By Monnica Williams, Ph.D., ABPP

 

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts, impulses, or mental images that cause anxiety, and stress. They can also make it hard to carry out everyday responsibilities at work, at school, or in the home.  These thoughts may focus on the fear of committing an act a person considers harmful, violent, immoral, sexually inappropriate, or sacrilegious. The person does not want to act on these thoughts (although the OCD may attempt to persuade the person that there is a chance), and these thoughts bring no pleasure, causing extreme distress.

Sexual Intrusive Thoughts consist of unwanted sexual thoughts. This may include fears related to one’s sexual orientation or what others might think. It may also contain mental imagery of sexual behaviors that the individual finds immoral or abhorrent.  The person may fear committing a harmful sexual act or being sexually aggressive. Individuals with OCD may even suffer from unwanted intrusive thoughts about committing a sexual act with a child. This is not the same as having a sexual fantasy, being a pedophile, or being homophobic.

 

Examples of sexual intrusive thoughts:

  • Recurrent fears of sexual acts with a child
  • Recurrent worries about having a different sexual orientation
  • Repetitive thoughts of touching someone inappropriately on impulse
  • Unwanted sexual thoughts or images involving animals
  • Distressing thoughts about sex involving religious figures

 

DISCLAIMER: The content found here is intended to serve as educational content and is not intended to replace therapy. For treatment-related questions, please be sure to work with your local provider or contact a local clinician.

 

Additional Resources:

Psychology Today Article 

Videos: Sexual Intrusive Thoughts

Choose a title below to view related OCD videos

Chad Wetterneck, PhD, discusses sexual intrusive thoughts and how they occur in a variety of ways. Common ways include doubting whether or not your sexual orientation is what it really is and imaging yourself acting on what you consider an unwanted impulse.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD, discusses the fears associated with sexual intrusive thoughts. One of the fears is wondering whether or not you would act on an unwanted impulse. Another fear is wondering what type of person does this make you if you are thinking this way.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD, provides an example of a sexual intrusive thought. It is important to practice exposing yourself in order the alleviate symptoms.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD, discusses the stigma around sexual intrusive thoughts. This condition often becomes under-diagnosed, and there is a double layer of stigma associated with sexual intrusive thoughts. The first layer is mental health, and the second layer is a topic that is not frequently discussed in culture, such as sex.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD, discusses the difference between sexual intrusive thoughts and fantasy. sexual intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts. Fantasy thoughts bring pleasure.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD, discusses a treatment known as exposure and response prevention (ERP). Slowly exposing yourself to more triggers can reduce the amount of sexual intrusive thoughts.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD., discusses sexual orientation OCD, the different aspects of this subtype and the treatment goals.

Monnica Williams, Ph.D., ABPP talks about sexual orientation OCD (SO-OCD)

Monnica Williams, Ph.D., ABPP gives examples of common Sexual Orientation OCD (SO OCD) fears and compulsions (rituals).

Monnica Williams, Ph.D., ABPP explains the difference between Sexual Orientation OCD fears and a person's sexual orientation identity.

Monnica Williams, Ph.D., ABPP talks about common compulsions (rituals) for Sexual Orientation OCD (SO OCD).

Monnica Williams, Ph.D., ABPP talks about stigma related to Sexual Orientation OCD and how common the fears are experienced.

Monnica Williams, Ph.D., ABPP explains Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP) for Sexual Orientation OCD and address fears related to going to treatment.

Monnica Williams, Ph.D., ABPP talks about the importance of finding an OCD provide.

Monnica Williams, Ph.D., ABPP explains Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP) for Sexual Orientation OCD (SO OCD).

Monnica Williams, Ph.D., ABPP explains that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tends to latch on to things that are important to an individual.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD., discusses what pedophilia OCD is and how the thoughts present.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD., discusses how pedophilia OCD is very different from being a Pedophile. Pedophilia OCD can be distressing to the individuals dealing with these thoughts and often includes avoidance behaviors.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD., discusses how professionals determine the correct exposures for individuals with pedophilia OCD. Examples of specific exposures can vary from person to person depending on what that individual needs.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD., discusses how friends and family members can support those with sexual obsessions. Support can look different for every person depending on where they are in their journey.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD., discusses how an individual with taboo intrusive thoughts can communicate their thoughts with therapists, family member and friends. It is important to communicate these thoughts with a mental health provider to properly treat the OCD.

Chad Wetterneck, PhD., discusses the fear that some individuals with OCD feel when considering having a child.