Harm OCD - How to Overcome Harmful or Violent Obsessions
In this episode, I discuss a subtype of OCD known as Harm OCD. If a person suffers from Harm OCD they will generally experience unwanted and intrusive harmful or violent thoughts. In this first part of this series I discuss specific thoughts people with Harm OCD experience. I also discuss different compulsions people engage in and a few very important steps in the treatment process.
00:05 All right. Hey there and welcome to another episode of the restored mind show where we're going to talk about harmful obsessions. And so I'm in this episode, what I want to do is I want to talk about, um, you know, kind of a subcategory on our intrusive thoughts series, um, where we're going to talk about harm, obsessions or violent obsessions. And so, um, within, within, again, the umbrella category of OCD, you know, kind of the, the more intrusive thoughts and that pure OCD, there's kind of the three, three main categories, right? You have the SPI religious or spiritual obsessions, which we covered. And I'm in the last series. And then, you know, in this one we're gonna talk about the harm. And then finally we have the sexual obsessions. And so I'm in this, in this series, in this part of the series them, I want to talk about harm, obsessions in violent obsessions.
00:55 And so, um, and there's kind of three, we'll let, let's first talk about what they are. So when we talk about harm, obsessions, these are, you know, thoughts and images that are going to pop up in people's mind that are going to be violent in nature, right? They could be images of, you know, and you know, kind of images or thoughts of you striking someone or you know, um, a lot of people have thoughts about, you know, picking up knives and hurting someone. Um, it could, could be like tools, uh, you know, a stapler at work or you know, like a snowy village, like throwing it at someone. Right. You know what I mean? Like there's just so many variations of these thoughts that I don't want to get too caught up in dis specific thoughts people have because that's what, that's what OCD wants, right?
01:40 It wants you to get caught up in this idea that, Oh, this specific thought that you're having is so unique and, um, you know, it's so repulsive that, you know, and then it just really harps on that content. Right? And again, with, when it comes to anxiety and OCD, we need to realize that the content of the thoughts is not the issue. Okay. So what I want to cover is, um, you know, kind of three main points here when it comes to dealing with and overcoming harmful obsessions, right? Harmful or violent obsessions. And so point number one is the idea of ego-dystonic versus egosyntonic thoughts. And so ego-dystonic thoughts are thoughts that don't align with your who you know, you are, right? Egosyntonic on the other hand, our thoughts that do align with who you know you are, right? So first and foremost, one of the first things we look at, you know, if someone's coming into my office and is like, Oh, well I'm having a harmful obsessions.
02:39 Um, you know, the, the w w just just by someone seeking help for these thoughts usually means that these thoughts are ego-dystonic, right? Because they realize that these thoughts are not things they want to experience. They don't reflect who they really are. So just the fact that one finds these thoughts disturbing in the first place usually is a good reflection that these thoughts are ego-dystonic. Right? Secondly, um, you know, when it, when it comes to, you know, uh, you know, looking at someone with ego, like these kinds of thoughts, harmful obsessions, almost a hundred percent of the time in all I'll ask the person about like any past violent behavior and they have zero past violent behavior, right? Like they're never violent people or have any history of violence. And again, one of the things that we look forward to is like, Hey, look, past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior.
03:30 Um, so when it comes to harmful obsessions, usually people have no history of harm or hurting or violent or acting violently, violently or impulsively. And of course, you know what happens when you ask these questions is, you know, OCD wants you to go back and like look through every ass. Oh, did I ever act violently? You know, and so, um, so don't, if you get caught up and now there's this, just don't do that. You know, again, cause this is just, just understanding that concept of ego-dystonic and egosyntonic is so crucial because you need to realize that these thoughts aren't a reflection of you. They're just thoughts that you're experiencing. Right? And the, so that's, that's point number one is that idea of ego-dystonic thoughts, right? And realizing that that's what they are. Point number two is really once we have that separated, we need to separate the idea of harm issues versus an OCD and anxiety issue, right?
04:20 So impulsively violent people or people with OCD, right? And in the same, in the same light when I talked about, um, you know, scrupulosity or religious obsessions, I said, Hey, you know, look, we have to separate the idea of religious issues and OCD issues and we really need to embrace and adopt the idea that and belief that this is an OCD problem, right? And if it's no city problem, which you know, [inaudible] is the characteristics of a STR having these unwanted intrusive thoughts that just kind of pop in your head against your will, right? Cause a lot of anxiety and certainty and all these other uncomfortable feelings and then you engage in compulsions to try to get rid of them. Right? And, and that's really, which leads me to point number three, where once we realized that this is an OCD issue, we need to realize that this is a compulsion problem, not a thought problem.
05:11 It does not matter the content of the thought. Okay. It never matters. It doesn't matter what violent thought you had, you know, the, the specifics of it, the intricacies of it, and people get so, so caught up in the specifics, right? Like, well, you don't understand, I had a thought about a knife, or I had a thought about scissors or I had a thought about, um, you know, throwing a cha, you know, like whatever, it doesn't, it doesn't matter, right? Because it's not a violent issue. It's not an impulsive issue. It's an anxiety and OCD issue. And so some of the compulsion's that people will engage in, um, when it comes to, you know, and again, this goes back to the idea of the myth of PIRO, OCD, which I know I've talked about in prior episodes, but there really is no such thing as pure [inaudible].
05:56 Meaning I only have obsessions. I don't do compulsions because in every single case that I've ever worked with that have these kinds of obsessions, these kinds of obsessions, uh, thoughts, whether they're, again, um, religious themes, harmful or sexual, there is always compulsions and most of the compulsion's are mental or they're avoiding compulsion's reassurance, things like that. So identifying the compulsions is the critical part to, you know, really taking your life back from these thoughts. Because what we need to understand is that every time you react to these thoughts in a compulsive way, whether that is praying, silently, counting, you know, suppressing thoughts, replacing thoughts, um, you know, avoiding shows that trigger these thoughts, right? So a lot of people with harm thoughts will avoid violence shows or watching the news or, um, you know, and these are all compulsions, right? Or they'll seek reassurance. And so they'll, uh, you know, ask their family member again and again, are you sure I'm a good person?
06:59 Like, can you please cut this? You know, cause I don't, you know, and then so like, can you please cut the Turkey or whatever, right. Cause they don't want to hold the knife around people. Um, you know, and, and again, avoid avoiding touching knives, hiding knives and cabinets. These are all examples of compulsion's, right? And the more and more you engage in compulsion's, what happens is it reinforces the thought, right? So when the thought happens and you get anxious, and then you do a compulsion, you reinforce the idea in your brain that that thought was dangerous, right? So when you get that little bit of relief, what happens is your brain generates a thought again. And that loop just starts happening again and again and again and again. And that, that is the characteristics of OCD. That's why we have to understand that is it is a compulsion issue, right?
07:42 Not a harm thought issue. It doesn't matter the content, right? What matters is, is you, you, you find out and you, and you, and you really get clear on the compulsion you're doing. And then by eliminating the compulsions and sitting with the uncertainty, what happens is your brain experiences this phenomenon called habituation. And then as that happens, um, you know, your brain learns that it doesn't need to produce these thoughts because it's not, they aren't actually dangerous. The more and more you react to them, the more and more your brains gonna produce them. Right? And that's kind of the paradox, right? The harder you try to get rid of them, the more they're gonna pop up. And because the content can be disturbing, it's, it's very difficult for people to really grasp it sometimes. So, you know, that's why exposure and response prevention is, you know, is the main treatment for this.
08:32 And, um, and again, there's plenty of ways to do that. And, um, you know, and I talk more about that and, um, in my program and whatnot. But, uh, anyways, you know, so the, the three main points that I really want to summarize for harmful obsessions and violent obsessions are the idea that Hey, we need to separate the idea of ego-dystonic and egosyntonic thoughts. And then we need to, you know, once we've solidified that this is an OCD issue, not an impulsive like harm issue, we need to treat it as an OCD issue and we need to look at identifying and removing compulsions, right? Compulsion's are the issue. That's the thing that's keeping this cycle going. And so in those compulsion's can come in any form, right? So it's really about identifying accurately and correctly all the different compulsions you're doing and systematically removing them.
09:17 And so, um, and so that kinda summarizes, um, you know, when we talk about how to treat and how to overcome harmful obsessions or that kind of, that pure OCD with harm obsessions. And so hopefully, uh, hopefully I was helpful and hopefully you found that helpful. Again, we have, um, some additional resources to help you if this is something that you're struggling with. And so down in the notes below, um, we have some links to free resources on our site. We have assessments, um, and all sorts of stuff to help you on your journey. So please be sure to click on that. And, uh, you know, head over there and, and claim your resources. Cause again, they're just, there's stuff to help you. And, um, and also, um, we would, we'd love to hear from you, so be sure to like and subscribe to the, to our channels and comments. Um, just so we know how we can help you by, you know, letting us know, um, episodes in the future if things you'd like us to, uh, talk about. And again, um, we just want to thank you for taking the time to hang out with us today and we, uh, you know, I hope you have a wonderful week and I will see you on the next episode where we're gonna continue on, um, with these, uh, harmful obsessions and intrusive thoughts. So thanks so much. Take care and have a great day.