Should I be Considered a Pedophile Because of My Thoughts?
I’m 22 year old male. Over last couple of months I have been coming to terms with the fact that I was probably sexually molested by my father at early age. I’ve had a pretty hard childhood filled with low self-esteem, bullying, constant shame and guilt over the smallest things, being disgusted and ashamed of my body and feeling empty inside. I had a strange relationship with my father, always being afraid of him touching me and feeling repulsed by him although he always seemed ‘nice’ and gentle and too much interested in my life and he never hit me, I felt a creepy vibe from him. I was also very often touching my sexual organs (I don’t mean to masturbate, but rather like something was ‘off’ with them). I had strange fascination with rape and had hard time coming to terms with my homosexuality. Recently I’ve been diagnosed with OCD and I started taking medication for it. Here is my main problem. Not long ago my older sister gave birth to a baby boy. I’m afraid that close contact with my father will lead to him being sexually abused, so I warned my mother and sister about my suspicions. The strangest and hardest thing though is that recently I’ve started sexual fantasies (or rather obsessive thoughts) about newborn babies (mostly boys, I assume my nephew as well although I’ve never seen him nude) and young kids. I’ve been trying very hard not to have this thoughts but they are haunting me terribly (visions of me touching children, masturbating and raping them anally orally and vaginally of them suffering, sometimes also these thoughts about family members and people I know) sometimes these thoughts and visions are causing a sexual tension or even erection in me, although I would rather hurt myself before I’d allow myself to do that to others. My question is: should I feel guilty about these thoughts? Are they common for people who were molested and may be connected to my own vague memories from my past? Are they related to my OCD? I’m planning to start therapy for sure, but it may take some time, so I’d be really grateful if my questions could be answered, at least shortly.
A: You have some very important questions that I really can’t fully answer without a formal assessment. I’m glad that you plan to start therapy and hope you have made progress on that already because that’s really the only way to get the answers you seek.
I can let you know that being sexually abused as a child can impact your own sexual development and can lead to dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors, but it doesn’t always. There are many people who have been sexually abused that do not report these issues.
I can also affirm that having odd (and sometimes very disturbing) obsessions and fixations is a common symptom of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It is possible that the birth of your nephew triggered something within you, even if it was initially protective and loving, but now it has morphed into something destructive and out of control.
It is also possible that the combination of both issues is the catalyst for the state you are in now, in that the possible sexual abuse and the OCD are negatively interacting with each other, creating a bigger problem for you.
The important thing is to get help soon. You stated that you would not act on your thoughts, but why even risk it? Seek professional help now and try to find someone who has expertise in the areas you are struggling with. Thanks for writing in.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts
Counts, H. (2014). Should I be Considered a Pedophile Because of My Thoughts?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 26, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/04/22/should-i-be-considered-a-pedophile-because-of-my-thoughts/