Having unwelcome or inappropriate thoughts is very common—most of us have such thoughts at one time or another and it is not unusual to find our minds drifting off on a naughty X-rated fantasy involving the cute young guy in Accounts and a selection of vegetables whilst sitting through another boring meeting. However, such inappropriate thoughts can become intrusive and distressing for some people, and in more serious cases, obsessive thoughts without compulsions are associated with obsessive compulsive disorder and other anxiety related mental health disorders.
What are obsessive thoughts without compulsions?
Patients suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder will find it hard to ignore inappropriate and obsessive thoughts and as the illness develops, the thoughts will become more and more intrusive and frequent. Although many patients suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder will eventually develop compulsive behavioral problems as a result of the obsessive thoughts, such thoughts can also occur without compulsions.
Should the patient begin to develop behavioral compulsions as a result of obsessive thoughts impinging on their everyday life, they might initially experience a temporary sense of relief after carrying out the compulsive behavior. But unfortunately, this sense of relief is normally very short lasting and the anxiety soon returns stronger than ever.
Obsessive involuntary thoughts generally fall into three specific categories: aggressive, sexual, and blasphemous.
Intrusive aggressive thoughts are a normal part of the human condition, but for many people they can take on an obsessive quality and start to interfere with their quality of life. People suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder often report suffering from persistent thoughts of harming loved ones, elderly people, or animals. They might begin to see violent images in their head or worry that something awful will happen to a loved one.
Inappropriate sexual thoughts can cause people suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder to suffer guilt, shame, and intense anxiety. These obsessive sexual thoughts are often accompanied by a worry that the person might be tempted to act upon their sexual thoughts, which in turn can lead to a strong sense of self loathing and embarrassment.
Blasphemous religious obsessive thoughts are another common symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder and patients are more likely to suffer from obsessive blasphemous thoughts than any other. Religious and blasphemous obsessive thoughts can take all kinds of forms, including a fear of being possessed or sexual thoughts about religious entities. As a result, patients with strong religious beliefs and convictions are more likely to suffer high levels of torment from such thoughts.
Patients suffering from obsessive thoughts without compulsions can find it very difficult to admit that they are actually having such thoughts, mainly because they are frightened other people will think they are ‘evil’ or ‘crazy’. But trying to suppress the thoughts will only make them stronger and more powerful, which in turn is more likely to lead to compulsive behavioral problems.
For less serious cases of obsessive thoughts without compulsions, cognitive behavioral therapy can help the patient manage their intrusive thoughts, but more serious cases will require desensitization or exposure and response prevention therapy to provide some relief.