An intrusive thought comes knocking on your mind, leaving you with little or no control over your decisions. Sometimes we are unable to control most things that happen in your lives however we do love to be in charge of what, when and how we think. The brain is the most complex organ of our entire body, filled with billions of neutrons, its complexity might affect our right to be in charge of our thinking. These intrusive thought badges into our minds unwelcomed, making our minds wander in infinite directions. I do not want them to affect my daily life as these unwanted thoughts intrude at the least and worst time ever.
Sometimes these impulses feed on our fear partaking in certain acts which we classify as violent, immoral, harmful, and sexually wrong. Most times we do not have an intention to act on these impulses however we might be compiled by OCD to want to do so. We are offered to pleasure; all it brings is an emotional breakdown and intense torment.
Furthermore, are all thought crossing our minds intrusive thoughts? Are there any known ways to differentiate? The question arises as to how we know which is which. Everyday thoughts across our minds even when without us inviting them, which is really hard to make the brain not to think of anything at any particular time. This is normal, uninvited thoughts in our minds, no need to panic and worry unnecessarily about it. But when you start feeling like these thoughts are starting to take over from you, and all they do is anything that will disturb you.
We are going to look at what thoughts should we worry over and those that really do mean nothing at all.
EXAMPLES OF INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS
Although we can cover all unwanted thought that crosses every being present, however, we can provide you with a guide that better gives you the proper perspective.
- Thoughts of harming or murdering people dear to you – spouse, grannies, parent, teachers, and child, even yourself is included.
- Constant bothering about someone you have (or will) physical or in some other way assault.
- Having mental images about things one believes to be blasphemous or sometimes having sacrilegious mental images.
- Feeling uncomfortable due to repeatedly worrying about an inappropriate statement said or written about a particular thing.
- Inappropriate thoughts leading to fear of you molesting a child
- You are aware that you not homosexual, however you begin to have thoughts that you are.
TYPES OF INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS
We will be looking into the types of intrusive thoughts that many psychologists have worked on in the past years. It’s really important before you continue reading to the types of intrusive thoughts, you might experience what called an “anxiety spike.” These spikes are due to uncomfortable emotion that arises due to the particular type of intrusive thought you are experiencing. These anxiety spikes might want to send you off, it advisable that you fight to keep on reading.
These anxiety spikes might make you feel like you are such a bad or evil person. You are not, neither are you doing anything bad or wrong.
TYPE I – Aggressive intrusive thoughts
These type of intrusive thoughts include violence. When one start having thought that has to do with harming oneself or another individual, this type of harmful thoughts are aggressive intrusive thoughts. Examples include harming a pregnant lady, child or aged individuals; jumping from the roof, mountain tip, or urge to push someone off a bridge; jumping in front of a train, vehicles or push someone else in front of them.
It’s crucial to understand that these thoughts are what makes us human, we fight these thoughts daily, you are alone. According to a Rachman’s survey, students from Health College where made to answer questionnaires regarding intrusive thought, many agreed that they all faced these thoughts daily. They all wrote their own thoughts – want harm to befall grannies, imagining horrible things happening to people they care about, urge to act violently or wild to people or animals, urge to insult and be rude or say something that will really break someone down entirely.
It’s the way our brains are messed up, you are not different from the person jogging right outside your window. He is probably having those thoughts are you, perhaps even worse than you. So do not let these impulses ruin your standard or quality of life.
TYPE II – Sexual Intrusive Thoughts
These type of intrusive thoughts leads to sexual obsession. You find yourself careful painting images of kissing; oral, virginal, or anal sex; cuddling; rape; and fondling. These images have a target either it’s with a stranger, parents, family, child, pastor, and animals. These sexual intrusive thoughts come with different ideas of their own – either heterosexual or homosexual. This obsession with one’s sexual identity is the most common type of these sexual intrusive impulses.
These thoughts like any other intrusive thoughts sound horrible. Unbelievably, everyone is a victim of this impulse. These particular impulse makes lots of people feel embarrassed, down and broken because of the mental images they seem to be aroused. They see this arousal as a sign that they find the impulse interesting and pleasurable. They believe, they are evil and those thoughts are true. On the Contrary, you should understand that’s it is a mere physiological response, it’s our brains playing tricks with our minds. Therefore, whenever you feel aroused due to these sexual impulses be rest assured it doesn’t mean you find it interesting or want to act on those urges. Sexual impulses do not define who you are.
Although these thoughts do not always seem easy as I said above to people with OCD. These thoughts mean a little more to them, which further lead to anxiety, embarrassment, guilt, and torments. Sometimes the end results lead to self-criticism and loathing, due to doubt in oneself – whether one might perform these actions or not.
TYPE III – RELIGIOUS INTRUSIVE THOUGHT
This is another type of intrusive thoughts, it has to do with thoughts relating to blasphemy. These impulses have been observed to affect notable public figures in the past. History shows certain people to have been tormented by religious thoughts. Martin Luther was really obsessed with the devil behind an image and also wanted to curse God and his son Jesus. Another notable person obsessed with this thought is St. Ignatius, he was scared of steeping on objects shaped into cross-like form. Do you know why? Because he thinks Jesus might feel offended or disrespected by this action.
Many studies relating to people having the OCD shows that about 40% suffers from these type of impulse. These religious and blasphemous thoughts are seen to differ from culture and gender. They appear to be common in more in males than female.
Also, many types of research showed many thoughts which crosses many people minds.
- Thought of being possessed by some kind of spirit.
- Impulses making one scared of committing a sin or going against the religious law or performing sacred acts in the wrong manner.
- Thoughts of performing prayer recite wrongly or omitting prayer session or gatherings.
- Constant intrusive blasphemous thoughts.
- During a religious session, impulse to make a blasphemous statement or act inappropriately.
- During meditation or prayer session, bad thoughts or image start reflecting.
Religious intrusive thought poses more treat than most other intrusive types, why? Many of these blasphemous or religious intrusive thoughts feel like the devil himself is trying to make them sin against God. Because of these reasons they believe they fear they will suffer God’s wraths, begin to live in shame and self-criticism. The stated effects might go more intense if one has strong religious beliefs.
In addition, intrusive blasphemous thoughts depend on our religion. Statistics show that Catholics and Orthodox churches have more of these impulses. However religion like Islam and many others seem to be less affected by these blasphemous thoughts, because they follow set of guidelines and ritual principles, and most times they tend to do it right.
CONDITIONS RELATING TO INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS
Many conditions are associated with these impulses, which is why we have to be careful when dealing with intrusive thoughts. Conditions as clinical depression, postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD. However, many research point to two conditions – distress and comorbid anxiety disorders which mainly affect people with the three mention types – aggressive, sexual and religious thought.
HOW TO GET CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE BACK
Over the years, many have lost their lives to these intrusive thoughts. Their lives have been defined by the type of impulses they have. However, there is a way to get hold of yourself, which I will be discussing in details below. Note, it is absolutely impossible to have total control of our thoughts, our mind is designed to function at all times, so when you less busy it continues having repetitive thoughts. These thoughts might be pleasant or unpleasant to you. Either pleasant or not, it might be a source of distraction from your current focus.
Another thing to know is don’t try fighting these thoughts, any endeavors to banish intrusive thoughts or persistently suppressing them will only lead to more intense effects. An effect called ironic effects of thought suppression occurs when you suppress thought or pushing out of head more than you should lead to the same thought tormenting you more often than normal. According to Lady Gaga, she said “I can’t control my thought at all. I’m tortured. But I like it.”
Are you aware that these thoughts can be treated and our response to them controlled? Both OCD and intrusive thoughts have similar methods of treatment. Patients are treated with either one of the following methods
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Desensitization or Exposure and response prevention therapy and
Exposure and response prevention therapy
This method of treatment believes in treating the patient by making them face their fear. It is believed that if ones fear is to be attenuated, one must face the fear boldly. For this reason, this treatment is only offered based on choice. But bear in mind that this method is true for all including OCD.
When faced with bad thoughts, fear, anxiety, urges and doubt, we first try to find out what ritual or practices will help diminish or push the bad thought, anxiety, fear and much more out of your mind. We have to look for a way because we know it makes us feel uncomfortable. The sad news is these thoughts are strengthened by the very same methods you are using to push them out called negative reinforcement. The mind is smart and learns fast, it learns, adapts and suffers those methods you incorporate to save you from those bad feelings you get. At points where the OCD is severe, you start having the bad thoughts, fear, etc. interfere with your daily life activities. The difference now is that, you have these impulse often and severe than before.
So how do I do it and get it right? Exposure therapy requires you to remain in that state of anxiety-provoking or that scary situation, build your strength against it so you can attenuate the anxiety, distress and fear yourself. What this therapy aims to achieve is reducing your response rate to bad impulses which the best way to handle frequencies and severity of those thoughts. For positive results, you have to figure out what exactly triggers the anxiety, and face it by standing up to it for the duration of 1 – 2 hours. But remember do not leave the situation.
Equally important, you should know that Exposure and response prevention therapy do not totally remove the intrusive thought, remain everyone also have a bad though dangling in his or her minds. However, it has offered lots of patients who attest to its effectiveness in reducing intrusive thoughts to a reasonable level where they are no longer affect their daily lives.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
This is a new form of therapy to handle patients having intrusive thoughts. This therapy seems as an alternative for people who do not want to stand up to face their fears, anxiety, distress and many more.
This therapy combines basic principles behavioral and cognitive therapy. It was originally designed to help with distress, however, its application has been discovered to be far beyond distress alone. Here the therapist’s main goal is to figure out what methods help reduces the intrusive thoughts with your assistance.
Getting all the help you need – a coach to help you out is needed, why? In order winning your fight against intrusive impulses, these thoughts have to be pronounced out to someone eager and serious about helping you win. I’m not saying your courage, determination, eagerness, and readiness is useless but to win against OCD, you need a listening ear. Immediately the feelings – anxiety, fear, distress are laid out loud to your coach, you start feeling the disintegrating power of these intrusive thoughts over you.
So how do I get a coach to help me out? Simply look for a therapist with vast knowledge in Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, if you can’t get any or find an available therapist then you can go make a purchase for CBT workbook for OCD, work through page by page, and chapter by chapter. The workbook is best done with a friend, family, spouse or parent, whoever you feel comfortable with.
This method is used only for severe cases, where Cognitive-behavioral and exposure therapy fails. SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) Medication is offered to patients whose intrusive thoughts comes from disorder (post-traumatic stress), OCD, and depression. These medications are antidepressants or antipsychotic used to handle more severe cases.
Fluvoxamine (Luvox), fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft), Paroxetine (Paxil), Citalopram (Celexa), and Clomipramine (Anafranil) are popular antidepressants used also in handling clients. These drugs have been recorded to be effective for OCD patients having sexual intrusive impulses. Also, people having religious intrusive obsession are seen to respond well to Fluoxetine or clomipramine. Although if these SSRI medications do not work on intrusive obsession patients, you can try using typical or atypical neuroleptics.
Intrusive thoughts can be alarming when they start taking over you, interfering with your daily activities. These impulses most times are unpleasant – thoughts of your harming an innocent kid, fornicating with your pastor’s wife, questioning your sexual identity and saying many blasphemous statements or acts. You want to stop those impulses, you tried hard every second of the day, only to discover you are no way far from those intrusive thoughts except now it is more intense than before. There is path you can take which will lead you to the peace you seek, which is not running or trying to push those thoughts away. These impulses are crosses every living being even US presidents is a victim, however, it’s our decision to give in or not. They do not define who we are. We stay, we face them and we conquer.