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Am I a Pedophile?

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I’m 20 years old and scared that I’m a pedophile. It started a few weeks ago. I was watching a movie when I saw a little girl on screen and felt a shift in my penis. I don’t know if it was an erection or what but, it terrified me.

Since then, I have been testing myself incessantly. I have been looking at little girls on the street, as well as in pictures on google and tried to picture myself in sexual situations with them to see if I got an erection. I never did. In fact, I would dry heave and cringe at the thought. This provided me with some brief relief but, it never lasted. I would start asking myself what the shift in my pants at the theater was and after that I was back testing myself again just to see if I was or wasn’t a pedophile. I also started feeling this weird anxiety around kids and became hyper aware of my genitals. In addition to that, I would start googling things like “Am I a pedophile” or “psychology of a pedophile” to disqualify myself and I didn’t feel any better.

It came to a head a week after it started. I was going to school, when I moved passed a little girl and her mother and as I did I said “sorry.” Right when I said that, I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach and a fear of turning around. I don’t know what it was and I’ve been obsessively trying to decipher it ever since. The testing also got worse. I started asking myself things like “What if I don’t want to have sex with them but, want to date them?”, or “what if she had a similar intellect to me, would she be more attractive then?” in an effort to definitively disqualify myself as if that would yield anything but, more of the same and it didn’t. I would dry heave and cringe yes but, that feeling of doubt never went away for long.

I just want to know what’s wrong with me if anything.

Am I a Pedophile?

Answered by on -


You are quite literally making yourself crazy. If I told you that under no certain terms you are NOT to think about white alligators, it would be almost impossible for you to clear your mind of white alligators. As a matter of fact, you might become obsessed with keeping white alligators out of your mind, which would mean that you were thinking about them constantly.

I can’t, of course, absolutely rule out sexual deviance on the basis of a letter. But I have a strong suspicion that your worry about pedophilia is like a worry about white alligators.

At this point, you have upset yourself so much, you probably need some help to get out of the cycle of disturbing ideas.

I suggest you take a copy of your letter and this response to a licensed therapist and have a frank discussion about your anxiety and how to manage it.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Am I a Pedophile?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Am I a Pedophile?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 26 Jan 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.