Do you know what intrusive thoughts are?

Intrusive thoughts are a series of somewhat unpleasant, incongruous thoughts or visions that go beyond all logic and our principles, but that we can all suffer from. When we finish reading this text, we will know what they are, we will know some types and examples, their causes and what to do or when to ask for help.

The human mind remains a great mystery and every day our brain has to control our entire organism, from standing, breathing, beating, making decisions, processing sounds and images, digesting, moving, etc. There are countless functions that happen every second or thousandth of a second during all the days of our lives.

This is why when the machinery begins to fail, we must take it seriously and look for quick and effective solutions so that the failure does not go further and cause greater problems.

Intrusive thoughts are only a small part of what it means to suffer a mental disorder, but as we have already advanced, we can have this type of thinking and visions, even if our mind is healthy. We should not be ashamed, that is why we want to give them visibility from our position and explain everything that is known about them.

Something we want to make clear is that one thing is a thought, an idea or a vision, and quite another to carry out those intrusive thoughts. When you try or give free rein, there is a lot of risk for the person who suffers them and for those around them. They are attitudes of alert that should not be ignored or downplayed.

What are intrusive thoughts?

In short, these thoughts are a series of visions, ideas and infunds that our mind creates, which is why they are also known as unfounded thoughts. They are unreal scenarios that our mind creates and that escape our way of being, our principles, and all logic.

They are unjustified thoughts and there really is no reason to think those things. When intrusive thoughts are very constant, it is caused by a mental disorder and we must go to the psychologist to solve these basic problems.

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Some examples of intrusive thoughts or scenarios are:

  • What if I push her down the stairs?
  • What if I leave the door open and the dog leaves?
  • Do I leave the gas open?
  • Do I open the car door? (While we are driving).
  • Am I leaving without paying?
  • Thinking of hurting someone.
  • Pushing someone onto the tracks.
  • What if I haven’t closed the door?
  • What if I’m not going to work today?
  • Have I disconnected the plug?
  • Thinking of having a sexual encounter with someone who is not our type.
  • Leaving the house without notifying anyone.

As we see, they are involuntary thoughts that come to our mind spontaneously , but depending on the severity of those thoughts, or if it goes from being an idea to an attempt or the assiduity of those mental scenarios, is when we should seek help.

Types of thoughts

Within intrusive thoughts there are several types and we are going to explain them in a simple way so that we can understand the classification:

Violent or aggressive

They consist of thought with a certain cruelty, where there is explicit violence and intentions to harm, as well as aggressive actions. As we have already said, one thing is intrusive thinking that suddenly appears and then disappears, and another thing is to believe that idea, try it and carry it out.

If we have many scenarios in our head where we want to harm someone, run over, injure, mistreat, hit, hurt , etc. someone, or even self-harm ourselves, we should put ourselves in the hands of a psychologist to help us.


Sexual thoughts are more common than we think, but in this case they are not related to complicity and healthy sexual desire with our partner. Rather, they are sexual thoughts and erotic fantasies with people that we really do not like or should not like because morally it would be a very reprehensible act.

Some ideas are having incest relations, raping a daughter, having relations with minors, with parents, committing sexual crimes, having obscene images with strangers, zoophilia, etc.

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Against our values and principles

They are known as blasphemous intrusive thoughts, since they tend to go against religious beliefs, mainly. We can also go against our values, family, political ideals, principles , etc.

They are disturbing thoughts such as recreating scenes in the head of the Virgin Mary maintaining relationships, or bleeding from the eyes, believing that we are possessed, causing damage to the family structure, going against our values and principles, etc.

Main causes

Intrusive thoughts appear, as a general rule, when they are associated with a mental disorder, although almost all of us have had them and will have them, even if we do not have any mental problem that aggravates them.

Post traumatic stress

After a very traumatic episode, a shock is generated in the patient and from there they may suffer certain mental problems, including violent intrusive thoughts, apart from depression, anxiety disorder, panic attacks and others.

You have to maintain a lot of communication with the person who has suffered, go to therapy and have a lot of trust and emotional stability with that person to release unnecessary fears and burdens.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

It is a mental disorder in which the appearance of these random and recurring visions, ideas and thoughts is very common.

In this case, they are a series of intrusive thoughts derived from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, better known as OCD . They are the thoughts and scenarios that a person creates in their head when they suffer from OCD, in addition, these types of patients have difficulties to ignore these ideas and can end up giving them more importance and relevance than they have.

OCD patients suffer a lot from these thoughts, since they can become obsessions and never stop seeing them, and even satisfy those mental desires. This poses a risk to those around them and to themselves.


A term that is becoming very common today is that those who suffer from anxiety also live with intrusive thoughts on a daily basis. Anxiety disorder generates restlessness, nervousness, fear, intense worries, thinking about everything, etc.

Intrusive thoughts are usually dramatic and almost always refer to their own death, accidents, catastrophes, illnesses, disappearances, serious problems, etc.

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This disease is based on a very hard and deep feeling such as sadness, but taken to the extreme together with melancholy, discouragement, fears, etc. Here those visions, scenarios, thoughts and others are usually related to suicide and self-harm.

Within this group is postpartum depression , and it is that many women suffer depression when they give birth and it is due to strong hormonal changes. In this situation, many women suffer high episodes of intrusive thoughts and are usually very violent such as killing their child, themselves or other people. This creates more discomfort and depression increases.

How to cope with this situation

If they are occasional thoughts, passengers that we do not want to carry out, as they come to mind, they leave. What we have to avoid is going around and around them, but the most important thing is not to carry them out. It is at that precise moment, when we feel the intention to fulfill the thought, when we already have to seek professional help.

To overcome this situation you have to let it pass and not give it importance. If we see that they are situations that are repeated a lot or that we even feel satisfaction, we should also go to the psychologist.

The more we focus, the more serious it becomes . We must be mere spectators, as if it were a movie or something that someone is telling, but that does not go with us. Learning to relativize those thoughts is key, because they are made-up situations that appear randomly and meaninglessly in our heads.

We have to see if to avoid them we are creating manias, since that can make the situation worse in the long run. Mindfulness and meditation tend to help a lot, as well as going to therapy, doing sports, having healthy relationships, etc.