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A violent intrusive thought is an unwanted, uncontrollable thought, vision, or unpleasant notion that has the potential to become an obsession, is distressing or upsetting due to the fear of causing actual harm to others, and can feel difficult to control or dismiss.

Thoughts, impulses, and pictures of unacceptable things that occur at inappropriate times and are typically aggressive, blasphemous, or sexual are violent intrusive thoughts.

Although violent intrusive thoughts can become obsessions and cause a great lot of anxiety, there are a variety of effective ways to overcome them.

Keep reading to know more about violent intrusive thoughts, what causes violent intrusive thoughts, and how to stop violent intrusive thoughts.

Unwanted violent intrusive thoughts are thoughts that become fixated and cause significant distress. and fear of causing actual harm to others.  They appear from nowhere, come with a bang, and generate a significant amount of anxiety. Frequently, unwelcome intrusive thoughts center on sexual, violent, or otherwise socially inappropriate thoughts. 

People with intrusive thoughts worry that the thoughts foretell something bad about themselves. Some unwanted intrusive thoughts include recurring uncertainties about relationships, small and big decisions, sexual preference or gender identity, intrusion of thoughts concerning safety, death, religion, or concerns about unprovable topics. 

Some are simply bizarre ideas that make no obvious sense. Unwanted intrusive thoughts can be rather explicit, and as a result, many individuals are embarrassed and fearful, and therefore keep them hidden.

There are numerous fallacies surrounding invasive unwanted thoughts. One of the most disturbing aspects of having such ideas is that they indicate an unconscious desire to act on them. This is not true, and the reverse is true. It is the fight against a notion that causes it to persist and feeds its return. People oppose their beliefs because they appear foreign, unpleasant, and incompatible with who they are. Therefore, individuals with violent unwanted intrusive thoughts are kind. 

People who have undesired suicidal intrusive thoughts enjoy life. Those who consider uttering blasphemies in the church also cherish their religious life. The popular misconception is that every thought is worthy of investigation. Unlike how they may seem, these ideas are not instructions, red flags, signs, or cautions.

Violent intrusive thoughts feel so dangerous to people who experience them; it is estimated that more than six million people in the United States are affected by unwanted intrusive thoughts (a subset of them is violent intrusive thoughts). This happens because nervous thoughts start to dominate, and although the notion may be vile, it does not have any power. People tend to try frantically and urgently to eliminate the ideas, which ironically heightens their intensity. The more a person attempts to suppress, divert, or substitute a thought, the more persistent the thought becomes.

People who are troubled by intrusive thoughts must develop a new relationship with their thoughts, specifically, that the substance of their thoughts is sometimes irrelevant and inconsequential. Everyone occasionally experiences strange, unusual, socially inappropriate, and violent thoughts. Sometimes, our brains generate useless thoughts, which are merely the jetsam and flotsam of our stream of awareness. Empty thoughts have no value. They fade and are washed away by the stream of consciousness if you do not pay attention to or engage with them.

A notion, even a highly frightening thought, is not an impulse in actuality. The issue is not impulsive control, but excessive control. On the continuum, they are at different ends. However, many who experience anxiety are fooled by it and become a yearning for reassurance. 

However, comfort is only effective temporarily, and individuals can become dependent on it. Reducing one’s susceptibility to violent intrusive obsessive thoughts is the only effective method for dealing with them. Not by being reassured that it would not occur or is false.

Reinforcing unwanted intrusive thoughts by becoming enmeshed with them, fretting about them, fighting against them, and attempting to reason them away. They are also strengthened by attempts to avoid them. Leave the intrusive thoughts alone and disregard them as unimportant, and they will slowly disappear into the background.

Your intrusive thoughts may have no underlying cause. They can occur indiscriminately. Some intrusive thoughts enter your mind. Then, they leave immediately, leaving no lasting effect. Whereas others, associated with OCD might keep recurring.

When we speak of intrusive thoughts, we are referring to any thinking that could be considered violent. Every individual is unique, therefore for some, the thoughts may be:

  • Committing violence against another person.
  • Violent sexual behavior
  • Imagining violence or gore, like a road accident.

These may not appear to be anxiety-related, because in a manner they are not. However, they are not exceptional for anxious individuals. In reality, many people experience these types of fleeting thoughts that they forget so soon that they are unaware they had them. Imaginations are precisely that – brief thoughts. Sometimes an individual’s daydreams involve violent imagery. The majority of people forget about it.

The concern is that folks with anxiety seem incapable of forgetting it. Those with worry tend to dwell on them repeatedly. It’s fascinating that the main reason this happens is that you are trying to ignore it. It is called thought suppression in psychology in which suppression further strengthens the thought. 

Less frequently, intrusive thoughts are associated with a mental health problem such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These thoughts may also be a sign of another health condition, such as:

  • Brain trauma
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Signs that a root cause may be present include violent intrusive thoughts that:
  • Stay with you for more than just a fleeting second
  • Continue to recur in your thoughts
  • Induce suffering over time
  • Create the feeling that you must control your thoughts

Mental health changes should not be taken lightly. Early manifestations of various diseases may also include:

  • Changes in cognitive processes
  • Repetitive thoughts
  • Unsettling thoughts of disturbing scenes

This is not something to be embarrassed about, but you should get a diagnosis and therapy so you can start feeling better.

Thoughts of killing, hurting, stabbing, maiming, shooting, abusing, and strangling oneself and/or others are examples of violent intrusive thoughts that can include both mental imagery and urges to “act.” Even one’s friends, family, pets, colleagues, and/or strangers can be the subject of such distressing ideas.

If you have violent intrusive thoughts, you may imagine inflicting pain or discomfort on another human using knives, weapons, pens, forks or pencils, scissors, bottles or broken glasses, ice picks, tools, letter openers, your hands, a vehicle, toxins, etc. When violent intrusive thoughts are focused on the individual, they may include wanting to run in front of a train, intentionally crash his or her automobile, leap off a balcony or building, dash into traffic, etc.

Some individuals with violent obsessive thoughts may have images or ideas of driving over pedestrians with their cars, engaging in physical altercations (e.g., bar fights), and/or damaging their own or others’ property. Other individuals with violent intrusive thoughts may consider “snapping” and attacking strangers in public. For example, several individuals had violent, obsessive fantasies of driving off a cliff.

These violent intrusive thoughts can be so terrible that the person experiencing them fears being alone, with the elderly or children, and/or with physically weak or disabled persons.

As a consequence, these people tend to avoid places, people, or things that could trigger these distressing thoughts, like cars, daycares, work, boats, trains, bars, children, planes, pets, individuals with disabilities, elderly people, public places, crowded spaces, schools, nursing homes, and malls, etc. These violent intrusive thoughts may also include ideas of raping, sexually abusing or sexually attacking other individuals.

It is common to experience an intrusive thought from time to time. In general, it occurs to nearly everyone. Approximately 94 percent of participants reported at least one unwanted violent thought in the three months leading up to the study, according to a 2014 study.

The 2014 study found that “doubting” intrusions, or concerns about performing tasks properly, were the most prevalent intrusive thought. Sexual or religious intrusive thoughts were significantly less likely to be mentioned.

While violent intrusive thoughts are typically harmless, they can occasionally disrupt your daily life.

Individuals who experience fear, guilt, or the urge to take action to control their intrusive thoughts may have a more serious condition. If this is the case, it might be prudent to seek medical advice.

While not every violent thought has a root cause, some violent intrusive thoughts could have a possible reason. Sometimes, we engage in activities that display violence and it makes us think of those images and scenes all day long. 

Some of the most prevalent violent intrusive thoughts and why they happen are as follows:

Thoughts of hitting people with your car.

  • Frequently watching news reports on car accidents involving hit-and-runs.
  • Driving through congested streets and commercial complexes.
  • Nighttime driving on dark roads

Thoughts about stabbing people

  • Pointing with eating utensils toward other people while dining.
  • Sitting near other people at home while holding a big knife.

Thoughts of attacking or hitting others

  • Inching and rubbing through a crowd on a congested street.
  • Firmly patting individuals on the back.
  • Standing close to individuals while pointing toward them.
  • Watching movies involving stabbing scenes.

Thoughts of child molestation

  • Reading about child abusers who were apprehended.
  • Proximity to children in public.
  • Having one’s children in one’s arms or snuggling them (young children).

Thoughts of hurting your child

  • Reading articles on child abuse.
  • Holding your baby while standing in front of a window.
  • Reading the accounts of parents who murdered or injured their kids.

Thoughts of self-mutilation

  • Writing a piece on how you’ll lose all control of yourself and injure yourself.
  • Having a knife or other pointy object placed in front of you while sitting at a table.
  • Knife or other sharp objects aimed at oneself.

The fear of losing control of public

  • Carrying a knife in your purse when out in public.
  • Listening to a recording that warns you that you will lose control while walking with a knife in your pocket.
  • Standing behind individuals on a packed train station platform.
  • Reading media stories about individuals who have lost control in public.

The great news is that disturbing violent thoughts need not dominate your life. You can resist, fight, overcome and banish them from your thoughts. Keep these five things in mind the next time you encounter a violent intrusive thought.

1. Don’t try to stop or suppress the thought process

When challenged with intrusive thinking, the first response for many individuals is to try to forget about it. Sadly, this strategy has the exact opposite impact, causing you to dwell on the violent intrusive thought far more.

An experiment conducted by Harvard University psychology professor Daniel Wegner established this principle. When he instructed the study’s participants not to think of white bears for five minutes, on average, participants thought of white bears more than one time each minute.

Instead of intentionally repressing your thinking process, try to distract yourself with an interesting task. Try reading a book or doing a crossword puzzle, for instance.

Ensure that you are not switching between numerous tasks. Absorb yourself in a specific task and ensure that it cannot be tied back to the unwanted thought. For instance, it would not make sense to read a novel about murder if you are experiencing disturbing thoughts relating to intrusive thoughts about murdering people.

2. Know the difference between thoughts and reality

Fear of acting on negative intrusive thoughts, like harming a loved one, is a major concern for many individuals who experience intrusive thoughts. They wish to comprehend the significance of these thoughts and seek clarification, validation, or reassurance that they will not act on them.

Yet, violent intrusive thoughts are exactly what they represent: thoughts. Regardless of what your OCD or anxiety encourages you to believe, these thoughts are not indicative of future events, and there is no intention to act on them.

In light of this, identify these as simply thoughts when they emerge. Allow them to freely move through your consciousness, recognizing their existence without letting them overwhelm and consume you. By embracing intrusive ideas as only thoughts, you will gradually become less prone to worry about them.

3. Determine the triggers

Oftentimes, your thoughts are not fully random, since they may be influenced by your daily activities. Recording your violent thoughts in a diary can help you identify patterns over time.

In addition to expressing your thoughts, maintain a record of your general mood and day-specific notes. Refer back to your notes and attempt to spot patterns as you begin to have recurring similar thoughts over time.

Perhaps you experienced similar ideas when you had a great deal of leisure time, or when you saw a violent movie. By observing these trends, you may be able to identify the underlying reason and resolve the problem.

4. Make a positive refinement in your everyday routine

If you inject more good energy into your life, you are less prone to have room for negative ones. Why not incorporate a lifestyle modification that has been shown to make you feel better and make it a constant habit?

The following are examples of modifications you could make to your everyday routine:

  • Developing healthy dietary practices
  • Performing yoga
  • Going for walks outside

If you find that you experience more intrusive thoughts in the morning, practice these routines as soon as you awake. A shift in perspective could do wonders for banishing bothersome thoughts.

5. Communicate and don’t rule out therapy

Many individuals feel embarrassed to admit to having intrusive thoughts, and some even experience a sense of shame and guilt as a result. They try to handle their thoughts independently and conceal them from others.

Nevertheless, speaking about your feelings with somebody you know and trust can be beneficial. By being open and transparent about how you are feeling and what you are experiencing, you may gain a whole fresh outlook on your situation.

For certain people, speaking to a random person or stranger can be easier than speaking to someone you know. In this situation, counseling can be a useful alternative. There are several sorts of therapy available – both in private and group settings. Conduct a study and carefully consider all available possibilities.

We all experience intrusive ideas from time to time. You can conquer your violent intrusive thoughts with a little concentration and dedication. Your success is contingent upon your capacity to resist the impulse to worry and fixate on them.

6. Seek Interventions To Control Intrusive Violent Thoughts

Cognitive behavior treatment (CBT). In cognitive behavioral therapy, you will work with a therapist to develop methods of thinking that will help you become less susceptible to intrusive thoughts. Your psychotherapist may also introduce you to the catalysts or triggers for your violent intrusive thoughts in a controlled environment so that you can develop alternative responses.

Medication. Occasionally, drugs are used to treat disorders such as OCD and PTSD. Commonly given to address these mental health disorders are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

  1. Violent thoughts: An anxiety symptom. Calm Clinic. Available at: https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/violent-thoughts.
  2. Unwanted intrusive thoughts. Available at: https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/unwanted-intrusive-thoughts.
  3. How I treat OCD killer thoughts: Treating violent obsessions. International OCD Foundation. Available at: https://iocdf.org/expert-opinions/expert-opinion-violent-obsessions.
  4. Why do we have intrusive thoughts? Healthline Media. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/intrusive-thoughts#conditions.

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