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I’m Terrified of Being a Pedophile

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Im 15 and a female, heres my story: A couple days ago I saw a picture of a young girl. I felt a groinal sensation when looking at it and i had the h thought “oh my god you’re disgusting, youre a pedo” now three days later, im on the verge of killing myself because i am truly scared that i am a pedophile.

ive heard of POCD and i want to know if that may be a cause. I have obsessed over intrusive thoughts or sensations before. I have done compulsions. I cant get diagnosed because i cant see a therapist. Im scared. I feel like a monster. I just wanna be a happy teenager. I hate the thought so much. I want to die. Please help, give as much advice as you can please. I need some assistance. I cant live with myself if im a pedophile. i cant. i need to know if im obsessing or if im an actual pedo.

ive never had thoughts like that before. i dont want to ever feel or think like that again.

I’m Terrified of Being a Pedophile

Answered by on -


Nothing you have written would indicate that you’re a pedophile. That’s not how pedophilia works. People who are pedophiles aren’t typically worried about being pedophiles. They don’t obsess over having certain thoughts or engaging in certain behaviors. They instead focus their attention and energy on grooming children or placing themselves in opportunistic situations where they can be around children.

Jerry Sandusky, a well-known sex offender, used to run a charity for children. He may have told himself that he was doing a good thing, but all the while the charity served as a perfect opportunity to surround himself with the objects of his desire. He probably never felt that he was doing anything wrong. If it did cross his mind, the fact that he was giving charitably to children likely eased any guilt he may have had about abusing them.

In addition, the latest diagnostic indicators of pedophilia regard true pedophiles as those who act on their desires to have sex with children. You certainly do not seem to fall into that category.

In your situation, you had felt what you thought was a “groinal sensation” and immediately began condemning yourself, so severely to the point that you are now considering suicide. You mentioned that you obsess over these particular thoughts and engage in compulsions. These are all signs of a potential anxiety disorder, perhaps OCD or POCD. Of course, you would need to undergo an evaluation with a therapist to determine if you have a disorder. I would highly recommend that you do so.

Therapists understand that people with POCD are not pedophiles. In fact, the very nature of POCD is being disgusted with the possibility of being a pedophile.

Fundamentally, the nature of POCD is having irrational fears about engaging in pedophilic behavior. People with the disorder seemingly don’t trust themselves and thus become fearful that they will lose control and harm a child.

Without treatment, OCD can worsen. I worry that might be happening to you, given your words about wanting to die. I would also suspect that this is probably not the first time you’ve experienced anxiety. People with anxiety disorders tend to worry about many things and may develop new fixations over time. Perhaps this is only your latest fixation; there may have been others in the past. That type of thing can occur in the absence of treatment.

You said that you “can’t” see a therapist and I’m wondering why not? Maybe you haven’t tried. Maybe you’re presuming that your parents will say no if you ask but if you haven’t asked them, then you don’t know what they will say.

If your parents are unwilling to take you to therapy, I recommend speaking with someone at your school. This person could be a guidance counselor or another trusted faculty member. Someone from school can help you. You don’t have to tell them every detail about why you want help. It’s enough to say that you have anxiety and want treatment.

Once you meet with a therapist, you should tell them about your fears. Therapists will not be shocked by your symptoms. They are well-versed in treating the very types of symptoms you are describing. Too often, people fail to receive treatment because they don’t think they “should” need help or they falsely believe that they can fix their own problems. Psychological conditions require the treatment of trained mental health professionals. I hope that you will heed this advice and ask for help. There is nothing to be afraid of. Good luck with your efforts and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

I’m Terrified of Being a Pedophile

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2020). I’m Terrified of Being a Pedophile. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 27 Jul 2020 (Originally: 28 Jul 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 27 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.