I feel like I've really needed to get this off my chest with somebody not close to me, but also semi-anonymously. I guess I'll just get the main thing mentioned and out of the way first. I have an attraction to kids, but I've never offended and would do my utmost best to maintain that. I guess I'm what you call a gold-star pedophile. I just feel so terrible for having this attraction, even if I've never offended. I want to be a good person; the best I could be, but this part of me feels like deep down I'm evil or corrupted. I wish I didn't feel this way, but I can't change it; I've already tried. It makes me hate myself.
It started when I was just a kid at school and a little after sex ed. At first, it was normal, since while I was imagining kids, they were my age. Then I started imagining younger and I really liked that. I was a dumb kid and didn't know better or that it was wrong, but luckily never did anything with anybody. After I learned it was wrong, it seemed to stop for a little. I found furry porn and was satisfied with adult characters. Then I was looking into size difference stuff, and then stumbled upon some explicit cub art. Just like when I was a kid, I really liked it, but this time I knew it was wrong. The temptation was too much though and so I kept looking at more. I figured it wouldn't be too bad, since it was only fictional images and animations.
After a little while, I found out that where I live, even fictional stuff is illegal, so I tried to stop. I searched up different things, like maybe it's some form of OCD, maybe it's some extreme form of porn addiction, that kinda stuff. I tried to stop looking at any and all porn for as long as I could to "reset" the sexual part of my brain as I read somewhere online. Even so, I kept imagining stuff. I tried to imagine adults, but it was difficult for me to get off to that, so I imagined kids. After a while I gave up and went back to looking at fictional stuff and simply disagree with the law, since it's a victimless crime with nobody being hurt. Every now and then I still try to stop though.
I really don't want to admit this, but I should get this off my chest... After some time, I then started looking at 3D stuff of fictional humans, then I stumbled upon real stuff. I feel absolutely terrible for it, and only a monster could have enjoyed that. It makes me feel like I'm a broken, corrupted person or monster who simply shouldn't exist. I then stopped looking at it and tried my very best to stop being into this stuff, even fictional stuff. On the slightly bright side, I've avoided real stuff since. I don't want to be a bad person, but only a bad person could be into that. Even somebody as wonderfully kind as you probably wouldn't even accept me after admitting that. I just wish I could stop being into it.
I want to reach out for help to stop the interest, but I'm too scared to get it. I'm afraid that if I go get help for this, I'll be put on some sort of list, which may as well ruin what life I have. It'd be near impossible to get jobs, and finding a place to live would be just as hard. I don't want that, but I don't want to be bad. This whole letter is probably pointless, and you probably won't be able to help, or won't want to help. Still, some part of me hopes you might have at least something to say that may help even a tiny bit. And if not, at least I've gotten all this off my chest...
A terrified and self-hating dragon (age 23, Australia)
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You are very brave to reach out like this. I congratulate you on a couple of things: 1) recognizing you have a problem; 2) not acting out physically on your desire to have sexual relations with children; and 3) trying to do something about it. There is help for people like you.
For the sake of my readers, we'll need to clarify some things about pedophilia.
Pedophilia is defined as a strong sexual attraction for children who are prepubescent (younger than 13, in most cases). The pedophile, furthermore, should be at least 16 years old and five or more years older than the person to whom they are attracted. To be considered to have pedophilic disorder one must either act on this desire by sexually molesting a child or become so obsessed with doing so (without actually doing so) that the desire is disruptive to your normal, day-to-day functioning (i.e., e.g., you are having trouble focusing on work, school, or family because you are so preoccupied). If neither of these is true, you are considered to have a pedophilic orientation, but not a pedophilic disorder. It is estimated that about 2-3% of the U.S. population have this paraphilia, the vast majority of whom are male (a tiny fraction of a percent are female).
So, why is pedophilia wrong? Obviously, one reason would be because it is illegal here in the United States and most countries, although one could note that some countries allow men to marry prepubescent girls, and, interestingly, only ten U.S. states legally forbid marriage to girls under the age of 18 (and there are states that allow girls to marry as young as 14). Marriage to very young women was fairly common some time ago in the United States. The reason why it has become illegal here and elsewhere is that marriage to underage girls is tantamount to child slavery. The much older husband, by marrying such a young bride, obtains total control of her life and basically has a free servant. Furthermore, prepubescent children are not sexually mature and therefore are not willingly consenting to sex, which makes it rape. So, you have two crimes here: slavery and rape. The same is true if it involves a homosexual relationship with a boy.
An interesting sidebar question is why is it illegal to view child pornography? Well, if it is child porn with real girls and boys, clearly that is a form of child slavery and prostitution. But what about simple illustrations? This is a tricky one. U.S. law (Coroners and Justice Act 2009, sections 62-68) defines illustrations and animation as child porn if they are explicitly sexual, focus on genitalia, and/or are aimed at provoking arousal in the viewer. The PROTECT Act of 2003 broadened this definition into more non-sexual images but only if those images were more photo-realistic. It is important to note that these laws are focused against people who make and/or distribute such images and animation rather than those who possess it because in the case of the former it is easier to show that harm was intended toward a child while in the case of the latter it is difficult to show any actual harm was intended. Even so, there have been cases of people being arrested for possessing child porn on their computers (e.g. R. C. Fox https://dogpatch.press/2017/10/23/r-c-fox-arrested/). So, consider this a warning to furries into cub porn.
What causes this paraphilia? Psychologists don't know, though there are theories about the pedophile either being sexually abused or observing inappropriate behavior in the household. There are theories, too, that there is a genetic component. None of these hypotheses have been demonstrated scientifically. I also have a theory that it has something to do with an attraction to innocence and purity that, ironically, stirs sexual urges. There is no connection to OCD, however, as you theorized.
Whatever the cause, pedophiles can receive treatment. I want to note here, too, that when you seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist that you are protected by doctor-patient confidentiality (that was a concern of yours, so please don't worry about that). To find help, you can start with Pedo.Help, which offers a log of good information, including links to organizations across the world. In Australia, where you are, there is Phoenix House, so I would look there, too. You will not be put on "some list." This is not a sexual offender registry. You've gone this far trying to do the right thing, so the next step is finding a qualified therapist.
Proud of you. Keep going. Good luck!
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