Fear of Unwanted Violent Thoughts - Pure O OCD - Harm OCD
In this episode, I am going to discuss unwanted or intrusive violent thoughts. Intrusive violent thoughts are often categorized as ego-dystonic and are common with the subtype of Harm OCD. These thoughts can include violent images or ideas toward oneself or others. 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 discuss a case study and treatment process of a person who experienced intrusive violent thoughts.
All right. Hello, and welcome to this episode where we're going to talk about the fear of a violent or hostile or unwanted, um, you know, aggressive thoughts, so to speak. And this, these thoughts can lead people to, you know, these fears of, you know, what if I'm evil and what if I'm a bad person? Um, what if I'm a serial killer, you know, things like that. Right. So it's kind of like, there's two layers to these fears, right? There's the fear of having the, you know, the thoughts themselves, and then there's the secondary layers of like what those thoughts mean about you as an individual. And so, um, you know, these thoughts generally, um, w you know, obviously under the contingent that these aren't thoughts that you want in your mind, right? These are thoughts that are repelling and very, you know, anxiety provoking. Um, you know, that is a good indicator that these thoughts usually fall in that realm of what we call peer O C D or, you know, just, uh, OCD in general.
Actually the idea of PIRO is just, you know, that, um, there's no compulsion, but with these thoughts that are almost always, um, again, compulsions or behaviors that the person's engaging in that are, that's really keeping that loop going. And so, um, you know, some of those behaviors could be things like avoiding, you know, movies that trigger them or avoiding, you know, situations, avoiding touching knives, avoiding, um, you know, just, just things that they think are dangerous, as well as checking and mental compulsions, like ruminating analyzing and so on. So, um, when it comes to the fear of these thoughts, it's, it's so important to, you know, realize that number one, that these thoughts are a normal part of the human experience, right? Unwanted thoughts and thoughts, you know, kind of popping into your mind, um, is, is a normal occurrence, right. You know, I mean, in surveys, most people have these kinds of thoughts pop up in their mind.
The thing that makes it different for someone who's experiencing OCD, or is really stuck in a loop about like a certain topic is that that individual is reacting to it, right? Like it's a real danger and more importantly, engaging in behaviors that are reinforcing the idea that it's dangerous. So let me go ahead and give an example of, uh, you know, someone I worked with one time. So once I was working with this, um, mother, right. Young mother who was having these intrusive thoughts that she might snap and hurt her little baby. Right. And obviously these thoughts were extremely distressing to her because she had read some news article that, um, of, or seeing something on the news or something like that of a mom, you know, essentially suffocating her baby to death on purpose. And what we need to remember is, is that with obesity, um, and anxiety in general, usually the things that we worry about have a hint of reality to them in the sense that yeah, these things are possible, right.
Someone worrying about getting in an accident when they're driving is well, yeah, it's possible to get in an accident. Right. What's what the paradox is. Is that the more you worry about something, um, you know, the worse and worse it gets, right? Um, you're not, you're not going to drive as well when you are worrying about getting in an accident. Right. Because, you know, it's just, you're not going to be as, uh, attuned. So, um, and that's the paradox of OCD and anxiety, right? The more and more we worry about it and try to like, you know, protect our kids or protect the people from violent thoughts. What happens is we actually distanced ourselves so much from that we don't even have a relationship with them. Right. Which is actually more damaging in many ways. And, um, and, and that's the real paradox of, of living in fear, right?
Is that essentially, by trying to, in many ways, not have something happen in control life, we then, you know, make him sometimes even a worst case scenario come true. Right. Because when fear is driving you again, it's just, it, all it does is produce chaos. And so, um, you know, with, with that said, when it comes to these fear of unwanted, violent and intrusive thoughts, right. You know, the thoughts with this mother, one of the first things that we had to do was, you know, really get her to see that these thoughts were ego-dystonic right. These were these thoughts. Weren't something that she really wanted to do. Um, they, weren't a reflection of some deep dark part of herself. Right. It was an intrusive thought that popped up. And, and in, in this case, it popped up as a result of this thing that she had read.
Right. And she didn't want that to happen. And so what happened was, is that she got really anxious. And when she got really anxious, she then started engaging in these behaviors to try to make sure that didn't happen, like avoiding touching her baby. Right. You know, because it was like, well, I can't, I can't touch her because, you know, I might freak out, I might do this. So her husband, the brunt of the childcare and all this stuff fell on his shoulders and what we need to see in this situation, this is really common, right. With, um, with these unwanted thoughts is that it starts to put strains in different parts of our lives. Right. Because you know, most of the time, people don't want to be honest about what they're even dealing with. So then our spouses, our children, our parents start to become the accomodators.
Right. And the husband thinks he's doing a good thing, right. He's like, okay, this is taking stress away. Maybe this will help. Right. But what's actually happening is the more we engage in these behaviors, the more it reinforces that, that, that idea might actually be real. Right. So then when the thought pops up again, same kind of thing, right. We have to the anxiety spikes, we have to engage in more behaviors and it just gets worse and worse. And what started as, you know, maybe not being around a knife in the kitchen with the baby then becomes to the point of like, I can't change the baby. Um, or I can't do this. I can't, you know, and, and it just grows and grows and grows. And the more and more OCD and anxiety grows, the smaller and smaller and smaller our life becomes. And this, this works like this with any real OCD cycle or fear cycle in general, right.
The more and more we become afraid of contamination. And the more we try to protect ourselves from not getting contaminated, the smaller and smaller and smaller our life has become. And, you know, like, you know, 2020 has been a really good example where you, you know, it's obviously we've had the coronavirus, you know, the pandemic, and there's a, an aspect of layout it's important to be safe. Right. But you start to see people doing way more extreme things than what the common recommendations are. You know, when you start to see someone driving in their car, wearing two mask, right. Your mask, and then a shield and gloves, and they're driving in their car. Well, that's a good example of, of like just how it starts building. Right. And again, I don't want to make too many comparisons to, you know, coronavirus and, and, um, and the pandemic in 2020, but I just want you to see that when you start to feed fear, right, and you start to do behaviors, eventually those behaviors don't achieve the relief that you want.
And then that thought happens again. And then it just starts building on a loop. And so when we started to work together, the first thing was, is just realizing that these thoughts are normal, right? They're a normal part of the human experience. And once, once we did that, and then we started learning about ego-dystonic and egosyntonic thoughts, then what we need to realize is, is that the problem is not the experience of the thought, right? The problem is, is the behaviors that you're engaging in that are reinforcing the idea in your mind that this thought is something really serious to take seriously, as opposed to something that, to just dis dismiss, just dismiss, I'm sorry, because that's what the differences between people who have OCD and anxiety disorders versus people who have the same exact thoughts and just dismiss them, is that person doesn't engage in behaviors that keep that the power of that thought going, right.
So once we determined the ego-dystonic, um, concept and also really started to distances, create some, started to create distance from our thoughts, right. You know, realizing that we aren't our thoughts. One of the ways that we achieve that is through meditation. So if this is something you're struggling with, you know, one of the things I always recommend to people is, um, you know, with, uh, a meditation, right. You know, or start a meditation practice. Now we have, um, you know, different meditations that you can check out over restored minds as well, specifically for stress and anxiety. So that's a great place to start. But when we start looking at, um, what we did is we started looking at all the behaviors and again, some of the behaviors just are so sneaky, right. That's why it's so important that you work with someone who really understands this, because it was all the behaviors from that she was doing from, you know, not touching kitchen knives, to not having certain shows on television, right.
To, you know, it's, and it's the subtle questions that she would ask her husband, right? Like, Hey, you think I'm a good mom, right? Or, you know, or, Hey, you know, like what, like if you had to rate me like how these kinds of questions, it seems like an innocent question that the person's asking you, but what you need to understand is is that when that thought of fear and doubt pops into that person's head, and it creates that stress and anxiety, and then they respond to it by saying, Hey, let me ask this person this question. And then when you tell them the answer, they want to hear, it creates that relief form. And it happens instantly, right? It's kind of like a drug hit, right. It creates that instant relief, right. And people with OCD and anxiety are very good at asking these questions in ways that seem, you know, like nothing's happening.
Right. But it's just enough to give them that relief. And that's why, when we understand that the unwanted fear of the unwanted violent thoughts is it's not a thought problem, right? It's, it's not a content of the thought problem, right? So the, the content of being violent and snapping and doing something crazy, that's not the problem that we're actually dealing with or we're dealing with is that thought is creating a stress response in your body. And then from there, you're doing behaviors that are reinforcing it, and then the thought pops up again and you have to do more behaviors and it's just building, right. And it's eventually making your life smaller and smaller and smaller. And then in this case, it was impacting her relationship with her daughter. So what we did is we started systematically getting rid of those behaviors, right? So it was a kind of a multiple prong approach, you know, in this particular case where we started with meditation, really creating some of that diffusion between the individual and their thoughts and feelings, right.
And then with that, we needed enough space to realize, Hey, we have a choice of how we're going to respond to this. And, you know, in our taking back control program, we teach the AAA response, um, you know, to really make sure you're not doing those mental compulsions as well as the physical. Um, and that's, it's so, so important that you, you really make sure you're not doing either physical or mental compulsions, and that's a, that's a critical component here. And then finally, um, really committing to living to the long-term values that you want. Right. I mean, she wanted a good relationship with her daughter. Well, that meant that you're going to have to have physical connection with her. You're gonna have to hold her, pick her up changer, spend time with her, all that stuff. And once we realized that that's what we're really working forward, we started to implement that as much as possible.
And once you can really reframe the entire problem for yourself, that's when the thoughts lose power. That's when the anxiety calms down. And that's when you really start to create separation and freedom, um, from these unwanted thoughts and feelings. So I hope that was helpful and understanding that, um, you know, that kind of general case, um, and if this is something you struggle with, again, we have resources over at restored minds, in fact, down in the links, um, you know, right under, underneath, um, you'll have some access to different resources, free meditation, as well as, um, different downloads and are taking back control program that you can check out and get access to. Right. And that's one of the great things. It says, it's all digital. So wherever you are in the world, you know, you can have access to it. So, um, yeah. So check those out. If you haven't already, and please, you know, please support our channel by liking subscribing and sharing. Um, you know, it was always really helpful for us as well as commenting and leaving us, uh, any reviews or ideas for future episodes. So thank you very much for taking the time to hang out with us today. And I hope you guys have a wonderful day and I'll see you soon.