What is POCD?
POCD stands for Paedophile Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and is a type of OCD that refers to complex and disturbing intrusive thoughts regarding children. Both men and women can have these complex thoughts.
How is POCD diagnosed?
There is not an official diagnosis of POCD. Instead, it falls under the umbrella of OCD and its associated intrusive thoughts. But sometimes, labels such as POCD help us to know what we are discussing.
The purpose of this page is to help you understand what is happening, point you in the right direction if you are looking for treatment or self-help, and to provide you with some level of reassurance that you are okay.
How do I know I have POCD?
Let me start by clearing something up for you. There is a stark difference between someone with POCD and a paedophile. A paedophile is someone who is sexually interested in children. Someone with POCD has no sexual interest in children and more than likely has a partner, husband or wife. Still, the person with POCD has unwanted, unwelcome intrusive thoughts regarding children. This is a significant difference.
These are your unwanted and unwelcome thoughts. I need to tell you that you are not choosing to have these thoughts. The following are some examples, but this is not an exhaustive list.
If you would like my help, I have an online course that is private, confidential and available now.
- Am I a paedophile?
- Am I capable of harming children?
- I’m a monster; I’m disgusting.
- I’m a terrible person.
- Is there anything in my past that can explain this? This is a tricky thought, and I think I should explain it under the compulsions explanation, as it straddles both.
Having these types of thoughts and images is extremely disturbing, and because of the thoughts, many people, maybe you, tell no one about it or seek help. You remember that this is just another manifestation of OCD; it says nothing about you as a person.
These are the things you do to help you cope with your thoughts.
You might keep searching in your mind for something to explain what you are now feeling. For example, you might go over things that happened when you were a kid, such as playing ‘doctors and nurses, but instead of this neutralising your thoughts, you could now see it as evidence that something is wrong with you.
You might stay away from children, as you are concerned you present a threat.
You might have changed your behaviour around your children, especially in terms of bathing and dressing.
You want the same style of treatment that you would get for OCD. The recommended treatment is CBT–Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, but I also recommend mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. .
How the different therapies will help you.
CBT will help by helping you to form more realistic appraisals of your thought processes. It shall also help you change behaviours that are not helping you. For example, suppose you have adjusted your behaviour towards your children or avoid children. In that case, CBT shall help to change this back for you.
Mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy will help you accept your thoughts for what they are; they are just thoughts.
I am no longer offering sessions (I’m a psychologist, if you haven’t read the about me page), but I have an online course that you are very welcome to look at.