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What is OCDOCD SubtypesFears about Bestiality

Fears about Bestiality

6 min read
Danielle McDowell, LCSW

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If you have repeated thoughts or fears about sexual attraction or actions involving animals, it may be a sign of OCD. Bestiality OCD is a theme of obsessive-compulsive disorder in which a person has intrusive thoughts, fears, and/or images of engaging in sexual acts or interactions with an animal. These obsessive thoughts are ego-dystonic, meaning that the obsessions are not in alignment with one’s values, beliefs, or intentions.

What is Bestality-themed OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often creates fear or doubt about topics that feel especially difficult to tolerate. As a result, the intrusive thoughts, images, or urges known as obsessions in OCD will often involve taboo themes such as sex, violence, and harm, causing tremendous distress and anxiety. 

In response to this distress and anxiety, people with OCD will engage in compulsions, which are physical or mental behaviors done in an attempt to relieve distress or prevent an unwanted outcome. Unfortunately, compulsions only lead to a temporary reduction of anxiety and reinforce the false belief that obsessions pose a real danger or threat, creating a vicious cycle that leads to more obsessions, distress, and compulsions over time. 

Bestiality OCD differs slightly from a similar theme, Zoophilia OCD (ZOCD), in that ZOCD involves romantic or emotional thoughts, rather than focusing on taboo sexual content. ZOCD and bestiality OCD are often used interchangeably, but these distinctions can feel very significant to people suffering from these themes. 

Common obsessions

Obsessions in bestiality-themed OCD can involve any animals and any type of sexual content. They may come in the form of intrusive thoughts, images, or urges about pets involving sexual themes, or may involve more general “What if?” fears that feel difficult to ignore. They may even

Examples of bestiality-themed fears include: 

  • What if I want to have sex with my dog?
  • What if I randomly lose control and sexually assault an animal? 
  • What if I think about having sex with animals? Does that mean I want to?
  • What do these intrusive images of sexual content with animals mean?
  • I accidentally touched my pet’s groin. Does that mean I molested them?
  • It felt weird when my pet sat on my lap. Does that mean I’m sexually attracted to them deep down?

Do these experiences sound familiar? Learn how you can overcome them.

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Common obsessions

Obsessions involving bestiality in OCD can be triggered by any interaction with animals, taking care of a pet, contact with a pet, or memories or past interactions or thoughts about animals. 

People with OCD very often work to avoid the situations that trigger their fears, so people with these themes may avoid their pets and other animals in an attempt to keep their fears from arising—this is actually a compulsive behavior, and only reinforces their fears.

Situations that may trigger bestiality-themed OCD include:

  • Spending time with pets
  • Washing or caring for pets
  • Seeing other people’s pets
  • Going to places like the zoo or a farm
  • Watching movies or shows with animal themes, especially anthropomorphic animals

How can I tell if it’s OCD, and my fears aren’t real?

OCD thoughts are ego-dystonic, meaning that they are not in line with a person’s identity, desires, or beliefs. As a result, they cause distress, shame, disgust, or anxiety. As a result, compulsions are done in an attempt to get rid of the distress caused by obsessions. 

  • Here are three signs that it might be bestiality-themed OCD and not actual bestiality:
  • Your thoughts are ego-dystonic and cause distress, shame, or anxiety.
  • You feel a need to be certain that you aren’t attracted to animals.
  • You engage in behaviors like avoidance, body checking, or “thought replacement” as a way to relieve your anxiety or shame.

A therapist who specializes in OCD can help confirm if you’re experiencing OCD through a rigorous diagnostic assessment.

Common compulsions 

People with OCD engage in compulsions, which can be physical or mental, in an attempt to rid themselves of the negative feelings that arise when they experience obsessions. 

While these behaviors may provide some short-term relief or reassurance, they do nothing to address an actual danger, so obsessions return again and again. In fact, by reinforcing the brain’s false belief that obsessions pose a real danger and need to be addressed, compulsions make them worse over time. Intrusive thoughts happen to everyone and mean nothing on their own, so it is best to learn to sit with the anxiety and discomfort that they cause. 

Examples of compulsions done in bestiality-themed OCD include: 

  • Avoiding pets and other animals
  • Avoiding places where animals may be, like zoos and farms
  • Avoiding movies or shows with animals in them
  • Performing mental rituals to stop thoughts or images
  • Checking yourself for signs of attraction when you’re around animals
  • Mentally reviewing past interactions or encounters with animals
  • Seeking reassurance to prove you would not act on these feelings

Access therapy that’s designed for OCD

NOCD Therapists have used ERP therapy to help thousands of people regain their lives from OCD. I encourage you to learn about accessing ERP therapy with NOCD.

Learn about ERP with NOCD

How to Overcome Fears about Bestiality in OCD

Bestiality themes in OCD, as well as all other themes of OCD, are treated with exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. ERP is considered the gold standard treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder and is utilized to treat all forms of OCD.

While working with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD, exercises called exposures are designed to intentionally help someone confront fear and distress related to their obsessive thoughts while resisting the urge to engage in compulsions for quick relief. Over time, this allows the brain to learn that obsessions are not threats, and develops one’s tolerance for uncertainty and discomfort. 

Example exposures for bestiality themes may include: 

  • Spending time with pets you have been avoiding
  • Letting a pet sit on your lap without ruminating or avoiding it
  • Writing about the worst-case scenario about being attracted to your pet
  • Watching movies about anthropomorphic animals

OCD can be debilitating for people who struggle with it, but it is highly treatable and recovery is possible. 

If you’re struggling with OCD, I encourage you to learn about NOCD’s accessible, evidence-based approach to treatment with the NOCD care team to learn how a licensed therapist can help. At NOCD, all therapists specialize in OCD and receive ERP-specific training. ERP is most effective when the therapist conducting the treatment has experience with OCD and training in ERP.

We look forward to working with you.

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Taylor Newendorp

Taylor Newendorp

Network Clinical Training Director

I started as a therapist over 14 years ago, working in different mental health environments. Many people with OCD that weren't being treated for it crossed my path and weren't getting better. I decided that I wanted to help people with OCD, so I became an OCD therapist, and eventually, a clinical supervisor. I treated people using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and saw people get better day in and day out. I continue to use ERP because nothing is more effective in treating OCD.

Gary Vandalfsen

Gary Vandalfsen

Licensed Therapist, Psychologist

I’ve been practicing as a licensed therapist for over twenty five years. My main area of focus is OCD with specialized training in Exposure and Response Prevention therapy. I use ERP to treat people with all types of OCD themes, including aggressive, taboo, and a range of other unique types.

Madina Alam

Madina Alam

Director of Therapist Engagement

When I started treating OCD, I quickly realized how much this type of work means to me because I had to learn how to be okay with discomfort and uncertainty myself. I’ve been practicing as a licensed therapist since 2016. My graduate work is in mental health counseling, and I use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy because it’s the gold standard of OCD treatment.

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