What is groinal response?
Groinal response is an obsession itself but it is a one-way symbiotic obsession. That is to say that OCD sexual obsessions do not always come with groinal response but groinal response always comes with OCD sexual obsessions. This is a new way of looking at the phenomenon.
Is groinal response really an obsession? Up until now, the best definition of an OCD obsession has been an intrusive thought, image, urge, impulse, fear or doubt (or combination thereof) that causes distress and leads to compulsions. The key word is ‘intrusive’. The definition of intrusive is causing disruption or annoyance through being unwelcome or uninvited. Intrusive thoughts, images, urges, impulses, fears and doubts are always unwelcome and uninvited. They just pop into a sufferer’s head without being asked for and they surely are not welcome. Given that, is groinal response intrusive? The answer is yes. Groinal response is most definitely an unwelcome sensation to the sufferer and it is most definitely uninvited. They just happen seemingly without rhyme or reason. When they show up they also cause the sufferer distress, as sure as an intrusive thought or image.
A new way of defining OCD obsessions is a thought, image, urge, impulse, fear, doubt or physical sensation (or combination thereof) that causes distress and leads to compulsions.
Sexual obsessions include:
- POCD (Pedophile OCD) The intrusive thoughts from this theme cause the sufferer to believe they could or will sexually abuse a child.
- HOCD (Homosexual OCD) This theme title is actually a misnomer. It should actually be called Sexual Orientation OCD. The sufferer experiences intrusive thoughts that their sexual orientation is changing from what they grew up believing it was. So, a heterosexual male can have intrusive thoughts that he is becoming gay or is gay or a homosexual female can have intrusive thoughts that she is turning heterosexual.
- Other Sexual Obsessions The sufferer has other kinds of sexual intrusive thoughts, including, but not limited to, incest, rape and bestiality.
Sufferers describe groinal response as a sensation, urge, pulling, growing, vibration, tensing, warming feeling (or one of many other descriptions) in the sexual organs. It happens to both males and females.
Groinal response is NOT arousal, though sufferers become fixated on the possibility that they are aroused by their sexual intrusive thoughts that arrive along with groinal response. In order for humans to have a positive sexual experience, both relaxation and arousal must be present. However, arousal and anxiety are mutually exclusive processes. OCD sufferers, especially when confronted with an obsession, are definitely anxious and therefore have a difficult time being aroused.
OCD sufferers experience groinal response coincidentally at first. It happens around the same time as a sexual obsession. This happens both because the sexual organs are part of the body and subject to movement and sensations like any other part and because the primitive brain is attuned to react to the mere thought of sex (whether the sufferer wants the sensation or not). Though coincidental at first, sufferers pay attention to the sensations and become mortified that they may like their intrusive sexual thoughts. This leads to a heightened awareness of the sensations. Because sufferers are now on guard for the sensations, they notice them more often and more and more often they occur at the same time as sexual obsessions. Groinal response, in essence, becomes a self fulfilling prophesy… Sufferers dislike the sensations so much that they end up happening frequently when sexual obsessions are present.
As with any obsession, groinal response leads to compulsions by sufferers, including:
- Checking sexual organs for signs of being aroused.
- Googling and otherwise researching to find out what is going on and what the sensations mean.
- Physically pushing or straining to try and stop the sensation from taking place.
- Ruminating — circular thinking about the sensations to try and figure out what they mean and if the sufferer is aroused by the sexual obsessions or not.
Because groinal response is, in essence, just another obsession, they should be treated like any other obsession. If thinking about them can cause them to happen more frequently, then not thinking about them should make them go away. The cognitive side of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches in part that the sufferer has the ability to ignore obsessions, to dismiss them, to discard them as irrelevant brain noise and to not spend time on compulsions. Groinal response can be dismissed. Sufferers can learn to recognize the sensation then dismiss it as meaningless and get on with their day without dwelling on the sensations.