The Imp of the Mind: Exploring the Silent Epidemic of Obsessive Bad Thoughts, by Lee Baer, PhD, is a book that will give sufferers of “bad thoughts” OCD a lot of hope. OCD is an extremely isolating illness, but if you read this book, you will know you are not alone.
Everyone has bad thoughts
I think the “aha!” moment for me about bad thoughts OCD came a few years ago, when I learned that everyone has bad thoughts. Studies have been done showing that the majority of people have thoughts that are just like those of people with OCD. (The joke I hear at OCD/anxiety disorders conferences is that the remaining minority of people in the studies have these thoughts, too—they just aren’t being truthful about it!) Dr. Baer talks about these studies, giving examples of the kinds of weird thoughts people without OCD have every day. So if everyone has these thoughts, why don’t we all have OCD? The difference is: people without OCD just don’t pay any attention to these strange cognitions that pop into their minds.
It’s all in the interpretation
For instance, a man driving a carpool of children might be going down the road in his car and think, “I could just ram my car into the side of that upcoming bridge and kill us all,” and then think, “I wonder how the Braves did last night?” The first thought, one of horrific violence, doesn’t even register. The man didn’t give it any credence, and he went on to the next thought.
For those of us with bad thoughts OCD, we give meaning to the fact that we thought the thought in the first place. If we had the thought above, we might think “Why did I think that? Do I want to kill all these children? Does this mean I’m a horrible person?” We interpret the thought differently, and that interpretation can be the source of our despair.
A quick and interesting read
Dr. Baer does a wonderful job of explaining bad thoughts OCD, including all the forms it takes, hypotheses of why these bad thoughts happen, and what we can do about it, including exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy as a first-line treatment and cognitive therapy for those who do not respond to ERP. I think the book will be a source of great solace and comfort to those who are suffering from bad thoughts OCD and feel all alone. So, it’s one of the books available in my lending library for clients.
If you are struggling with bad thoughts OCD, you do not need to suffer. You can take your life back. If you’d like to learn more about how I help clients with bad thoughts OCD using ERP as well as cognitive therapy, please call me at 404-632-4804 or Contact Me.