HOCD or sexual orientation OCD is a psychological condition in which the affected person experiences overpowering doubts and anxieties about their sexual identity. According to the International OCD foundation, 18% of people with OCD experience HOCD, which is a real problem that can drastically impact the affected individual’s well-being, self-esteem, and relationships.
On the other hand, denial is a natural human defense mechanism that helps individuals cope with stressful or traumatic events or emotions by denying their existence or significance. It can be seen in different situations, such as substance addiction, terminal illnesses, and other difficult issues.
HOCD or Denial?
Despite having different causes and manifestations, HOCD and denial share some similarities, such as feelings of shame, confusion, and avoidance of the issue at hand. However, the main differences between the two revolve around their root causes and psychological impacts.
Indeed, HOCD is mainly caused by an obsessive preoccupation with one’s sexual orientation, leading the affected individual to question their identity, ruminate on sexual thoughts, and seek certainty and reassurance from others. As a result, the affected individual can experience profound feelings of guilt, anxiety, and depression, leading to avoidance behaviors, social isolation, and impaired functioning in daily life.
In contrast, denial is usually triggered by a traumatic event or situation that the individual is not ready to handle, which leads to the creation of a false reality or a distorted perception of the facts. Denial can be seen as a coping mechanism that helps individuals protect themselves from overwhelming emotions or events, but in the long run, it can lead to negative outcomes, such as substance abuse, reckless behavior, and mental health issues.
1- How can I know if I have HOCD?
HOCD symptoms vary from individual to individual, but some common signs include persistent doubts about one’s sexual orientation, excessively researching or seeking reassurance about one’s identity, anxiety or panic attacks, and avoiding certain situations or people due to sexual confusion.
2- Is HOCD curable?
Yes, HOCD is treatable through a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and support from family and friends. Exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) is a type of CBT that is proved to be effective in reducing anxiety and obsessions related to HOCD.
3- Why do some people deny their problems or issues?
Denial is a defense mechanism that helps individuals cope with overwhelming emotions or situations that they are not ready to handle. It can stem from fear of rejection, shame, guilt, or a belief that they cannot change or control their situation.
HOCD and denial are two different psychological mechanisms that serve different purposes but share some characteristics. While HOCD is a real condition that can severely affect the individual’s mental health and functioning, denial can be a temporary response to a traumatic event or situation that the individual is not ready to face. Indeed, seeking professional help is crucial in both cases to prevent further complications and promote recovery.