(Thoughts of Violence & Death)
People with Harm OCD experience intrusive violent thoughts or mental images of themselves or others being harmed. They worry someone will harm them or loved ones, or they fear they personally will cause the harm to themselves or others (which they never do). The harm could be a violent crime, an accident, suicide, or a natural disaster.
Find out if you have Harm OCD. Just email a question to Dr. Brodsky or arrange a free consultation. If you feel ready, you can make an appointment online instantly or call 212-726-2390. Sessions are available in-person or online nationwide.
Intrusive images can include those in which people see themselves hitting, stabbing, strangling, mutilating, or otherwise injuring or killing their children, family members, stranger’s pets, or even themselves. They may envision themselves using sharp or pointed objects such as knives, forks, scissors, pencils, pens, broken bottles, letter openers, ice picks, power tools, poison, their bare hand’s, or even their cars. The urges they experience may involve pushing or throwing themselves or others into the paths of trains or cars, out of windows, or off balconies, buildings, or other high places. Some report thoughts of hitting pedestrians, ramming their cars into bridge abutments on the highway, or steering into the path of oncoming traffic. Others fear they'll "snap" or going berserk in public and harming people.
Ironically, Harm OCD happens mainly to people who are extremely kind, self-sacrificing, pacifist, and syrupy sweet who "wouldn't hurt a flea." That's the nature of OCD is that it makes the person doubt the very trait they are most proud of. For example, a very sweet caring new mother will have thoughts of killing her new baby.
People who fear loved ones might be harmed in an accident or violent crime become alarmed if their loved one is late to meet them. They will repetitively call their loved one until they reach them to make sure they're safe. If they can't reach them right away, they'll call friends and coworkers of their loved one to ascertain where they were last seen. They might even call the police.
If you think you might have Harm OCD feel free to email a question to Dr. Brodsky or arrange a free consultation. If you feel ready, make an appointment online instantly or call 212-726-2390. Sessions are available online or in-person nationwide.
Sufferers tend to avoid being alone (if they fear hurting themselves) or with anyone more vulnerable, such as children, elderly people, or pets. Many compulsively put away all knives and other sharp objects. Others avoid going to train platforms or crowded public places for fear they'll push or bump into someone, or fear they themselves would jump off a platform. Or they might check that they didn't already harm someone. For example, they might look behind themselves on the sidewalk to see if they bumped into someone and knocked them down. Some will actually check police blotters, obituaries, and TV news to see if they murdered someone. Others repeatedly drive around the block to check if they ran someone over. Harm can also include intrusive thoughts of sexual assault, rape, or sexual abuse of children or other adults. They can replay events in their minds to assure themselves they did nothing inappropriate. They might even ask for their significant other to reassure they had obtained true consent from their partner for normal consensual intimacy.
News reporting on gun violence triggers many with Harm OCD to be consumed with constant fear they'll be a victim.
News reporting on gun violence triggers many with Harm OCD to constantly look for signs that someone might be a mass gunman or terrorist. Normal fear is understandable, but to be consumed with danger to the point of it interfering with their job or relationships can be a sign of Harm OCD.
Some sufferers repetitively review their actions over their whole lifetime to see if they might have murdered someone. Others might daily check TV news, headlines, and police blotters for reports of a violent crime (e.g., even mass gun killings) to see if they remember being there at the time.
Click to read this article about Dr. Brodsky's treatment of Harm OCD. Some sufferers watch the news to check if they murdered someone.