Normally I do not publish the kind of extended back-and-forth correspondence in which occasionally I become engaged. I have decided to publish this series in its entirety however, because it illustrates so well the "stickiness" of guilty feelings, and how feeling guilty can take on the character of an obsession. As you will read below, although Gordon acknowledges me as an expert, and wants me to set his mind at ease, my words alone, no matter how hard I try, do not seem able to sooth his guilty conscience. I believe that any fair reader (other than some kind of fundamentalist religious nut) will see that Gordon has done nothing wrong, and should not be troubled by things that happened fifteen years ago when he was a child, but, no matter what I say to him, he apparently cannot see that. This is why personalized psychotherapy is so important to people with troubled minds. More can happen in an hour of face-to-face therapy than can be accomplished in a ton of emails. If you are suffering like Gordon, please look for a good therapist to sit across from you so that you can be seen, heard, and understood. That is what heals.
Hi there, Doctor,
When I was between the ages of (8-11)I cant remember exact age I asked a friend to take his shoes and socks off during play wrestling, he said no then I asked another, the other friend did (all same age)the reason I was asking them is so I could put them in positions where I could grab at his feet. I now have a foot fetish in adulthood although I have kept it to myself. The incident I am talking about was a one off and never repeated. I have been told by another therapist that it is normal to experiment in childhood. Interestingly enough two of the boys I asked used to grab at other peoples genitals whilst wrestling. I don't know if I picked it up from them or they where acting out behaviour as a result of me grabbing at my friends feet. And the other witnessing it?
Very confusing. Please answer it has taken a lot for me to reveal this as I am very guilty.
Gordon 24, Scotland
As you will read elsewhere on my website, I agree with your therapist, and with the opinions of many of my other colleagues as well, that your actions as a child were perfectly normal. I advise you to forget your guilt and try to enjoy life (which passes all too quickly in my experience), and to enjoy your sexuality even if it is centered on feet. After all, why is a sexuality centered on breasts (which usually would not be called a fetish) any stranger than one centered on the feet?
Dear Dr. Robert,
Thanks for putting my mind at rest. I just needed a second opinion and you have given me that.
I have felt like a criminal most of my life, and had also considered taking my own life through it. I would like to thank you for your time in getting back to me. It's just when you said."I agree with your therapist, and which the opinions of many of my other colleagues as well" As if not everyone in your field agrees that this is normal. I may be looking to deeply into this and if I am I apologise, but to be guilt free after all these years is something I am struggling to come to terms with. I feel as if I should still be feeling guilty.
Gordon 24, Scotland
It would have been more accurate to have said “most or almost all of my colleagues” as you will now have seen in the article I referred you to. Stop trying to analyze it—you have done nothing wrong at all. It was all just totally normal and expected childhood experimentation.
Giving up a long held guilt takes a bit of work. It’s like quitting smoking: you have to decide to do it, and then stick to your decision.
Thank you Dr Robert.
I really feel you have quite possibly saved my life along with my other therapist. Talking really does help and I should have done it a long time ago. Your website is very helpful and has made me feel free.
I will be a regular viewer of your website and hope to get more advice in the future.
God bless, Gordon, 24
So, at this point, Gordon seems to have gotten the message, but that didn't last long, for only a short time later he wrote again:
Hi there Dr,
I am so thankful for the help you gave me last time.
I also feel I must say that a few years before the incident that you helped me with I engaged in mutual sex play with a boy 1yr younger than me I don't even think we were at school yet (could be wrong though). Of all the things we did I got him to touch or rub my genitals with his foot. I am sure the foot incident was a one off though, although we did engage in mutual sex play for quite a while. I am beginning to self help myself through this and I realise this is all part of childhood. Thanks again for your help.
Just don't know why I was so interested in feet from that age though and I am sure this is why I have a mild fetish for feet now. (Very Controlled)
I appreciate you are very busy, but this is the last time I will bother you :)
To answer the question “why?” I would need to know you personally and go through your entire childhood up until that time, and even then we might not find out why. I think the best course is simply to accept yourself the way you are and try to enjoy life as best you can.
I understand that.
I just need to know I did nothing morally wrong.
Thanks, Gordon, 24, Scotland
Yes. You did nothing morally wrong in my view.
Thank you Dr, I'm sorry I am a pest.
Gordon, 24, Scotland
And even after apologizing for being a "pest," Gordon needed more reassurance. This, you see, is obsessional:
Hi there Dr,
I am just responding to the woman from Greece who e-mailed to ask "How should a child molester feel now?" I was just a bit surprised when you said if a person feels molested by sex play then you may agree they were molested. So it is possible I may have affected someone's life in one way or another, but they just may be keeping it to themselves?
I was the person whose e-mail you printed on the website about my experimentation in childhood with feet.
Thanks, Gordon 24, Scotland
Psychotherapy deals with feelings. So I might agree that someone who feels molested was molested, and at the same time be able to say honestly to the person who did the “molesting” that he or she was not a molester in fact, but just a curious child. If you will stop looking for reasons to feel guilty, I think you will be able to understand this.
I really must try and get over this, I really do thank you for your time and patience in getting back to me. Another therapist had said to me that it would be impossible to know if I had affected anyone through this as much as it clearly has affected me, and went onto say it has possibly affected my other friends at the time.
I have not been in contact with these guys for some years as when you grow up you have many different friends and don't always keep the same ones, I don't think however this has anything to do with what happened as kids. Maybe if I talked to them them I might find I am blowing this out of all proportion.
Best Regards again, Gordon, 24, Scotland