Am I an evil person because I have sexual obsessions?
No. I can say without any hesitation that you are not an evil person. But, I can understand why you might ask this question. I remember often wondering about my goodness. How could I be good if I was always having such bothersome thoughts? To deal with this, I used several different strategies to help me remember that I am a good person despite my seemingly perverse thoughts. Among these strategies include: 1) reminding myself that most, if not all, people have similar thoughts (the difference is they don’t dwell on the thoughts), 2) reminding myself that I have never acted on these thoughts in any way, and 3) listing the good things that I have done. These three strategies have often worked for me and kept me convinced that I am not an evil person.
Always remember that OCD is a trickster. It tricks and torments you into thinking
that you are evil because you have these strange thoughts. It never lets you be, and almost anything you see or experience causes your thoughts to start churning. After a while, you become so confused that you even question your inherent goodness and worth. My quest to becoming OCD free began when I recognized OCD for what it really is: a flaw in several of my brain pathways.
Before I understood what OCD was and how it works in my brain, I had often worried that because I had such persistent sexual obsessions, it meant that I was some kind of sexual predator. I questioned my morality. How could I be considered good if my thoughts were this bad? And, if I am a good person, what’s the difference between me and an actual sexual predator? Surprisingly, the answers to these questions are quite clear. I am good because I hate these thoughts. I am good because these thoughts scare me. Sexual predators, in contrast, find some kind of enjoyment in thinking their sexual thoughts. And, predators often act on their thoughts.
Another question I’m sure you have: How do you know that you will never act on these thoughts? Maybe you think that you really don’t have OCD, but are actually someone who is destined to a life of crime. To answer this, look again at what OCD is and think again about how your thoughts make you feel. If you mainly receive pleasure or excitement from having these thoughts, then you don’t have OCD. You do need help, just a different kind than what we OCDers need. If, however, you mainly feel disgust, fear, anxiety, or panic when you have your thoughts, then you definitely have OCD.
Yet another way to see your goodness: How far do you go to assure yourself that you don’t cause anyone harm? I used to believe that my actions would cause harm to someone I didn’t know and who was totally and irrevocably innocent. I used to believe that after accidently touching my pants, I would transfer semen to my hand, which then might infect others if I didn’t immediately wash my hands. I didn’t really know what this infection actually meant, but it somehow tied into morality. I believed that my actions would cause the desecration of the morality of some innocent child or adult. I know this sounds absurd, but these thoughts inflicted a substantial toll on me because I could not get absolute reassurance that I would not cause harm to anyone. To keep the world safe from me and the harm I thought I could cause, I went to extreme measures. I washed and washed, and then washed again my hands, arms, and feet (trying desperately to wash away all possibility of semen contamination). I was extremely vigilant about what I touched and how I touched it (eg, used papers to open doors or waited until someone else opened the door for me). I was even careful about where I walked on the floor at my home. Wasn’t it possible that I had stepped on some semen in the bathroom and then walked all over the floor, which meant that it was now contaminated? The list of things I did to protect those around me was endless. If I were an evil person, would I have worried so much and used such extreme measures? I don’t think so. My OCD thinking may have shattered my life, but I know, without a doubt, that I am a good person.