Intrusive thoughts can be very distressing to the sufferer, as their mind creates images and ideas relating to harm, violence, blasphemy and cheating. They can become so distressing that the individual will avoid people, places and situations that are related to the thoughts.
The vast majority of the public are unaware of what an ‘intrusive thought’ is, many probably experience them and dub themselves as evil and psychopathic. An intrusive thought is a thought of the individual committing a horrendous act, such as physically or sexually abusing somebody, saying something or reacting very inappropriately to a situation (for example, laughing when somebody has said they have lost their job) or doing or saying something blasphemous. These thoughts are linked to people who suffer from anxiety, OCD, depression and PTSD, although those with no apparent symptoms of these conditions can also suffer from them.
Many people will get these thoughts and dismiss them as so. But when they become constant and distressing to the individual it can disrupt their quality of living. Those who have these thoughts of harming a relative may avoid coming into close contact with them, despite the fact that they would never act upon the thoughts.
Whilst people are now becoming more comfortable talking about mental illnesses those suffering from intrusive thoughts will very much keep the thoughts to themselves, or if they do disclose them they do as with minimal detail. I’ve seen many topics of discussion on internet forums regarding intrusive thoughts (mainly those asking for advice, rather than a discussion) and some begin to believe that they are a cruel person and a psychopath for even conjuring up these thoughts.
But these thoughts are a clear demonstration that those who are repulsed and or distressed by them are in fact sympathetic people. A person who is diagnosed as a psychopath does not possess the ability to sympathise or empathise with others but themselves. If somebody with an intrusive thought can feel distressed by them then they do not exhibit psychopathic qualities.
What we must remember is that these thoughts are not created independently or voluntarily. These thoughts are very fleeting and can feel very sudden and out of the blue when they arrive, feeling very much out of the control of the individual. If they become distressing enough to reduce one’s quality of living then treatment should be sought, usually in the form of CBT, exposure therapy or medication.
If you suffer from an intrusive thought then take it from me, you are a normal, loving human being.