The Differences Between Being Homosexual and Having HOCD
If you are questioning your sexuality, how do you know the difference between having HOCD and actually being gay?
Typical HOCD symptoms include:
- Currently suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
- Recurring unwanted or intrusive thoughts about your own sexuality
- Constantly reassuring yourself that you are straight
- Avoiding people of your same gender due to anxiety or unwanted fears that you might be gay
- Worrying that you might be sending out “signals” that will make others think you are gay
- Homosexual thoughts are repulsive to you, rather than arousing
- Feeling no attraction to your same sex
- Repeating an action because you worry that you might have done something in a way that makes others think you are gay (example: a man repeatedly gets up and sits down on a chair because he worries that he takes a seat in a way that looks too feminine). Repeating the action relieves the anxiety, but you need to continue repeating the action to continue anxiety relief.
Typical Homosexual characteristics include:
- Homosexual thoughts are enjoyable and/or arousing to the person, even if they hide their sexual orientation from others or are ashamed of it
- Having had past sexual experiences with those of their same gender
- Preferring to date or have sexual encounters with people of their same gender instead of with those of the opposite sex
- Often, people who are gay report having felt differently than their same-sex peers at an early age. Additionally, researchers have found they preferred to engage in activities associated with the opposite sex from early childhood onward
Homosexual OCD – HOCD Treatment
Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (HOCD) is categorized by intrusive thoughts revolving around one’s sexual orientation. People with HOCD suffer through uncontrollable and unwanted intrusive thoughts and images that leave them in a state of fear and anxiety about whether they are truly straight. Homosexual OCD can be debilitating to one’s life.
Be assured that HOCD Treatment involves many of the same types of therapies used for other types of OCD.
A person suffering from this sub-type of OCD constantly doubts their sexual orientation:
- A straight person worries whether they might actually be gay even though they haven’t doubted their sexual orientation in the past
- They might worry that homosexuality is “catching”
- They may think that talking with a gay person will make them act out by triggering their own latent homosexual tendencies
Effects of Homosexual OCD
People with HOCD can be affected enough by their intrusive thoughts that they quit jobs, make dramatic life changes, or end relationships in order to avoid triggering their symptoms. Sometimes, HOCD sufferers are so sure they are gay that they actually out themselves and begin homosexual relationships. Where a truly gay person obtains happiness and relief in the act of revealing their homosexual orientation, HOCD people who come out continue to doubt their sexuality.
As with traditional OCD, people who are affected by this internalized homophobia engage in rituals to help them alleviate their anxiety and prove to themselves that they are truly straight. When around lesbians or gay men, they might check their bodies for arousal or question if they are attracted to the person. People with Homosexual OCD may also keep up a running mental dialogue or obsess over past sexual encounters in an effort to convince themselves that they are straight. They might also perform washing rituals if they are around a gay person, may act overtly to assure themselves of their sexual orientation, or may even blatantly act out against gay people in order to prove they are straight. Additionally, HOCD sufferers might avoid physical contact or being alone with gay people and may even carry this behavior into shunning same-sex public restrooms or not eating in public in case the food was prepared by a gay person.
As with other Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (which asks the patient to face the situations that trigger their obsessions) can help with HOCD Treatment. During therapy sessions the patient faces the situations that trigger their obsessions in order to learn how to deal with their internalized homophobia and reduce their fixation. In addition, certain medications are helpful in reducing the symptoms of OCD and HOCD.
Additionally, since HOCD is rather new, there is little research literature that specifically applies to this sub-disorder of OCD. Therefore, it is imperative that the mental health professional an HOCD sufferer consults with recognizes HOCD as a true anxiety disorder. If they don’t, they may counsel the person to help them accept their homosexuality which will only aggravate the person’s HOCD symptoms.
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