I’ve been getting a few questions about ‘Spectrum HOCD’ and decided the best way to answer some of the questions was to write a post.
I need to start by saying that HOCD in itself is not what we call a formal diagnosis. It does not appear in DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) or ICD (Internal Classification of Diseases.) These are both diagnostic manuals that describe mental health conditions.
It is best to think of HOCD as falling under the umbrella of OCD. Still, I use the label ‘HOCD,’ as people (reading this article) generally understand what is meant by this, in that you have intrusive thoughts about your sexuality.
Spectrum HOCD is not something that I had come across in my own readings or study. Rather, it was from interactions with readers that I heard about this. When I looked into this term properly myself, I could see where it came from, and I will talk to you now about it. Specifically, I want to talk about;
- The origins of what some people have called ’Spectrum HOCD.’
- Labels, and how something can become a ‘truth,’ a ‘thing.’
- Why you really want to know about ‘Spectrum HOCD.’
Where does the term ’Spectrum HOCD’ come from?
Good question. And an important question. I shall start by talking about where the term comes from, and then I shall be in a position to explain what I mean when I say this is an important question.
The Kinsey Scale
In 1948, Alfred Kinsey devised a Heterosexual – Homosexual Rating Scale, known as the Kinsey Scale.
Before I talk about this, I shall make my own position clear. As a psychologist, I don’t particularly agree with the Kinsey Scale; I think it is outdated and reflective of its time!
According to Kinsey, sexuality was not represented as an ‘ either/or ‘ – a binary. Rather his scale purported to make sexuality more fluid, as existing on a continuum.
Kinsey devised a 7 point scale, as follows,
- Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual
- Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
- Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
- Equally heterosexual and homosexual
- Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
- Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
- Exclusively homosexual
I should point out now that if you are reading this from the point of view of having intrusive thoughts about your sexuality, you may have an ‘anxiety spike’ when reading the terms above. You might even be misinterpreting them.
If you are reading this page, after a Google on ‘Spectrum HOCD’, you might already have decided that you can be a little bit gay.’ I appreciate I sound flippant here, but my point is the exact opposite. It might take me some time to explain my point, but I shall start with what I call the dangers of assuming knowledge.
Labels, and how they can become ’truth.’
As far as I can tell, there is no such thing as ‘Spectrum HOCD.’ There is a Kinsey Scale that is real.
I can practically hear you say, you read about it, you discussed it on a forum. I also read about it on a forum and have also been asked questions about it. However, I cannot find any empirical evidence of it!
The dangers of repetition and the construction of knowledge.
The truth effect 1is a well-known phenomenon, which means that repeated exposure to something can make it become a ’truth.’ In terms of what we are talking about here today, if you repeatedly come across forums discussing Spectrum HOCD, it will eventually become a ‘fact’ for you; one that you want more information on, and something that you google!
Spectrum comes from Alfred Kinsey in 1948, I spoke about him above. I can’t find for sure when it was applied to HOCD, and I am a little concerned that it is a ‘truth’ that exists out there on the internet and is becoming an ‘accepted’ condition by some readers.
Does Spectrum HOCD exist?
What I think, and from the type of questions that I received, it comes over more as an obsession or followed by a compulsion; this is more important to me than its meaning. With the obsession being, for example, the preoccupation with the term and the compulsion could be trying to get some form of reassurance.
This type of behaviour fits nicely into OCD; that need for certainty, the difficulty in understanding, and finally accepting, that what you are feeling is a ‘symptom’ (if you like) of OCD.
I think it would be more beneficial to start working with your obsessions and compulsions instead of reading more about spectrum HOCD or asking yourself the question.
What is the function of your questioning?
- Is it the same function as needing to know if your sexuality really has changed?
- Is it reassurance?
- Are you looking for some proof?
As these can be thoughts of as compulsions. It is the same compulsion as washing hands or not touching doorknobs in that it is something that you do to reduce the anxiety experienced by the obsession. In this case, spectrum HOCD, previously you may have been obsessed with HOCD, and now you have something new. In my option, this is the same as obsessing about germs or contamination.
You might find that hard to grasp and think that it is different, as you are concerned about sexuality. Still, if you are open to the idea that what you are experiencing are intrusive thoughts, then I would strongly suggest that you stop trying to find out more about Spectrum HOCD and start focusing on how to reduce your obsessions and compulsions, as this is the first step in feeling better.
- If you are interested in the Truth Effect, you can read more about it here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_truth_effect. For those of you with a background in Social Constructionism, you can just refer to how knowledge and meaning is constructed. ↩︎