Intrusive thoughts come unexpectedly, like lightning in a clear sky. Did I lock the door? Did I switch off the stove? From time to time, almost every one of us has fallen into this labyrinth.
During a holiday, an attorney who we will give a fictitious name Tomas bought a hunting knife. One day, he went into the kitchen with his knife to prepare steaks, when suddenly something happened to him. He saw himself in a vision holding the knife in his hand, going out, and killing his whole family. Then, he returned the blade to the drawer, but at night the thought of it did not give him a moment’s rest.
He got up in the morning and went to test the blade. Then he carefully looked at the knife, for he was persuaded by the thought that there were bloodstains on it. This night, Tomas’s life had changed entirely.
He had become a confused person who continually checks if there is no trace of blood on his knives.
Finally, he shared his thoughts with his wife:
“I cannot get rid of this madness. I cannot go past a butcher’s store or a knife showcase. I cannot go to a restaurant…”
Not just intrusive thoughts harass people
There are also compelling desires: to clean the house, to get a shower, to wash clothes, to eat, to get the work done, and many others.
Many people think and repeat what others have told them and how they have responded or how they should have answered. This group includes the hypochondriacs who always suggest that they are suffering from some disease.
It may sound strange, but there is also an intrusive desire to gather rumors or tell jokes.
Every now and then, everybody is coming back to the door to check if they locked it. For example, a man could not sleep because he still felt he had not turned off the TV. He stood, went to convince himself, and went back to bed again, but after a while, he repeated it again. Maybe he turned it on instead of turning it off?
Another example is about a secretary who, before leaving work, poured the trash bin every day into her purse to make sure she did not throw anything away that was important.
Intrusive thoughts lie in unclear behavioral disturbances
No psychotherapist or scientist has so far been able to find out why this happens.
A forty-year-old businessman was literally ruined because when he read newspapers or magazines, he unwisely sought out words like love, death, or past and emphasized them. Then he copied them to many pieces of paper.
He would have been crazy if his wife, who found the papers, had not taken him to a psychiatrist.
Freud was of the opinion that many people suffer from such phobias without trusting a doctor. They even manage to hide their intrusive thoughts for years because they are able to do some of their daily duties.
Another example is about a financial advisor from Dusseldorf. Every night she got into her car and drove between the bars around Dusseldorf and Cologne. Everywhere she ordered herself an ice cream, staring at the machine filling the funnel and then taking it into the car.
“I know, people say that the crazy ice cream woman is here again. But I take my ice cream and have one only thought of how I will eat it. Sometimes I hate myself, I’m ashamed, and that’s why I eat my ice cream in my car just after driving off and turning on the radio.”
The most unpleasant one is the constant desire to wash something. This is the case with a young man who was just 13 years old when he bought a washing machine and installed it in his room so that he could continuously wash all his clothes. He lived alone in his place as an exile, occupied only by washing and cleaning. He was 34 years old when he managed to heal and became a computer designer.
All these people can sometimes be helped with medication, but it is best to try to talk to someone about their intrusive thoughts and desires. In more severe cases, the intervention of a psychotherapist is necessary.