It is rare for someone to have OCD without having Intrusive Thoughts as part of their symptom picture. Unfortunately, many questionnaires therapists use to gauge OCD only focus on obsessions and compulsions.

Intrusive Thoughts are thoughts, images, or snapshots that intrude into our mind unwantedly, as opposed to us trying to think about that specific thing. They are always Gross, Bothersome, or Disturbing in some way.

They usually last for only a few seconds, but can be so frequent that we feel bombarded by horrible images and thoughts that do not stop. They are bothersome to the person because the thoughts or images are completely the opposite of what the person feels.

While each person’s Intrusive Thoughts are unique to them, themes are often the same across people. Common themes with Intrusive Thoughts include something violent happening, doing something violent, taboo sexual acts, or contaminating others or being contaminated. Some examples may include:

-Being in your kitchen, you happen to see a knife on the counter, then a thought or image forces its way into your mind of cutting yourself or someone else with the knife.

-Driving along, seeing a bridge, then a thought or image of the bridge collapsing.

-Coming up on a person on a bike and picturing yourself swerving and hitting them.

-Throwing your baby down the steps as you walk and hold it, or drowning your children in the tub as you bathe them.

-Doing something sexual that is disturbing to you. Or homosexual thoughts intrude into your consciousness.

These Intrusive Thoughts really only occur in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. People do not act on the thoughts because they are counter to how the person really feels inside. It is as if OCD scrolls through images or thoughts until it finds whatever is most disturbing to that person, and then holds it up in their face to think about. Intrusive Thoughts are cruel and merciless. Running from them can consume us.

The good thing is that the right medication can make these go away nearly entirely.

Thanks for Reading, and Happy Living!

Dr. Dahl