Have you ever had a thought enter your brain imagining harm to another person or even yourself that is so disturbing you could not focus on anything else? Have you ever had anxiety surge through your body confirming the possible intent behind the thought? Have you ever felt lost and confused as to why the thought came in your mind? Have you ever started to doubt who you are and what you are capable of doing? Have you spent significant time reviewing the thoughts in your mind to try to create a level of certainty for yourself that you are not capable of such atrocities? Only to have the horrible thought and anxiety wash over you repeatedly as the thought attacks your mind. Have you avoided situations, people, places or even things to avert the dark thoughts? Those with Harm OCD will be able to relate to these questions.


 Everyone on the planet has an occasional thought that is at odds with a personal value system. A taboo sexual thought about someone inappropriate, a child or a family member. Watching someone lean over an edge and wondering what it would be like to push him/her off the side. A thought, after seeing a knife on the counter and considering how it can hurt or even kill a loved one. These are only a few thought possibilities out of thousands that people experience every day. The difference between Harm OCD and a simple passing though lies in the intense anxiety and adrenalin experienced by Harm OCD sufferers. Most people have an intrusive thought and it passes, without scrutiny. When looking at Harm OCD, the thought turns into a completely different experience.


As I have mentioned in other posts, a person does not feel something for no reason. When thoughts and feelings come through them, there must be some level of truth. What makes Harm OCD different, interestingly, is that someone who is going to harm another person typically is not terrorized one is going to do it. They are excited, intrigued or experiencing depression, but not feeling doubt about their intentions. A Harm OCD sufferer reading this post will feel relief from their anxiety. They will get reassurance that what they are worried about is Harm OCD and it is not their true intention. The problem is that within moments, minutes, hours or even a few days, what has been read will not stick and their brain will reset as though they were never reassured. This is where the cycle of OCD continues.


Harm OCD assaults a person’s core. To imagine one could want to do dark and twisted things is terrifying. Mental compulsions are typical in this OCD type. Constantly asking for reassurance from others or clarifying their intent. When this happens, all the reassurance seeker needs are the “magic words.” The “magic words” will give them relief for a short time before the worry is back, the same or worse. Harm OCD sufferers mentally review the thoughts to make sure they do not mean what they feel. Avoidance is also a common tactic to neutralize a possible threat. “If I don’t go by knives then I don’t have to risk the possibility I could lose control, cut or murder someone.”


Harm OCD is no different from other types OCD. What a Harm OCD sufferer is worried about is not the problem. The problem is their brain. The brain is misfiring and the topic is whatever the mind decided to grab onto and exploit. An intrusive thought comes in and the brain perceives an incredible threat. The body wants to protect itself by releasing anxiety and adrenalin. The anxiety is so intense one would do anything to make it go away. A sufferer will neutralize the threat through compulsions and rituals. Once relief is established, the body gains confirmation that there was a reason for protection. The cycle starts all over again. You can tell a Harm OCD sufferer, they would never do what they are worried about, but it will not stop their brain from lying to them.


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