All Posts Tagged: hocd

HOCD and Intrusive Thoughts

HOCD (homosexual obsessive compulsive disorder) is a subgroup of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It causes relentless questioning of one’s sexual orientation via the intrusive thoughts that are characteristic of OCD. HOCD is also known as Gay OCD or Sexual Orientation OCD (SO-OCD).

The term HOCD is not a recognized scientific or diagnostic name. Instead, it is more of a reference name or “title” that is used within the OCD community. This term defines the mental anguish that comes from experiencing intrusive, unwanted thoughts that you might be gay. If you have HOCD, these thoughts can come so often that, over time, it can become unbearable.

Part of the frustration with HOCD is that, once the intrusive thoughts are triggered, the person’s mind refuses to accept the reality that they have never been attracted to the opposite sex before. They can try to convince themselves that they are content with their straight orientation, but their OCD won’t allow them to do so. Eventually, these thoughts can become intrusive enough to make a person quit a job or leave a relationship because they are so convinced that they have been lying to themselves their entire life.

If you have HOCD, you might:

  • Fear that you have been living in denial of your true orientation.
  • Worry that just the fact that you are questioning your sexual identity means you are gay, because “I wouldn’t wonder about my orientation if I was straight.”
  • Fear losing your “self” and your previous identity.
  • Be concerned that homosexuality is “catching” in the same way that a cold or the flu can be caught.
  • Worry that being around a gay person will trigger your own latent tendencies and cause you to act out.
  • Fear that being unable to perform sexually means you are gay.
  • Think that other people will see you as gay because of a certain mannerism or because of how you dress or act.

HOCD Is All About Intrusive Thoughts

The truth is, HOCD is not about the person’s sexual orientation – it is really about their intrusive thoughts and how they react to those thoughts.

People without OCD will have a random thought and then dismiss it because it has no meaning. Those who have OCD and HOCD, however, attach deep meaning to these random thoughts and often spend countless hours searching for one hundred percent assurance that the thought is or is not true.

These intrusive thoughts don’t go away, either. For someone with OCD, once an intrusive comes into their mind, they cannot dismiss the thought because it sets up a cycle of doubt and questioning that repeats over and over again.

As far as OCD goes, no proven cause has been found for the disorder. And, since there isn’t just one concrete cause for OCD, there also is no exact reason for why someone with OCD will go on to develop HOCD or another subgroup. What we do know is that OCD and its subgroups revolve around whatever it is that the person fears. For example, while some may worry that they are actually gay (HOCD), another may worry that they will hurt themselves or others (Harm OCD).

Help for HOCD

Because there are only a few studies out there on HOCD, many mental health professionals don’t realize this subcategory exists. Therefore, they don’t understand how to properly diagnose and treat it. In many cases, clinicians either miss the diagnosis or they call it “sexual identity confusion” instead of HOCD. But, remember – HOCD is not about sexual identity, it is about the person’s OCD (whether it has been diagnosed or not).

There is a big problem with labeling and treating HOCD as “sexual identity confusion.” It can cause the individual to believe that their misinterpretation of their sexual orientation is actually meaningful and true. For this reason, when seeking help for HOCD, it is extremely important to find a therapist who specializes in treating either OCD or the HOCD subgroup.  

A therapist who is familiar with the condition will also understand that HOCD is not something that can be cured through reasoning and talk therapy because there is no underlying homosexuality to uncover. Instead, treatment for HOCD should involve the same therapies clinicians use when treating classic OCD. These include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure and response therapy (ERP), exposure and ritual prevention therapy (EX/RP), and sometimes the short term use of medication to help with depression and anxiety.

We Are Experts In The Treatment of HOCD

Learn more about HOCD in Dr. Rosen’s newest book, HOCD: Everything You Didn’t Know – A primer for Understanding & Overcoming Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Find it online here.

In addition to this book, our clinic has therapists who are specially trained to treat OCD, HOCD, and other subgroups of the disorder. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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HOCD

HOCD or Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is defined as the questioning of one’s sexuality by a person who already suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). What this means is that someone with OCD who is happy in their straight, heterosexual orientation becomes fixated on the question of whether or not they are actually gay. Over time, these thoughts and worries about the possibility of being gay begin to consume their lives.

People with OCD experience their obsessions in different ways from each other, but the underlying premise is that they are dealing with disturbing unwanted or intrusive thoughts. An example would be that a person who suffers from OCD is physically healthy but begins to worry about whether they actually have cancer or another serious illness. In the case of HOCD, straight people with the disorder spend countless hours wondering if they could really be gay or if they could suddenly become gay (conversely, homosexuals with Straight OCD, constantly worry if they are, or could become, straight). People with HOCD expend a great deal of energy and countless hours trying to “know”, without a doubt, that they are straight and not gay.

The Differences Between Being Homosexual and Having HOCD

So, 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

HOCD Treatment

HOCD is treated in much the same way as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In general, cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based therapy is used to help the person reduce their response to their thoughts and help them deal with their obsessions. Additionally, these behavior therapies may or may not be combined with medications such as SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft, etc). By changing one’s behavior and responses towards one’s intrusive thoughts, it is possible to neutralize and eliminate the fixation.

For more information about HOCD or to explore treatment options, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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HOCD – Homosexual OCD or the Fear of Being Gay

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.

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

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 HOCD 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.

Treatment for HOCD Symptoms

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.  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.

For more information and help with HOCD and HOCD symptoms in the Delray Beach, FL area, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

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