Intrusive Thought: "What if I Harm a Child?" (POCD)

When the same thought, image, dream, or motif shows up across cultures and crosses all of our lines of classification (age, gender, geography, race, religion), we call it an archetype. For example, the dreams where you show up at school without your pants on or have forgotten to study for a test are archetypal dreams. The character of the wicked witch or the evil stepmother are archetypal symbols. And the thought, “What if I’m a pedophile?” is one of many archetypal thoughts – alongside “What if I don’t love my partner?” and “What if I have a terminal illness?” – that clients and course members have shared with me over the past two decades. It’s also one of the most highly misunderstood intrusive thoughts and the one that often causes the most anguish. As the Louisville OCD clinic writes:

Although all the many ways that obsessive-compulsive fears manifest themselves can … Click here to continue reading...

Birth Trauma and Anxiety

When working with anxiety and intrusive thoughts, the essential component is to resist the gravitational and habitual pull to attach onto the stories that appear like planets in our inner galaxy and assume that they’re true.  The story of the day – whether it centers around your relationship, your fertility, your job, your health, or your children – occupies so much space and presents its argument with such conviction that the untrained mind will naturally attach and interpret in a lightening flash second. That’s why the first step is to name all of your go-to thoughts so that when they appear you can immediately identify them for what they are: flares from psyche that come bearing gifts in the form of the alarming story of the current thought.

Once we detach from the thought-sphere, we must then ask, “What is this thought protecting me from feeling? What is the … Click here to continue reading...