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Aggressive Obsessions: Fear of Harming or Killing Others

Fear of Harming/Killing Other People

Aggressive obsessions involve the fear of intentionally harming or killing others.

Aggressive obsessions go by many names. Harm obsessions, violent obsessions, morbid obsessions…the list goes on…

These symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) involve the fear of harming or killing other people. In other cases, aggressive obsessions are directed at the self, such as when individuals experience unwanted, intrusive, and recurrent thoughts about hurting or killing themselves (suicide obsessions).

This post will focus on aggressive obsessions that involve the fear of harming or killing other people. Aggressive obsessions involving suicide and self-harm will be addressed in a subsequent post.

Fear of Harming or Killing Others

Aggressive obsessions often focus on violent, murderous (stabbing, shooting, choking, poisoning), or criminal (arson, bank robberies) acts and involve graphic mental images of blood, injury, and death. Individuals with violent obsessions may fear becoming serial killers or deliberately hurting someone they love. Aggressive obsessions affect individuals of all ages, including adults, adolescents, and children.

Common examples include:

  • Fear of going on a murderous rampage, involving stabbing or cutting.
  • Fear of grabbing a nearby policeman’s gun and shooting someone.
  • Fear of choking your baby or partner to death.
  • Fear of snapping your child or pet’s neck.
  • Fear of pushing or throwing someone off a building or other high place.
  • Fear of intentionally poisoning someone (e.g., putting rat poison into your loved one’s food).
  • Fear of hitting, striking, or beating someone to death.
  • Fear of pushing/throwing someone down the stairs (e.g., babies).
  • Fear of walking up behind someone and slitting their throat.
  • Fear of smothering your baby or partner while they are sleeping.
  • Fear of drowning your child while swimming or giving him/her a bath (postpartum OCD).
  • Fear of committing a bank robbery.
  • Fear of committing arson.
  • Fear of getting angry and shaking your child to death (perinatal OCD)
  • Fear of side-swiping and killing a pedestrian or cyclist while you are driving.
  • Fear of aggressively pushing your grocery cart into other shoppers who are in your way.
  • When riding in the car as a passenger, fear of grabbing the steering wheel and causing an accident.
  • Fear of putting your baby or pet into an oven, microwave, washing machine, or clothes dryer.
  • Fear of emotions, such as anger, that may trigger harm OCD obsessions (see my post on anger and OCD for a more through discussion of OCD and anger).

Similar to what occurs in the case of sexual obsessions, individuals with aggressive obsessions are often afraid of acting on unwanted impulses.  However, sometimes violent obsessions are not associated with urges to act. In such cases, symptoms may consist of unwanted thoughts or vivid, disturbing mental images of violent behaviors. Individuals with these types of symptoms will often wonder why these unwanted thoughts keep occurring and may feel extreme guilt and horror over not being able to control their thoughts.

Some individuals have a very confusing form of OCD that causes them to be unsure about whether or not a thought actually represents a memory. These individuals may mistakenly believe that they have acted on their thoughts because their obsessions are vivid, detailed images that “feel” more like memories than thoughts. They may engage in a variety of checking compulsions to make sure that these “false memories” haven’t actually occurred.

Aggressive Obsessions & Compulsions/Rituals

As with all forms of OCD, violent/harm obsessions are reinforced through compulsive behaviors (rituals) and avoidance.  Compulsions involving the fear of harming others include:

  • Checking written items (forms, envelopes) to see if you accidentally wrote out your bad thoughts or to make sure that you haven’t written out a confession.
  • Monitoring the news (TV, radio, internet) to make sure a violent crime hasn’t occurred nearby.
  • Revisiting locations to make sure that nothing bad has happened.
  • Trying to convince yourself that you would never act on your thoughts.
  • Reviewing your past to see if you’re capable of murder.
  • Asking other people for reassurance that you’re a good person.
  • Mental rituals involving figuring out, undoing, resetting, or trying to clean your mental slate.
  • Analyzing your thoughts to determine if they reflect the “real you.”
  • Trying not to think unwanted thoughts.
  • Holding onto handles, belt loops, or other surfaces to make sure that your hands don’t perform an unwanted act.
  • Praying rituals designed to keep you from acting on an unwanted thought.
  • Neutralizing unwanted thoughts or images by mentally flipping them upside down, replaying them backwards, or converting them into something “good.”

Aggressive Obsessions & Avoidance Behaviors

Avoidance behaviors involve limiting exposure to places, situations, people, or objects that might trigger your unwanted thoughts. Here are some avoidance behaviors that are common for individuals who are afraid of killing or harming other people.

  • Removing all “weapons” from the house – sharp items, blunt objects, poisonous chemicals, ropes, guns, etc.
  • Over-controlling your body (keeping overly rigid) when around others.
  • Keeping your hands in your pockets or keeping them far away from other people.
  • Delegating cooking or food preparation responsibilities to others.
  • Avoidance of sex, intimacy, and other situations involving physical vulnerability.
  • Avoidance of child-care responsibilities.
  • Avoidance of being alone with children, pets, the elderly, or other vulnerable populations.
  • Avoidance of television shows or newspaper stories featuring violent themes.
  • Avoidance of the police and other security personnel.
  • Avoidance of physical contact with others, especially the neck area (avoiding hugs, neck rubs).
  • Avoidance of scary/horror movies.
  • Avoidance of church and confession (alternatively, may have rituals involving compulsive prayer or confession).
  • Avoiding knives, scissors, or razor blades.
  • Avoidance of situations that trigger “scary” emotions like anger, due to anger’s relationship to OCD.

How to Tell if You’re Secretly a Serial Killer

Many individuals with aggressive obsessions worry about losing control and acting on their unwanted thoughts. Many interpret their thoughts as proof that they are, in fact, secretly murderers or serial killers. However, in actuality, these thoughts are simply a consequence of OCD, a neurobiological condition. The occurrence of these thoughts is a stressful symptom of OCD, but it doesn’t reflect a defect of character or a predisposition to violence. In fact, as I discussed in my previous post, it more likely reflects the opposite.

The following questions can be a helpful litmus test for individuals with violent obsessions.

Do you enjoy the thoughts you’re experiencing? Are your violent thoughts pleasurable?

Many individuals with aggressive obsessions are extremely distressed when they have thoughts about harming or killing others. However, this “test” won’t work for everyone. Because OCD involves debilitating doubt and uncertainty, there are many of you out there who are now probably saying, “Well, then I definitely don’t have OCD. I’m worried that I actually like my thoughts and want to act on them.”

If that sounds like you, you might ask yourself a different question:

If you could, would you choose to have your violent thoughts occur MORE OFTEN?

Treatment of violent obsessions is based around developing a new relationship with these unwanted, intrusive thoughts and learning that these thoughts are not dangerous or predictive of the future.

Questions? Comments? Struggling with aggressive obsessions? Sound off below.

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  1. I have some harm obsessions, though they are not at the top of the list of OCD symptoms. I have checked things I’ve written to make sure I didn’t write something inappropriate even though I had no desire to write anything appropriate. And I used to pray compulsively to be forgiven for thoughts I had of doing something wrong.

    Medication and therapy have helped me in this area a great deal.

    Your lists are very comprehensive and helpful!

    • My recent posts have been a bit list-centric… 🙂 Two more posts are on the horizon…both in the harm domain: fear of harming the self (suicide/self-harm obsessions) and postpartum OCD, which has a lot of harm/checking components.

      It’s interesting to me how symptoms tend to cluster together. Many people I know have symptoms you’ve mentioned — worry about acting on unwanted impulses, scrupulosity, perfection & mistake-making, and hit-and-run worries. I guess the common element perhaps is related to heightened feelings of responsibility?

      • I would agree that it’s the sense of responsibility that i have. I feel responsible for the safety and well-being of the world sometimes!

        • Same – am always worried that I’ve offended or physically hurt someone and will continually check news etc to make sure I haven’t. I understand it is irrational but have trouble eliminating one thought only to have it replaced by another. My poor husband is so supportive but it is so tiring for him to be constantly reassuring me. And because of the reassurance I come off as a narcissist when in fact I don’t care about me but how if I do something wrong it will affect my family and friends – and it is such hard work to be my friend. I am hard work and I am immensely grateful for those that have stuck it out and understanding of those who can’t

      • I have had these thoughts for a while and it started about two years ago. I am scared to be around kids because i thought that I was going to hurt them without knowing it. My dad describes me to be an empathetic person. I am had thoughts of just losing my cool and people getting hurt in the process and it’s like I don’t have any control over those thoughts. As i began to read your lists I felt like this is me. I am terrified to hurt someone and It is hard to even picture doing so, but those terrible thoughts keep coming back and i keep worrying that it will be me one day.
        Thank you so much, I feel like I can be put at ease.


        • Unfortunately, as humans, we’re not really equipped to be able to control our thoughts. That’s truly the essence of OCD. Glad to hear that you’re getting on the right track with things.

          • For the past week or 2 when I lie down for bed at night I get this tightness in my chest and begin getting kinda restless and start having feelings of wanting to hurt people. It only happens at night can you please explain to me what could be causing these feelings

        • OMG you are Just like me!! Finally someone to relate to. Thanks for posting this comment! I feel like I can relate to someone now.

      • I have been in cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD for a while now and through my experience I would tell you the common element between these clusters of symptoms is a low self worth. The ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) are eating away at all of us and the mother of all ANTs is you’re no damn good.

      • Well ive recently learnt my mums having an affair with this security guard at her work. No one knows i know. Everytime he walks past me and smiles I want to grab him and smash his head against a glass window til his dead but…I take deep breathes and move on. But the anger builds up inside me and I feel like theres a fight going on inside me and one day I will just snap! Im not a light girl so I would easily crush him if I lost it…I think sometimes I should be sent to the psych ward..

    • I have been plagued by this for the last few years. I am fed up with them. I’ve tried everything, even separating from my family. Upon return they came right back. This has been living hell for me.

      • Please do not hurt yourself.
        Please know I understand what you are going through. It is very hard but you can get through it. Just think of how your strength has gotten you this far. You are so much stronger than you think. Also, know that you are not alone. I go through it too.

    • I am trying to be on less mind blocking medications to handle, overcome, intrusive thoughts with cbt but its very hard and hard work! Any one else in this type of situation.

    • What type of dr do you see for this type of OCD

  2. Hello . I am only 12 years old and I’m just been freaking out over me thinking About hurting/killing people. I hate this feeling so bad and I feel so guilty I don’t wanna go through the day. I have two younger sisters and one brother on the way. I’m so scared that one day I’m just gonna snap and go into my baby sisters room and strangle her. And then one time I was camping and I was with my other younger sister and I was scared I was gonna strangle her to death. Also, having sexual thoughts that are distressing me really bad !!! I don’t like them ! I think one day I’m gonna act on them on somebody…. I think I’m a sick person and don’t even deserve to live. I always stay away from people as much as I can and don’t get near people or weapons . I always think to myself ” Am I gonna do it today ” I just want it gone ): I’m seeing a therapist right now and seeing if that will help me . But I don’t know If I have OCD?

    • Hi Vanessa,

      Your description sounds exactly like the stories I hear every day in my office. And just like you, many of the people I see also struggle with, “What if this isn’t really OCD? What if I’m really just a bad person?”

      Don’t despair. Remember, OCD is highly treatable if you’re working with a therapist who uses exposure and response prevention (ERP). Just stick with your therapy, work hard, and it will begin to pay off.

      Wishing you the best in your recovery!

  3. I first had violent thoughts of stabbing others/myself at the age of 12 (I am 27 now). Back then, I did not have the courage to talk about these to anyone as I was too embaressed and felt horrible for having these thoughts. To cope with them, I created for myself, a condition that I would never harm myself/ anyone in my whole life and abide by this no-matter-what. Whenever these thoughts popped up, I managed to throw them away by reminding myself of this condition I had set to myself. This worked well for me until about 2 years back. One day, the thought suddenly popped up and thats when I realised that the manner in which I tried to neutralise the thoughts was absurd and stupid. I was suddenly exposed to my worst fears without any coping mechanism. It was only a year back that I realised this is OCD and the condition I had set myself is actually a compulsion. Since then, I have been trying to ignore the thoughts (without supressing them) and lead my life as usual and there have been times when I have felt the problem gone for weeks. However, when I am feeling all good and thinking this is behind me, the same thought pops up again with a feeling that this is not over yet. I try my best to ignore the thoughts and move on, but sub consciously, the fear catches up and the anxiety builds, resulting in a feeling that I am not cured after all and depressing thoughts ensue (thoughts like is my life going to be like this always and is it even worthy leading such a life and will I ever be able to live happily etc.,?). I somehow make up my mind to ignore these depressing thoughts and move on and again after a few days, all is bright and sunny again until the same thought pops up and thigs start spiralling down. The cycle continues. Its especially hard to cope up with a reccurance when the fear and thoughts havent been there for a while. With each such cycle, my confidence is getting lower and I feel more and more hopeless in beating this problem and sometimes even resort to my old compulsion, which somehow doesnt work anymore as I have stopped believing in it. Of late, I have also developed avoidances of activities I used to once enjoy such as drinking coffee and alchohol intake (as I read that these provoke anxiety), which adds on to the hopelessness even more that this is taking control of my life.

    Is my approach to recovery correct? Is there anything I can do to avoid getting sucked into despair when these thoughts strike suddenly or is it something that is expected?

    Apologies for the really long post!

    • Hi Anand,

      This is certainly not as good as it gets–it sounds like you’re still getting continually beaten down by your intrusive thoughts. Ultimately, the most helpful approach will likely be based around three things:

      1) Non-avoidance of normal life activities – including coffee, alcohol (safely and in moderation), socializing, etc.
      2) Liberal amounts of proactive, premeditated exposure. Note: the best defense against OCD is a strong offense.
      3) Handling spontaneous intrusive thoughts in healthy (non-avoidant, non-neutralizing) ways.

      Without all three of these components, you’re likely to get bogged down by OCD and depression.

      Good luck!

      • Really appreciate your reply. What really bothers me is the fear that, no matter how hard I try, these thoughts will never stop bothering me. This is really hurting my determination. This feeling is especially reinforced when, after a period of less to no symptoms, the symptoms start again. To help my determination, I often read online to check whether I can indeed get over this, but I dont find any consistent answers. To be very frank, I sometimes even fear that I might be a treatment refractory case with no option but a brain surgery (which horrifies me) or a life with these bothering thoughts, which is depressing.

        How long does it take to reach a stage where one can learn to accept their thoughts for what they are?
        Also, can you give me a few ways of handling spontaneous intrusive thoughts in a non-avoidant, non-neutralising way? Thanks..

        Any advice / ways to cope up with this defeating fear as I feel this is really standing in the way of progress. Thanks again for helping out !!

        • I would find a local support group, if you can. I think there are also several online moderated support groups that might help you connect with other people who have recovered and are working on maintaining their gains. The key to lasting recovery is implementing a relapse prevention program that includes proactive exposures (even when your symptoms are reduced). RE: your treatment refractory fears, this is common at this stage. However, it sounds like trying to predict the future is another type of avoidance. Work on beating your OCD today. Leave tomorrow for tomorrow. The more consistently you do this, the more quickly your symptoms will improve.

          RE: strategies, it’s best to acknowledge the thought and not to resist it. Embrace coexistence. Once people are doing good, consistent ERP and they are feeling less anxious, they will often go after their thoughts more actively (e.g., magnifying them, etc.). However, for now, you should probably just strive for coexistence.

      • Ok so I’m a thirteen year old boy and my therapist says I have harm ocd. Look it up. So I’m not asking what I have I’m asking how I can stop it. My therapist isn’t helping I pray and I also keep my mind busy like a draw and do magic. Nothing is working so can u please help. This is what I think in my mind
        1. When I see a knife I feel like I need to cut my self which I would never ever do. But it feels like I need to and its hard.
        2. I think about killing my loved ones which I never would do and it makes me feel like I need to.
        3. I think about commuting suicide which I wouldnt do. And like all them I feel like I need to.
        So if you have same problems tell me and do you know any way to get rid of this stuff. I have tried praying keeping my mind busy and stuff. It doesn’t work. It all started about two months ago when I got home from a week at camp and I saw something about murderingc and I thought wat if I went crazy and stuff. I don’t want these thoughts in my head how can I get them out thanks.

    • Anand…I am 46 with 3 1/2 years sober from almost 30 years of drinking. Violent, harming obsessive thoughts have started with me in the last year or so. I’ve never had anger issues. I’m the complete opposite. A young hippie (ha). I’ve owned firearms for 25 years and became horrified that if that guy from Ft. Hood (or any random shooter) could shoot up a place…as a human being, what’s to stop me from doing the same. It was, “and is”, horrifying to think that. From what I hear, We must face, and be honest with the fact that we have a “fractured” mind. Not “broken”, but “fractured”. To actually face the bad thought. As with alcohol, I had to be honest with the fact that I’m an alcoholic. Also honest with the fact that the brain cannot “not” think about things. Its what our brains do. I have been taught, through ERP therapy and medication, that “to think about something less…I must think about it more”…to own up to the fact that I am a good person with a fractured mind. Its OK to be fractured. The thoughts are going to happen, I accept that. Its up to me to do the work and, over time, “become my own therapist” as I’ve been told. In conclusion, Be honest. Don’t run from the thoughts. Embrace, and face them. So far, for today, its been working for me. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. I hope I don’t offend anyone.

  4. @Vanessa
    I’ve had OCD (particularly harm OCD) since I was 16, and your story sounds so much like what I was going through at first. I’m no doctor but I would definitely believe that you have OCD. The good news is that you are young and getting the appropriate treatment can greatly help in diminishing the anxiety you feel and the frequency of your distressing thoughts. I’m 20 now and I’ve had extended periods of time where I did not have any bouts of anxiety or scary thoughts 🙂 Find a therapist or counseler you trust and who specializes in OCD and a type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Until then, remember that everyone has weird, distressing thoughts and that these thoughts have no meaning or reflection on your character (I can actually tell from your post that you are a caring person 🙂 )

  5. Hi! I am extremely tormented with ocd and have had tons of different.themes and EXTREME anxiety doubt and guilt. I recently just bought a puppy and had a horrific.intrusive thought about harming her by putting her in the oven. It was terrible I kept ruminating over it asking people if I was a bad person and everything that comes along with it!!! Then one day it wouldn’t stop so in a desperate attempt to make it stop I turned off the oven MADE SURE IT WAS OFF and set my dog in it.for a split second then took.her out. No harm was done to her I’m sure she just thinks I’m as crazy as I think I am.I just wanted the thought out of my head but u would.NEVER inflict harm.on.her or anyone to prove a point. I hate ocd its ruining my life and even though I know I’d never hurt her this scenario FREAKED me.out even more that I can’t control my own brain. I love my dog i can’t stand thinking that i am a threat to her . I’m on.meds but I need talk.therapy and ughhh its just terrible.

    • Hi Rita,

      That sounds extremely distressing. ERP works well for aggressive thoughts, so you might want to start by finding an OCD specialist in your area to help guide you. Remember that everyone has bad thoughts sometimes…however, the way we deal with these thoughts ultimately determines if we have more (or less) of these thoughts. Although rituals can be hard to resist, they make the thoughts worse in the long run.

      If you’re looking to go the self-help route, see my post on books related to OCD:

      Good luck!

  6. Thank you!! I just hate feeling like Im a terrible person when I would never even hurt a fly 🙁 its seriously interfereing with my daily life and happiness. I’m definitely going to schedule an appointment with a therapist soon!

  7. Hello

    This article has made me feel good to know I am not the only one.

    I have been struggeling with unwanted thoughts for a while. They seemed to be different topics. First it was I was scared of the end of the world. That was last year, and I recovered. Then this year it was me dying, then I was afraid of harming my self, and now I am afraid of harming others…I have cried so much out of frustration and am depressed. I feel like I am a danger to my dogs and family. Specifically my sister more than others.
    Sometimes when they pop in my head I question my self and wonder if thjs js what I want.
    I even think they wont stoo unless I act on it and that scares me, and frustrates me and has made me depressed.

    I have never ever experienced this ever in my entire life.

    I just wish there was an explanation.

    My husband is deployed yet again and was 9 months out of the year last year. We are kind of newly weds so its been hard and frustrating.

    My mother in law has told me these thoughts are “normal” with depression. Is this true?

    • Hi Patience,

      Based on your description, this sounds much more like OCD than depression. Of course, many people with OCD also become severely depressed due to their symptoms. I would strongly suggest that you pursue treatment. I’m not sure if you’ve browsed this website much, but if you haven’t, I’ve talked about different aspects of these symptoms in other articles:

      Mental Checking
      Violent Obsessions
      Fear of Killing Yourself

      At this point, work on educating yourself about OCD and explore your treatment options. Both exposure and response prevention (ERP) and medication can be helpful.

      Wishing you the best with this!

  8. Hello
    According to your descriptive I think I have OCD for 2-3 years now.. is it late??…Sometime I think about suicide as a solution so I don’t harm people I love… I m struggling with panic attacks too, are they linked ? Is there any hope to get rid of this for good, without the use of drugs ? I m really suffering. Now that I know that it’s a disorder, I can go forward and I talk about it to my physical therapist to bring this to my doctor?? I live in France, we need to go to a physical therapist first ?maybe I’ll sound silly, but are they aware of this kind of thing (Im embarrassed, I don’t want to sound crazy)? Sorry for my english its only my fourth language.
    thank you very much!! .this article is very helpful !!

  9. Hi there . I am so happy to have found this site. I started having thoughts of stabbing my 3 year old while I was pregnant last September. I went months without telling anyone and going through exteme panic attacks and suffered very much as the thoughts terrified me- then the thoughts moved to anyone that I loved. Finally,after my third babe was born this winter I reached out and got help. Since then I learned about OCD and its many faces. I get ridiculous thoughts that upset me and urges that I will storm into the kitchen and grab a knife and hurt someone. Then I spend all day picking apart the thoughts and feel like Im trying to convince myself not to be a killer. Its soo unbelievable as I am acompassionate loving person. My latest obbsession hit me hard after reading a horrible article about a new Mother who stabbed her baby ” To keep her safe from evil” . I am now very upset and obsessiong over what if I think my baby is the devil and hurt her? Is this still OCD? I dont beilieve the thought, but it scares me that I might beileve it one day. I was starting to do alot better until I read that story…….

  10. Hi guys, I read a story in the news that instantly mortified me. I am prone to anxiety and depression anyway. After this I have had the ultimate fear of harming or killing someone else and constantly do behavioural tests and play things in my mind. As soon as I come to the conclusion that I am indeed a good loving person I get a huge amount of relief and smile, and think thank god for that. Literally. I am deeply saddened that so many good people suffer with this. Even Vanessa who is so young. The most major thing that has helped me is CBT. (cognitive behavioural therapy) and this website! The mere fact that I am worried about the content of this OCD only means I am a good person, this takes so much energy to remember and is a constant battle. The anxiety and uncertainty is awful. I tend to awefulize a lot. This has ruined a huge amount of my life and I get scared a lot. I’m grateful for this website as its helped me a lot today. If I had it may way, I would be totally blissfully unaware of all of these negative things!!

    • Thank you for sharing, Amy. OCD can certainly wreak havoc in one’s life, and it tends to target whatever content will evoke the strongest fear response in the individual. For many people, harm obsessions can be the worst. Hang in there, and keep working on resisting your rituals.

      Wishing you all the best…

      • I’m recently off anti-depressant medication after 13 years, and am feeling successful although I have had some disturbing thoughts which is more concerning because my husband and I are trying to start our own family. With a history of depression and anxiety, I have found child bearing extremely concerning. I have had thoughts of stabbing others as well as grabbing policeman’s guns, jumping off buildings or high places, fear of striking or killing pedestrians when driving and the fear of grabbing the steering wheel when driving to cause an accident. Some of these might sound textbook because I have researched my thoughts but the above mentioned are common thoughts I have and are very concerning because we are trying to start a family. Can you please help? I really don’t want to go back on medication

  11. Hi,

    I’m hiding my real name for privacy reasons. Like Vanessa, I am a 12 year old kid who found this site from random Google-searching. (I probably don’t sound like one because I keep proofreading my posts for grammar problems- very OCD-ish! xD) I wish I knew less about the world around me… it’s probably all the things I learn/know about that causes me to think about this stuff…

    Anyway, back on topic: I was never properly *diagnosed* with OCD (is that even possible?).

    I don’t know how I started thinking about this whole thing- I’m scared that I won’t care about others, that I’ll become cold hearted and hurt my family… and people close to me…. I hate these thoughts. I’m pretty happy-go-lucky and everyone says I have a good personality, but I keep thinking “What if?” and it makes me panic a lot. I wish I wasn’t troubled with these thoughts, I wish I could be a kid… but i feel like I can’t…

    • One of the first steps in successfully fighting OCD is getting the right support system in place. You might start by talking with your parents and your doctors about your symptoms, so that you’re not fighting this battle by yourself. Parents don’t always have a good working knowledge about OCD, so it might be helpful to provide them with additional information/resources to fill in some of the gaps.

      Wishing you the best with this!

      • Hi!

        I’m surprised someone would reply :p

        Thanks for the advice! I’m not sure if my parents should consult a therapist, I feel like I am overall normal and that it’s not a really serious condition…

        Oh, and some other info about me: I also had HOCD (I was really scared that I might become gay) but I recovered from that by myself. I hope I can recover similarly from this…

        • It’s certainly true that not everybody needs to work with a therapist, but it’s good to know that there are resources out there if you need them.

          Wishing you the best!

  12. Hi. Well I’m really terrified about my thoughts sometimes I feel this thing about running out and get run over by a also have two little girls and sometimes I have thoughts to stab them but I havent tried stab them.I dont know what to do with my thoughts I always cry because I feel scared and I feel very nervouse about all this I think to my self how can I have this kind of thoughts towards my two daughters and my husband what is this can any tell me what is this and if I can get help…… Please some one help me I feel very desperate:(.

    I havent stab my daughters or try to stab them but i always have the thoughts Just have those thoughts why am I feeling like this I also feel angry and sad at the same time with my husband and just argue with him all the time over every thing and also feel like crying all the time what do u call all this will any body tell me what can I do.

    • Harm obsessions are very common, and ERP can be very effective for addressing symptoms like yours. Your doctor can also prescribe medication, which can be helpful.

  13. Thank you for this post, as it relieves me from the stress of all these thoughts and intrusive, violent images that may come to my mind, especially regarding loved ones around me.

    Also glad to know that it is a well known condition.

    But there’s a question I would like to ask you :

    I have heard of killers and murderers who thought of their actions before commiting them and I am wondering, what is the difference between their thoughts and the ones that people with OCD have ?

    Would it be the fact that for them, the violent thought would be pleasuring? Or seen/Understood/viewed as a solution to a problem in particular?

    I hope my question is clear, thank you very much sir 🙂

    • Dear Alexandre,

      This sounds like a reassurance-seeking question to me. For these types of questions, there is no perfect answer. With reassurance seeking questions, the answer will be satisfying for a short time, but then the doubts will inevitably creep back. Even if you know why people generally commit murder, that information is not going to be fully satisfying to you, as there are always exceptions to any rule.

      If you’re concerned about your thoughts, I would recommend that you meet with a psychologist who can assess your symptoms and help you determine if you have OCD. If it’s OCD, ERP can be a very effective treatment.

      Wishing you the best!

  14. Hi,
    I’m 16 and recently I’ve noticed I can’t get thoughts out of my head. I know that these thoughts will never happen, and I’m not really worried that I’ll act on them. When they do happen (rarely ever), they are pretty scary. As in, stabbing someone, etc. But I cannot get the idea out of my head of possibly having OCD or an anxiety disorder. I’m pretty sure my dad and sister have OCD so I already know it’s possible that I could too. I can get the specifics of the intrusive thoughts out, but not the idea of having OCD. Should I ask my parents to take me to a therapist or am I just overreacting? I really appreciate any answers you could give me.

    • If you’re concerned about your thoughts, I always think it’s good to get a professional opinion. Additionally, there are many good self-help books about OCD that could be a good resource for you.

      • Hi I’m a 14 year old who has been having these thoughts since I was 12 they are extremely graphic and very violent most of the time they are me hurting someone I was wondering what I should do about it 🙁

  15. I apologize, as this will be long – i cant sleep and this may help to ease my mind-I’m 25 years old and have been a worrier as long as I can remember. Last year around this same time I went thru the most terrifying experiences in my life. I had always felt anxious – always had catastrophic thinking. I always worried about the health and well being of my family members, etc. but last fall after watching a scary movie (shutter island, in which a woman kills her children) I started having even more severe symptoms and started experiencing intrusive thoughts about my two dogs ( who I love more than anything they are like my two babies- and even thoughts about what if I lost it and hurt my husband. We had been recently married. This series of thoughts sent me into my first ever panic attack – heart pounding nausea insomnia other stomach issues, complete h**l for the next week I could not eat I felt as though I should die because of my awful thoughts. I have never had bad thoughts ever. Or suicidal ones. I avoided my puppies and didn’t want my husband to go to sleep until after i did because I thought he wasn’t safe.

    Everyone said I was being ridiculous- I finally went to my doctor who instantly told me i was suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and probably ocd thoughts. I took medicine for anti depression for about one month and by February I felt like myself again. I always get a bit anxious when my menstrual cycle hits, but I had not dealt with the thoughts since then. It was almost as if hearing the doctor (and googling constantly about it) helped me to realize I wouldn’t act and that I wasn’t a sociopath or anything.

    Well last week my anxiety had become pretty bad- not sleeping well and feeling gloomy because the weather has been pretty dreary. I am a director for students at a school, and Last week a student disclose to me that he has schizophrenia and has been off meds for 3 months- that he had thoughts and hears voices, etc. naturally, because I am constantly worried and think the worst – I convinced myself that because I had scary thoughts at one point that I must have something like that as well. Anyway, I started having the terrifying thoughts again- only this time I have myself wondering ” we’ll are they just thoughts or are they impulses??” Do I want to do it, can I do it?! If they are impulses they must not JUST be intrusive thoughts…etc. ” I have made myself sick again- I had another night panic attack and I just can’t even see a future with this. I would rather die then hurt anyone I love or my two pups. My husband says I’m just over reacting but the terror feels so real that I can’t shake it. I have been avoiding knives and even withdrawing from playing with my dogs because I’m scared I will act on a scary thought (or are they impulses!?) etc.

    This fear is so debilitating and terrifyingly real- and I would love any advice from anyone who maybe has been thru it. I thought I made it out of this hell once and didn’t think I would be back here again 🙁

    • Obsessions (by definition) consist of unwanted thoughts, impulses, or images. The types of symptoms you’re describing are very common. Given the amount of distress your symptoms are causing, you might consider finding a therapist to guide you through ERP, which is the most effective type of treatment for harm-based obsessions. Many of the good OCD self-help books also have sections specific to aggressive obsessions, so you might also want to take advantage of those types of resources. Recovery from aggressive obsessions is based on actively facing your fears and eliminating any avoidance behaviors that perpetuate your OCD.

  16. Hello. I have OCD and Avoidant Personality Disorder (as a result of my OCD and past bullying).

    I experience a combination of Harm/Aggression and Sexual Obsessions, whereby my intrusive thoughts focus solely on sexual violence (cannibalism, rape, necrophilia, etc).

    I am naturally a good person, so these thoughts stress me out very much. However, at least half the time when these intrusive thoughts disturb me, I also find pleasure in having these thoughts. My OCD digs out the past traumatic memories of my being physically and verbally abused for over 6 years in school during my childhood, and my sexually-violent obsessive/intrusive thoughts use these memories to tempt me into acting on my urges for the sake of “revenge”.

    Because I was bullied very badly in the past, my OCD uses these memories of being bullied as a sort of “proof” that I need to act on my intrusive thoughts of sexual violence in order to avenge myself. I then begin to find pleasure in having these thoughts.

    However, usually after I take a nap or go to sleep and wake up afterwards, these thoughts are gone, and I suddenly begin to feel very guilty and ashamed for taking pleasure in them. As well, I begin to do my mental and compulsive rituals to assure myself these thoughts are just manifestions of my OCD to deceive me/tempt me into sin.

    But the problem is this- how do I know if I truly do want to act on this thoughts, when sometimes I even find pleasure in having these thoughts because my OCD feeds me these true memories of being bullied in the past and I get really angry and these intrusive thoughts flood my mind?

    Also, when I was younger, as a child, I have acted on my unwanted thoughts on a few occasions because I was too young to realise I had OCD, and I truly believed my thoughts were my own thoughts and not my OCD thoughts. When I was 12, I had a very sudden intrusive thought of pushing an old lady in front of me on the escalator. I didn’t know I had OCD then, and I thought my mind was commanding me to push the old lady. So I gave in to that thought, believing it to be my own thought. I pushed the old lady and she fell down the escalator.

    Now, I am very afraid. I read your article mentioning “If you have these thoughts but never acted on them, the possibility of acting on them is very low”, but what happens when I really did act on my thoughts in the past, long before I found out about OCD? If I had wanted on them before, and even now when I know I have OCD and yet take pleasure in some of my thoughts, will I be safe knowing I will not act on them again?

    Please help! Thanks!

    • Hi Terence,

      Life isn’t simple, and many real-life situations are far more complex than the generalities used in some of the blog posts. Your story is a good example of this concept. Recovery from OCD involves learning to live with doubt and uncertainty. For many, this extends even to uncertainty surrounding the diagnosis itself.

      If you’re struggling with your symptoms, I would recommend finding a therapist to help guide you through ERP.

      Wishing you the best with this!

  17. As a new mother with harm OCD, I have learned for the most part how to dismiss these thoughts, however, they have a tricky way of sneaking up on me and wreaking havoc. For instance, I have a particular fear that when my baby cries, I will suddenly snap because that is how the people who inflict harm on their infants snap. So the scenario might go…my baby cries, I have an intrusive thought because I am actively trying not to. I then think, maybe since the baby is crying I actually want to do this. I then have an anxious thought that says if my baby keeps crying, I will surely snap. That causes more anxiety. THEN I have a depressive thought such as, well, I’m surely going to snap one day, so I might as well just snap right now and get it over with. This last thought causes me particular distress. I am still sitting here thinking…was there ever a chance that I could have just gone through with this? I really can’t find any data on this last thought process, so I am not sure if this is normal or not. Could I have possibly been so depressed and felt so doomed that I actually would’ve hurt my baby in an attempt to just “get the inevitable over with??” Any advice is so greatly appreciated.

    • Hello I am a 27 year old mother who has been havin the almost same thoughts as you and feeling those same questions of why don’t I do it and get it over with even though I never will. It’s terrifying if you ever want to talk please email me i would feel better to know another young mother feels like I do. I wonder sometimes if I am the one who will actually lose it it’s very scary.

      • Alyssa, don’t overlook the fact that these symptoms are treatable. Talk it over with your doctor.

  18. I’m a 22 year old mother of two. I been dealing with intrusive thoughts of harming others for about a year ever since my first anxiety attack. It makes me feel like a horrible evil person. There’s not a day goes by where I don’t feel tremendous guilt. I fear of turning to a serial killer. What doesn’t help is all the news and movies/documentaries I have watched in the past is haunting me and feeding these thoughts even more. This is so distressing to a point I wanna take my life that way at least I know no one would he hurt. I feel like because of these thoughts im not worthy. I at times feel I don’t deserve life. I was never like this before although I could say I was always the type to worry but had never ever experienced thoughts like this. I am currently doing CBT for depression and anxiety and I’m on zoloft. I have so many fears, fears of being evil deep down inside, fear of being psycho, fear of having something rare, fear of having schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. I fear ending up insane and in a psych ward. Sometimes I think death is my only way out of this its just to much. PLZ HELP ME I FEEL SO LOST:,,,,(((

    • This is so me! Years ago I used to have thoughts and urges of pushing someone and it would scare me so bad I’d have to go to the bathroom, now years later it has became worse. I get mental feelings like I’m gonna hurt someone like I’m not myself and it scares me to death! I don’t know what’s wrong with me! Have you gotten better from this? I also had a gloom and doom feeling like death was the only way out and I couldn’t escape it! I was so frightened.

  19. I have been having these thoughts for a few months now. I am 17 years old, and love my family more than anything. The thoughts really disturb me. Dr. Seay, is it normal that I am becoming paranoid that maybe part of me wants to hurt my family? I try to imagine myself doing it, hoping that I would hate it, but it is hard to picture this. I feel that I have made some improvements, but the thoughts still bother me. It feels as though if part of me indeed wants to hurt someone, it is hard to imagine myself as a fully safe person. I recently heard of the plot line of American Psycho, and it made me think “What if I become like that guy.” I know I am a good person, and these feelings actually started more recently (specifically after the Aurora shootings).

    Please give me some feedback,

    Thank you.

  20. Dr Seay, i would like to ask you…is there any book you recommend that pays a lot of attention to ocd about the past? is really ocd when you fear you have harmed someone in the past….?
    thank you very much in advance…i usually read about the fear that will harm someone(future)
    Excellent posts, all of them, and very helpful, thank you for your great articles!

  21. I’m a 17 year old girl. I’ve started having thoughts of killing my grandmother and cat. I live my grandmother and cat, but I keep getting this feeling that I want to end them. Idk why. My Grandma is the sweetest woman in the world, and my cat is like my best friend. I’ve gone over this over and over again in my mind. I think I’ve broken down. I feel like I actually want to kill them. Idk if this is who I really am, or if its just OCD. I know that if they were gone, I’d miss them terribly. I go to a therapist but I’ve never had the chance to bring this up because its very recent. I also take lexapro. I don’t know why I feel like I need to. I’ve never felt this way before and it’s starting to scare me. I have a feeling it’s not OCD. I feel like I’m not repulsed by it enough to actually have those thoughts as OCD. I wouldn’t enjoy doing it. I don’t really feel any emotion when I get these thoughts. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve talked to my grandma about it, and I think she’s kinda scared of me now, but I don’t blame her. I feel like I don’t want to change, because this is what makes me me. However, I don’t want to hurt anyone. I’ve always hated hurting people, so I don’t really know why this started happening. Any advice?

  22. Hello! I am a Romanian citizen, and I confronted this problem almost 2 years and a half ago. I went to a psychiatrist and for more than 2 years I took Zyprexa. I had this fear of not hurting the ones around me, eg. my parents,my friends…but, I have noticed throughout this period that I sometimes still have this fear.At the moment I live in Italy, and I intened to go back to Romania and I noticed that my fear tends to appear.
    I really need a piece of advice! I feel that this fear is connected to my going back home, because in Italy it seemed not having it as long as I lived here.
    It all began with a piece of news that I was listening on TV that scared me alot, it was about a woman who stabbed her boyfriend while he was asleep. Nothing happened to me during the afternoon, but when I went to sleep I began to tremble and a thought came to my mind: I began to fear about the fact that I could hurt someone close to me.From that moment, I coudn’t sleep anymore, I couldn’t eat. Do you consider I might need the help of a specialist again?
    Best regards, Raluca-Ioana!

  23. For the past six monthes, I have been having thoughts that I will kill my mom. I keep thinking, it would be so easy to grab a knife or when she’s sleeping it would be easy… And i dont want to hurt her… i dont think. but now i’m not sure about anything anymore. What if i want to hurt her? What if this isn’t just ocd? i’ve talked to her about it, and she doesn’t seem worried at all. What if i am a serial killer? What do i do?

    • Set up an appointment with a local therapist, who can diagnose you and provide treatment. Your mother would also benefit from attending portions of the session.

  24. hello, I am a 19 year old mother to a beautiful 6 month old girl. I get these bad thoughts all the time. I hate hate hate having them. I think about hurting my baby when she acts up and I get mad so fast at things so small. I dont know how to control it. I just want to cry. I think about killing myself just to dave myself and other people from my thoughts. I dont have money nor insurance to seek help from a professional. i ask my self why cant I just be a normal person. I feel evil thinking these thoughts. please I need advice

    • I do this as well. They throw a fit and you picture hurting them. And even though you wouldn’t do it you feel like you have. I am sorry you are going through this but I am glad I am not alone.. I am sure you are a good mom don’t let this stop you

      • You’re right. Many parents with OCD have aggressive obsessions, and these symptoms can certainly take a toll on your self-image.

    • Try looking into free local OCD support groups or therapists who offer services on a sliding scale. You might also benefit from picking up a self-help book that discusses aggressive obsessions.

  25. I’m a chronic OCD sufferer, have taken meds now for 13 years. My fears run the gamut.

    Right now, I am dealing with the fear that I am pathologically isolated, that I dislike others to my core, or that I have undiagnosed Aspergers. It started with my not wanting to go to a Christmas party because the people I knew were going to be there are self-absorbed, shallow yuppies. All I wanted to do was go home and daydream about buying a new dream home. Now, my anxiety has gripped me to point of wanting to implode, to sleep endlessly. I’m not clinically depressed, I just want these horrid thoughts gone!

    • The goal for you is to identify and lean into your fear. It sounds like there are multiple layers — the avoidance of uncomfortable social situations (i.e., the party) and the fear of what your avoidance might mean. You would likely benefit from addressing both.

  26. This doctor is right on the money. I guess misery loves company because now I feel better. I do have ocd. I check door locks all the time for example and have gone back to places to make sure things are intact. For example, if I think I lost money out of a pocket. I have had thoughts of losing control , like touching someone sexually, or going on a violent rampage. I have never committed a crime and I am very law abiding. I thought this article was well done and I guess that is where my id, ego and superego are working perfectly to keep me in check.

  27. hey im 17 and i have these constant thoughts that sneak up on me about killing those closest to me. i try to surpress these thoughts and the sometimes they make me sick i mean physically sick. when i begin to get stressed out theme y really start bombarding me and when i start feeling this why i think this is it this when i snap. i quickly get out of the situation and usually begin crying and feeling utterly ashamed and repulsed by these horrible thoughts. i really love people and animals especially i want to be vet and provide care not harm but im scared to reach out for therapy as it may be a detirrient (pardon the spelling) to colleges and clinics also im so embarassed and ashamed of the thoughts as well as afraid. and recently we had to put my dog of 6years down i had to make the decision to do it now i feel like i murdered my best friend and he was the one thing that helped my harmful intrusive thoughts. what do i do to help myself? do i need therapy? is this all normal? help please.

    • Garrett,

      Sadly, this is a very common occurrence in OCD. I would recommend finding an OCD specialist to help you with this, as it can be difficult and confusing to do it alone. In the meantime, read one of the popular self-help books about OCD, as these may help you approach these thoughts in a more helpful way.

      Don’t forget–these symptoms are treatable, and you can feel much, much better.

  28. I wish I had this info 18 years ago when this compulsion was at it’s worse. I want others to know there is an end to this living hell. I could find no peace from constant thoughts that I might murder someone or that I had already done the crime. I recovered by firstly, simply telling my doctor. How lucky I was to have a doctor who was well informed and explained what was happening. Then, after addressing the real pain going on in my life which I was ignoring, the thoughts left me. I was 30 at the time and it saddens me to see people only 12 or 17 going through it. I’m so glad they can go online and see this kind of support.
    However, I do still turn towards the darkest thoughts imaginable when I slip back into depression. I’m glad to say it’s never been as bad as those black days but I would like to know if this current habit is OCD;
    I obsess about a man I was in love with but who did not feel the same about me. Every girlfriend he has I agonize over. The physical feeling is the same as I felt when I couldn’t fight the murder thoughts. My stomach is in knots. I don’t sleep. I get no peace from thoughts that torment me…what a failure I am. I go over and over the rejection and every now and again obsessively look at their online messages to check if they really are happy together and in love. I’m looking for reassurance but that doesn’t last long. I think I’m still in love with him but am I? Is it all blurred by obsessing over what I can’t control? I’m not even sure anymore. Just like when I had the murder thoughts, I have a moment’s peace shattered by some reminder of my agonizing feelings for his current love-life by odd tenuous links and then I get this anxious feeling of dread and the deepest depression imaginable.
    My romantic and sensitive nature says I’m just heartbroken but my past experience and rationale tells me I’m unhealthily obsessing and reality is confused. I would like to know what to do to think of him in a happy, loving way and not with this mental anguish and physical gut churning pain. It’s like a prison I made for myself. Like his life affects my completely. What can I do to let it go? The Prozac is not enough!

    • Lily, it might be a combination of ROCD and depression. ROCD is essentially OCD that targets relationships, and it can certainly involve thoughts about past relationships as well as current relationships. Perhaps you could find a therapist specializing in OCD to determine if it’s really ROCD-related.

      Wishing you the best with this!

  29. If I don’t have these thoughts often, just every now and again is it still just OCD? I feel horrible when I do, and I just want to stop them immediatly, i have anxiety disorder, and Paranoia disorder. I have just started getting the thought like would i hurt my baby, because i am pregnant. I am so worried I will be one of those crazy moms who will drown her child. & I say to myself, You would never do that, then it turns into or would i. It messes with me badly, Im so scared 🙁

    • Lynne, this sounds very stressful. Talk it over with your therapist or doctor, who can give you guidance.

  30. I have never been more relieved in my life as i was when i found this page. Ever since i was 8 years old (now 20) i have suffered from violent thoughts. The first time I had one I told my mom my stomach hurt and she asked if something was bothering me i said that i “felt like i might kill someone” obviously dumbfounded that her 8 year old said this she said i wasn’t allowed to stay home with my little brothers anymore. I went back to bed and i could hear here talking to my dad about it. I started shaking and freaking out that i was a crazy phycopath. After that i just kept it to myself. I couldn’t even look at knives or any sharp object because i would almost go into a complete panic attack. I would usually only have one month of thoughts then i would feel “normal” for the rest of the year. When i felt normal i wondered why even worried about that. Finally my first year of college it got really hard. I wanted to kill myself because i thought it would be better to die than hurt someone. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with depression/ anxiety but always thought it was something else. I find tons of comfort in the fact that i’m not the only one.

    • Sarah- you have described exactly how I would feel. I agree, it is such a relief to read others experience the same. Good luck with your healing.

    • Wow, Sarah, that sounds incredibly difficult. You’re certainly not alone.

      It would probably be helpful to learn more about how OCD works. You want to get to know your OCD better than it knows you. There are many good self-help books about OCD that can give you some of the tools you need to reduce your symptoms.

  31. I am 22 I have this I do it all the time. I mainly think of my children getting hurt or I am the one doing it. It happen mainly when I try and to go to sleep. I call it having nightmares while I am awake. I would never hurt them but after I do this I feel so guilty like I am a bad mother. I don’t sleep very much because of it I feel like I am going insane.

    • Hi am 16 and terrified all hurt some I have suffered with this thoughts since 12 one day my little cousin was sleeping when I went over to him I thought what if I strangled him i started to cry I cried for weeks then the thoughts moved on to knife s I don’t even hold a knife in my hand now couple of days ago I went to my friend’s house he was watching a film about this guy who mmurderd then raped woman I was really scared that knight walking home all I could think about was what if i turned in to that person am my safe around my family and now I ask my self who’d I rape any one and even if i would bary them am so scared that I could hurt a child please somebody help me, I am the nicest person you could meet

      • If your symptoms are causing you to reach a point of hopelessness or desperation, it’s really important that you find a therapist to help guide you through the process of treatment. has a good list of OCD treatment centers and specialists.

    • Wendy, you might consider getting a therapist to help you work on this. These symptoms are treatable.

  32. Hi. All this information was very helpful . I have Harm OCD for 3 years. and I didn’t know what is happening to me . I was thinking that becoming crazy killer until yesterday. I found all this information about what is happening to my and now I feel much better. But I think I still need proper treatment, because I am still anxious about my thoughts. because I know I never hurt anyone. I just would like to know what is the best way start to cure my fear of killing OCD? And is it good if I manage by myself to stop these thoughts to come and scare me? Thanks.

  33. Hi it good that I stay with my family much us possible even if I have this harm OCD thoughts about them? I’m thinking it should be good because I start realize that these harmful thoughts start go away step by step. Is it good way to cure OCD? Thanks for your answer.

    • Have you been diagnosed? If not, I would recommend meeting with an OCD therapist to get some guidance on treatment strategies. In general, though, individuals with harm obsessions can benefit greatly from cutting down on their avoidance behaviors.

      • hi. Last week I went to mental helth clinic. And they said that it looks like I am having anxiety and some ocd symptoms. They gona send me to cbt specialist. But since I read your post I stoped avoiding these bad thoughts and my anxiety become milder. Is that ok? And witch self help book for ocd would you recomend. I realy want to cure my illnes 100% thanks.

        • It’s good that you’re handling these triggers better. If you find that you need additional help or if your recovery stalls, a professional might be very helpful. Re: books, check out my blog post about OCD self-help books via the “All Posts” link at the top of this page.

  34. I am in need of help I experienced bad anxiety Almost 8 years ago I was 23 it started with a bad dream my mom fail and hurt herself and she got hurt real bad in my dream it really bothered me because I love my mom I jumped up out of the dream and my heart started beating fast I was short of breath and sweating real bad so went to hospital they told me it was just anxiety attack I didn’t know what that mean so I thought I was going crazy so I didn’t want to accept It that it was anxiety so I started ignoring it couldn’t face it I got married trying to be normal and ignore it so I became worst in my marriage cause I always stressed it got do bed I believe. I developed OCD cause I started checking the stove a million times at night I was always thinking the police was after me or some on was going to hurt me so I didn’t never pay it no mine. I was given medicine for my anxiety and I never took anything longer then a day cause I read about the side affects and freaked me out and I went to therapy twice and never finish cause I didn’t want people to think I was crazy I was ashame still is so a week ago I think I have bad OCD I start feeling like I want to hurt myself or hurt any random person obessive thoughts in my had i started reading online thinking i was so crazy person going to snap and hurt people I’m scared I need help

    • Ricardo, it sounds overwhelming and I suspect it’s time to get some professional help with this. Find a local therapist or doctor to help guide you through treatment.

  35. I have Ocd and have been put on zoloft from pristiq. I feel like i am getting better BUT somtimes during the day (mostly evening) my head feels really full like i have a weird urge to do something, tense, anxious, i just cant put my finger on it. Could this be a side effect from the zoloft? I have been on it 3 .5 weeks and it started about 1 week ago. I feel fine until that feeling. Oh and I usually have a headache with all of the feelings.

    • Ashley, if you’re concerned about potential medication side effects, talk them over with your doctor.

  36. I have OCD and have suffered from physical and mental abuse which has made me over protective. I have been on medication in the past, citrilopram 50mg but I came off the meds as I felt they were only making me feel nothing which I believe is worse. I can now feel and sense these urges and can deal with them in my own way. Everyday is a struggle and always will be. I have seen a chartered psychiatrist and he told me what I already new, I will always be the same, people have suggested cognitive therapy but I believe that if you see and feel how this world really is then its a dark place were monsters are everywhere and when I say monsters I mean paedophiles, child killers, rapists, politicians, ect. I have great relations with loved ones but everyone else I come across I fear if they do bad I could kill them if I had no self control, what if my self control dispersers. I don’t want to feel this way but have no choice,

  37. I have these thoughts, and not just randomly killing someone. But long drawn out torture before I kill them. Watching the life slowly drain from them. Watching them beg me for death. I rather enjoy these thoughts and don’t care if they go away or not. I day dream of all the ways I could these things and the locations and how I could get away with it. I know its wrong to do things such as these, but worry I might do it anyhow. But when I think about what would happen if I did, I don’t see myself feeling sorry or remorseful. Where do I go from here? I’m 30 years old with social anxiety and have had these thoughts since childhood.

    • Well, the fact that you came here to post about your thoughts shows that part of you acknowledges that these acts are wrong and you want help. I would suggest channeling your thoughts through writing stories. I would also seek a psychologist for counseling.

  38. Hi, I developed anxiety/depression about 4 months ago when I had uti/epiditimitis in my nuts. I got medication for the uti and epidimitis but the symptoms of anxiety over powered me. I had a constant pounding in my body, felt like my heart was pop out of my chest. Also had pounding in my head and I had tingling in my arms and feet. I was given lexapro from my doctor. I was scared of taking the medication bc of the serious side effects, especially the side effect of the sucidal thoughts or actions. I did have kne instance where i thouhht oh mahbe i suould kill myself and i got real scared and had to call my mom to help calm me down, but this was before i was prescribed the medication.About 3 weeks into taking the medication I developed the unwanted/ intrusive thoughts. I thought bout hurting my family. If I would go to a store I would think bout robbing it. It would be a constant battle in my head like kill yourself or kill them and it would be a response of no or ok but when I did say ok I would t act on it I would just ignore it. After taking lexapro for a month I’ve switched to cymbalta 30 and it seem to help me out for bout 2 weeks then all of a sudden I got real depressed and the thoughts have been somewhat overwhelming. I live everyday battling these thoughts, wondering how I go each day without acting on them. I do still feel the pounding in the body and the weird sensations in my back and parts of my body. I have seen a pyschatrist and she diagnosed me as depression, unwanted/intrusive thoughts and OCD. She recommend I go up on my dosage of cymbalta and take two other medication which I forgot the name of but one would be a antipsychotic. But I told her I just wanted to c how I would do on taking the cymbalta 30. I did call a therapist and met with her and she showed me some techniques on how to control my anxiety with breathing techniques. What I’m really gettin at is I’m just looking for answer on what to do bc I don’t wanna take the medicine that the psychiatrist recommended bc of the side effects and the relapses that could occur after stopping the meds.

  39. it started with the thought of killing my husband and then different ways started of killing my husband…I felt sick! I don’t want to ever hurt or kill my husband! I became very ill-couldn’t even function on a day-to-day basis. I tried commiting suicide-although in my mind I didnt really want to do that either but rather me then my husband! long-story-short U was imaptient for a few weeks…I went back home with medicine…a week later my thoughts were worseand were now even towards my mother! I couldn’t deal with it so went to another impatient where they changed the medicines…a month and a half there! I felt no better than when I started! Thankfully though they allowed outpatient care-I stayed with my family and my thoughts sarted to even go towards them….they hid all the knives (which was the start of my fear) but then I started thinking of broken glass, sharp objects-how sick right!!!!???? I asked them to start locking their doors and I too would lock the doors-scared that I might kill or hurt them! I would have days where my inside would torment me-I would cry myself to sleep holding my Bible etc….I recentley came home and some days are goodbut days like today where I feel like I am ten steps further back from when I started! I found out today my thereapy I just started isnt covered and I feel so overwhelmed! I don’t know who to talk to -my family is loving and wonderful but they don’t know how to help-I have been struggling with this for several months now and can’t seem to gain victory! I take two types of medicines:seraquel-100mg at night and fluoxitine 40mg in mornings- I am even scared the medicine will have an affect on actions during night. I can’t seem to win! I believe in Jesus-and I believe I am not only struggling with some kind of imbalance but also with a spiritual warfare….I connect with Job from the BIble ya know!? I realize everyone has a story to tell-everyone faces these crazy hard times-I just wish these horrible thoughts and feelings would go away! That or that God would allow me to go to heaven where everything is perfect and beautiful! No more tears, no more pain, no more sufferings! Needless to say my faith is strugglin but I am leaning on His promises to get me through day to day!

  40. i am jobless for 6 years cause of depression and many other reason. i understood that the more free time we have, the more we think about negative things.year by year it is quite difficult to concentrate on good things.situation went worst and 3 months before i started to think about that the most awful thoughts i ever had.same to these seems i really dont love my family.if i love my family that kind of thougths would never come to mind.people say that i am a soft-hearted and good lady(age,27).but they dont know i am person even thought about that bad things. i am pitiful to my family.i just want to die.i am afraid of what if law of attraction works. i am jealous and proud of people who never thought that bad thoughts until death. i am melancholic type person.i thought that i am the only one who thought those thoughts in the world and wanted to die. but now i am bit ease knowing that there is this kind of symptom.i always thought of true love and happiness family 3 months before. but now i am afraid of marriage cause of my illness mentality.

    • my family members are warm-hearted people.the more they are kind to me, the more the thoughts flash through my minds and make me suffer. wish i was born a sheep which has no thoughts.

    • Many people with unwanted thoughts feel hopeless at times. Remember that OCD is treatable. If you continue to feel stuck, you might benefit from working with an OCD specialist to help you address your symptoms.

  41. every day 60000 thoughts(minutes) flash through have to do your best not to think about bad thoughts.just please do your can.try to concentrate on great peaceful things not allowing that bad thoughts flash through your mind. if it is difficult, say ”i love my family. i want to live with them peacefully and happily for so long.i am the one who has to make them happy not suffer” many times as you can. there is a saying: if you say a word many times, the word makes it into reality. so if you find it difficult ged rid of bad thoughts just say the opposite for many times. i truly trust you all can be wishes.

  42. I have been suffering these thoughts on and off for around 2 months. I feel awful when i get them. The first time I got my intrusive thoughts it actually made me sick to my stomach and i threw up. I have read the book brain lock and it helps me even though i haven’t been diagnosed with OCD. I try and not give these thoughts power and ignore them, but then when i do that I fear of not caring enough. So annoying. Have you ever heard of that problem. Someone trying to let the thoughts be there and realize them as OCD but feel gulity about getting upset about them.

  43. Hi, i’ve had these thoughts and compulsions for years, aslong as i remember to be honest. I’m now 28 and last night getting a lift over the road i sat in the back.It was a 5 minute drive and i strangled in my head my father with a cheese cutter and then stabbed my mum in the neck a few times and watched her bleed out. I had no regret or emotion about this. I think mentally i have killed over 2000 people and sometimes 20 in a day and i don’t have any remorse. Is this bad? To be honest i actually feel like i would like to see how it feels to watch the life drain from someones eyes. I know that sounds bad but its the only way of finding out if your urges are something you would like to do or if they are something i should try to block out for good.

  44. I crave the suffering of others. I know better then to go through with any of the thoughts i have but they are relentless. Its like my brain and ‘heart’ are covered in a bubbling black tar like hatred at times and i want to cause immense suffering to a widespread majority of people. I refuse to see a doctor in person seeing as how I can not help but feel this way about those in the medical field and frankly, refuse to pay the outrageous fees included with only a Chance of successful aid. I inquire only about a remedy not involving having to visit a doctor in person, or involving any god. I dont need to add talking to an imaginary friend to my list of ailments. Cannabis allows a brief time of relief, as it assists in reassuring myself that it is not rational, logical or in any way morally correct to desire causing pain to others. So far, no one has been able to provide me any solutions aside from the seemingly programmed response of ‘Go to a doctor’ I would be grateful for any advice. Thank you all

  45. Hi I am 12 years old and I love to hang out with my 5 year old cousin. We like to play games and stuff. We like to also wrestle. I like to make him win against me but I get kinda mad and start to go overboard and start getting rough. I start to choke or punch him to hard. He dosent cry but it looks like it really hurts him. After the incident I feel really guilty about it. I am worried that I might actually kill him. We both love each other very much.

  46. it started for me around the age of about 12 too when out of no where i started getting thoughts of harming my family or myself it got so bad i used to throw up from being nervous and i ended up taking melatonin every night to make me fall asleep so i wouldn’t have to worry about them it went away for a while but I’m pregnant now and i got sick one night and all of a sudden the thoughts came back and i started worrying about hurting my unborn baby this scares me especially since my baby is due in a few weeks i have no idea what i should do you have any suggestions

  47. I had horrifying thought starting as a child. One time I felt like I was going to jump out a window. Another was that I would hurt my brother at Christmas while everyone was having a good time. They laid dormant until I was about 18 and I started to have these horrible thoughts about hurting my boyfriend at the time. I was in the hospital for a week at the time. That was 24 years ago. I had thoughts here and there and sometimes panicked about my health too. I lead a pretty health life style and lift weights and had felt pretty strong for a while. Not perfect but was able to put bad thoughts out of my head. My bad thoughts are not attached to anger. I now feel uncomfortable around my 16 year old. Like I am going to do something bad to her. She is everything to me. I don’t know how this turned into me being so worried about her safety to thinking I am going to be responsible for doing something to her. I went to my Md. and they put me on Zoloft. I am really not good with medications so I am not sure if this will make me worse or not. I am glad that I am not the only one in this world with this condition. I thought it was just panic attacks. I see now its OCD. I don’t want to live like this. I woke up with such horrible anxiety and just cant eat much. I almost went to the hospital. I still may but my husband doesn’t understand and will be broken if I do that. I am looking for a psychiatrist but my coverage for mental health is terrible. I am going to keep seeking out help. My sleep is suffering, my appetite and my life and my relationship with my daughter.

  48. Dr. Seay,
    Reading your post has put me literally in tears! I am a 33 year old woman who has been dealing with anxiety and depression my whole life, which has went untreated. I was molested as a child and I remember the act but remember little else from my childhood. My father told me when I was 6-7 he would have to watch me all the time cause I was so depressed that he thought I would hurt myself. He said that he had to stop watching the news because every bad thing on the news I would blame on myself. I was a semi happy child as far as being loving and caring about those close to me. I got pregnant at 16 and after my son was born I had watched the news and stories of children being molested would make me think of myself doing that to my child. I was mortified to the point where I wasn’t even comfortable changing his diaper and didn’t want to be close to him. I felt like a sick pervert and literally just wanted to die. That passed. I know I would never ever hurt my children. Idk why but I have always been extremely sensitive. Too sensitive! If I see news of children, animals, elderly being harmed it literally makes me sick. I get so angry where I feel like I literally want to harm the culprit. I am not a patient person, but I have never abused my children and honestly I get upset (too upset) when someone else disciplines them. When I was younger I use to have OCD tendencies having to wash my hands a set number of times, checking locks on doors a set number of times, and I have always had OCD about checking on my children before I can go to sleep even my 16 year old, to where I can’t fall asleep until I do it. I now have tendencies also with checking my alarm clock. Recently I have been having thoughts about breaking my daughters neck. When they first started I tried to remember that after I had my son and had those thoughts that it was something I never acted on. When I have these thoughts it’s just the act that I see nothing before or after. I know I would never hurt my children but when I have these thoughts it’s almost like I say to myself , how do you know you would never act on them if you are such a sick fuck to be having thoughts (excuse my language). Idk I feel like I am crazy. I seem to have these thoughts more so when I lay down to sleep and its like I’m afraid that I am going to have them so I try to psych myself into not having them which just causes me to have them. It gives me anxiety to the point where I get palpitations and my heart races. I feel like I don’t deserve to have my children. I have never felt at peace in my mind and I am so tired of not feeling normal. The tears from reading your post were tears of relief, giving me hope that I am not so crazy and that I am not a horrible mother.

  49. I also have an extreme amount of anxiety about my health. I am a nurse and am hypersensitive about what I feel. Prob a lot psychosomatic stuff

  50. Ive been having these disturbing thoughts for 2 years now. It all started right after I had my daughter. I thought it was PPD. It just continued and got worst. I can’t be around any sharp objects. I’m terrified of cooking dinner I need help I do not know what to do is there any advice anyone could give me

  51. I can relate to this, life is so hard at the moment. And I feel selfish as I know many others have REAL issues to deal with, i.e illness etc. I have been going to a pyschologist for the last 3months, I only see her about once a month but I’m glad I have someone I can chat to about this none the less.

    My thoughts centre around my son, when he was around 5 months (he’s now 15months) I questioned whither I could be one of those mothers who could kill her child. I will say I have gotten better as I’m that used to the fleeting thoughts that I’m not as afraid, however, I still get my awful days and today is one of them. My thoughts come when I see knives, put him in the bath. I have wondered if he was evil etc.
    Before my son, my obessions surrounded health. From time to time they still do. Along with this I suffer from a skin condition that causes multiple abcesses on my body, so my confidence is rock bottom along side my OCD.
    Basically the reason why I’m writing is because my son is now a toddler causing havoc as toddlers do and I’m really worried that I might lose control with him as he tests my patience & I get angry with him easily. I don’t want to be a bad parent but sometimes my thoughts are so bad, even silly. For instance I was at a friends last night and she has a little girl my son’s age and I thought everyone was more interested in her than they were my son, is it because he wasnt as cute as her? I mean what the fcuk? I don’t know if this would fall under an intrusive thought but it did bother me that I thought it. Sometimes death seems an easier option!

  52. Stretching into a year now of unwanted intrusive thoughts of murdering my family.. Saw a therapist last zummer and it went great and I beat out my thoughts.. and everyone once in a while they return. I’m not sure if I have OCD, because I certainly do not enjoy them either. It all stared when I read an article about a serial killer and his acts on young children (I have a young brother and sister, 5 years old) and that sparked it. But now, ever since losing a religion and my moral compass.. Things are looking bad. I love them so much, why is this happening? I am 14 as well. 🙁

  53. thanks so much it really help…god bless u

  54. I get these stupid thoughts there so horrible and i get them when me and my family are having great fun on holidays or anywhere, but its almost as if i dont believe myself when i say i no i dont want to do them and i know i never will but then i fear im going to snap one day and do them. I wouldnt wish it on my worst enimy it all started when i was 16 I tought out the blue i was a pedofile i worried so so so much but them my head would think no maybe im a murderer. I got help and im so much better now but they will always return every so often and it makes me sick to think I can think these things about people I love so much. just wish every stupid thought I get would go away for ever 🙁

  55. ……………….

  56. I get these stupid thoughts there so horrible and i get them when me and my family are having great fun on holidays or anywhere, but its almost as if i dont believe myself when i say i no i dont want to do them and i know i never will but then i fear im going to snap one day and do them. I wouldnt wish it on my worst enimy it all started when i was 16 I tought out the blue i was a pedofile i worried so so so much but them my head would think no maybe im a murderer. I got help and im so much better now but they will always return every so often and it makes me sick to think I can think these things about people I love so much. just wish every stupid thought I get would go away for ever :(.

  57. My outburst towards my friends and husband rarely happen. But when I hold so much angry in. That my thoughts of rapidly killing them and actually reaching for the object to do this horrible thing. That is scares me that I was only inches away from doing it. Not afraid of getting caught but have vision of my son and needing to protect from with everything I have. Stops me immediately! And I pray for these thoughts to leave me. My mind is messing up. My personality has changed completely from outgoing to almost a recluse to avoid others. I desperately want my loving life back that I had two years ago.

  58. To much

  59. I am in my 30’s and have been dealing with this issue for 15 years. I go years sometimes where everything is fine, but then the symptoms return and I struggle all over again.
    My question is, how does ERP work for this form of OCD?

  60. Help me! A few times a week, I envision myself killing people who I love dearly, such as my parents or grandparents. I love them all dearly and I wonder why and what makes me think these horrifying thoughts. Am I sociopathic? I really need help. I am very depressed and thinking about harming myself. This is not a joke!

  61. Hi I have these harmful/killing thoughts too and when I have those thoughts I always feel scared and I hate evil thoughts it scares me and I feel sad and anxious, but I know in my heart and brain that I will never do these evil things like killing people etc. because I don’t feel happiness when I think of these evil things instead I feel scared, nervous and sometimes I do cry because the thoughts scare me I don’t want to kill people and I know I’m not giojng to kill poeple because I’m a good person in life. Dr. please tell me and other ocd sufferers how to beat this intrusive thought ocd anxiety I do not want to experience ocd anymore as I have ocd for few years I just want to get back to my normal life without these thoughts. Please Help Me and Everyone Please I’m begging you. I hate these anxiety feelings.

  62. I’m a 19 year old kid and i’ve started to notice that i’ve been having thoughts of beating my girlfriend to death with a rock, and that I noticed today. It’s caused me to hit myself out of frustration, and hate myself from the deepest part of my soul. I also have had obsessive, intrusive thoughts about molesting children, even though before any of these thoughts made it into my head, I have been a wrestling coach for k-3 children and have never had these urges. Sometimes I randomly break down and cry and i’m so terrified that I’m going to kill my girlfriend, who i love more than anything in the world. I have just got the idea that I may have a violent form of OCD, and this is my first time looking into it, and it seems like it explains the last 6 months or so to a T. It doesn’t help that these intrusive thoughts have made me want to kill myself, and I think about it quite a bit. I found that accepting my thoughts and just thinking them makes the anxiety lighten a little bit, but I’m still so terrified of acting on these urges. What is the next step I should take in my self-treatment. I also don’t want to tell my girlfriend because I’m afraid she’ll look at me like a ticking time bomb that’s going to snap and murder her.

  63. Hi, I’ve always to a certain degree had these thoughts. When I was in school, I felt weaker and want to create violent thoughts like beating some kids to death and actually enjoy that. I never thought too much of those and they never bothered me.

    I am a real sweetheart, polite, well mannered and always have a smile on my face. I am a vegetarian and hate the thought of abuse may it be humans or animals. Last week Monday I started getting thoughts of killing my cat which means the world to me and then later my sister who is a black belt in Kenjutsu – the way of the samurai, which would most likely be me tasting the end of the sword. It stretched out to my father who is also quite strong… Needless to say though, this is my family I live with and I love them. These thoughts are ripping me to shreds, they make me feel depressed with all of it’s symptoms, they make me sleepy and suicidal to an extent. Which include stabbing them in the eye, murdering them while they sleep or snapping their necks….

    Every time a thought appears in my head I try to force it out. After a while I would just feel exhausted and depressed and just feel like sleeping. When I wake up I wonder if it’s gone and sometimes the thoughts wouldn’t occur until later on in the day. When I talk to people about it, I slowly forget about it. My sister is convinced it’s not OCD and it may just be me overeating. I feel more at ease knowing it is OCD rather than it not being OCD…

    My brother also told me he had the same problem when he was my age (17) but he learned to control it. I have been digging to find a way to resolve this and get back to my peaceful state of mind as I cannot afford a therapist. Trying to convince my family that I need one is also very difficult as they feel it’s in my head. My brother wasn’t diagnosed with OCD, also he cured himself.

    Reading the article has drawn me to the conclusion that I most likely have OCD. I just need to find a way to control this. I need to know if it will fade away over time or will it just be something I have to learn to live with.

    Also, while I have these thoughts I feel like hugging someone, and just being comforted by someone who understands me and all my problems.

  64. I have had this since I was 12 and it is so convincing I keep thinking I will have to get myself locked away in a mental hospital just to make sure my family are safe, feel I have had a nervous breakdown, cannot cope anytime I get angry and feel I am about to lose everything because of this.

    • Hi Sedna,My name is Tracy I’m not sure how old you are now but I can tell you I have had those thoughts myself.I have been dealing with these thought’s for a very long time.Some days are better then others.What I can tell you is that you WILL not hurt anyone.I too have had thought’s that I need to go in a mental hospital and I did just that.I was there for 2 weeks and Then I left.But while I was there I had relized that these thoughts are just a thoughr.It’s like having a fear of clowns,spiders,snakes ect.You know that it’s just a fear and how do you over come a fear,you face it.I too at this point how to over come this fear and am working really hard at it.I just wanted you to know that you aren’t the only one out there with these thought’s there are more people then you think.

  65. hello,

    I am 20 years old and i have had harm ocd for over a year now, it has realy affected me and sunk me into a pit of depression. I now dont get anxious when i have obsessive thoughts about hurting people which leads me to not thinking i care about hurting other people it has realy affected me and it goes through my mind all day everyday and i cant stop it. I used to be such a caring person and wouldnt dream of hurting anyone but now i feel like i can hurt some one and not care. Why dont i care anymore ? thankyou for your time.

  66. Does anyone get fleeting impulses or urges to actually act on the thought as well? And does anyone get these urges without the thought to act
    ? If you could measure my anxiety it could fill up the world.HELP me G-d!

  67. I am a long time sufferer of OCD. It began for me in high school. I believe what started it was the normal anxiety of being a teenager and my inherited genetics aligning together. I first noticed it when I was learning how to drive a car. Every time I would get in the car, I would have constant thoughts of
    *veering into the other lane causing a head on collision
    *jumping out of the car
    *running a stop light to cause an accident
    Etc. These were just a few of the thoughts I had. This lasted for a couple years. I also had various suicide and murder thoughts flood my mind-anything from jumping off a bridge, stabbing, shooting, choking, etc. This is/was torture for me. There were nights I would lay in bed wondering if these thoughts would ever go away so that I could not live in fear of myself. I’ve never been analyzed by a psychologist or had counselling. Over time, I tried several different tactics. I call them tactics because I saw this as a mission to overcome my OCD. I can say that some of them have worked for me, but may not work for someone else. One thing I tried was complete avoidance of any situation that caused my intrusive violent thoughts, however, that made things worse because then more thoughts grew and my anxiety heightened. My next tactic was to expose myself to the situations that caused my violent thoughts. This seemed to help me desensitize. But, as soon as I left the situation, the thoughts came back. I realized that I somehow needed to release my obsessions in a safe environment and not suppress them. I brainstormed some ways that I could channel my energy. What I came up with was to listen to music that I enjoyed, exercise, and writing in a journal. These were my “getaways.” I would pick a time in the day to let my anxiety go through these channels of expression. Exercise had a big impact on me because it raised my serotonin levels and boosted my self confidence. Writing in a journal was helpful because I could see my obsessions on paper and realize how irrational they are. I can say that to this day, my OCD has gotten much better. The “obsessions” begin to fade slowly in time. New obsessions can and may pop up out of nowhere, but with time and dedication, they will pass. Don’t give up. You are more than the OCD, don’t identify yourself with it. The most important thing is to love yourself and realize that you are a good person.

  68. Hi, I am 45 years old and I have had horrific fears of hurting others, mine mostly involves knifes or other sharp objects, scissors etc. I hit my head really hard at work in 1998, probably has nothing to do with it, but, shortly after the thoughts washed over me, I have 2 children, that at the time were very young, I went thru hell thinking I was going to kill them, I would run to my bedroom and drop to my knees and just beg for God to help me, my husband (ex-husband now) would tell me that it was all in my head and not to worry avout it, I was very scared and did not even think of therapy, I was convinced that they would lock me up and take my children away from me, i suffered alone for a lot of years, I think in a way that it made me work harder at being a good mom, I really, really love my children, I am much better now, I have done some research and learned about this condition, I am also with a wonderful man now that helps me, he listens to me and encourages me to take care of myself and to think rationally instead of letting my thoughts control me. I am saddened to read all of the stories about others who have this issue in their lives, such young ages, much too young to have to deal with such turmoil. I am sorry, I really feel for you all, I wish, like everyone that there is a quick cure and the reason behind all of this will one day be figured out and noone else has to endure such pain. Peace to you and yours!

    • Thank you for sharing. I gave the same thoughts and you give me hope. I feel helpless and like I’m a terrible mom

  69. I have beeping having them for a couple of years now I only get them when I’m in bed they make me really upset and me cry but I’m not an agressive person and I’d never harm someone so why? Will they go? Is it OCD? But I also have fears of benign killed or harm? Is it linked thanks 🙂

  70. I’m 16 yeas of age now. Ever since I was little, I’ll have to say around 7-8 all I can see are these depictions and images of me hurting others or myself. I’ve managed to keep it to myself for so long until recently. I had a “dream” hat I actually even killed myself. I’m terrified of telling my parents about this. I have epilepsy as well and take medication, I’m worried they’ll just blame i on that, but I know it’s not. My biggest concern is how to go about this, how do I tell them. How do I get help..

  71. Harm OCD caused me to break up with my g/f. The stuff makes you feel like a criminal if you don’t know how to handle the thoughts. IT really makes you seem to lose yourself when the anxiety kicks in, and that’s the scary part. Im on Ativan and Luvox. The part that is REALLY scary is when you find yourself slowly believing the crap. You cannot engage your belief into it. I have a feeling it is becoming more prevalent becausein the last month, my ex-g/f frined’s b/f started having it, and I just found out today a couple friend of hers – both parties are suffering from harm-ocd. Im wondering if its spiking and what the cause of it is? HAARP? Chemtrails? Cell towers?

  72. I was diagnosed 20 years ago with panic/anxiety disorder. At first I was not able to leave my house without having an attack. I have overcome all of the feelings, except for when driving, my husband has to take me ever where. Over the past few days I keep having these over whelming thoughts that I am going to get one of my husbands hunting guns and go on a shooting spree. I hate this feeling and do not know how to stop it. these feelings throw me into a full blown panic attack. Do you have any suggestions on how to get these thoughts out of my head?

  73. I just had an image flash from my eyes, that I got the scissors and stabbed my rabbit…. I am utterly unable to harm any animal, I fear even that I may grab my rabbit too hard at times to lift him up and pet him… it is not the first time I had such images involving pets, mine or others, and I think I even had images of hurting children… All these I had blocked, but they came up now, with the bunny image…. i am really distressed now, i feel horrible…. In past times, of extreme anger anger for minor stuff but expressed intensely), I thought of stabbing my leg, as if that pain would reduce or drive my mind away from extreme anger….. Mind you, in the animal topic, even films or videos of animals being hurt or suffering make me sick…. The train scene in the Horse Whisperer, or a kicking scene in a Bengi movie, even Lassie searching for her owner are enough to make me an emotional wreck…..

  74. I have had problems with such images for as long as I can remember. I have a vivid imagination and that does Not help. Almost Never does my images feature a loved one, sometimes family members but very much Not Loved ones. Most often is just strangers, people that hurt me and I can’t do anything about it. I just mentally lash out, picturing horrible things that could happen to them or that I could do to them. The older I got the more then I could do featured over the could happen. For a long time I turned that hurt inward and often thought about killing myself, hurting myself in small ways but usually just mental torture. The only reason I never Did go through with it was that I was just to afraid of the pain of death.
    Once I knew I could not kill myself it turned even more to other people. I learned to control it up to a point, thinking blank thoughts or singing really loud sad songs in my head. I would even play into the images sometimes, to keep from doing anything. Just the thought would pop in and I would make it bigger and badder and gorry while listening to load mad or sad music. it helped a lot for years. I would feel spent and sick and sad and horrible afterwards but I was never afraid of hurting anyone but myself. But I am older now and I find that real life is a lot hard than highschool ever was (scary thought huh?) I find more and more the little thoughts pop up in the stupid moments from my customers and coworkers and if I get to stressed It can get really bad.
    But what scares me now is that when these things pop in my head…. I can’t help but think them. and sometimes I like the now. I can’t Do anything to make things better but God I wish I could hurt someone sometimes. It makes me sick, my stomach feels like lead and my blood feels like acid. Half of my head just screams that it is wrong and the other half whispers that wouldn’t it be so damn nice to just hurt them back? I have to work twice as hard to make the images go away than before because part of me does not want them to. I can’t just go blank anymore I have to think of reasons why not to do things. I think of loosing my home and my dog. I think of being locked up and hurt in jail. I think of my families pain. and it works, but then I am left feeling weak and helpless and hate myself for not fighting back. I don’t Think I would ever hurt anyone, it is So not in my nature. But life just seems to get harder and I worry that one day if I have nothing left to loose what will I do? After all these years of thinking scary things God the damage I could do if I wanted to.

    I don’t want this. I want to be a good person and have good life. I can go for weeks and be just fine but then things will get hard again and these thoughts just pop back up! I want them to go away, and I never thought that this might actually be something wrong with me. I mean, everyone jokes about a little OCD in the family but damn if I never thought about it until tonight. I looked it up and this all seems like that might be it. II could be OCD.

    That means it can be fixed right? I don’t have to think like this forever? II am so SICK of being afraid of others and myself.

  75. My name is Jake and I am 23 years old. I have been struggling with harmful, aggressive OCD for over 3 years now. I believe I have always had OCD, as when I look back on my childhood there were times when I wouldnt want people to touch to my belongings and move them, I had to constantly wash my hands because I didnt think they were clean enough, and mental images that were disturbing to the point where I would have to make a ritual to make the thoughts go away. When I turned 19 I snapped, and had a mental breakdown so bad that I almost went to the hospital.

    Now I am 23, taking OCD/anxiety medication and seeing a therapist getting neurofeedback. For others on this site reading mine and others posts who have harmful, aggressive, awful OCD, you are not alone!!!! I honestly believe my OCD and yours can be cured, but im sure I can speak for alot of us that life is not enjoyable when you have thoughts of stabbing your parents and friends, snapping your dogs necks or running over pedestrians with you car. Even though I know I would never, ever, want to do any of those things, OCD tricks your mind and makes you feel as if you dont have a conscience. But please believe me when I say if you are having thoughts like mine you are probably the least likely person ever to want to hurt anyone!!! I have been going through a living hell the past 3 years, I wouldnt wish what goes on in my head to my worst enemy. I am glad there are websites and blogs like this that can reassure people that they are not insane and that there is help available.

    • There are worse things in the world than OCD, even if to us who suffer from it think there isnt. But its hard to live a life where you are in a constant battle with your own mind, telling yourself you arnt a murderer but then the thoughts still continue. There are people like myself who have constant images and impulses of attacking family members, strangers, friends, animals, for no good reason other than it seems “easy” to do. Walk into the kitchen, theres a knife, just go ahead and do it. Problem is, you arent going to do it because thats not who you are. You arent a murderer, you are a good person with a kind heart who loves others. You dont want to cause others harm, let alone yourself. We will make it through this you guys, you have to have faith and the courage to persevere!

  76. You all are already showing courage and boldness by writing in here. I have read each comment and am praying for each of you today. And every comment I saw a beautiful heart that is complete opposite of what is going on in the brain. I would have to take a bet that us OCD sufferers (esp intrusive/harm/self harm thoughts) are some of the most tender hearted and compassionate souls out there and I believe that is why this hurts us so deeply. I know my personal relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ reminds me our pain is for something so much bigger than we see. One day this will all make sense but everyone has a thorn in the flesh (Paul in the Bible) that will be used for our good if we allow it. Use this pain to fuel your compassion for hurting people. Jesus knows our personal hell but promises this is all temporal. following Christ, my ocd also gets me with perfectionism and condemnation at times along with the other parts. Our anxiety seems to attack the things most important to us. I just want to say you aren’t going to do those things (reassurance that will last one hour) lol but keep fighting the good fight and clearly we aren’t alone!!! So many people have this but it isn’t talked about because our culture is made up of ego, pride, self reliance, “I have it all together” and it is embarrassing until you realize how common this is. My dad has ocd in the form of checking things over and over, etc and my came in the other form. I am 28. I remember as far back as 4-6 yrs old suffering with this. I was 6 and kept asking for reassurance that I didn’t swallow glass?? It would spark as a teen when I would see a horror film. It escalated during change, news reports like school shootings or stuff like that, and spikes when I haven’t had adequate sleep or blood sugar gets low. Take it day by day and I invite you to give your life to Christ if you never have. It doesn’t mean your ocd will be cured (I don’t know if we are ever cured but it is treatable!!!) but He will walk with you through it and never leave you and give you everything you need and promises to get us to the other side SAFELY. I know people with ocd struggle with the faith but I feel God is using this ocd for me to help people see Him through me. We have to admit those thoughts aside we are typically the people who love people so much and have hearts full of compassion!!! Maybe that’s why we get attacked? It just shows we are complete opposite of the scary thought. 2 Corinthians 12:9 , Hebrews 13:5 and James 1:2-4. I love you all!!!! Exposure thing works well don’t avoid the fear!!! You are some of the strongest people out there but you don’t see it because of the emotional part we live.

  77. When I was 11 I was in a fight with another kid, and as one oint I completely lost it (like, full on blank spot in y memory), and next thing I know I was holding the other kid by the throat ready to pierce through his head with my fist. An adult supervisor grabbed my wrist just before the punch, and since that day whenever I find myself in an aggressive situation, I lose all my strength and go numb, and I’m completely unable to actually willingly cause harm of any kind unto others. This sounds a bit like it.

  78. I’m sitting in bed at 3 am reading this after googling trying to figure out what’s wrong w me….I was diagnosed w OCD when I was 14…I’m 32 now and this is the kinds of thoughts I’m having exactly! Why would I EVER have thought of harming my kids or my husband??? I talk to my husband about it but I’m afraid to tell someone else….I’m so scared I’m going to lose my mind and do something crazy!!! I love my family so much and I have pray rituals all the time to fix myself…I’m afraid to take any meds…
    I know I’m all over the place right now but I’m just so afraid of myself….I’m so disgusting for even having these thoughts! I don’t even like to watch the news cause I’m automatically afraid that whatever bad thing I see I will do!! I feel crazy! Seeing this makes me feel hope! Please someone give me direction on how to help myself. I LOVE m family and my husband try’s to help and assures my constantly I would never do anything crazy but he doesn’t understand what I’m feeling..

    • I had trouble with this and it got to the point where I started to look for a weapon. I got so scared that I got professional help. The meds saved my life. I no longer spend my days thinking about murdering people. I felt a difference within a week. When the pain of constantly vividly visualizing homicide will become great enough, maybe you’ll get off your high-horse and accept the help available. I resisted for the same reason. I just didn’t want to be on medication. I much prefer the meds than the effects of this disorder.

  79. Hey guys, I am a 23 year old female and I hv been struggling with anxiety for about 6 years..the area I live in pple wud jus think that I am insane so the only people that do know about my problem is my fam..about 3 months ago I was watching criminal minds one of my favourite shows as I would hv loved to have studied forensic science bt I chose to be a teacher which Iv recently qualified. While watching the show I had a sudden panic attack and I started thinkin what if I do what this guy does to people, the character was killing girls randomly…my brother was at hme that nyt and I started hving thoughts that I may stab him in his room…ever since I. Have been having these scary thoughts that are terrifying me as I knw I could not harm a fly! I’m scared to be around places I don’t go out…I need help this is consuming me:( it hurts me so much I dnt want to live this life anymore..

  80. I am 27, and I have been going through harm OCD since I was 12. I thought I was the ONLY one. For some years, it went away… up until I had my child last year, and then I developed post partum psychosis, which exacerbated it. I got treated, it helped, went away, and then came back again. It is a NIGHTMARE,and it makes me feel SO alone at times, because I’m scared to talk about it with ANYBODY. Even as I was reading this column, I started crying because it reminds me of the suffering it has put me through, and I HATE it. But, it has also shown me that I am not alone through this, because many other go through it as well, and believe it or not, we could all help support EACH other through it.IIf anybody has Kik and needs some friendship support through somebody going through the same, Kik me at ShortyDaiLLeSt I could really use friends who understands me in this

  81. Hi. I’m 12 turning 13 in may. I think I have ODC as I have had thoughts, images in my mind of me stabbing family. I live with a few people and I have a little sister. And I hate it because of the feeling I get and fear that I wont have control and I will just do it. It really scares me the feeling I get is like a vomiting sensation. And I feel like telling my parents so I can go to therepy but I’m scare they will think of me different, get mad. or stop loving me. I also have sexual urges. Do I have ODC? Just knowing I’m not alone helps. What should I do?

  82. I read this article because recently I have had very violent thoughts about murdering my family. it’s very hard to control sometimes but I’m scared to tell anyone about it and my mother does not care for my thoughts and I do not want to get in trouble with anyone or thing or be sent to a mental hospital either. any ideas would be helpful. I’m very young and in the past year have developed depression, OCD, narcissistic personality disorder, clinical anxiety, and have anger issues. My life has been spiraling down recently and I just don’t know who to tell or what to do.

  83. Hello, I have an 11 year old daughter who is going through the bad thoughts and wanting to harm others and or herself. I’ve taken her to a counsellor and am having NO luck all they do is tell her to think of something nice instead of thinking of the bad thoughts. It is not helping. What and where an I take her she is always crying, she writes notes and leaves them around the house they are covered with her feelings, her wanting to harm people, her wanting to die, her wanting to run away, her being totally sad it’s extreme and I don’t know how to help her, any suggestions please?

    • Hi Sara,

      This is a little late, so I don’t know if you will see it, but I just wanted to comment because your predicament really touched me. First, I just want to say that it is so great that you are getting your daughter help. I had very similar symptoms to your daughter when I was her age, and my parents-although loving-had absolutely no understanding of what I was going through, and did not get me any kind of help. I just think it’s important for you to know that your daughter WILL get through this, and even if she isn’t able to express it now, you are doing the best possible thing for her. One day she is going to look back and be so grateful to have you as her mother.

      That being said, I think that the problem is that her therapists do not really have a good understanding of OCD. This is more common than you would think, especially in regards to primarily obsessional types of OCD. By telling your daughter to think “good” thoughts, they are just helping her to create a mental compulsion, which actually reinforces her OCD! I think you definitely have to find a different therapist. I don’t know if there are any near you, but there are actually people who specialize in treating OCD, which you can look up here:
      But even if none of those doctors work for you, you can try calling different offices and specifically asking about their background in treating your daughter’s kind of OCD. I’m sure her current doctors mean well, but you said yourself that they aren’t helping her. That’s not because she can’t be helped, it’s because they aren’t trained to help her.

  84. Hello doctor,

    i am having thoughts about killing and hurting people. it is making me slowly feel like i want to do it, and i am becoming desensitized to the word “kill”. this then makes me believe that i will lose control and actually act on one of these thoughts. i feel like i am going crazy and turning into a serial killer. i don’t want this. i am on medication now, i am seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist and i just got out of the hospital for this behavior. i feel as though i have already committed a terrible act but i haven’t. it is keeping me from loving or enjoying anything, and i am scared that it wont pass. i feel so guilty for having these thoughts, and the fact that they are getting stronger is very bad. i dont want to hurt anyone or myself, and i want these thoughts to stop. the little voice in my head keeps telling me hat i want to kill, and thats its inevitable. and that is very scary for me because, again, it makes me feel as though i want to hurt someone.

  85. Thank you so much! My mind has been acting really weird and creepy somewhere last year and I’ve been getting these unwanted impulses which freaked me out because I thought I was becoming a psychopath even though I don’t have any symptoms of becoming/being one. I sooner came across the word ‘schizophrenia’ and I read some of the symptoms which only a few matched what I was going through but I convinced myself I was a schizophrenic (even though I didn’t have any hallucinations or so), I then looked at more mental problems and FINALLY found this one and when I did I was so relieved because I now know what is happening to me. I’m now relived I’m not some psychopath because of this post, so thanks a lot!

  86. Hello Doctor

    3 days ago my 16 year old daughter had a horrible nightmare that she killed me and her father with a knife. She was so upset to say the least. Since then she has been having thought of what would happen if I really did this to my parents. Then today she said she had a thought for the first time today that it was time to go kill my parents. Then she tells herself I would never do that, stop thinking that way, I love my parents so much. She is so scared of these thoughts and has been praying and telling herself to stop thinking this way when the thoughts pop into her head. She also is hating the dark and she has to sleep with one of us to feel safe is what she tells me. I’m just so glad she is able to talk to me and her father about all her feelings about this. She is a sweet, kind hearted girl that has never thought things like this before. Before this nightmare occurred She has told me she was having feelings of anxiety and depression. Can you please tell me why you think a nightmare would trigger these thoughts in her. She said it is exhausting and she is feeling so awful and sad about it. She wishes she could just turn off her thoughts when they happen. What type of therapist should I seek for her. I don’t want this to consume her life. Thanks so much for your help.

    • I Know exactly how she feels. I have the same thoughts that i could do that against my mother. The only thing that comforts me is reading that there are other people that have the same problem and never did something horrid to the loved ones.
      How is she now? Hope she managed to get rid of it.

  87. I need real help but don’t know where to start I’m 16 and live with my grandmother, what are my options on getting away from my family in order to keep them say from my violent outburst?

  88. I don’t think I struggle with harm obsession. But there is someone very close to me who might. Due to their stressful situation at work (in the ER), and possibly other things I don’t know about, they often have thoughts of graphically harming those around them. I believe they are sometimes afraid they might ‘snap,’ but they see nothing inherently wrong about their thoughts. ( Is the guilt directly associated with the disorder, or is this something different? ) They refrain from acting on their violent thoughts because they feel a sense of responsibility to those around them; if they were locked up or something, their family, friends, and I would be devastated. I want desperately to help them, but I doubt they’d be willing to seek any therapy. Please tell me there is something I can do. All of the articles I can find are directed at those that have harm obsession, not for those close to them. I cannot find any resources for helping someone through something like this. Help me.

  89. Hello, I am a 19 year old girl. I have been dealing with anxiety and intrusive thoughts for the past three or four months. I lost my mother about four months ago. She suffered from anxiety, depression, and substance abuse all of her (and my) life. Though my family and I are waiting for the toxicology report still, we believe that she overdosed from the many (at least nine different) medications she was taking (anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, etc). About a month after her passing, I had the scariest feeling that I was the reason she passed away, as if I killed her. This sent me into a complete panic. I felt very detached from the world and had a difficult time envisioning a future for myself. My mother was my world, my God, my everything. Why would this thought come into my head – I still ask myself this. I couldn’t eat or sleep for days but after a couple weeks I was able to rationalize my thoughts and my fear that I directly caused my mother’s death had faded. The fear that remained was with my uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts. I constantly think to myself ‘I know what is real and what is not but why does these thoughts come into my head?’ It has really complicated my grieving process, as my mind is so clouded. Since then, I had one day where I felt as if I was going to surely kill myself if it wasn’t for my friend’s presence. Somehow I quickly shook that feeling away but I dwelled in the question that I still ask myself, ‘Why am I having these uncontrollable thoughts?’ These experiences have made me view myself as my own worst anymore and I live in constant fear. I believe this fear developed in aggressive obsession although I have yet to see a therapist or be diagnosed. Ideas of killing those I love, my pets, and complete stranges slip into my mind without a warning. I have no desire to act upon these thoughts, I know deep down, but I can’t help but question whether this is my true character or OCD. I am feeling very troubled and lost. I am going to school for Social Work and Psychology, and I wonder if I’m too mentally unstable to go into the profession that is my dream. I don’t have my mother, the only one who could understood me completely, to tell me that I am not losing my mind. I am questioning my childhood, ethics, morals, and everything that has made me who I am. It is hard to remember who I was before my mental state has changed but I know that I am an empathetic, caring person who wishes no harm in a single being. The most relief I have found is coming across this. Though I am so terribly sorr for all who are going through this, we all know how comforting it is to know we’re not alone. I have kept this quiet out of fear that everyone would fear me but this has showed me that it is time to see a therapist. As I stated before, I have not been diagnosed but I am very confident that I have OCD. I hope the best for everyone facing this terrifyingly painful condition. My aim is heal as best as I can because as I said this has put a block on my grieving process as well. RIP mom I love you <3

  90. i’ve recently started having these fears myself, i’m 19. and when it started i thought i was having urges to hurt people and it scared me. i have forced myself to stay up at night for fear i’ll sleep walk and hurt or kill someone in my sleep. because of these fears; seeing people sleep makes me severely uncomfortable because of the vulnerability and the stillness. i’ve made it a point to stay up all night and sleep during the day, so that if i were to sleep walk, they would at least be awake and about to defend themselves. i also used to be a huge collector in swords, and i find myself selling them in fear i might use them. am i going to have to live with these fears for the rest of my life? whats the best way to treat it? and what do you mean by “developing a new relationship with these unwanted, intrusive thoughts?” i also have anxiety, depression, and ptsd, and the fears mostly arise at night. i also am afraid to play any of the violent video games i used to play as well as watch scary or actiony movies…

  91. I have read the above comments and feel at ease but disturbed as well. These thoughts have become to consume me that when Im around my loved ones I intentionally avoid contact because I feel that my hands will do something to hurt them. I would never hurt them, but why do I feel like I would tho? I suffer from anxiety but have controlled it for years now. The last year has been tough but out of nowhere I have intrusive thoughts and the anxiety came right along with it. I don’t even wanna be around my child because I fear and I literally feel like a monster when I do isolate myself. I have been down on myself lately and yes I am under a lot of pressure. But at the same time my self reflection shows a insecure selfish person who has no ambition to better my life. Im 34 and I feel like I have nothing to offer like everyone else around me. I have no money to see a therapist so I rely on online help.I try to portray a strong person but behind closed doors Im a wreck. Its so easy to find the problems of others but with myself it’s so hard. Does any of this make any sense? How can I be a better parent if I suffer these kinds of thoughts?

  92. I know what this is like. I’ve had numerous homicidal and suicidal OCD thoughts over the last year and a half about friends and family members and it’s very disturbing.

    Fortunately those thoughts are starting to get more under control but now I’m being hit by disturbing thoughts of a different nature.

    I have recently been suffering from paranoid thoughts. Wondering if people are going to poison me when they bring me food or if I can trust people or if they are lying to me or not. Also wondering if the devil is around me when a lot of bad things happen in a row like in that movie Devil. It’s all very disturbing and I’m having a hard time dealing with it.

    Does anyone else know what this is like?

  93. I’m struggling right now with intrusive thoughts as well I’m scared I’m gonna act on them one day or become crazy person I also have images of being in jail from hurting people it’s scares me a lot

  94. Hello Steven J. Seay, Ph.D.. Thank you for the well written Artical. I has helped answer a lot of my confusion on what goes on in my head. I definitely get these burning images in my head when I feel like I am suddenly put in control of someones life.

    My Dad, who I love dearly, would sometimes practice shooting at our range, and sometimes I get the image of shooting him in the back as he’s going to change the target.

    When I am holding a knife/hammer around someone, I get the horrible imagine in my head of stabbing/smashing the other person in the back.

    If there is any links someone can share I’d greatly appreciate it. Thank you all and I hope you guys fine solutions as well.

  95. Last year I watched one of those gore videos from isis and felt very bad and started to think if that happen to my mom, which is the person I love the most in this world. I started to think that I could do that. Since then, I’m feeling very bad and last week seems like it got worse. Some days ago I hugged her and started to cry, I didn’t told her what was going on, she could not understand me and that would make me feel even worse. I know I would never do such things against anyone, especially the loved ones, but these thoughts is driving me crazy and making me doubt myself.
    I wanna have my peace of mind back.

    • Leo – Remember that aggressive obsessions are treatable. ERP can be challenging, but it DOES work.

  96. I answered no to the second question but I’m still unsure even though I know I don’t want to hurt anyone. Am I turning into a crazy serial killer?

    • That’s the problem with using any type of specific question or criteria in order to differentiate between OCD and some specific feared situation. OCD inserts so much doubt and confusion into the equation that it quickly becomes impossible to tell.

      My advice would be to roll with the uncertainty. It may not be easy, but accepting doubt and uncertainty — even doubt and uncertainty brought on by some random blog post — is key to overcoming OCD. It’s an opportunity to say to your OCD, “You know what, OCD? You may want me to analyze this to death, but I’m sick and tired of falling into mental rituals. In the end, they never get me anywhere and simply leave me exhausted. I don’t need to figure this out.”

  97. I would really like an answer for the bottom part. The part where it said If I enjoy the thoughts. Not sexual, but in a euphoric way (hypnotizing, even); and if I wanted more. What would that lead to? Help? Therapy? Meds? (Meds haven’t helped before, and I’m afraid to tell my therapist about these thoughts and how I feel towards them.not because if she will judge, but if she will inform the authorities if she thought i was a threat). These thoughts are just another stone of weight of multiple other issues I’m dealing with right now.

  98. The mind can only develop from the sensory input it is given.

    We often think of poison as being some substance that in some way enters the body to cause physical harm. The mind can also be poisoned. Today’s media and entertainment (eg. video games) have become so realistic, violent, and frequent that it is more likely than ever to poison ones mind. The growing epidemic of “harm” OCD is vastly brought on by this very sensory input into the minds of ordinary people. If we go back in time to before the knowledge of bacteria, violent media, and abundance of physical items available for hoarders, a case of OCD might have just been someone keeping the few items in their home organized. Of course there would have been anomalies, but fundamentally, the sensory and environmental input was simply not available to provide for modern case types of OCD. Having read through forums of people with “harm” OCD two things become clear. First is that it is common. It is surprisingly common. More so, personal critiques from one person to the next bring a significant satisfaction simply through similarity. The second is people who say “I saw this movie…”, “played this video game…”, or “read about this news article…”, show how violent sensory input is often the cause/catalyst for their “harm” OCD. It only leads me to see that we live in a media based society that poisons our minds. It makes young women and men think they must look a certain way. It says you should have this job, degree, or salary to be considered successful. And for those of us who have OCD and would most likely just be making sure the doors are locked at night, we now have our minds poisoned by violent films and other forms of media. So I’ll repeat what I said at the top. The mind can only develop from the sensory input it is given.

    The key message here is that you are normal. It’s your environment that is not normal. Could this have happened to you without modern media? Sure, but probably unlikely. So don’t go running in fear when you see a violence in the paper, on the TV , and in the media. You will just make yourself worse. Just realize that it is unfortunately the world we live in now. We need to stand up to this because we are better.

    The last thing and most important thing I want to say is that anyone who reads this, I want you to know that you are loved/cared for/thought of by me and everyone else going through this. There are a lot of us and you are NOT alone. Besides getting professional help (if that be the case), you really need to understand that even though we are separated by the 1s and 0s (binary) of the internet, we are all together on this.

    • Good points all around. I would agree that the world we live in can influence the way that OCD pops up. However, to your second point, I believe there are other people with harm OCD that have symptoms that are not environmentally triggered. Bad thoughts and images can sometimes just pop up spontaneously. We all have the capacity to have bad thoughts.

      Thanks to you (and other people who speak up about this), information about OCD is more readily available today than it was even a few years ago. The isolation and alienation that can pervade OCD is slowly decreasing. I wish we had more #ocdvocates who were openly sharing their stories. Strength comes when we’re connected and working together.

  99. I have OCPD with comorbid dysthymia and anxiety (currently treated with bupropion[dysthymia] and etizolam[anxiety]). I have violent intrusive thoughts about harming puppies which scares me, since I love dogs. I don’t believe I’ll ever actually act on them, because it’s wrong on so many levels. This makes me feel so helpless, though. Like I can’t control my mind, that I could possibly go ballistic and actually hurt and animal (or another person,for that matter). Any thoughts on this?

  100. Hi Dr. Seay,

    Why do many people feel “urges” to act on violent thoughts? If they aren’t violent people and don’t want to commit any of these atrocious thoughts, why the urges happen?
    I suspect the “urges” aren’t exactly urges per se, but I still can’t comprehend what exactly they are… can you please explain it further?

    Thank you!

    • OCD takes the form of whatever would be most shocking or unacceptable to the person with OCD. If “urges” or “impulses” would be the most terrifying symptom, then the person’s symptoms may take this form. Moreover, if the person engages in a lot of mental checking or analyzing rituals around these symptoms, then these symptoms will persist and/or strengthen.

  101. Thank you so much for this article! This has relieved and reassured my best friend and I (who suffer from these types of thoughts, other OCD symptoms and anxiety disorders). It is these kind of articles that reassure us that we aren’t going to just lose control and go nuts. A few years back I read some article about this serial killer dude who had described his urge to kill, and it somehow triggered OCD thoughts and I was convinced that somehow I might be capable of doing the same thing. It is actually hilarious to me now, but at the time it can feel very real and scary!

    • Glad you found it helpful! I think many people have OCD that was initially triggered by encountering similar content. Ironically, we often make use of those types of articles in ERP to help people get better. 🙂

  102. I developed this about three days ago. My mother angered me…and for no reason I got a strong desire to kill her. Came with a sudden force at night not long after she angered me. I tried with all my power to hold it back. The sensation was sooooo powerful I had it in me to kill her. I threw scissors out my window as thoughts of stabbing her kept returning. I keep getting strong sensations and thoughts to kill her. This all the past few days. I just snapped. I am on Citalopram but have been taking nortriptyline lately? Stopped Citalopram few days? (Back on again). Connection?
    I don’t want these thoughts and feelings! I tried to get into a mental health facility its full up and a psych I want to see is on holiday to end of month. Feel I could harm her and I’m scared. I have had these feelings and thoughts before but never had them last this long. I love my mum.
    Some thoughts spread to others if I’m out in public but not like my mother.
    What has happened to me? I already have depression and anxiety. I worry I’m going to be in prison for murder and be on the news. Lots of seemingly good people snap. I am a nice person and very quiet. I don’t want to kill my mother I love her. My mother has had murderois thoughts too but these keep coming. I’m trying non stop to be busy.

    • This does sound like it could be OCD. Is there anyone else who you could see in the meantime until your psychologist gets back? I ask because if this is newly emerging, you’re at the ideal time to get diagnosed and start treatment. For a lot of people with OCD, the more that compulsions and avoidance build up around your obsessions, the stronger the OCD gets. The best time to take action would be now.

  103. I’ve been struggling with this for a few months now. I’ve been to see a therapist and I’m on paroxetine but the only official diagnosis I have is general anxiety disorder. The article has helped me in the past but I have never spoken to an OCD specialist about any of this. I’m afraid that my thoughts reflect who I am and what I want and they are incredibly distressing I feel like I have no say in who I turn out to be. Whenever I can relate to an article like this one my brain always tells me that I’m different and I’m the exception and I really am capable of doing these things I recently made the decision to get engaged and that’s what scares me even more because now I’m afraid for the woman that I love. Another thing my brain tells me is that OCD is a woman thing because not a lot of men are present in comment sections seeking help such as this one. I don’t say that to discriminate at all but it’s just another thing that scares me as ignorant as it sounds. Some days are easier than others but it’s all so overwhelming and stressful.

    • Doubting whether or not you have OCD is nearly universal for people with violent obsessions. It makes you fearful that you’re a bad person. The good thing is that ERP can really help. If you haven’t read much about exposure and response prevention, learning about it can be life-changing.

  104. I dont know if you still check these, but this just helped me tremendously. These thoughts I have are really hard to vocalize when i have my group therapy sessions. But reading these I feel a little less scared and anxious. This helped me so much. Sometimes i feel like I’m losing my mind. I hate these thoughts, and the symptoms you described were exactly me. Thankfully i have not enjoyed or wished these thoughts to come back. They just happen and i hate them. The worry of me acting is definitely huge and freaks me out. Thank you for this article.

    • I’m so glad it helped! These symptoms can feel very alienating, but you’re certainly not alone.

  105. Hello sir, I have read all these comments and I find myself very similar to this. I feel extreme fear and distress on the daily. I have thoughts of killing and hurting a loved one. I then feel very scared and can’t function normally. I think that I will
    Always feel this way. This just started 2 months ago and I try to go to church pray, and remember it’s all in my mind however it’s like a prison that I fall right back into. I am afraid I just want to normal and back to me the joyful happy person I am. I am scared I am in fear I love my family and would never hurt anyone yet sometime I distance myself out of fear or hurting them. Please help? Thank you sir

  106. I just started an at-home program to help conquer anxiety. I was listening to the first disc and a lady mentioned she used to have a fear of bathing her baby because she was scared her anxiety would make her snap and she would drown her child. When I heard that I thought, “How awful.” Then I instantly felt that fear sweep over me. Then over the next minutes my mind warped her fear into my own but it turned into a fear where I’m scared I’m going to sleep walk and hurt my child. I don’t sleep walk but I can’t shake it. This has been going on for just a few days, but it’s extremely bizarre for me as I’ve never experienced this before. I’ve had anxiety for twenty years but that’s it. I’m frustrated that the thought keeps popping into my head. I’d rather have my anxiety attacks than this. I am trying to overcome one thing and it caused another. It’s frustrating. I have my first appointment with a therapist next week but I’m scared this is going to drive me insane. Any tips to get through the week would be appreciated.

  107. Thank you for this post. I have been struggling with aggressive obsessions and suicidial obsessions for more than 8 years, the obsession at times are intense and at other times wean off. I am on medication and have been in therapy and all you discussed in the post was explained to me by my therapist. I have come to realise after all those years, I might never be fully free of those thoughts. I am proud to be on medication, to not practice any rituals, to live my life as normally as possible even when those thoughts are flooding my head. I have learnt that OCD is something I need to learn to live with, I don’t make assumptions like I did in the past that one day I will wake up and all those thoughts will be magically gone! Instead I try to focus on living with them. The same obsessive thought that used to make me shiver and break into tears, still comes to my mind every now and then but it causes only a bit of distress. Is there a way to be fully free of those thoughts? I don’t know, but for the time being I want to invest time in actually living my life instead of trying to control my thoughts.

  108. Hi I’m just seing if all these bad thoughts of hurting people and myself is normal after a death my nan died in June this year who was my closest person ever she was my angel and I looked after her with my mum for 5 years as she had dementia but to watch her die do fast at the end was horrific for me but about 2 months after her death I started having those horrible thoughts of really hurting my family wich I would never ever actually do or my self wich I have done I have 4 amazing gorgeous children and I’m pregnant with our miricale baby now the thoughts go for a week or two but then out of nowhere a thought like go and choke him there or stab her there pop into my head I would never do it I love my family so much I do everything for them I’m so so scared tho who do I turn to without being judged as mental and risk my children

  109. Its truly terrifying to me… Sometimes t night I think, “I am able to grab a knife and go in a sleeping persons room and stab them”. It hurts me and makes me feel so uncomfortable. I want it to stop.

    • Violent obsessions can certainly be distressing, but treatment can really help. Avoidance and rituals tend to further fuel the obsessions.

  110. Hi, I am currently waiting for therapy sessions. I have had harm ocd for a long time now almost 19 years. I want to talk about a few things that worry me and whether these are normal parts of OCD? Some intrusive thoughts have been aimed at my cat. I will be stroking him around his face, then a thought would come about suffocation, and then I’d feel the need to touch him again, Does this mean I am acting on it or is it a compulsion? Also my brain is telling me that harmless things i do are actually harmful which I don’t understand. Also when a thought comes I will say “yes ” to going ahead with it to see how I feel about it emotionally. This this part of harm ocd too to check our emotional response? Any helpful info on this much appreciated as I am currently very depressed.

    • I’m glad to hear that you’re getting some help with your OCD! It does sound like some rituals may be sneaking through (primarily checking compulsions). If you’re doing anything to “test” or “check” whether or not you’d act violently, this falls into the compulsion category. Moreover, self-reassurance can be another subtle ritual. As you work with your therapist, you’ll learn to get a better handle on these rituals and to challenge your OCD more directly through exposure (while simultaneously resisting the rituals).

  111. Hey doc just wanted to say this comment section is amazing and has really helped me understand a bit more as to why i sometimes think the way i do. Its great that even after all these years you still do your best to reply and give advice when asked. You are truly an amazing person.

  112. I really thought that I was insane, or that I needed to be locked away.I have always had some type of OCD, but not to this extent. But for about three weeks, I’ve been having awful thoughts about losing control and killing/hurting someone. I AM not a violent person by any means. I feel disgusted and hate towards myself for even having such thoughts. I pray and I pray to make them go away, but to no avail….. I was so anxious and scared until I finally bit the bullet and got online for answers. I was diagnosed about 6-7 years ago with anxiety and depression. I have meds for the anxiety. I just want these thoughts to go away and I am sooo relieved to know I am not alone in this battle with myself. You would not believe what I was thinking of doing if I had lost control. I thought maybe it’d be okay for someone to end my life rather than raise a single finger against anyone. EVER. I feel like there is this tiny evil aura in my head pushing me down, and I feel like I’m drowning. I can see light but I am scared to reach for it. I’m afraid of what they will say. ALSO: WARNING: Don’t watch 911 calls, or scary vids like that, it made me even more paranoid. I don’t know why, but ofc youtube recommended that shxt to me. Anyways, STAY STRONG. -Katelyn

  113. Glad to know that I’m not alone. I’ve been having these kind of violent thoughts on hurting those I love, would never do them and it really makes me feel uncomfortable and distressed. Like picking up a sharp object thinking I could do this or that scares me a lot. I then put it down and out of sight. I started having these thoughts when college started 3 years ago so I’ve been trying to learn how to cope, but it can get hard and I don’t want it to interrupt my day to day life. One day I’ll be free from these evil thoughts.

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