Friday, December 2, 2016

What are intrusive thoughts?

Suddenly thinking things like: "I could drive off this cliff and kill us all", or "If I hit you with this hammer, it would crack open your skull," is a common experience for most people. They’re called intrusive thoughts, and are perfectly normal when they occur without causing anxiety or compulsion.

Here’s the thing. Our imaginations know no boundaries, so nearly everyone experiences intrusive thoughts that are rooted in violence, sex, blasphemy and beyond. For most people, these thoughts come and go. But for sufferers of OCD, these thoughts trigger debilitating anxiety. It’s not easy getting rid of the thoughts. OCD sufferers compulsively try to neutralize or disprove them. But the more they obsess, the stronger the thoughts get. The faster they come. And the more they play into their biggest fears. This leaves sufferers questioning their character and constantly seeking reassurance that they’re simply not capable of acting on their thoughts.

And so begins the never-ending cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Unlike some forms of OCD where a sufferer engages in a visual ritual (like hand washing), some OCD sufferers get stuck in their minds performing non-observable rituals over and over again. To their dismay and frustration, sufferers obsess over the meaning of their thoughts. Even worse, ill-informed therapists might request that their patients dive deeper for an understanding. The truth is, those intrusive thoughts are completely meaningless. Because the brain experiences a misfire between areas of communication, they don’t actually speak to someone’s character. Intrusive thoughts can be a totally manageable condition. With proper therapy, people with OCD can live normal, happy lives.

Read & learn:


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