Repost from the old site.
Please feel free to sign the Reform Sex Offender Laws petition here, and yes I signed the petition. If signing the petition makes me a pedophile, then I guess I am a pedophile.
POCD is a terrifying illness; the mere mention of it makes ordinary people squirm uncomfortably. What is it? It is the colloquial name for a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. Specifically, it is the obsession that one may be a pedophile. Actually, this obsession is surprisingly common on the OCD boards.
Perhaps one or more persons with OCD have acted on this obsession and done something to a minor, but I am not aware of any cases. In general, clinicians will tell you that the person with POCD simply does not act on the thoughts, feelings, urges, etc.
Like HOCD (homosexual OCD), POCD often begins with a sudden thought, often as the person is dealing with a minor. Often the persons had been around young people for a long time before developing it. I know one man who developed it at age 29 as a schoolteacher. Previously, he had been around kids for a long time and had not had any such feelings.
The symptoms of POCD seem frightening to those who do not understand the disorder. As the disorder progresses, the symptoms get worse and worse. The person, strangely, often feels that they are losing their attraction to the mature individuals of the opposite sex (the only POCD folks I have known have been straight).
Some desperately try to get back the feelings they once had for mature persons. They may become convinced that they are a pedophile. They become terrified of being around children. Perversely, they start to notice that some children are attractive (often males start noticing that little girls are attractive).
When they see children, they often feel compelled to look at them for longer than is necessary (this is a type of checking). Looking at children (especially attractive children) does not disgust them, and they may even find it mildly arousing, facts that serve to convince them that they are a pedophile.
They begin to go back into their past and wonder if they have always been attracted to children. At the same time, they may wonder if they have ever been attracted to mature opposite sex persons.
This is a form of checking. This mental merry-go-round of doubts leads nowhere and often leads them to falsely conclude that they were always attracted to kids and/or never to adults. The reason they conclude falsely is that the high anxiety impairs rational thinking.
Sometimes they think about being a pedophile all the time, others only think about it sometimes, often when they are around kids (the schoolteacher I talked to only got it around his students). The person is often in deep despair and in a state of very high anxiety. They often stop having relationships with the opposite sex because they think they are too upset or anxious to get into a relationship.
However, the schoolteacher above continued to have relationships with women and functioned well in them. The person is sometimes afraid they may start looking at child porn on the Net soon (though I am not aware of any that ever did so). As in many other types of OCD, POCD feels very real and the person really feels like they are turning into a pedophile.
The feeling is one of anxiety, though – sheer terror. In addition to thoughts, they may also experience feelings and urges around children, but they are rarely aroused. Sometimes there is a little arousal (this is the so-called groinal response) that is probably more due to sheer anxiety than anything else.
This serves to confuse the person more and more. The person is usually terrified that they may act on the feelings, urges and thoughts about children. The POCD sufferer also obsesses about going to prison if they do act on the thoughts. The person does not want to be a pedophile and feels they are turning into one against their will.
Sometimes they fear that the only reason they do not act on the thoughts is fear of the consequences. Typically, they have no real fantasies about kids, but some report intrusive thoughts of child sex intervening when they are aroused by more normal fantasies.
In more severe cases, they fear that they may have to act on the thoughts in order to achieve sexual satisfaction because this will be the only way they can achieve gratification, since they are pedophiles (nevertheless, they still will not act on them).
Some report that the thoughts disgust them, but others fear that the thoughts do not disgust them, and this means they are a pedophile.
They may do a lot of testing with thoughts and fantasies (as in HOCD), bringing up thoughts of sex with children to see whether or not they get turned on by them. Usually they find that the thoughts do not turn them on, but often they start questioning that until they start wondering if the thoughts really do turn them on. Some of the males spend many, many hours in bathrooms or in their rooms thinking of pedophile thoughts and then seeing what their reaction is.
They may look at people their own age but then think they won’t be attracted to them because they are a pedophile. Some report that they are terrified that they might actually enjoy the pedophilic experience if they should ever have one.
They often surf websites that have information about pedophiles to see whether they are a pedophile or not. When they do this, they may feel that they identify with the feelings pedophiles have. Some fear that they are worse than others with POCD for various reasons, and that this means that they are actually a pedophile and do not have POCD, whereas perhaps the others have POCD.
Some worry that their lack of sex, either during the POCD episode, or in their life in general, could cause pedophilia and is going to turn them into a pedophile. Others read that immature males who cannot get the opposite sex sometimes molest children, and then fear that they are immature and cannot get a woman, and this will make them a pedophile.
Often, they are frightened they will fall in love with a child, and some fear that they already have. They may look back on some love or sexual experiences they had as a teenager and fear that they got stuck at this age and this makes them a pedophile.
Others begin to fear that they will never be able to marry and have children (which is what they want to do) since they fear they will molest their own children.
Typically, the person had no interest in children prior to the onset of POCD. Usually, questioning will reveal a history of typical OCD, often fear of diseases, germs, being gay (HOCD), being killed by a criminal, harm OCD, etc. POCD sometimes seems to come fairly late in the course of OCD.
Sometimes a person feels they have beaten HOCD only to deal with POCD. Typically, people who have been through both feel that POCD makes HOCD look like a walk in the park. POCD seems to be one of the worst kinds of OCD that one can get, probably due to the profound fear and stigma attached to pedophilia, for good reason.
As I mentioned at the start, the general rule is that the person with POCD will never act on the thoughts.
I confess that it is difficult to differentiate between POCD and the thoughts of a person who is really going to molest a child. First of all, a definition of pedophilia is essential. Contrary to the lunatic hysteria seizing our sick Medieval land, a man who is attracted to teenage girls is not a pedophile.
In my opinion, any man who says he does not look at teenage girls is a lying hypocrite. In general, psychiatry defines pedophilia as attraction to a pre-pubertal child. Attraction to females age 14-17 is completely normal in males of any age.
In fact, excellent studies have shown that all males react maximally to females aged 16 and up. The same studies show that these same males are attracted to minor females, on a basis of descending attraction, all the way down to age 7, at which point the attraction ends.
Note that the attraction is on a descending scale. A male with maximal attraction to young girls and minimal attraction to mature females is not normal and is properly termed a pedophile.
Hence, attraction to minor females is completely normal in any males – and maximal attraction to females age 16-17, is not sign that a man is a child molester or a pedophile or abnormal in any way, shape or form. Adult males having sex with females aged 14-17 is properly termed statutory rape in many US states.
In most of the world, including most of Europe, the age of consent has been dropped below 18. Nevertheless, when we talk of child molesters and pedophilia, as sane people, not as Medievalist freaks, we are not talking about attraction or even sex with minors aged 14-17. Whatever it is, and the sex part is often illegal, is certainly not pedophilia or child molestation by any non-lunatic definition of the term.
A true pedophile is attracted only to children of a certain age and not to adults and has been this way since adolescence. Apparently they cannot change their orientation.
I think we should feel sorry for these people as long as they do not molest children. They should be encouraged to live out their fantasy lives with pedophilic stories and the like (which are legal anyway), and counseled strongly to avoid acting on their urges (after all, they do have a right to some sort of an inner sex life). Since they apparently cannot change their orientation, they deserve to be treated with compassion.
However, about 50% of convicted child molesters will offend again over a 25-year period. Furthermore, although some kids come away unscathed, at least in Western societies, many kids who get molested seem to suffer psychological damage. New evidence indicates that they may even suffer long-term effects in their brains, setting the stage for future pathology, in particular Borderline Personality Disorder.
This shows that child molesting frequently causes real, observable, and possibly permanent damage to children. That is one more reason why persons thinking about doing such a thing should think about the damage they are likely to cause.
In a true pedophile, the thoughts, fantasies, pornography, etc. are likely to be very pleasurable. The person loves to think about his fantasies and in many cases feels little or no guilt about it. Sometimes he may feel that he has gone too far, but that is more of an addiction-type feeling. He will feel minimal attraction to mature individuals. Such a person is referred to as “regressed”.
There are also folks referred to as non-pedophilic child molesters. There are various types.
There is another type of child molester, the “immature” offender. This person is inadequate in many ways and often cannot get persons of their own age. I do not know how their thinking operates, but apparently they do not have POCD. The main thing is that they apparently want to molest a child. People with POCD do not even want to think about this stuff, much less do it.
Another less common offender is the “trysexual” – this is someone who will try anything. Whatever thinking this person has, it is not POCD. The wild popularity of pedophilia themes on erotic story sites, often written by housewives and mothers of young kids, among others, suggests that not only pedophiles are reading and writing this stuff.
Perhaps there is a forbidden fruit aspect to these type of stories. Considering how many people are reading and writing this stuff, I assume that most of them have enough social controls that they can fantasize about such things without acting on them.
A recent survey showed that 28% of normal, non-pedophiliac males were aroused by pedophilic erotic images (How the heck do they get away with doing these studies anyway?) This shows that non-exclusive or non-preferential attraction to pedophilic erotica is a normal sexual expression for many males. But once they cross the line from thinking to action, we are in another ballpark altogether.
I should note that pedophilia stories, unlike child porn with photos of real kids, is completely legal and if one is so inclined, there is plenty of it out there on the Internet. I’m not going to show you how to search for it, but Google is your friend.
Treatment of POCD involves SSRI’s – the usual OCD treatment – and cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT involves exposure – typical exercises involve going to parks and places where there are lots of kids and exposing yourself to the thoughts and fears. Many POCD sufferers are probably too frightened to get into therapy because they are afraid that the therapist may try to turn them in to the authorities.
I am currently doing amateur therapy (he also sees a real therapist) with an individual who has POCD for a considerable part of the day, every day, for about 16 years now.
Drugs have all failed, and he has continuous obsessions all day from the time he gets up until the time he goes to bed, though not necessarily POCD. Most of the time he has harm obsessions (thoughts about killing, raping, torturing and cannibalizing victims). The funny thing about him is that he is probably the last person on Earth who would ever commit such a violent office.
In addition, I am absolutely certain that this individual will never molest a child. If he did not have OCD and I thought he might molest a child, I am not sure if I could be comfortable talking to him.
I am not aware that much has been written about POCD in the psychological literature, at least from what I can find on the Internet. This disorder needs a lot more light shined on it due to the number of sufferers. This post is a small ray of light in that direction.