We get a lot of emails from people who don’t think they are pedophiles, but constantly worry that they might be. When we ask them whether they’re attracted sexually or romantically to children, they reply something like “No, but sometimes I worry that I’m just in denial.”
It’s really hard to know what is going on for these people( because we don’t live in their heads) but recently the condition of POCD is becoming better known, and it’s a possible explanation for their feelings.
POCD is “Pedophilic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”, a form of OCD where an individual is worried about being a pedophile—but in reality they are not a pedophile.
Those with POCD may look at a child and wonder if they find them attractive. This could trigger a chain of thoughts beginning with something like, Why would I think that? The only type of person that thinks kids are cute are pedophiles. Am I a pedophile? I must be a pedophile because that’s what pedophiles think about!
Once that seed is planted, they will constantly check and recheck to see if they are a pedophile.
However, most pedophiles find the attraction to children pleasurable at some level, whereas POCD sufferers generally get no pleasure from their intrusive thoughts. If you have no significant sexual attraction to children, you are not a pedophile.
If you have POCD, try these:
There is also a subreddit for POCD on reddit: Reddit r/POCD