Intrusive thoughts: what they are and how to eliminate the negatives

Intrusive thoughts are those thoughts that appear intermittently inadvertently. There is a great variety of repetitive and automatic thoughts, and some of them are very unpleasant., Even if you want to harm others, like your own children.

This type of thinking generates a lot of discomfort and, in turn, other thoughts like “you shouldn’t feel like this”. In many cases, we even blame ourselves for something normal, which are involuntary and unconscious thoughts.

Rumination of thoughts is adaptive, it seeks to filter out useful thoughts, but it usually does not succeed, because we also anticipate and think that next time we will rethink the same, so the problem is “ getting worse ”.

    Why, even if we want to eliminate intrusive thoughts, do they remain?

    A vicious cycle is usually given; for example, consider the case of a mother who has the intrusive thought of wanting to hurt her child, but who of course knows that she does not want to do this or will not do it. In these cases, there is usually a circular pattern that occurs in this order and through these elements: internal stimulus (exhaustion that leads to an intrusive and involuntary thought to throw it out the window), external stimulus (crying of the child), sensations such as palpitations, emotion of anxiety and fear, avoidance reaction of thought.

    After this circle comes anticipation and catastrophismThis, as we mentioned, increases the problem.

    How to approach them from therapy?

    Automatic thoughts are a reflection of our beliefs, however we are not our thoughts. Therefore, once the evaluation is done and ruling out any other pathology, we worked on the diffusion of thought, that is to say to move away from these mental phenomena and connect more and give more importance to actions, with an emphasis on conscious action.

    A good functional analysis is essential, Study the external and internal stimuli involved and the response (physiological / motor / cognitive) as well as the consequences. If there are avoidant behaviors (calling on the phone, not thinking about the problem …) we will make the problem worse because we are not exposing ourselves, so one of the most important things is exposure to emotions. , reactions and thoughts.

    1. Therapeutic resources for intrusive thoughts

    Some of the dynamics used in our consultation to resolve this issue are as follows.

    2. Psychoeducation

    It is essential to explain to patients what is happening to them and why.

    3. Behavioral experiments

    With them, it is a question of verifying that when one does not want to pay attention to the thoughts, they appear more strongly.

    4. Restructuring and cognitive discussion

    It is one of the great techniques of psychology on which a large part of our treatments are based. It consists of providing the person with the necessary tools to that he can come to the conclusion that the thoughts they generate – the discomfort are neither objective nor useful.

      5. Relaxation exercises

      Sometimes it is necessary to provide the patient with relaxation strategies to decrease activation caused by stressful thoughts.

      6. Analysis of patient beliefs

      Behind intrusive thoughts are usually the person’s intrinsic beliefs. For example, if the intrusive thought is to kill your child, it is common for beliefs like “a good mother never loses her temper” and disproportionate demands are associated.

      7. Work on the associated symptomatology, generally anxiety and guilt

      As we have mentioned, unpleasant thoughts and mental images that appear involuntarily, generate great discomfort, even being able to suffer from anxiety attacks; this usually makes the problem last longer. The same goes for guilt. Like the same example, the mother who has the image of killing her child and this generates great fear and great guilt, feeds the vicious circle.

      8.thought diffusion

      We are not what we think, we are what we do, that’s why we work for give more importance to actions and detach from thoughts that appear without our will.

      9. Controlled exposure to avoided situations and thoughts

      Due to the fear that these types of thoughts usually arouse, we avoid these associated situations. For example, if a person has a recurring idea that they may be hurting (but doesn’t match autolytic ideation because they wouldn’t want to or feel desires for it), they may try to avoid taking knives.

      10. Automatic dialogue

      It is very much related to the beliefs of the person; this is what we tell ourselves that can alleviate or worsen the problemThis is why it is essential that we work on it in therapy.

      11. Focus on the values ​​and actions of the person

      If the person has thoughts, for example, of hurting someone, but it generates rejection, they would not want to do this and do not see them as appropriate, it is necessary to redirect the person to those values ​​that they are therefore has this, in turn, the guilt will decrease.

      12. Supervised care training

      This is put our attention on other types of situations and external and internal stimuli.

      13. Acceptance

      There are thoughts that will not go away completely or that, for a while, will accompany us, that is why the work of acceptance is essential.

      Are you interested in professional help?

      Fr Psychologists Mariva, Clinic located in Valence but which also offers psychology online, we are specialists in the work of this type of psychological problem. Although these alterations can generate a lot of suffering, with cognitive behavioral treatment very positive results are obtained, eliminating the intrusion of unpleasant thoughts or, if not, accepting and eliminating the discomfort they cause. Here you can see our contact details.

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