Fear of Violent Thoughts - Pure OCD
In this episode, I am going to discuss the fear of violent thoughts, which is a subset of OCD, often called Pure OCD or purely obsessional OCD. These unwanted or Intrusive violent thoughts may involve violent images or ideas about hurting others or oneself. The unwanted violent thoughts are generally accompanied by various mental and physical compulsions including thought suppression, rumination, over-analyzing, and avoiding situations that trigger the violent thoughts.
So in this episode, I will be covering general information about this specific type of fear and the treatment process.
I hope you find it helpful!
All right. Hey there. And welcome to another episode. Um, in today's show, we are going to talk about PIRO OCD in and specifically, we're going to talk about the fear of having the unwanted, violent thoughts, or kind of like horrific images in your mind. Right. And, um, you know, the goal of this particular, um, episode is really just to kind of understand what it is and, and I'm going to offer some kind of case studies as well, and then really how we go about, uh, you know, treating this or working, you know, working through this. So, um, when you're talking about having these unwanted violent thoughts and specifically like the fear of even having these, right. So like there's having them in, there's like the fear of like, what if they pop up? Right. So, I mean, there's kind of like two layers there that I want to just point out to start off.
But, um, when we talk about these thoughts, the first thing that we need to recognize, right, is this idea of, um, in the, in the pure O category, one of the ways that we recognize them as, as the problem is, is the fear of the thoughts is because the thoughts are what we call ego-dystonic. And that means that they aren't a representation of what the person really wants for themselves or what they want to do. Right. So when someone's having, so let's go ahead and like, you know, um, talk about some, some different thoughts that people have. Well, and again, w like to start off, like one of the first things that I want to say is it's, these thoughts are actually very common. You know, people without, um, OCD and anxiety have these kinds of thoughts, too. The difference is not in having the thought itself, it's in the overreaction that we have to it, that then drives the compulsion or the safety behavior that then causes the loop to build. And so the thoughts happen more, the anxiety,
It gets heavier and, um, and we do it
More and more behaviors, right. And that's that loop that we get caught in. So some of the thoughts could be things like, you know, fear of hurting a loved one, right? Like this is very common. It happens all the time with, um, like mothers and fathers hurting their children.
Right. They have these ideas
That pop in their head, like, what if I hurt my child? And usually will have very, very specific things that they they'll worry about. So it might be a mother worrying that she might smother her young infant. Right? Like what if I took a pillow and just smothered them right. In it, it's so disturbing that there's this, this reaction to it. Right. And obviously that's a disturbing thought no one would want to do that. But
What, because, because
The thought even entered the person's mind, they see that as such like a, like, I can't believe my mind would come up with that. And that's what causes the reaction, which then causes the safety behavior of let's say, avoiding touching your baby and then, or holding them. And then that causes relief, but then the thought keeps popping up and it just builds and builds and builds. Right. Someone who actually does that, those thoughts don't cause that adverse, right. Like, you know, and that's, that's what I mean between, um, ego-dystonic and egosyntonic right. Obviously there are situations where that has happened, but when those thoughts are popping into that, person's mind, those thoughts are egosyntonic they're things that, that person, you know, like not, I mean, it doesn't, it doesn't cause that extreme distress. Right. Which is why the, you know, certain, you know, very, very, very small percentage, um, of people will actually fall out on that.
Right. And that, and that's, and that's where, um, you know, most of the anxiety comes up, right. Is that they'll read, you know, stories about these things actually happening. You know, I remember when, um, one of my first real experiences with, um, OCD, you know, when I was younger, when I was like 10, right. And realize you don't know who, um, you know, haven't been, you know, following me for any length of time. Um, you know, I'm pretty transparent about, I had my own struggle with OCD. Right. Um, when I was younger and which led me, you know, to obviously creating all this, but, um, I had this fear, I was watching the news and there was this, uh, like something happened on the news where this guy basically, um, he, he was worried that he might, or I'm sorry that he killed his wife or something when he was asleep walking.
And I had this fear like, well, I sleep walk sometimes. And I don't remember. It's like, what if I did that? Right. And that, what if is what we're looking for there? Right. Because it's like this, this future anticipation about something bad happening, but when we're having these, um, you know, kind of violent thoughts pop up right. In other, other instances might be things like, you know, fear of hurting yourself. They might just be violent images in general. Like just, just kind of gross images, maybe something you saw on a movie, or just like a violent image of, um, you know, death or, you know, pain, you know, something like that. Right. It doesn't here. Here's the thing to remember. It doesn't matter what the specific content is. It's so important that we go back to that because if we think this is, this is a violence problem or a like serial killer problem or a death problem, right.
Um, we're gonna, we're gonna treat it the wrong way, right. What this is is with, with OCD and anxiety, what happens is, is that our mind produces, you know, disturbing thoughts. And it does. So in order to try to, you know, quote, keep us safe. But the paradox is, is that the thoughts aren't threatening, but the whole paradox is, is because we react to them as if they're threatening right. With the stress response. And then we do safety behaviors that then, you know, try to neutralize the thoughts. So things like thought replacement, thoughts, suppression, avoiding, you know, sharp objects because we might use them. Right. We might snap and, you know, impulsively do something, um, you know, avoiding being around people because we're like, you know, I mean, I remember I had one, it was funny. I had a, like a young girl. Right. You know, and she was like, as a, as a client and she had this fear, like, what if I just strangled somebody?
Right. And chooses like tiny, tiny little thing. Right. And, and it was like, um, you know, and it was like the last thing she ever would ever want to do or do, but it was like, it was funny. Cause like she would sit next to like a big person. Right. You know, and, and, or like a much bigger, stronger person and be like, what if I just grabbed him and strangled them. Right. Um, because it, because again, with OCD and anxiety, it doesn't operate in logic. Right. It operates in that part of our brain, um, prime for survival. And the thing is, is to remember is that these thoughts are ego-dystonic. And the real problem that we have is not the content of what is going on in our mind. But instead, the behaviors that we're doing that are ultimately reinforcing that thought and causing our mind to keep producing it.
Right. So when we're doing anything to try to get rid of the thought, to, um, you know, try to control the thought, to try to make sure that, that doesn't come up to check to see if that thoughts there, anything we're doing like that that's actually gonna create a paradoxical approach. And cause that thought to come up more and more, right. So when we talk about the fear of violent and unwanted thoughts, specifically in that realm, you know, of like what we, what some people call it pure O CD and you'll, you know, and I've been pretty, like really clear about this. It's like, I don't believe in pure OCD because it implies the idea that it's only thoughts, right. It's purely obsessional and that's just never the case. There's always behaviors in a lot of them are just mental. And that's why it's so important to make sure we identify what the mental behaviors are.
Um, and really making sure that we're not doing anything to keep that loop going, because really this isn't a problem of the actual thoughts or the contents of the thoughts. Right. So, and I know this is like a radical idea for most people. And I tell them, it's like, you don't have a thought problem. Right. And you don't, it's not, it's definitely not the content of the thought. So you're not like a serial killer or something like that, but it's also not a thought problem. What we have is a behavior problem. And the more and more you engage in these behaviors, the worse and worse this loop gets because it's just going to build and build and build. So, um, so understanding that is, is really so, so critical and over it, you know, restored minds, we have, um, several resources for you, if this is something that you struggle with.
Right. So, um, all the way from our, you know, taking back control trainings, where we teach the AAA response, which is that very, you know, very clear process to go through every single time that thoughts pop up as well as, you know, our, um, meditations for OCD and anxiety and, um, and, and, and all of the other resources that we have. So, you know, I have some links down in the notes here. So if you struggle with this, please go check those out. Um, we have some free resources for you, as well as, um, you know, our trainings and coachings and all that as well. So, um, and if you found this helpful, please like, and subscribe, um, we really appreciate all your support comment. Let us know if there's something that you would want us to create, um, uh, you know, uh, an episode on, cause again, we, we always want to do whatever we can to get this, this information out to people, to, to that will help them. So thank you so much for tuning in this week, and I hope you guys have a great week and I'll see you soon. Bye