I’m Dr. Marty Seif, and I will be providing information about intrusive thoughts in short newsletters. These newsletters will include the most current knowledge about them, and I’ll do my best to give you solid, factual information, free from myths and rumors that have been shown to be incorrect.
Anyone can sign up for these newsletters by clicking here.
In the meantime, please email me questions you might have. They will be answered in subsequent newsletters.
Martin N. Seif, Ph.D., ABPP
(Newest to oldest)
Reassurance: What it Is and What it Does.
In this newsletter I’m going to talk about reassurance: what it is, what it does, and why it is so important to limit it. And you will get a few pointers on how to do that.
Reassurances are very common. Here’s why: Whenever you have an unwanted intrusive thought (UIT), your first impulse might be to say to yourself, “Oh no! I wouldn’t do that!…. Or would I?” Or, “Why did I think of something so disgusting (or weird, or violent, or blasphemous)…could I want to do that? I can’t be that type of person.” Read more >
Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts: The Intruders We Want to Kick Out
Back to Basics. This newsletter is an updated review. Sometimes people forget what they first learn, and so I’m presenting an overview here.
If you have experienced anxiety, then you know about intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are frightening thoughts about what might happen to you or someone you care about, or what you might do to yourself or another person. They seem to come from outside of your control, and their content feels alien and threatening. Read more >
Unwanted Intrusive Sexual Fantasies
In today’s newsletter, I am addressing Unwanted Intrusive Sexual fantasies. I get many, many questions about this topic, and some people have a great deal of difficulty understanding them as just another variation of Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts. Here are snippets of text from some of the emails that have been sent to me. I am reprinting them in edited form because reading them might help you to recognize any of your own concerns about them. Read more >
What Does “Accept and Allow” Mean? How Do I Do It?
I get many questions about this concept. It’s quite tricky and it address the paradoxical nature of anxiety in general, and of unwanted intrusive thoughts in particular. Read more >
First, I strongly recommend that you read pages 118 -120 in our book, “Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts“. That book section has additional information on how to understand this difficult concept.
How to Tell if Your Thought Is An Unwanted Intrusive Thought
Although many, many intrusive thoughts center on the possibility of doing something awful (sexual, murderous, blasphemous), that is by no means the only content of these intrusions. Sometimes, when the content is quite different (for example, the fearful thought that someone will kill me, rather than I will kill someone else; or the repeating thought of seeming to be producing too much saliva), people wonder whether this is a true Unwanted Intrusive Thought (UIT). Read more >
Are Your Intrusive Thoughts Triggered?
One reader asked if unwanted intrusive thoughts happen randomly, out of the blue, or whether they can be triggered by something in the external environment. Here is the question:
I have read a lot of the information on your website and found it to be very helpful but i have a question regarding intrusive thoughts. On many websites it says they happen randomly– “out of the blue”– but can you get an intrusive thought from something in the external environment? I’m asking because I saw something on the news and a thought came into my mind, like a reaction. But it wasn’t the reaction I wanted or feel is true–my reaction didn’t seem to go along with my values. So instead of feeling instantly repulsed by the thought for a second or two I thought about it in a curiosity sort of way. Read more >
Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts is on Amazon!
I am very pleased to announce that my new book, Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts: A CBT-Based Guide to Getting Over Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts has just been listed on Amazon. This book, which was written by Dr. Sally Winston and me, is published by New Harbinger Press. You can pre-order this book and get a copy of it as soon as it is released. Read more >
Intrusive thoughts- What if I Did Something in the Past?
The last newsletter focused on intrusive thoughts concerning your fears of what you might do in the future and how terrible it would be if, in fact, you did that. As I mentioned, this is one of the the most common themes of Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts. But a second major category involves thoughts about things that you might have done in the past, (and it would be awful if you actually did those things), and how can you know for sure that you didn’t do them? This is what we are going to focus on in this newsletter. Read more >
Why Do Some Intrusive Thoughts Feel So Much Like Impulses?
Most intrusive thoughts (but not all of them) fit quite neatly into one of two basic categories. There are thoughts about things that you might have done in the past, (and it would be awful if you actually did those things), and how can you know for sure that you didn’t do them? And then there are the thoughts about what you fear you might do in the future. And it would be terrible if you actually did what you think about, and how can you know for certain that you won’t do them? This second category of thoughts are the ones we are going to speak about in this newsletter. Read more >
How many people have unwanted intrusive thoughts?
My best guesstimate is that there are more than 6 million people in the United States alone who—at some point in their lives—suffer from unwanted intrusive thoughts. Read more >
Why Is the Content of Intrusive Thoughts so Awful? Part 1
I’m often asked why unwanted intrusive thoughts have such terrible content. Common ones include: murdering a friend/spouse/child/stranger, accidentally or impulsively killing oneself, fears of sexual orientation, blasphemy, sexual abuse of all kinds and variations. Read more >
Why Is the Content of Intrusive Thoughts so Awful? Part 2
I’ll start with a quick review of the last newsletter and recap three simple facts about the way your brain works–(1) everyone has passing intrusive thoughts, (2) consciousness is broadband, but we are only aware of just a few elements, and (3) we focus on things that seem dangerous or “violate” our expectancy. All three facts lay the groundwork for the content of Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts. Read more >