Obsessions are persistent and recurring intrusive thoughts and images, despite a sufferer’s effort to confront or ignore them. Within sufferers, the intrusive images and thoughts vary with vividness and the clarity of them. A vague obsessive thought might involve tension or a general sense of disarray and could be accompanied by the belief that life cannot carry on as usual whilst the imbalance in the thoughts and images continues. A more intense obsession may be the preoccupation that someone close to them - like a family member may be dying. Other obsessions are with the possibility that something or someone, other than themselves will harm either them or people and things they care about. This other could be defined as God, the Devil or a disease.
Some mental health sufferers may have sexual obsessions that involve images or thoughts of disturbing sexual acts. As with other images or thoughts some can be considered as normal, but people with OCD might attach more significance to those disturbances. They may also have extreme thoughts and images about sexual orientation, such as sex with strangers, family or animals. These doubts about sex lead an OCD sufferer to form a self-loathing and self-criticism that consumes the thoughts.
Although most can comprehend that the notions about obsessions are not a part of the reality, they feel as though they must see these delusional notions are a correct fact about themselves. An example is a sufferer who engages in compulsive hoarding who might have inclinations to material things like it had the rights of a living organism. At the same time - at a rational intellectual level - they can see their behaviour is in fact irrational.
Intrusive images and thoughts.
Intrusive thoughts are an unwelcome and involuntary set of images, thoughts or an unpleasant idea that may form into an obsessional session of intrusive notions. These intrusive thoughts, ideas and images can be distressing, upsetting and cause anxiousness, panic or fear. They can also be difficult to ignore, manage or eliminate. When such symptoms involved with the psychological trauma of an acute anxiety become intrusive, the imaginations might become anxiety provoking, persistent, even paralysing. Intrusive urges, ideas and images are nearly always inappropriate to a situation and are generally sexual, aggressive or religiously blasphemous in their narration.
For most people intrusive thoughts are merely a passing annoyance, unlike those with acute anxiety disorders. When intrusive thoughts and notions occur in someone with a severe anxiety disorder, the individual is less able to ignore the unpleasant notions of thought, images and ideas. They do of course pay undue attention to those notions causing more distress, fear and an acute anxiety disorder.
Carrying out the compulsion disorder of OCD can make the severe anxiety disorder lessen, but makes the compulsion stronger each time it reoccurs. This only serves to reinforce the intrusive thoughts rather than act on the thoughts due to self-loathing and self-criticism involved in OCD. It is a thinking action rather than acting out those thoughts.
According to Lee Baer, suppressing the thoughts makes them stronger, but recognising that bad thoughts do not indicate that you are evil and that is one of the steps to overcoming a severe anxiety disorder of intrusive notions. There has been factual evidence of acceptance of these notions as an alternative to suppression of the intrusive notions. A clinical study showed that those with a severe anxiety disorder instructed to suppress these notions experienced more distress after suppression. In the study individuals were also instructed into accepting those notions and these suffered a decreasing in their discomfort. It is the pathological doubt that accompanies chronic anxiety disorder, that makes it harder for a person to distinguish between normal intrusive thoughts that most people suffer anyway. This causes them to suffer in more thoughtful silence, leaving them feeling embarrassed or fearful that they will be thought of as crazy.
Those people suffering from intrusive notions are very unlikely to act on these notions. Individuals experience extreme chronic anxiety disorder, shame and guilt over these notions instead. They feel upset and depressed about these thoughts so are different to a psychopath who may act on these thoughts. Historically it is those who show no feelings of remorse or guilt that act on those notions.
Blasphemous thoughts are a common disorder to sufferers of OCD. It has been documented throughout history. Martin Luther was known to suffer blasphemous and intrusive religious thoughts, images and urges. He has urges to curse Jesus and God and became obsessed with images of the devil’s posterior. One study of 50 OCD sufferers with a primary diagnosis found that 40% had blasphemous and religious intrusive thoughts and worries and fears of doubt. That is compared to only 38% who had obsessional thoughts and anxious feelings about uncleanliness and contamination, which is meant to be more common in OCD sufferers. One study found that this may be due to the dependence of cultural views. Also, that blasphemous intrusive thoughts were more common in men than in women.
According to a New York psychologist, some of the common thoughts of intrusiveness and obsessions are:
Extreme fears of incorrectly reciting or omitting prayers.
Horrific thoughts and or images during times of meditation and prayer.
Thoughts about being possessed.
Intrusive and repetitive blasphemous thoughts.
Impulses or urges to communicate blasphemous words or commit blasphemous acts during a religious service.
Sexual thoughts about God, religious figures and Saints.
The sufferer of intrusive thoughts involving blasphemous religious implications can be greater suffering and be more complicated to treat.
People with OCD involving religious thoughts and images might believe that their notions are the work of the devil and also may fear punishment from God. Their shame may also be far worse because of the sinful feelings and emotions. Symptoms of OCD might even be more anxiety ridden with those who have strong beliefs or convictions with religion.
The intrusive thoughts and images of a sexual obsession involve thoughts or images of fondling, kissing, touching, oral or anal sex and rape with strangers, family, acquaintances, friends, co-workers, religious figures or animals. They can be with a person of any age and may be thoughts of wanting this done to you or you doing it.
Like with any intrusive images or thoughts, everyone has inappropriate sexual desires at times, but sufferers of OCD might attach significance to unwanted sexual thoughts. This then causes them anxiety, panic, distress and embarrassment. This results in self-doubt causing the sufferer of OCD to fear the act of carrying this out that then causes more thoughts of anxiousness involving self-loathing and constant fearful criticism. You must understand these thoughts are part of the OCD and because of fear, panic and anxiousness it is not something you are likely to carry out. You need acceptance of that fact, that the conditions in the brain’s emotions of self-loathing and criticism will cause this merely as thoughts. OCD is not a psychotic reaction.
One of the more common intrusive sexual thought involves an obsession about your sexual identity to others of the same sex. As is the case with most sexual obsessions, this can lead sufferers to feelings and emotions of shame and lead to isolation. It can be hard to discuss these intrusive notions because of doubt and fear and the concerns you have about your sexual identity.
Someone suffering OCD of intrusive images or thoughts will feel embarrassed, shame, guilt ridden, distress, torment. and fear. These conditions will be further exasperated with acute anxiousness and fear of acting out those notions or perceived impulses and also doubts themselves as to whether they have already committed the acts. Depression can also occur with OCD because of the self-criticism and shame they feel. The concern they feel may cause them to scrutinize their bodies as to whether they get aroused by the feelings and emotions involved.
However, when the attention is focused on any part of the body it can cause the result in feelings in that part of the body. So, saying, this may decrease self-confidence and increase fear, panic and chronic anxiousness about acting of these intrusive notions. A part of the treatment involved in sexual obsessions of OCD involve helping the sufferer to accept the thoughts and to stop reassuring themselves by checking on their bodily parts. The reason for arousal in parts of the body is due to the conditioned physiological response within the brain, which do not respond to the subject of intrusive sexual thoughts, but rather to the fact that a sexual thought is occurring. Thus, the physiological response is an automatic response that is purely functional and not because of a desire to act out the physical enactment.
Research has indicated that the correlation as to what the genitalia regard as sexually relevant and what the brain regards as sexually appealing only correlates as 50% of the time in men and only 10% of the time in women. This shows that what intrusive thoughts consider as arousal does not necessarily indicate that the person actually has a physical desire about what thoughts are occurring. However, the rational thinking processes attempt to explain this arousal and reaction and OCD causes the sufferer to attribute a false meaning and importance to the intrusive thoughts in an attempt to make sense of them.
OCD sufferers can experience a heightened state of severe anxiousness disorder caused by the forbidden images or by discussing the matter. This then causes physiological arousal from the brain, such as sweating, an increased heart rate and some degree of sexual arousal in men and lubrication in women. This is quite often misinterpreted in sufferers as an indication of an intent or desire to carry out the thoughts. This is however, not the case it is merely a brain function and not a bodily desire.
Intrusive thoughts can involve violent obsessions about hurting yourself or others. They can be related to the chronic anxiety disorder condition of OCD. The anxious thoughts can involve hurting a loved one, children, elderly people animals or yourself, jumping from a tall building, from a mountain, a bridge, or urges to jump in front of a car or train. The anxious thoughts can also involve you pushing someone else in front of a car or train. The study by Rachman of college students that were healthy found virtually all of them had intrusive thoughts such as these from time to time. These healthy people students had intrusive thoughts including:
Impulses to attack, harm, hit or even kill an animal, person or young child.
Inflicting harm on someone that is close to them.
Inflicting harm on the elderly.
These images thoughts can be part of the Norm of Society and should not get in the way of your everyday life, if they are not persistent and panicky. Treatment for these intrusive notions of the anxiety condition known as OCD is available if they are distressing, disturb you, are severe or persistent. If they make you panic, feel extreme anxiety or fear then speak to your medical practitioner about OCD.