POCD – What is it, symptoms, self-assessment and open for you.

POCD, or Pedophilia Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a subtype of OCD. POCD refers to difficult and disturbing intrusive thoughts regarding children. Both men and women can have these difficult thoughts. People living with POCD have no desire to harm a child, yet they’re tormented by thoughts of doing so. Having this subtype can lead the individual to feel alone, panic, anguish, shame and depression.

Understanding POCD

The difference between someone living with POCD and an actual pedophile can be differentiated by their action. A pedophile takes pleasure in situations in which they have an opportunity to find sexual gratification around children. But someone who is living with POCD will suffer from their thoughts instead of using those opportunities.

Rather than being a subtype of OCD their is no any official diagnosis for Pedophilia OCD. And the worst thing is people who is having POCD are mostly like to suffer alone.

So we hope to to help you to 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 can bring your normal life without these thoughts through this page.

Before entering to the categorized explanation we want you to clarify one thing that there is a huge difference between POCD and pedophile. As mentioned above a pedophile is a person who is sexually interested in children while a person with POCD has no sexual interest in children at all. They only have unwelcome, unwanted intrusive thoughts regarding children. With that clarification we can move on to the explanation.

What is POCD ?

As I mentioned above POCD stands for Pedophilia Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and consists of the following obsessions and compulsions. Let’s go through Obsessions and compulsions briefly.

 What are these obsessive thoughts?

These are the unwanted thoughts that a POCD patient is suffering from. We can figure out some of these thoughts. You may have one or few of the following but that doesn’t mean that you are also suffering from POCD. If these thoughts are coming to your mind repetedly that can be a sign of POCD.


  • Am I a pedophile?
  • Am I a bad person?
  • Will I tend to act sexual things with children when I’m staying as a babysitter?
  • I’m a monster, I’m disgusting. I should stay away from children.
  • Is there anything in my past that can explain this?

Having these types of thoughts and images are extremely disturbing, and due to the nature of the thoughts many individuals who are having POCD aren’t going to be open about their issue with someone else. That’s the main reason for them to be alone and trying to be isolated from others. You must keep in mind that this is not a serious issue if you open yourself to someone for counselling or if you are ready to go through the treatments. And these cannot define your personality or the quality of your life.

 What is compulsion?

 Compulsions are repetitive behaviours that the individual feels must be performed in order to ward off distressing situations.

In this case you may search reasons for these feelings and try to link these feelings as a result of an incident that happened in your history. And you will try to stay away from children and make sure to avoid interaction with children.

Here are some compulsions of POCD.

  • Avoiding physical contact with children, even your own
  • Resisting bathing children without another adult present
  • Avoiding being around children alone
  • Mentally reviewing one’s actions around children
  • Suppressing any thoughts or mental images about children
  • Repeating phrases or mantras like “I’m not a pedophile”
  • Recalling previous and current attractions to adults
  • Re-reading articles about POCD and pedophilia
  • Comparing one’s behaviors to that of pedophiles
  • Checking for sexual arousal to images of children


POCD Symptoms

No any symptoms to be visible from outside or cannot be estimated until you express your feelings directly to a counsellor. One of the most common struggles for those suffering with POCD is the repeated questioning about whether they are a genuine pedophile, or if their thoughts are the result of OCD.

POCD Treatments

POCD, just like any other subtype of OCD, can be effectively treated using,

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT),
  • Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP),
  • Mindfulness based techniques like those found in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Let’s see briefly how these methods can be used to treat POCD.

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, if you have changed your behaviour towards your own children, or avoid children, CBT shall help to change this back for you.

Mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy will help you to accept your thoughts for what they are; they are just thoughts.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) – as it sounds you are going to expose yourself to the thoughts, images, objects and situations that make you anxious and/or start your obsessions but prevent the responses that build in you for them. At first you can start this procedure under the guidance of a therapist and eventually you will learn to do your own ERP exercises to help manage your symptoms.

POCD - What is it, symptoms, self-assessment and open for you.
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POCD - What is it, symptoms, self-assessment and open for you.
POCD is a subtype of OCD which refers to difficult and disturbing intrusive thoughts regarding children. Let's talk about POCD symptoms, Treatments and more.
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