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I Can’t Tell If I’m Gay or Not (HOCD)

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Hey, I’ve been having this issue for a while now, I’ve convinced myself I’m gay, it used to cause pretty bad anxiety but now I have these thoughts without any anxiety at all, I saw a Psychiatrist and she said I have “obsessions” and “Developmental Trauma” so PTSD basically is how she explained it, my family has a history of OCD so this is could explain how I’m thinking/believing these thoughts, but doesn’t OCD have anxiety associated with it? It’s confusing, I’m currently “talking” to this girl I think I like, casual flirting sort of thing, I can still get erect over females sometimes, but I can’t help but feel I’m gay, as I said its weird, It could be OCD but why am I believing these thoughts and don’t get nervous? My counselor also thinks I have OCD, I was diagnosed with anxiety and at a very young age, specifically social anxiety, also I was diagnosed with depression, I got bullied a lot at school and my home life wasn’t the best, no abuse just very aggressive, this obviously caused some issues, I heard that PTSD and OCD go hand in hand, so it could be possible I’m just OCD could I get a second opinion, please? I don’t like the idea of being gay, I’ve been in love with a girl before when I was very young and I’ve had multiple girlfriends I’ve 100% loved sexually and emotionally, but recently I don’t feel it anymore. I am only 17 years old, almost 18 could this just be my age? clearly I have mental health issues so maybe it is “HOCD” please give me some insight

ps hope you’re having a good day/night (From Australia)

I Can’t Tell If I’m Gay or Not (HOCD)

Answered by on -

A.

Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is hallmarked by a disproportionate fear of being ridiculed for being gay — or excessive anxiety about becoming gay. Part of this can be having intrusive thoughts and images of homosexual behavior and the fear that others might think you are homosexual. The obsessive thoughts are often accompanied by compulsive behaviors like checking. For more information on this read this paper from the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.

In HOCD, which is not an official diagnosis, but rather a term used to describe these symptoms, obsessions are characterized by the excessive fear of being or becoming homosexual and being ridiculed by others for being gay. There is an experience of intrusive, unwanted mental images of homosexual behavior and/or fears that others may believe he/she is homosexual. Compulsions are usually in the form of checking. From this paper, this quote is particularly helpful for understanding the nuances and dynamics of HOCD.

“While conceptualizing sexual obsessions, it is important to recognize that people with sexual obsessions find their thoughts immoral and do not wish to act them out. They are different from fantasies, as the obsessions are unpleasant and provoke guilt rather than being enjoyable.The person in HOCD is not able to stop thinking about same-sex relationships, and the thoughts are severely distressing to him/her. Although in fantasy and dreams he fantasizes about the opposite sex. He often feels emotional intimacy with a partner of the opposite sex. He is worried that people of the same sex might be attracted to him. Sexual obsessions in OCD rarely produce sexual arousal. These obsessions usually decrease sex drive. Obsessions about homosexuality differ from an individual who is actually gay because they do not feel attraction or arousal to members of the same sex. The obsessions result in guilt, shame, distress, and anxiety. The patient often tries to learn more about sexual identity issues to reassure himself that he is not a gay.”

There are other questions that have been asked and answered by PsychCentral’s Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker about HOCD here, here, or here.

And more information on OCD itself is here.

I tend to agree with what has been answered in that I wouldn’t focus so much right now on the label. You are saying that the thoughts are not intrusive, which is important because the intrusion is what often creates anxiety. You anxiety seems to be more of one of identity. It sounds like you are wrestling with who you are as a sexual being, your gender identity, and from what you are saying the anxiety is about trying to figure this out.

Keep talking with your therapist about this. The fact that you have this therapeutic relationship is very powerful and important as you try to sort this identity issue out.

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

I Can’t Tell If I’m Gay or Not (HOCD)

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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: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). I Can’t Tell If I’m Gay or Not (HOCD). Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/03/25/i-cant-tell-if-im-gay-or-not-hocd/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 21 Mar 2020 (Originally: 25 Mar 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 21 Mar 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.