Module 8: Problematic Collecting

Why collect sexual Images of Children

Of all the things you could collect, why collect sexual images of children?

Some people who collect sexual images of children say that it’s the collecting which is really important for them, that it’s not really a sexual thing at all.

If that’s true of you, ask yourself the question:  ‘why am I collecting sexual images and not stamps, for example?’

We do everything for a reason. The reason that we do each thing is to serve some sort of function.

  • You eat because you are hungry and it keeps you alive.
  • You find a job, so that you can earn money to buy something.
  • You join a club, because you want to make friends and build new relationships.
  • You decide to walk home instead of drive, to get some exercise as you have been sitting at a desk all day.

Every choice you make serves a function. So what function does collecting sexual images of children serve for you?


Use Exercises 3a and 3b to help you explore this.

Exercise 3 - Part A

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Answer questions 1-4 by rating how positive or negative you feel on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being very negative and 10 being very positive, in each situation.

  1. How do I feel before I start working on my collection?
  2. How do I feel while I am working on my collection?
  3. How do I feel when I have finished my collecting?
  4. How do I feel if I haven’t collected that day?

Describe these emotions. Clue: if they are positive, examples include happy, excited or calm; if they are negative, examples include frustrated, angry, sad or bored

You might find it easier to look at your answers on a graph so that you can see the change in your feelings. Take a look at the example below and then see if you can plot your own.

Graph example

So, for this person it is clear to see that they feel in a low mood prior to working on their collection. During the collecting, their mood increases. Afterwards, their mood drops again; this may be due to the guilt of what they have been accessing online, but it also may be due to the fact they are simply not collecting at that time.

The red line represents how they tend to feel on a day they are not collecting. So this graph may suggest that this person works on their collection when they feel low and uses it to perk themselves back up; and on the days they feel OK, they tend not to collect.

But why are they feeling low? Only they will know the answer to this but the self-help module dealing with emotions may help explore this.

Exercise 3 - Part B

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Now answer the following questions.

  1. How important is it for me to be collecting sexual images of children? Why?
  2. Why do I keep certain material? Why would I not put certain material in my collection?
  3. How many hours are spent trying to add to my collection? Is it too many?
  4. What needs are being met by having these sexual images in my collection? Make a note of the options below that apply to you.
    • My collecting makes me feel creative. It gives me a sense of achievement and helps me to feel good about myself. (Creativity)
    • My collecting helps me to excel in my job/at work as I feel like I have mastered and perfected the activity. (Excellence at work)
    • My collecting feels worthwhile. It’s fun, exciting and can feel like a challenge. (Excellence in play)
    • My collecting makes me feel like my life has a purpose. (Spirituality)
    • My collecting makes me feel peace and at ease. It makes me feel comfortable. It helps me to escape from difficult feelings. (Inner peace)
    • My collecting helps me to look after myself, both physically and emotionally. (Life)
    • My collecting has a positive effect on my romantic and familial relationships; both sexually and emotionally. (Relatedness)
    • My collecting gives me control in my life. It makes me feel like I can make decisions and I have a say in what I do. (Excellence in Agency)
    • My collecting gives me knowledge. It makes me feel like I’m intelligent and that I know things. (Knowledge)
    • My collecting makes me feel like I belong to something. I feel like I’m a part of a club or a group. (Community)
    • My collecting makes me feel good. I get pleasure from collecting. (Pleasure)

You have just identified what needs the collecting is meeting for you.

Now you need to decide what you can do in order to meet these needs in a healthier, safer and legal way. We will help you to do just that in the building a good life section, so ensure you make a note of these needs so you can refer to them later.



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