Then I feel upset for doing that. So I’m confused about the relationship I’m in. Not to mention she wants me to be a gay man and I’m not. So I try to do tha gay forplay with her, talk, porn, even tell her that she’s getting it from a gay during sex. Then I feel horrible. I know I’m not gay. What can a man do when his wife wants a gay man ? I feel like I won’t ever satisfy her cuz I’m not really gay and she knows it I guess. And it seems shes using that to try to control me.

  31. Oh my… now I see this was what was going on with me.
    From a very young age, around 9, I had a fascination with sex. In any form or way. It would occur to me to want to touch babies or excite animals but the ideas go against my morals and I knew was wrong. These urges crept up on me, during dreams or babysitting,etc.what I perceived as deviant desire for a while led me to get into things like threesomes and such. I always felt guilt afterwards. I thought these types of activities would help me not go crazy. I am now in a loving relationship with a guy that is just perfect in every way but I often get these strong sexual thoughts about other people around me. They being the same or opposite sex as me. I always try to fight the thoughts off then end up crying and thinking I’m just a vile woman. These thoughts even range to a look-a-like of my own brother. Adding incest to the list of my sexual “desires”.At some point, my mind was repeating the name of a guy I knew while I was kissing my boyfriend. I was trying my best to fight it off but it just felt like it was getting stronger every time I denied it. I am always afraid I will succumb to the temptations. This article helped me understand that I am not a sexual deviant but have these obsessive sexual thoughts. I hope I can get through with these once and for all. It’s really painful to deal with.

  32. Hi, all. This has been interesting (and anxiety inducing) to read.

    When I was a kid (12 and under) I did the whole “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” a couple of times, and acted out in other ways. One time, with a baby sitter’s young daughter (yes, younger than I was.. I think I was 11 or younger, but my OCD messes with me and I have no real clear idea how old I or she was) I believe I acted out in a way that was result of something that happened previously, which was at primary school, the teacher(s) showed a class of children a very explicit ‘teaching’ video. I remember being confused by it, and I also remember it being cut short, and little explanation (if any) given. From this point in, I think was when I became really confused and curious, about whether I was normal, and about what was what. Anyway, my mother found out about stuff, and her reaction was not a sensible reaction, but an eccentric one. My mother bend down and said something along the lines of “Do you want to be a pedophile?” or some other variant. Honestly, my mind has twisted what she said so much – for years I was convinced she said “You will grow up to be a pedophile” or something like that. My curiosity in.. basically.. the male and female groin.. left I think at about 16, when me and another guy (1 or 2 years older than me) had a sorta show and tell moment. Now I have OCD, or “PureO” and am so scared of children that I have avoided them my entire life. I can’t watch TV because of adverts or possible scenes involve THAT word. I loathe saying the word. I do constantly battle with my brain and have done since I was a kid. I’m utterly terrified of the thought that I’d be a P, or that I ‘could’ be a P. Do I want to do things to kids? Fuck no, but my OCD plays on that, and I struggle so much. I always have to keep myself busy to stop my brain from going crazy, which in itself causes problems, such as I have struggled with sleep since I was a kid. I’ve also had problems with knowing whether I was gay or not, but honestly, I don’t overly care, it’s the other stuff that worries me. Being gay as a weird thing to get my head around, but I’d rather that than the alternative, does that make sense? I would really appreciate a reply to this, as I have an appointment on the 9th, with a psychologist, relating to OCD, and I’m scared to tell him or her stuff. I realise that I likely have PureO, as the wiki of it and other stuff I’ve read describes me perfectly since I was a kid. I’m just scared. What if? I worried about whether I’d hurt someone, too, or do something inappropriate. I once was lying with a girlfriend, and I became overwhelmed with a feeling of “what if” and was so scared I’d hurt her, or hit her, that I laid down on my hands, refusing to touch her, and couldn’t look her in the eyes. The fear was so severe I ended up crying somewhat. It was pathetic. I’m almost 27; I don’t need this crap. My dad knows pretty much everything as does my best mate, and they both are very understanding. I didn’t tell my dad much about this until a couple of years ago, but before that the whole thing was a gradually unfurling distressing secret. I used to want to be a dad, and now the thought of it usually makes me cry, because I know I can never be a dad, with my MH problems. Thanks for reading. (the age of that girl.. I really wish I knew it. I never touched her, and I never physically forced her, nor did I shout at her to do antyhign… it was like a game.. I felt like I was teaching her, just like in class with that video… still freaks me out though) Honestly, if I were a lawyer and could fathom a way to do it, I would sue the shit out fo that school, because I strongly believe they are part of the reason for my MH problems. (I also partly blame my mother, as she badly handled a lot of normal stuff when I was a kid, such as me sticking my middle finger up at my sister, and my mother decided to sit me down and tell me what that means.. I was very young.. “Do you want to stick your finger up your sister’s bum?” she said… it was confusing.

  33. …I also spent 5+ years self harming and was very suicidal. I still sometimes get urges to SH (out of punishment.. a sense that I deserve it) or suicidal thoughts (I am better off dead, I’m so evil and sick that the world is better off without me, or that I don’t want to do any harm, so I should do something now, like kill myself, etc) which I’m trying to deal with. I’ve not SHed in over 4 years, which is awesome… or is it? By NO SH it feels like I’m ‘getting away with’ whatever “it” is, and so that makes it even worse, but I know SHing is wrong and illogical,but I feel like I need it to cope; it was also probably an addiction. I feel like such a fuck-up.

  34. Really sorry, one more message… I used to be addicted to porn, and probably to some extent still am… I struggle to get aroused by using my imagination, because of my OCD and the thoughts that pop up, and since that’s messed up, I need something visual to distract my brain.. well.. the bigger brain. When I was a kid, likely due to me being a bit of a rebel and curious, I would watch all sorts of movies that were massively wrong for a kid to watch. I saw all sorts from rape, to violence, to pedophilia, and God only knows what else. This leads to something else… there’s a scene in a movie (I’ve become obsessive about this just today…as in.. fear) called “Kids” that I used to masturbate to when I was younger (possibly around 16 and before or thereabouts, and I found it very much arousing) and it disturbs me a lot, because just looking up on wiki about the scene just now, it says “rape” and that freaks me out…. do I find rape arousing? I really don’t know. I know I don’t WANT to go out and … you know.. I don’t.. it goes against what I believe in, and just.. it’s just wrong. Also, in the scene, there was a kid sat on the same sofa the ‘act’ took place on, and that in itself is inappropriate, but for some reason, when I was younger, that only made it more interesting, in the sense of danger of being caught… now that I’m older, I see how wrong it all is, but that makes it worse in a way, because I’m scared that it makes me some sort of sick fuck. It gets worse, because I half woke up this morning, thinking about a dream I had and became aroused, and proceeded to MB, but I suddenly found myself remembering that scene in the movie, and I didn’t stop, I carried on. Afterwards I remembered the boy was there in the scene which I had previously forgotten (whilst… MBing) and found myself repulsed and freaked out by it. Laid in bed for a while obsessing over whether I liked that she was being raped or in some way or another, or whether she wanted it, whether it was normal, whether what I did was wrong, whether I was just MBing over the dream and not the scene, and so and so forth. I will be hopefully telling my psychologist about this, because this is scaring me.. but I really need to hear from someone here who can provide a decent answer.

    I should just add, that my ex was violently raped several times, and I got her to tell me about it in the hope that she would make some progress and deal with it better; hearing the stuff she told me, was very distressing and haunting, and caused me to often cry, or be angry towards those who did it. This to me, makes it sound like I don’t have a ‘thing’ for rape; even the word often makes me cringe.

    With the scene and this morning, I wasn’t thinking “These kids are hot, and that kid sat on the sofa, blah blah blah” for one, it didn’t overly occur to me that they WERE kids. I know they were teens, but I can’t remember how old they or their chars were. I assume in real life they were 18+ and in the movie probably early to late teens, which in itself weirds me out. I just thought of the scenario, in a none-rape way, I guess? Ergh, my OCD. Help. 🙁 I keep twisting it.

    I get this a lot with masturbation, because I obsess over what I… over, and whether it was normal, acceptable, etc. An ex of mine (also the first person I had sexual experiences with as an adult; I was 22 or so and she was 19 or so) she was… well… shaven… and it freaked me out… but I pushed past that fear (it’s not like I could tell her why) and go on with it. Now I worry… you can probably imagine the questions I ask myself: “Did I like that, because it made her look like a kid.” etc. Which is vile. I also get paranoid because my last two exes were younger than me, and infact anyone I’ve gotten involved with was younger than me. Now I specifically look for WOMEN close to my age, so as not to make me paranoid, heck even an older woman. I once met a girl online who was 16, coming on to 17. I was in a bad place at the time, having just came out of a relationship or some sort of breakdown (alienating myself from everyone, GF included) and while I didn’t like her at first (I think? – maybe I thought “what if me and her? could that work?”) feelings did follow, for both of us, and I remember specifically wanting to wait until she turned 17, because it freaked me out that she was so young. She would tell me it wasn’t that bad etc. I was I think late 23 or early 24. Thing is, she was in the US, so the laws are a bit different… to the US, I probably looked really bad, but here in the UK, not so much. Heck, my dad was with my mother when she was 16, and my dad was 22 or something.

    I’m really sorry for all these messages. This is anonymous, and so I feel I can actually get this stuff down on screen. Might show my psychologist. this.

    Feel like I need to SH now, because all of this crap makes me sound like a freak, or some other variant of that word. I fucking hate myself and I hate my past, and my hate what goes through my head.

    I used to want to be a dad, you know, now the thought terrifies me so much that I don’t really want sex, incase I get a woman pregnant. What sort of father would I be? I’d be terrible.

    Please reply; it’d mean a lot.

  35. i need help can any body help me how to focus without disturbed by sex

  36. i have seen my sister in law in sexual way how to stop that

  37. please help me

    • an advice , don t try to stop that , it will not work , these kind of thoughts are ego-dystonic , the opposite of the personality , by trying to resist them you make them worst , try these words , MAY BE and SO WHAT , first time it will be hard , but with time it will help you , the goal is to accept to live with uncertainty , good luck ,

  38. My daughter was almost 13 when my son was born. I never had any problems with her. When my son was born I had tormenting sexual thoughts about him to the point I took him to stay at his grandmother’s house. I used to pray every time I had to pick him up. It was devastating and heartbreaking. I never held my son much. Just patted him On the head. When he was about 6 months old I began to have thoughts of killing him. Up until that point he would stay at mawmaws in the day time & his dad would pick h up after work. He would stay with us at night. After the 6 month mark hed stay at his grandmas 24/7. It was very sad and I didn’t understand it especially bc I never had such problems with my daughter b4.

  39. I’m pretty sure I developed functional OCD several years ago. My house has to be perfectly clean before I leave, I get up early to vacuum couches – every day – pens on my desk have to be in a certain spot etc. This has been mild and livable…no problem. Doesn’t affect anyone in my house except when I want things done I want it done now. However, a couple of weeks ago I realized that I also have Pure-O. When something is bothering me I go over it in my head….over and over…and over and can’t get it out of my head. I go crazy with it in my head. However it was livable. But a couple of weeks ago something new developed. I started having sexual thoughts about my 13 old son. I am so disgusted by this that I literally want to put my fist through my computer screen as I write this. Since it started I’ve developed anxiety, nausea, and diarrhea. I literally get shaky thinking about it. Then I think about how amoral it is and just plain disgusting. When my son is in the room and I talk to him those thoughts go away and he’s back to being my son again. I am tortured because I know it’s wrong. Researching it on line they say I need to “welcome” these thoughts. Uh…excuse me?? Welcome incest thoughts? I tried that and it makes me feel like I’m fantasizing about it. I had a panic attack (my first one ever) last week and had horrible suicidal thoughts (which isn’t me because I’m terrified of death). Luckily I calmed down took an Ambien and was ok. But these thoughts won’t go away. Is there a key word or phrase I can say that can break the immediate thought? I’m looking at counseling but not drugs. From what I read – drugs don’t really help but just bury it.
    Anyway, I did bring this up to a friend but instead of “sexual thoughts” about my son I said “harmful” thoughts. For some reason I felt sexual thoughts would be worse which isn’t true. Ugh….

    • As someone who has lived in your shoes for years all I can tell you is this…
      You are not going to hurt your son. Every person has intrusive thoughts. Every parent has had an inappropriate thought about their children. People with OCD attach meaning to those thoughts. There is a big difference between an intrusive thought and a fantasy. However, don’t try to determine whether your thoughts are fantasies or not as it will only cause more doubt. Just trust me. They are NOT fantasies. The idea of letting the thoughts play out may seem like you are indulging them, but what you will find is it neutralizes them.

  40. Thank you so much for posting this article and explaining this with such clarity and detail. I suffer from Pure O and all of these sexual obsessions mixed with extreme regret and shame of past porn choices everyday. I’m starting CBT and it’s my second day on Prozac. I really hope this gets better beacuse it’ slowly ruining my life.

  41. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. It’s been insiteful and I’m encouraged by your continued efforts to help those struggling with this suffocating pure o.
    I have struggled severely with this for 15 years and have basically learned to allow and even invite the unwanted thought or situation. This has produced a confidence in me and confirmed the lack of validity with my thoughts.
    I’m writing because I recently experienced a different situation. Anxiety over whether or not I acted upon an unwanted thought. This is new for me and has really thrown a wrench In the whole deal. I’ve read about folks being confused as to whether or not they actually did act and its that which has me writing today. How does one apply the ERP techniques in this situation? I ask because living with uncertainty isn’t an option. I realize as I write there is 100 % no chance that I did act, therefore the uncertainty does hold water. It’s just tough and it doesn’t make sense that something unreal could be so powerful.
    Take for example : I read of a woman who would walk up and down a ravine near her home convinced she had killed someone and thrown a body in there. How would you treat her? This is a different obsession all together in my opinion, because the question is no longer “what if I?”, but “did I?”. Perhaps they aren’t different.
    I welcome your thoughts. Any practical excercises you can provide would help. In addition, I was wondering if you could recommend a doctor specializing in pure O in the Houston, Tx area.

    Warmly & humbly submitted

  42. I just happened to see this post and it describes my situation 100%. Since getting engaged, married, moving to a new country (leaving family for the first time), losing my job, and starting a new job and a new life in a new country…I have struggled with these obsessions – coupled with the fear of “falling for someone else” besides my husband. It’s crippling and a get weary and torn down, trying to fight it. It’s gone so far as to affect my intimacy life…there is none at the moment. Unfortunately, in the country where I live now, there are not many english pyschiatrists and I am seeing one now, but am only on my second session and as yet, there have been no formal steps I can take to deal with my problem – rather, it seems the doctor is first getting to know me?
    Anyway – it’s great to know that I am actually normal, and that chances are I have these fears because I’m actually a better person that I give myself credit for!

    • Wait so did you get past this? So it’s true your mind can convince you these things? And they weren’t true in the end? Did your treatment work? Sorry so many questions. Please reply as soon as you can.

  43. I’ve had pure-O OCD for the majority of my life, but not diagnosed until I was 15. I’m now almost 28. I want to let you all know there is hope. At 15, my OCD completely debilitated me. I was convinced that I was attracted to children. I literally cried all the time. Locked myself in my bedroom. Luckily, I had the type of parents who loved and accepted me no matter what, and I was able to talk with them about my intrusive thoughts. I received treatment. By no means was that the end of my suffering. I’ve learned how to cope. I have a four year old son, and honestly having him and knowing that I could never hurt him came close to “curing” me. However, over the past two years, I’ve begun struggling with it again. I have intrusive thoughts about my son that literally make me sick to my stomach. I don’t think people realize how devastating this type of OCD is. I’ve explained it to people saying, “imagine the worst thing that could happen to your child. Then, imagine yourself doing it. Then, imagine there is no way to stop it. What would you do?” Avoid your child? Get as far away from him as possible? Kill yourself? I love my son and would do anything to protect him. The best way I’ve found to get through it is telling myself, “You might hurt your child if you’re next to him, but you will definitely hurt your child if you’re not.” My actual bouts with sexual ocd are few and far between. Now, I mainly obsess about what people will think about me if they knew about what I obsess about. It’s kind of funny typing it out. But needing constant reassurance that people won’t think you’re a horrible person is almost as bad as the original ideas. I also obsess about what my son would think of me if he learns about the nature of my OCD as an adult. Well, I started out saying that there is hope. And I want you all to believe that. I am a happy person. I am a good mother. This will not and does not define my life. And it shouldn’t define any of your lives either.

    • Hi my name is hada and I’m 22. About 2 weeks ago I jus started having unwanted sexuall thoughts and its pointing towards my son and other kids and family members. They are coming frequently and their getting worse . It has caused me to push my son away and i feel weird changeing his diappers, giving him baths , and holding him . it has even made me think of giving him up for adoption and not wanting to have any more children or even be around them. It has caused me to be depressed and not want to eat or socialize with people. I’ve tryed everything like praying, listening to music, and reading. But these thoughts won’t go away!… So I decided to seek help by a therapist to get on ocd medication . The medication I jus started taking is clomipramine 25mg and it will increase every week until I get to four pills. I really hope this works!… I love my son to death and children all I wanna do is make sure they are ok and they never get hurt . Every time I see abuse on tv I trun my head and especially towards children I say I wanna kill the people who hurt children they don’t deserve to live !… I know I won’t act on these thoughts but why are they in
      My mind and they jus keep on popping up and I’m not doing this on purpose. I jus want my life back I was fine and never had these thoughts !

    • Wait so have you gotten past this? So it’s possible for your mind to convince you of fake thoughts? Did your treatment help you? Please reply ASAP.

    • Wait so did you get past this? And so it’s really true that your mind can convince you these things? Did your treatment help? Sorry so many questions. Please reply ASAP

    • Wait so did you get past this?

  44. Hey so much off dis makes sence to me I was abused when I was a child n when growin up I got thoughts I’d do the same and now I. Got into my head I’m lesbian when I knw 100% I’m not iv a husband and 8mt old baby plz can u help me as its drivin me crazy thnks

  45. Shameful thoughts ^^^ I am the exact same way except my dad…some one please help me..I’m a college student and I can’t afford a therapist nor do I want to take drugs(which I don’t think are ever the answer). Here’s my situation:
    I think I have developed whatever this whole OCD thing is the past few years…my family is so loving and caring and I have never or have wanted to do any disgusting incestual things until recently where thoughts of my father pop in my head while I am thinking about my boyfriend/having sex with my boyfriend. I want to VOMIT!!!! And reading all of these haven’t helped with my anxiety but make me think about this situation more and make me more uncomfortable…I used to have dreams and read about how if you have dreams about having sex with a family member it means you are forgiving them for something, which totally makes sense because I think the reason of all of these thoughts is my parents divorce. They announced they were getting a divorce three years ago, tried to work it out, and officially are getting divorced this year. This has caused me severe emotional damage and its like I hate my dad so much for hurting my mom like this all of these years, hurting our family, and already taking other women on vacations. I know he didnt want to hurt any of us and he is hurting that he hurt us but my parents got married too early and it was just not meant to be. I know my dad loves me with all his heart however but never in a sexual way!!! Absolutely vile! Ew!! So someone PLEASE…these thoughts I keep pushing away…I hate myself sometimes. I want to know the reason I am having these but I’m too ashamed to even talk to a therapist and I surely can’t tell anyone that is close to me because they don’t know how this feels and would think I’m a freak!!! I know people are saying to not suppress these thoughts and let them happen but sorry I don’t think while I’m having sex with my boyfriend and my dad pops in my head I can continue picturing having sex with my dad!!! I cringe. I am afraid this will affect my relationship with my boyfriend, the love of my life, and maybe even my dad cause if I push him away because of me being scared. All of the other comments are about being afraid of being attracted to pets and kids but can someone please help me with family members 🙁 🙁 🙁

    • hey…i see its been a long time but i still want to ask how you are doing because i have been experiencing the same things and i want to get out of it its so disheartening…all of it is
      i just wish you luck thats all!

  46. I came across this searching for help and I’m glad I did.
    My husband and I have been married 4 years and have two beautiful children. I had no idea my husband struggled with extreme sexual thoughts and was diagnosed with bi-polar before we were married,literally the day after our wedding he told me this and the flood gates opened into a whole new side of him I didn’t even know existed. He kept so much from me. Now our relationship has completely crumbled, well it started out bad. He takes prozac (not like he should), constantly has episodes of panic, mania and severe depression, talkes constantly about doing sexual acts to strangers, just about any kid he sees, and our own children… he’s admitted to having done some questionable things in his past when he was a child (he had an awful childhood and was exposed to so much early on).
    We’ve tried counseling with our pastor, psychologists, family counseling, medicine changes, etc.
    Beyond the issues with OCD/ bi-polar, he’s extremely possessive, aggressive, and manipulates everything into being my fault. I love him but I can’t continue on this way forever or have my babies constantly exposed to someone so hostile and have them feel weird or wonder if daddy is going to molest them… my 2.5 year old daughter has heard the conversations and he has even asked her if she thinks he would ever touch her privates… so now its in her head that he might and she doesn’t want to be around him.
    I struggle every day with how to handle the situation. I didn’t marry him just to get a divorce, but it seems he doesn’t even want to change, treat his family right, or try to battle through this.
    Some sort of insight would be greatly appreciated!

  47. Hi.
    I’ve had terrible OCD attacks over the past 18months (almost every day ruminating). I’ve had OCD on and off since childhood but since adulthood it’s been Pure O Responsibilty/hypermorality type.

    I find sexual obsessions the worst. At some point I recalled that I had an encounter with a hooker on two occasions. I was single, it was consenting adults but if I hear anything on the radio about trafficking or radical feminists calling prostitution rape in all circumstances it makes me feel like a rotten human being to the core. I know rationally that people should be free to do what they want with their own bodies and that it only happened twice, yet it haunts me nearly all the time. If anyone can offer helpful advice I’d really appreciate it. I live in a small country that is still very morally conservative about sex issues so that doesn’t exactly help!

  48. ive been struggling to ocd for 3months from now and everything gets worst. at first it pop up to my mind the fear of becoming a lesbian,it came to a point that i was very anxious if i talk to girls. then suddenly it shifted to another thought, thought of killing someone or harming myself. just recently, my family are already involved with my ocd thoughts. it made me think what if i have sex with my brother or my father.and these made so weird. im not comfortable sharing it to others because im afraid they will criticize me. its not a normal thought. im here in the philippines but its difficult to seek help with psychologist. aside from that, its very expensive. i hope this could help me with everything. im so hopeful.

  49. Please can someone help? I’m 17 and I’m starting to feel like I am a paedophile because it feels as though I want to touch kids in places I shouldn’t and I hate it!! It’s like there’s 2 sides to me, one side is the rational side that is like of course I don’t want to do that to a child and the other side wants to and I hate it. I haven’t always had these feelings, it’s only been in the past 3 months or so. Before I had the thoughts I was fine and always loved kids and wanted to have them and work with them in the future but not I just don’t know. I imagine myself in the future with my own kids and say as if I were washing them or something and I think would I want to touch them and part of me says yes but the other says no way and I’m just so confused as to what I actually feel. Do I just say no because it’s the right thing but I actually do want to touch them? I don’t want to have these feelings at all and I just want to go back to my life before all this happened but I’m completely confused and going round in circles all the time. I’m too scared to tell my parents because I’m so ashamed that it’s actually something I want to do. I know I would never act on these thoughts but it really feels like I want to and I don’t want to want to (if that makes sense). Please can someone give me some advice?

  50. Hi,
    I’m a 17 year old girl and I’m really scared I might be a paedophile. About 3 months ago I started having thoughts about sexually harming children and I didn’t understand why. Now it’s developed into something awful and I really feel like it’s something I want to do. It’s like there’s 2 sides of me. One side is the rational side that doesn’t want to and realises how I could never do that to a child and the other side wants to and I just don’t understand it. I hate myself and I’m starting to feel like suicide is my only way out because it might not even be OCD and I’m just a paedophile. I hate it so much and I don’t want to have these feelings at all but they’re always eating away at me from when I wake up to when I go to sleep. I’ve never had them until now and everyone always says how I’m great with kids. I used to love kids and couldn’t wait to have my own but now I just feel like I want to molest them and I hate it! Am I a paedophile or is it OCD? Please can someone reply? 🙁

    • hello…u need to learn only about management of thoughts. u will have to accept these thoughts and not analyse them. u need a self training to break the analysing, anxiety and fear part of ocd bcz it is in ur control. u cannot control the obsession and impulses of mind…but u can control the aecond part of ocd …..which automatically reduces the frequency of obsessions.

    • The fact that you feel so bad about all this means that it is OCD. If the thoughts of doing things like that repulse you, then indeed it is OCD. I had the same thoughts and it turned into phobias as well. Do not be afraid to seek help – because this happens to sooooo many people! I had OCD counciling and my councilor got it all out of me in the first session because he had heard it all before. In our minds, it is all terrible, but it is just OCD, and once we get over these fears, the thoughts disapear – trust me because this is the case for me. Learn as much about it as possible and understand you are not alone and not a bad person at all – its just that OCD sufferers are more sensitive than most and it is ANXIETY and the fear of having bad thoughts which makes the bad thoughts happens. Its a negative cycle of thinking which can be undone quite easily and councilors will help you do that and they will completely understand you.

    • You’re the exact same as me. I’m a 25 year old female who has two degrees and a Masters, but since I was 16, and after hearing about the whole Michael Jackson incident, I was plagued by thoughts of ‘What if I’m a peado’, ‘what makes me different from being a Peado’, and then now I get episodes so extreme where I feel like I want to act on the urges, like I would enjoy them, and then I snap out of it and go into complete despair, and like you said ‘it feels like two sides of you’, I’ve even said to my therapist ‘I feel like there’s two people in my head’, and I’ve been feeling stressed, lonely and suicidal. My therapist is so relaxed and keeps saying ‘it’s only OCD’ but it’s so convincing…

      • Hi all,
        I didn’t realise you had all replied as I’d completely forgotten about my posting on here. Thank you all for your advice, I am seeing a counselor and have been since October now. It’s helping but my main problem is these awful urges that feel like I want to molest little children and I really really hate them! Sometimes I feel okay and like I’ve gotten past the urges but sometimes it just takes over me completely and I have to go to my bedroom and cry. It’s so hard but I’m getting better. I just don’t want to be what my brain is telling me I am. I know I’m not a paedophile as I’m not attracted to children in any way and my therapist says if I were a paedophile I wouldn’t see any of my thoughts/urges as wrong which has really helped me to understand my OCD so I hope it can help others too. Another thing that has helped me is a book called Break Free From OCD by Dr Fiona Challacombe, Dr Victoria Bream Oldfield and Professor Paul Salkovskis. In the book there’s a quote which is “Just because it feels true it doesn’t mean it is.” I say this to myself like a mantra when I get scared which sometimes helps me so i hope it may help you guys too. Keep fighting!! We will beat this! Thank you all for your advice.

  51. I would like to seek help but I don’t know who to see for treatment. Are there many doctors capable of treating Sexual Obsessions in OCD?

  52. Can somebody please help me!!!! I have been dealing with this for a long time. These thoughts and urges feel so real. It’s making me think that I have feelings for someone I know. I’m a girl and this person is a girl. This is so unreal and sounds rediculous. Everytime I try to prove I don’t it tells me otherwise like oh you like it and you want to do inappropriate things. It gives me anxiety and my heart hurts. When I do physical checking or Imagine my self in the situation I sometimes get an uncomfortable arousal-like feeling. It’s scaring me and these thoughts have showed up in dreams where I was half asleep and half a wake. In the dream to made it seem like I liked it but I know i didn’t. Can someone tell me if this is OCD or a sexual obsession or am I gay and indenial and my body is really aroused and I am supposed to like it. Help please!

    • I am not trained to give any advice at all; just thought my experience may help? I had dark sexual intrusive thoughts for a long time, and the more I obsessed over them; the more I had started to convince myself that I was becoming aroused by them. OCD is an anxiety disorder which we all know, but the associated physiological symptoms of anxiety can be confusing. For me, I had ‘rushing’ feelings of adrenaline and tingly feelings etc, which you could also perhaps attribute to also being ‘excited’ (which only made my fear of being aroused by dark thoughts even worse). In retrospect – only an OCD person would forget their own state of mind whilst experiencing these thoughts and obsessively convince themselves that it is arousal. Proof for me is that when I am aroused, I am in a state of positivity and confidence and all round good feelings, and if I am in a state of Paranoia, panic and negativity, then it is OCD and actually anxiety which is causing my heart to beat faster and the ‘rushing’ feelings to occur etc. I think for me, the feelings which I sometimes mis-took as arousal were nothing more than ‘flight or fight mode’ kicking in – when people are so anxious – there adrenaline is released and all sorts of strange physiological things occur. I had some CBT training with an OCD specialist which really helped me understand all of this which I highly recommend. These worries dont exist for me anymore, and I cannot believe how far I came in such a small time – so take it from me, you can overcome these things. Learn as much about it all as possible and understand that a lot of people have confusions and worries like these and OCD affects a lot of people, so dont be ashamed of it.

  53. I have suffered with this type of OCD for decades. I only learned it was OCD about 7 years ago. I have never shared any details of my thoughts with anyone close to me other than to say “It’s like multiple constant horror movies going off in my head” when I’m in the grips of OCD. I have never shared any part of the sexual component. Has anyone been honest with a partner or relative and disclosed the “sexually oriented” element? What if it is too embarrassing to admit the SO part? Any opinions for telling someone you have “harm/violence OCD” instead of the sexual component? By the way, no offense to anyone but the homosexual part is just not who I am–neither is the violence part but…ah, it’s f-ing OCD. The anxiety makes me physically ill and mentally exhausted. I am on meds but it is time for CBT and ERP. I have my first appointment coming up soon. Thanks for reading and I appreciate any replies.

  54. I am going through what I feel has been my worst battle with OCD to date. Diagnosed at age 11, my OCD was “activated” due to the trauma of some marital problems my parents were going through when I was about 13. Between the ages of 15 to about 20, I was a virtual recluse and prisoner of my OCD (which is mainly “Pure O”). After exhausting talk therapy and multiple meds, I decided to work with my own thoughts, essentially putting ERP and CBT techniques into place all without the help of a trained therapist. It took some years, but the loud roar of my OCD was reduced to a dull hum and I even enjoyed some days without a bother from it at all. I thought I had conquered it. I spent about 10 years living in that state of triumph until about 7 months ago when it all came flooding back without warning. The reasons are open for debate and don’t really matter for the purposes of this post, but one of my obsessions has to do with fear of pedophilia. Currently, I am dissecting a memory that happened over twenty years ago involving myself, 15 years old at the time, and a 5 year-old cousin I was babysitting. I know dissecting is counter-productive, but I am wondering if it is common in the heavy grip of OCD to think that something inappropriate actually happened and the memory is just being blocked from you, the OCD sufferer, because it was too traumatic of an experience. I really don’t know how repressed memory works, if it can be something both victims and perpetrators experience. I’ve never heard of anything like that. I know that I may have been abused as a small child and the memory could very easily have been blocked from my mind. Anything that anyone can come up with would be a great comfort. My life is hanging on by a thread here. I’m involved in a serious, long-term relationship that I know will ultimately result in marriage (neither of us want children) and my greatest fear is that it will crumble right before my eyes because of my OCD. I love my partner with all of my heart.

  55. How do one deal with groinal response though? That’s what’s always betraying me. 5 months ago it all started with pocd, but I managed. Now it’s about my cat, and i always have to see him so i can’t really get a break. It was fine because I listened to my cbt-therapist but then it started again because I remembered that she told me to accept the uncertainty. And today, when I had showered, I tested myself (i’m so stupid) with sexual thoughts about him and i had the most real groinal response ever. I’m so scared and tired and I can’t hold on anymore. And my cbt-therapist don’t really know much about groinal response 🙁

    • Groinal response can be caused by a number of things ranging from the anxiety your feeling creating more adrenaline which can cause a response or just focusing on the groin area while testing yourself can cause a response which is the most common reason. Don’t worry I’ve been going through this type of ocd too lately and have had a few groinal responses but that doesn’t mean that mean that you actually enjoy your thought

  56. Only posting to give others a glimmer of hope. I struggled with this for 10 years (from 15 to 25) and it took up around 80% of my conscious time per day. As mentioned in the article, mine got so bad that I did start to question and confuse the reality from obsessive thoughts as I’d spent so much time obsessing. Rituals were rife also. It took 10 sessions (of 1 hour per session) of CBT for me to get it all under control. An experience I had when I was young had planted the seed of ‘I am a pervert’ which had grown uncontrollably, so dealing with this was the way forward for me. Every posters story on here I can identify with, all I can say is learn as much as you can about the condition, don’t be ashamed or afraid to seek help (as we all have issues; my councilor got it all out of me so quickly as he had heard it all before, time and time again, and to me, it was the deepest darkest stuff) and understand that it is something you can most definitely get under control.

  57. First time posting here. I have some questions for anyone that could help. I struggle with some of this stuff daily. Mine usually tends towards real people throughout the day. I see someone and I fear that I will look at them inappropriately. So I try to avoid looking at women who may be wearing a shirt that may give me a glimpse of part of their chest. Then if I do see part of something, I feel very guilty. I wonder: did I look on purpose? Did I just naturally see what I saw? Which those thoughts can lead to guilt, anxiety, depression. I can’t even watch tv without going through an avoidance routine..hoping nothing will flash on the tv that might cause me anxiety. This is starting to happen with anyone (make or female) that I come into contact with. I try hard not to look or think about them sexually. But the bad days come when I don’t know if I’ve done things on purpose or it’s just OCD kicking in. Any help would be much appreciated

    • Mate I have very similar feelings and it is getting me down badly. Sorry I don’t have answers for you but I’m only just coming to terms with these emotions as well. It’s starting to effect my relationships with women, especially my mother in law which I’m finding very embarrassing and stressful at the same time. I’m preparing to tell my fiancé which is scaring the shit out of me. I don’t know how to tell her. Maybe telling someone close to you could be a first step also? Basically I just wanted to say you’re not alone and judging by the amount of posts on here it’s fairly common problem. Which is pleasing and reassuring to know. We are not bonkers! Hang in there Tom and seek the right advice/therapy. Looking forward to the day I can rid my mind of these feelings.

  58. Wow! Such a great article. I’ve experience unwanted sexual thought OCD for a long time- ever since 9th grade when an HIV positive man spoke to our class about HIV/AIDS. It was an incredible and necessary discussion, but I became transfixed on the idea that I had HIV. You really couldn’t tell my otherwise. I gave someone a hand job and thought semen got into a cut on my hand. It was outrageous. I used to beg my mom to get me tested but she knew my thoughts were unfounded, and she refused. Eventually the thoughts went away. Since then they’ve occurred in a waxing waning pattern- rearing their head when I am stressed, usually. And the obsessions are very on point with this article! Now in my junior year in college I’ve experience thought cycles, asking myself if I had HIV, if a boyfriend was gay, if I was a lesbian, if I were a pedophile. I had seen a few therapists and my last therapist and I determined I had OCD. She didn’t mention this specific kind of OCD though. When I had the thought that I may be a pedophile, that was the last straw. That might be one of the worst obsessions out there. I took to the internet, and found this article and many others. What a relief! The thoughts can still be burdensome, but to a lesser extent. Thank you so much for writing this! I now take Zoloft but I’m interested in CBT and I was wondering if you know of other therapists familiar with this particular type of OCD around Long Island? I think that the reason it took so long to diagnose was because none of my therapists had ever heard of it. It would be hard to try to do CBT with a therapist that doesn’t understand the condition. Thanks again!

  59. This is weird but i try to masturbate sometimes but when do i get a image of my brother and me doing weird stuff and i try to change it but i don’t know how it never works i’m not gay because i never get turned on by boys or anything but my brother is in my head while masturbating please help, it needs to stop!

  60. So, I’m married to someone who has these thoughts. Well, lots of thoughts actually, but since the porn watching and lying has stopped and he has started dealing with them and being honest with the counselor about them, I guess things are getting better. The struggle is truly real. I have yet to find the best way to handle my frustration when things happen because saying something hurts him, but not expressing frustration hurts me. It is so difficult to really understand and NO ONE it seems is talking about this. But it is so real.

    I remember finding your site about a year ago and it was the first time he felt like he wasn’t totally crazy. But finding someone who knows how to help him has been incredibly difficult.

  61. hello doc,
    i read your article..i had a problem. I am 21[female] year old student.Unwanted sexual thoughts come to deviates my study. I have sleepless nights and all my routines comes to wrong. I have no strength.I used to see porn videos.I know i am doing wrong,and i wanted to control it. But i can’t.Could you please help to get out of it?
    with hopefully

  62. I was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by my mother from the ages of 2-11. I was taken away from her and ya. She made me sell drugs and was a prostitute(that was her job) she often flaunted me around to get clients, but I don’t think I was ever involved in her prostitution.
    I’m 16 now so when I was 15 I was raped by a friend of mine who was 21.
    I have the pedophilia OCD and is was just wondering if they are related to the trauma I’ve undergone?

  63. Hi,
    I know exactly how you feel. I’m 17 and am struggling with the same problem. If you can try and get CBT treatment or talk to someone trained about it. It really helps to talk about it and doesn’t seem as scary anymore. I’m no therapist but I know how it feels so if possible really try and see a CBT therapist. Keep fighting, you can get past this!

  64. Hello. My name’s Cassidy, I’m 16 years old. I have multiple different anxieties, this one has been bothering me the most. I was watching american horror story (which had incest and a lot of sexual content involved) it scared me, and the second my younger brother said “sex” it made me think “are you incest? what about sex with him?” I freaked out and got up and took a bath. This happened about 3 weeks ago. I know I’d never do anything to my brother, ever, that’s family. But, if you could help me, I would appreciate it. I’m too afraid to tell my mom. Idk what’s wrong with me but I hate these thoughts and whats sad is im getting comfortable with them, which I do not like at all. I have a boyfriend, he is great. I hate this anxiety.

    • Hey don’t worry it’s not you, it’s the disorder and the fact that you are getting comfortable only means that your learning to cope. I have a very similar problem and thus I can relate with how you feel.
      My suggestion is to tell your mom that you want to see a psychologist. You don’t have to tell her anything about the thoughts if you aren’t comfortable but do visit a psychologist and tell them about it.

      P.S. there’s no shame in visiting psychologists, you’re not going crazy, it’s just a disorder and in your case very mild.

    • I know exactly what you are going through. It sucks. Mine happened with my brother too, not exactly in the same way though. I feel the same way you do. I’m scared to tell my parents and I know I would never do anything like that, as you said, he’s family. Like if want help so badly it’s just I im so scared to my parents. It stems my depression even more than before and I absolutely hate it. Please feel better.

  65. Hi,I”m 19 years old girl and I have boyfriend from 2 years and 2 months,but he lives in other country from 7 months.I live with his dad in an apartment.My problem is that i have very strange sexual fantasies and thoughts about almost every man i see including my dad and his dad,and about some women.That is way I try to avoid his dad,not to go out when i don’t have to,to watch animation instead of movies with people,but that doesn’t help me it even get worse.I don’t have any friends.Please tell me how can i stop thise thougths because I’m going crazy,I don’t know what to don and I’m thinking to end my life just to stop this.Sometimes I think that I have done something bad even though I know what I do but sometimes I’m every insecure in myself and sometimes i have toughts to touch someone in improper places even though i know that i don’t whant to .I try to tell myself to stop to think like that but I can’t.Please tell me how to stop that.

    • Hi, first of all stop blaming yourself. You need a good psychiatrist who can take care of all your problems with some medication and counseling.
      As far I know you are suffering from OCD. Generally, any thought occurred in brain goes away after some time. but people with OCD have a micro hole in their brain which causes recurrence of thoughts again and again.
      The best way to cure is understanding your problem scientifically. learn more about your prob.
      all the best

  66. I’m using a fake name because the issues I deal with are very fringe, and I want help, not grief or judgement. Reading this explanation has been exceedingly helpful, as having a name to place on this near constant problem is very welcome. The issue started small, a typical male, I sought out things that would excite me, exploring what I found attractive. It took a turn towards slightly less normal things when I became very turned on at the thought of being physically dominated by a woman. I’m not very competetive by nature, but this was unlike anything else I was normally went for, and I’d find myself repulsed by my thoughts after “releaving tension”. It wasn’t so out there though, so I wasn’t as disturbed as I was a few years back when an add for a theme park Halloween event lead me to an unnatural interest in a fringe fetish . This extremely disturbs me, as things that used to be frightening would cause unwanted desire to explore them further. I can’t handle it anymore, I just want to stop having these thoughts and desires.

  67. Hey Dr. Steve Seay, I just really want help, but I’m scared to tell my parents. I’m pretty sure I have this, almost everything in this article is what’s happening to me. Its leaving me feeling very alone, and I feel like a freak, the thoughts that unwillingly come into my head are absolutely disgusting and terrible. The what if’s and the doubts won’t go away, making it worse and at times left me confused. Please reply if you can. Whenever you can, I really need help because I need these thoughts to go please go away. I just want to be normal again, and be happy.

  68. Hey Doc. I’m a 19 bisexual male.

    I’ve dealing with sexual obsessions for around a year now. With a good amount of therapy, I’ve gotten to the point that I can deal with the thoughts to an extent. Outside interactions are a challenge, but doable with time.

    However, there’s one hurdle that continues to cripple me. Masturbation. It’s almost impossible. I try getting off to an attractive man or woman, and I…just can’t. I almost get there, but there’s always some horrible thought there to hurt me. Combine that with some messed up feelings and groinal responses from the sexual obsessions, and I end up feeling sick and ashamed, rather than at peace.

    It gets to the point where I turn to pornography in order to concentrate. I end up going to bad stuff. Hardcore and fairly violent things that I don’t want to see, but continue to because it’s the only thing that grabs my attention.

    My OCD revolves around sexual thoughts of children which causes anxiety and depression. My therapist made it very clear to me that they are just thoughts and that she was 100% certain that I would never harm a child and that I have a moral compass. Your article has made it clear that any horrible feelings are purely artificial and caused by my anxiety and fears.

    Like I said though, I still have trouble interacting with the outside world and masturbation is almost impossible. The thoughts and bodily responses from them are sickening.

    I could very much use your advice.

  69. thank you sooo much!… so im only 13 and have been struggling with zoophile thoughts (and some pedophile thoughts)for about a month now. my mom has bad OCD and i think i obviously have it too. i told my mom i have OCD but i did not tell her about these thoughts…. im sooo scared and i want to live a normal life with a husband and kids. but how do i tell my parents this and how do i stop worrying? my life is being torn apart and i am soo depressed and scared?? any answers would be sooo appreciated. thanks

  70. Plz forgive me i cant write properly .. I have aspergers and i havet been diagnosed for anything else i know off my research asd is associated with adhd and ocd anyway i am 18 and have all those problems . Thoughts of homosexuality and pedophillia and sexualy gross thoughts of rage sex to anyone that passes also insest thoughts and have doubts then i think im normal then i get worst and somtimes i think i might of acted on the thoughts i get the thoughts of how easy it is to act im scared feel evil a freak and a pedo iv had this since i was very young iv come close to acting on them which i am a really kind person and would never do anything to harm someone i have had homosexual relations once when i was young because the impulse was to strong . I have a masterbating problem a bad one that i cant get out of im scare i need help i even think of death 🙁 iv even acted on beastiality 🙁 when i was younger… i cant talk to women properly have problems looking in the eyes and am very observant i want them to be a person not a piece of meet in my brain !!!!! … I have serious problems for about 6 hrs and still going of complete depression . The list keeps going

  71. Doc anyone please reply to this I have anxiety depression and OCD, I have intrusive thoughts from my doctor tells me but I’m afraid I’m getting emotions feelings of appeal and I really don’t like it I hate it can someone tell me what these feelings are, because these feelings or emotions of arousal just can’t be real and I wonder if it’s the ocd , Is it? Will someone please reply

    • I am a 15 year old who has been having these thoughts since 13,when I was very young I did something I would never do again and I never thought about it til I was 13 and I felt sick ever since I haven’t been the same I think I want it to happen again but I don’t it’s wrong and I’m completely against all that but my brain keeps telling me otherwise. I was a bad pot head from a young age, I think this May have triggered the thoughts so I have stopped smoking weed. This calmed down the thoughts for a while until recently I have been having them again and it’s making me suicidual and depressed. It’s killing my personality and my relationships. I’m a good person but this makes me question if I am? I have spoke to my mum and my boyfriend about it they both understand as my mum has always had bad anxiety, I am seeking help from a mental health worker and hope they will help. I need away out before it’s to late. I need some sort of self help method.

      To anyone suffering from intrusive thoughts your not alone! I wish everyone luck 🙂

  72. So, I’m 17 years old male. Always liked girls. I think I always had some problems with letting intrusive thoughts go(I was afraid I sold my soul to devil and things like that). At the end of august, all of a sudden, question “am I gay” popped in my mind. I became obsessed with that question and felt extremely anxious at very thought of being with guy. Next 40 days were pure hell. However, as my HOCD became better, obsession change to thoughts of being attracted to animals. Sometimes thoughts go to incest. Basically everything I’m morally against. I became even more anxious. I went to psychologist and she said those thoughts are product of extreme anxiety and that I yearn for girlfriend. She suggested I should just ignore thoughts, but it is so hard. She said she can’t give me meds. I can’t go see psychiatrist because my parents believe “it’s just a phase and that I don’t have a OCD” and my mother probably wouldn’t allow me to take it because she thinks it will “make me vegetate for the rest of my life”. What should I do? I

    • have you tried to get your shrink to realize just how hard it is to get rid of these thoughts and assured to the best of your ability that it is not a phase to your parents? Personally I think it’s just a phase but that’s my opinion

      • I think it’s a phase too, as I said before I always had problems with intrusive thoughts that just didn’t want to go away, and they were always things I was most terrified of at the time of getting them.

        Well, shrink is making a good point with the idea of “let the thoughts be”,it is hard, but I think I am getting better and better everyday. Parents try to help, but I don’t think they fully understand problem here. They just refuse to inform themself on pure-o/intrusive thoughts theme. They even said to me there is no chance I have OCD because I don’t have “compulsions”.

        • oh well that’s good to hear. As for your parents tell them to look up what ocd really is because I have it but without the compulsive part as well
          P.S. I don’t suppose you could help me with my problem could you?

  73. It will be ok guys 🙂 I have experienced this since age 11. im now 19 and at uni ive almost dropped out cause I couldn’t cope with this and the course but ive not gave up yet. we are all good people and you should tell yourself that everyday. we wouldn’t be worrying about these things if we weren’t the good people. I think its a lot to do with already having low self esteem, self doubt and a non complete identity. its a wide open door for something to come along and take over right? you have to nuture yourself and bring yourself back to reality drown the obsession out with positive things. be engaged with things in the real world see friends, love, laugh, surround yourself with nature, spend time with animals and pets as they are calming and untroubled. read books make art do your hobbies. treat yourself as a person who deserves the world because you do as much as anyone. you wouldn’t be this hard on anyone else for worrying about being there biggest fear so why beat yourself up and question yourself to death. let it be there and practice ignoring/resisting answering the question. it will become a habit eventually and when you start enjoying the good things in your life again you’ll regain power and happiness. relax, meditate talk to yourself whilst your in a calm state. stop checking distract yourself and you will retrain your body to act differently and be calm around these anxieties. Most importantly love yourselfs, accept yourselves and know that you are never alone 🙂 surround yourself with good people that bring you happiness, love and laughter 🙂

    • thanku this is positive and helpful really

  74. It’s so horrible. To function everyday with this becomes so unbearable sometimes. I understand exactly what people are going through. I was diagnosed when I was 19 and had no idea what was going on and didn’t know much about OCD at all and was afraid how much information to tell Doctors when I went in the hospital because was afraid they would judge you on your thoughts and ask you why someone would have these thoughts, they must be psychotic. I even try to explain this to my family and they don’t understand, sometimes my brother laughs about it and it’s so horrible to deal with so when someone laughs about it makes me wanna cry because they have no idea. I can’t believe people that have the POCD went to their therapist and didn’t get reported. Don’t they investigate those? It’s horrible to be misunderstood. The thoughts feel so real that you feel they are when they aren’t. I have been unmedicated for 4 years so reading these articles everyday and attending online groups seem to help me a lot and am ever so grateful. IT’S A LIVING NIGHTMARE!!! You cannot talk about it with anyone because you fear of being judged when you know you are a good person but why are we plagued with these messed up thoughts. I cannot sleep because of this. I am always paranoid someone is going to snatch me from my family and put me in jail or hospital forever for these horrible thoughts. I hate seeing the news about abuse of any kind, and I hate seeing online abuse articles….really anything negative…. it’s disgusting!!! I always dry heave when I see mental images because it’s so horrible and I panic all the time and just don’t wanna do anything. I stopped spending time with my dogs, I barely take a shower, eat, and I get terrible stomach aches all day. Managed to lose weight because of this and depression and bi polar and personality disorders run in my family so having anything mixed with ocd makes you feel absolutely worse about it. I managed to balance okay for these past few years up until near Christmas……I don’t understand, and the thoughts seem to change and my mind makes up stories and seems to trick me into believing that they actually happened when they haven’t…. It’s like you are constantly being tortured mentally and there really is no escape other than to freakin’ face these thoughts but what do other people think about me is what I worry about a lot. My uncle came to spend time with us and all I did was worry and god only knows what he thinks about me…. I’m so worried…. he has no idea that I suffer with OCD and he suffers with Bi Polar and Depression soo….. it’s all really crazy and unbearable. He wouldn’t understand the horrible OCD thoughts that I get. It’s been about 2 weeks and have been coping with it everyday, even talked with my mom, but I can’t seem to get rid of it completely. My mind just finds anything and throws them at me and I always spend hours everyday, all day, convincing myself they think I’m crazy because of these thoughts and they feel I will act on them or already have when I have NEVER did and will NEVER do.

  75. hey guys it felt relieving to know that what i have been going through has a name and it can be cured i really love my parents and i want to live a normal life and everything but these stupid thoughts keep hindering me and my studies too…..i am 15 and my boyfriend was beginning to isolate me and that was the time when i had a wierd dream about kissing my father and nearly having sex and then all of a sudden it shifted to my mother and i came to realize that i have been having these thoughts about everybody and evrything children, animals, god and what not i can relate to each and everyone of you this article is really and exact representation of what i feel its horrible but i copable i guess…..i pray that these things never happen to anyone
    can somebody suggest me something…please……i cant see a therpaist as yet becuase i cant tell my parents about it and i am still underage so i cnat do anything on my own…….need hellp really! 🙁

  76. I am being suffering from this issue for a long time(10 years), and i have discovered the name of condition only today. I have suffered from all of the above mentioned things. Thanks for amazing article. I am sharing my experience, so that it will help you in helping other patients.

    “Fear of being a pedophile or becoming a pedophile.
    Fear of being sexually attracted to animals.
    Fear of being sexually attracted to dead things.
    Fear of becoming gay (if straight) or fear of becoming straight (if gay).
    May also involve a fear of secretly being gay (or straight).
    Fear of being sexually attracted to religious persons.
    Fear of being sexually attracted to God.
    Fear of being sexually attracted to siblings, parents, or other relatives.
    Fear of becoming aggressive or violent during sex.”

    but i was able to overcome most of it, expect for 1. fear being sexually attracted to siblings , parents. and 2. fear being sexually pedophile. First one is still a big problem for me.

    It first started of with having weird thoughts about my mom when i was 12th standard. I believe tat i started having this thought, because of one movie dialogue. I was preparing for the exams, this affected me a lot. i started praying daily. It helped a little, I someone managed to do the exams. Started avoiding watching movies or any entertainment as such for some time. I avoided travelling to some other city for my college, because i thought i will become a bad person without my parents guidance. Things started improving.. I however had these thoughts interim cause damage to me, especially when i feel sense of happiness with other things in my life. i used to think tat i am bad person, how can i be happy.
    I started researching things in the internet why is it so? Bad luck i found links to Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud. I started doubting/believing that it might be because deep down i have feelings for my mother. However I convinced myself saying such thoughts will be there for everyone and i am no different, but somehow tat i unfortunate that thought came out from unconscious mind to conscious mind. .. tooo continue.

    • It’s amazing to find out that we are not alone in this and I’m grateful to find this website and groups online that can help you through with this because people that don’t have OCD don’t understand what we go through. I wish I had friends that I shared this disorder with because I wouldn’t feel so alone as I still do. We have to tell ourselves, that it’s okay and these thoughts are nothing but thoughts, the fact we get scared from them tells us we are nothing like what we think negatively because we don’t choose to think this way, it just happens. I worry all day long because this is mentally draining. Hope you find some peace.

  77. Hello Dr

    I cant thank you enough of helping understand of my thoughts concerning certain things.

  78. Hi Dr, Please help! I am a 35 year old female and have a history of OCD. About a year ago, while working on the computer, I saw a naked woman and I WANTED TO LOOK AT HER PRIVATE PARTS! I thought I must be lesbian! I was so shocked. I could not eat or sleep. The anxiety and depression where unrelenting…. It felt as if a giant cloud of confusion was inside my brain. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to kiss, sleep, etc with a woman or not… I spent (and still do spend) every second of the day thinking about it. I started avoiding any t.v. or music,as I am attracted to all pretty women. I avoid talking to women and avoid going out. I felt like I was going crazy and wanted to kill myself… I felt like my whole life was a lie and this ‘thing’damaged my life. I started seeing a psychologist, who is still trying to convince me it is HOCD, but I don’t believe her, because my thoughts are becoming more’real’and more perverted, for example, I will think, “I can’t wait to lick her …..” Now, all I picture is naked women, a women’s private parts, and I DO FIND THIS AROUSING!!! i.e I am gay! Is it common for a gay person to also have hocd about being gay? How do I deal with finding out I am lesbian at 35? I can’t imagine being in a romantic relationship with a women, but all I think about is the ‘dirty’ sex… I think, “I like naked women, it is arousing, I like liking it…. and now I have to deal with it….” I guess I have to wait for years until I fall in love with a woman, and then I guess I will leave my boyfriend of 9 years, because it feels like the lesbianism is slowly taking over…. I think this is unfair, as I liked men before and now this happened… Help!!!

  79. Thank you for this article. My husband has been struggling with these types of OCD thoughts for 4 years and other OCD unwanted thoughts before these began.

    I am happy to see we’re not alone but the fight is such a struggle and seems hopeless at times. We are in the Dallas area and he severely needs someone who specializes in sexual related unwanted thoughts.

    I will be looking more at your website but thank you very much for researching this and sharing it. Thank you!

  80. Is there a way I can find therapists in my area that treat disorders like this? I have a close family member who suffers from this type of OCD…we’re talking debilitating anxiety here. It just started all of a sudden about three years ago and he’s been suffering since.

    Anyone you can refer us to who is in New Hampshire? My family member tried going to a therapist but the therapist evidently didn’t really understand the nature of this form/manifestation of OCD.

    Any help in finding a therapist would be greatly appreciated.

    – Russell

    • The International OCD Foundation ( has a database of treatment providers — hopefully, you could use this list to identify potential providers in your area.

  81. I’m suffering greatly from anxiety/ocd. What happens when an individual gets all these unwanted sexual thoughts and has a physical response or feels “in mood or there part of brain convinces them they got a reaction in that area” but they are disturbed about the idea of the person and actually these thoughts and “analyzing” to see if they get a physical symptom brings incredible anxiety and fear!!

    • This is the nature of having sexual obsessions. You might want to read some of the excellent articles online about the groinal response. I think Jon Hershfield,, and Steven Phillipson have some good ones. The goal of treatment is to confront these uncomfortable situations and resist analysis and reassurance (which are the rituals). ERP will be the treatment of choice.

  82. I’m 13 and I’ve had this on and off my whole life except now it’s not going and I really need someone to talk to and help me

  83. Hi Doc, thanks for the article, I have a few questions. I notice there are several similarities between ocd and addiction and some treatments are close to each other like avoiding isolation but I’m confused about 1 recommendation. Concerning ocd & fear of being a pedophile, you recommend exposure to children as a treatment. To just publicly recommend someone to be near children could be dangerous. What if someone who is a pedophile reads this and justifies their action thinking oh maybe its just ocd. And violates a child. I know “what ifs” are a part of the discussion. Should that recommendation be reserved for individuals after assessment. I understand that some people will interpret almost anything as a green light and justify their actions.

  84. What if you are having sexual thoughts about God, but you actually like them? What if you actually wanted to play them out?

  85. I’ve been strugglin with this form of anxiety all my life, word for word exactly, never knew it was a condition, always thought it was me, I was the only insane one. For many years I had fear of being gay and never talked about with anybody, I just recently though about it and how I was over this. I got over it once I decided it would have been ok for me to be gay, if that was the case, now I frequently attend gay parties with gay friends and just go for the company and literally never experience any kind of thoughts or anxiety. Just a week ago after a big night involving a lot of drugs I woke up to a deep feeling of anxiety which suck with me for a couple of days, probably as a result of my drug use (not a good idea with severe anxiety) and it culminated when while watching a documentary on peadophiles my mind started doubting if that was my case. And oh boy that thought has not left my mind alone for a single second. wow. I’ve never felt such deep anxiety with such persistence in my life. I think for the first time in my life I actually had suicidal thoughts. I have some sexual anxiety problems that have severely affected my life, which didn’t help this situation either. Today again I ran home from work and went to bed trying to not think about this, reading this article is the first relief I’ve felt in a week.

    I’m not alone, these thought are not real, I’m not a monster, I have an issue that is ok to have.

    The mind can really be scary.

    • I’ve had simular problems since I was 9. I know what it feels like to be straight but your brain constantly says are you sure and then proceeds to flash gay images at you, I’ve had to retrace my entire life at times just for the thoughts to leave me alone. I honestly dont know how I’ve made it as far as I have. OCD kinda runs in my family my mom sister and me all seem to have aquired this disorder.

  86. Man, oh man. I dont worry about myself being a pedophile. I specifically worry about other people being a pedophile. Everyone. And I know thats where the intrusive and disturbing thoughts come from. When I read/hear the news about something horrific happening to a child or if I feed into my obsession about someone hurting my kids, I get very intrusive, detailed and disturbing thoughts about it happening specifically to my kids. The images are so intrusive and disgusting and I often have a hard time eating. I severely worry and obsess to the point of blaming my husband of being a pedophile and trusting absolutely nobody with my kids. One part of me completely believes he is a pedophile and the other part of me absolutely doesnt. It is the strangest thing. I wish that I were only dealing with wondering about myself because I KNOW I would never hurt a child but I dont know about other people. To top it off, I then obsess over whether or not people think Im projecting and believe that Im actually a pedophile since I have made it no secret to family and friends that I feel this way and I actually didnt realize that I have been behaving in a neurotic way about it. My brother in law didnt even want my kids staying at his house because he was scared I would blame him for touching my kids.

    I havent always been obsessed over this specifically but ten years ago when my first son was born, I would stay up late obsessing and sometimes crying about something bad happening to him. Very intrusive and disturbing thoughts of him in an accident or being physically hurt by someone we trust. It wasnt until I was told by my sister that our cousin molested her son (my nephew) over the course of years at frequent family get togethers that the sexual obsession started. I lost all trust in everyone that day.

    Looking back at the last 10 years of my self-destructive coping skills, they should have rung a bell much sooner than this. I have been sober for 8 months and I realize that I need to work on this specific issue if I want to stay sober. This impacts every part of my life and relationships have been destroyed by it.

    Thank you for the information here. And I am sorry to everyone dealing with this. It shows some great character to be exploring your fears regarding this.

  87. Hello, in the recent year i have intrusive sexual thoughts that makes me feel horrible. The thoughts are about people i know and relatives, i have images of them while masturbating, or a thought pops up about them in an unrelated matter-when i dont want it. Im going to talk about it with my therapist but i feel horrible, the thoughts are very bad. Thank you for this article which relaxed me a little, but still i feel not pleasant

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