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Am I POCD or a Pedophile?

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Hello, I have been dealing with this problem, I’m pretty worried I might be a Pedophile, I am 16 and shouldn’t really be worrying about this I feel like but it keeps eating at me, I’ve never had the desire to touch a kid, and when I did it was before I hit puberty (as a kid myself) when I was 14 I was in a relationship with someone a little older than me (she would have been around 15) I honestly felt like I was in love with this person, shortly after that we broke up and it honestly emotionally destroyed me for a while, I’ve been diagnosed with Chronic Depression and Social Anxiety, my mother is pretty certain I have OCD just by the way I talk about things. My councilor says I am just suffering from intrusive thoughts, when I was around 12 – 13 and I would masturbate images of children would pop up in my head (I honestly didn’t think much of this because I was pretty confident I wasn’t a pedo) my first bad cycle of intrusive thoughts were HOCD thoughts, I honestly found myself being aroused my men when I purposefully thought about it to test myself, then it switched to thoughts of wanting to kill my mother, feel urges when I’d see a knife just typical things like that, but now its switched to thinking about kids, I can’t tell if I like it or not and it sometimes causes,I wouldn’t say pure anxiety but doubts and confusion, I honestly feel like I dislike it, I am currently talking to a female I think I like, she is 17 I can get erections thinking about her but I feel like it doesn’t feel as good or as strong, I felt relieved when I found out I don’t get hard over kids, but then I purposefully thought about it and started having a reaction to it, it honestly made me feel pretty bad, I would rather kill myself than be a pedo, also I don’t know if this information helps but I’m on an antidepressant called Mirtazapine which is an SSRI, could this be a problem too as I started having these bad thoughts around the time I started taking them, am I POCD or do I have Paraphilia. Please help! (From Australia)

Am I POCD or a Pedophile?

Answered by on -


Thank you for being so open, brave and vulnerable by sharing these details with us. There are several overlapping pieces of information and I’d like to sort them through for clarity.

The first is a distinction between being a pedophile and Pedophilia OCD, or POCD. The POCD is when there are unwanted harmful or sexual thoughts about children. What is important about this differential diagnosis is that with POCD there is no desire to harm a child, but the intrusive thought plague the sufferer. The result is often panic, anguish, shame and depression. In other words the intrusive thoughts are repulsive and not something the person wants to act on.

Pedophilia is termed pedophilic disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5.) To be classified as a pedophile according to the DSM you would need to be at least 16 years old, at least five years older than the child, and the sexual urges and fantasies have either been acted on or caused actual interpersonal difficulty or severe distress because of the intense, recurring urges. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11)… a sustained, focused, and intense pattern of sexual arousal—as manifested by persistent sexual thoughts, fantasies, urges, or behaviours—involving pre-pubertal children. In addition, in order for Pedophilic Disorder to be diagnosed, the individual must have acted on these thoughts, fantasies or urges or be markedly distressed by them. This diagnosis does not apply to sexual behaviours among pre- or post-pubertal children with peers who are close in age.”

I am elaborating on the definitions because typically acting on the thoughts or severe stress surrounding those specific thoughts are part of the diagnostic profile from either the DSM or the ICD-11. For more information please read here.

The HOCD, Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and then the shift to a type of “Harm OCD” when seeing a knife, may actually be helpful in understanding what’s happening, and perhaps some clues as to what type of therapy may work.

You’ve not acted on your thoughts with children and they frighten you. You have also displayed two other forms of intrusive thought patterns in addition to the children with both the HOCD and the Harm OCD. More than this, you have purposefully engaged in different thoughts to test their effect. If you can change your thinking to increase thoughts about these urges it means you have some degree of control over them. This is the most important thing about what you’ve said. You are experimenting and controlling these thoughts to test them out. This implies that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be a very effective treatment for OCD intrusive thoughts as it aims to give you control over them, which you already appear to have at some level. You can learn more about this and other styles of therapy here.

Finally, according to authoritative sources, the Mirtazapine typically doesn’t include the side effect of intrusive sexual thoughts.

My encouragement is to find a therapist very familiar with OCD who uses CBT for treatment and get a consultation to confirm some of the ideas presented here.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Am I POCD or a Pedophile?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Am I POCD or a Pedophile?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 22 Jun 2019 (Originally: 24 Jun 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 22 Jun 2019
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