Fear of Unwanted or Intrusive Thoughts - Pure O OCD - Pure O
In this episode, I am going to discuss the fear of unwanted or intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts generally fall into the following three categories: unwanted violent thoughts/images, unwanted sexual thoughts/images, and unwanted thoughts related to God or one’s religion. These intrusive thoughts often cause the person a significant amount of stress and impact their daily functioning. So in this episode, I am going to present a high-level overview of unwanted & intrusive thoughts and how you can begin to break free from them.
All right. Hey there. And welcome to this episode where we're going to talk about the fear of evil or blasphemous or unwanted thoughts. And so, um, for those of you that don't know me, my name is Matt Codde and I'm a licensed clinical social worker and I'm the founder of restored minds. And on this episode, I want to create a kind of high level view of, um, you know, the fear of unwanted thoughts, right? Or the fear of evil thoughts or twisted thoughts. I mean, however you want to say it, it's like you're having these, you know, the experience we're talking about is really these, um, thoughts that are coming up into your conscious awareness that, you know, are not reflective of who you are. And so you fear their very presence and you fear what they mean, what they mean about you. And so when we talk about these fears, um, let's go ahead and dive into what, you know, we might classify them as right first.
And so these fears, uh, generally fall into kind of three categories, and they're usually the fears of violent thoughts or harmful thoughts. Right. And they could be images. They could be, what if it's right there also the fears of, uh, you know, intrusive sexual thoughts or, you know, any kind of thoughts that are sexually inappropriate. And then, um, also the fears of, you know, religious thoughts, and this could be fears of possession fears of going to hell as well as existential ideas. Like what's the meaning of life and then getting locked on that and trying to figure it out.
Right. Um, and what we need to understand to begin is really the,
So, so first these, these thoughts kind of fall into what we used to call pure O C CD, right? And some people still call it that I personally don't believe in that term. Um, you know, because pure O C D stands for purely obsessional. And it means that it's a form of OCD that only has thoughts, right? It's only obsessions is pure obsessions, no compulsions. And the reality is that's just not true. Um, anyone that I've ever dealt with that has worked with this as well as, you know, myself as well, you know, I, everyone does compulsion's that has these thoughts where everyone does behaviors that reinforce them. Most of the behaviors people do are just things like, uh, you know, mentally ruminating analyzing a lot of mental behaviors, as well as things like avoiding right. Avoiding is a behavior, right? So if you're avoiding things that trigger you, like that's a behavior, right?
Like that's keeping that loop going as well as getting reassurance, um, and checking and all of the above. Right? So any every case that I've come across, um, with this particular, you know, kind of spectrum of, of intrusive thoughts and fear of unwanted thoughts, um, there's always behaviors that are going on. Um, so, so that's the first thing is that it, it's not some like special form of OCD, right? And so if that's something that you're holding onto, I really encourage you to let that go because it's just misinformation. And if you really kind of go through, you know, the, and identify the behaviors you're doing, like you'll find behaviors, um, I've never come across someone who hasn't. And so I'm, so that's number one. Number two is that we need to understand that these thoughts are normal, right? Like that, that's the, one of the most difficult parts about this, right? Is that when you are experiencing these intrusive thoughts, what happens is, is people internalize the experience, meaning like, okay, well I'm having this bad thought, what does that mean about me? Um, you know, and then they go into this like hyper responsibility mode of like, I need to protect everyone, or I need to make sure I never do something like that. And, you know, um,
These, the, all these
Behaviors start to form to, you know, quote, protect themselves. Right. And, um, or, or try to make sure that that unwanted thought never comes true.
When we think that the content of the thought is the problem
We've already, you know, lost
This battle in many ways. And so let me go ahead and say that again. So when we believe that this is a content problem in the, in the mind, right? Like the content of the thought itself is the problem. We're not focusing on the real problem. So that's one of the major points that I want to make in this episode,
If you're dealing
With these thoughts and especially on a repetitive basis, these thoughts keep popping up and popping up and popping up, right? You don't have like that. And again, more importantly, you're having this, you know, anxiety and stress response happen. And then, um, you know, you find yourself doing these behaviors and this is happening on a loop, right? And this has been ongoing and ongoing and ongoing. One of the things is, is that, look, these thoughts that you're having are normal, you know, cause you know, most people experience intrusive thoughts. Um, number one, number two is that these thoughts, one of the reasons that you're reacting to them in an adverse way is because you know, that they don't reflect who you really are. And that's why, what we call those are thoughts of what we call ego-dystonic, right? The thoughts, aren't a reflection of who you really are.
And you know, that, which is one of the reasons you're reacting to it. And, um, finally, if we believe that the content is the problem, right? If we believe this is really a I'm going to go to hell problem, or, you know, whether or not, you know, you're worrying about your sexuality or wearing, whether you're going to turn into a serial killer or hurt someone, if you believe that that is the issue you're dealing with, you see how misleading that is. Because as long as you believe that that's the issue, you're always going to do behaviors that are going to then try to make sure that doesn't happen. Once we realize this is an intrusive thought problem, though. And by doing behaviors to try to get rid of them, it's going to keep you stuck in that loop. Right. And that's what OCD is, right. It's or really any form of anxiety is a big loop you get caught in, right? Because the more and more you do behaviors that reinforce that something's dangerous, your mind keeps producing that thought, and then therefore the stress response kicks off again, right. Or anxiety, and then you engage in the same behaviors. Right. And then that loop just forms. Right.
And so we
Need to step back and realize that the content of the thought is not the problem we're dealing with. And I know that that is such a hard, um, to really understand, but that was my issue, right. Is like, you know, because you're so ashamed usually of these thoughts, people live these like, you know, super reclusive, you know, very S very small lives because, you know, they're, they're worried about what people would think if they even told them about these thoughts. And so if you're dealing with these thoughts, I mean, it's so important that you, you know, obviously, um, find places that you can, you know, like under, like people that are dealing with them too. So you start to realize that you're you're normal. And, you know, I mean, that's, it's a normal experience. And I mean, that's one of the first things that I, that I do when I work with people that have these thoughts is really just normalizing it.
And, um, you know, I can't tell you just story after story, after story, that I've heard of people that have been dealing with these thoughts for years, decades, and just never told anyone, you know, and so, um, you know, over restored minds, I mean, we have our, you know, our exclusive private community where people can connect with other people and share, and, and, you know, we have our live calls where, um, you know, you get to just hear from people that are dealing with the same stuff. Right. And that's why it's just, um, it's so important to, to congregate and realize that, that you aren't alone with this, because this is not something that people are going to openly share a lot about. So realizing that you're not alone is just one of the things that I really want to point out in this episode is that if you're dealing with this in many ways, this is normal.
What's abnormal is this loop that you're getting caught in. And the reason you're getting caught in that loop is because you're doing behaviors, right. You're doing these safety behaviors that are, that are keeping that loop going and really fueling that fire. So, um, one of the ways that we go about treating this right again, is what we call through exposure and response prevention by what is response prevention. It's really behavior prevention, right? We don't, we're not allowed to have those safe behaviors. And once we learn to habituate to the experience of these thoughts, right. By not doing behaviors, we stop reacting to them. Like they're dangerous. And that's actually what breaks us out of that loop. And if you think about it, I mean, if you look back in your own life, especially if you've dealt with this for any length of time, um, there's probably a good possibility that you've used to worry about something that you don't worry about anymore. Right. And so when someone says like, well, like what's recovery with this, like, right. Um, or like, how do you recover from this? Or how do you get better? Like, think about something you used to worry about that doesn't bother you anymore. Right? And then when that thought pops into your mind, like you have no reaction to it. Right. You have zero reaction to
That's, and, and B, because the thought is not the problem. And you realize that. So, so when the thought pops up, it's like, okay, no big deal. Most people go back like the backwards approach with this. So we're trying to get rid of the thoughts. We don't want the thoughts. Right. And that's, you know, cause we're afraid of them. But the problem is, is that when you try to get rid of the thoughts, there is a paradoxical approach right. Of, of a paradoxical effect essentially. And the thoughts become and worse and worse and the anxiety becomes worse. So when we talk about like how to treat this really it's about eliminating the behaviors and when you eliminate the behaviors and actually do the process correctly, and we walk you through that at, at restored minds as well, you know, if you haven't gone through our, uh, our taking back control program, I mean, that's a great place to start.
Um, but when you start having, when you start having those thoughts and you're engaging in behaviors, that's going to keep it going right. When you eliminate the behaviors, the stress response calms down and the thought becomes just a thought. And if you, if you really, you know, kind of think about it on a meta level, if you've worried about something in the past, right. And you've, um, and you've gotten over it and, you know, quote unquote, right. People say that, well, I used to worry about that, but I got over it. What does that really mean? Well, it means that you stopped engaging behaviors that reinforce that. And what happened was, is you don't respond to that thought anymore. That's what getting over a fear really means. It's like, I don't respond to it anymore. Like that. It's not that that thought doesn't pop up in your head. It's just, if it doesn't, it doesn't matter. And that's really the goal of, you know, any, any kind of, um,
Any kind of,
Um, you know, fear of unwanted thoughts. I mean, that's what we want to get to, to the point where that thought doesn't matter anymore. And that's, um, the, really the treatment objective. And so, um, hopefully you found this video helpful and,
So hopefully you found this episode helpful from my kind of a high level perspective. Um, what I want to do moving forward is really make a series on, you know, very specific types of unwanted thoughts, as well as, you know, kind of case studies, um, and, and, and things like that. So, um, if you are looking for help with this, we have resources, um, down in the notes below that you can get over a restored minds. So please go check this out in always, we really appreciate your support by liking and subscribing and sharing, you know, to really get this to people that need help. And so thank you so much for hanging out today and I will see you guys soon