OCD Chicago

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Information for Individuals

Fear of Causing Harm

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Read the article: How I Treat OCD Killer Thoughts: Treating Violent Obsessions

Fears about harm, whether physical, sexual or mental, often are accompanied by morbid obsessions about causing harm, such as:

  • Concerns about being careless and possibly causing harm to another or self, including in the preparation of food; providing care for children, medical care or elder care
  • Fear of not doing enough to help another
  • Concerns that words or acts will be misinterpreted as hurtful (or sexual)
  • Involuntary thoughts of violent behavior or of willfully causing harm to another individual, child, pets or self
  • Unwanted vivid imagery of violence or of a harmful sexual nature
  • Fears of possibly having committed such acts in the past
  • Sudden frightening thoughts about carrying out such acts
  • Magical thinking – the belief that a thought can cause an event to happen or not happen

OCD compulsions that may be used to ease the anxiety created by these obsessions include:

  • Repeatedly checking to make sure appliances are turned off or that doors to a home, garage or office are locked
  • Avoiding being around certain people or children (or not being alone with them)
  • Repeatedly checking on children (or someone in your care) to see if they are OK
  • Repeatedly washing food, examining food for spoilage
  • Mentally arguing with thoughts of harmful actions
  • Conducting physical or mental rituals, such as repeating words, phrases, prayers; counting, saying or avoiding saying certain words or phrases at all costs to keep bad things from happening or harm coming to self or others
  • Spending time analyzing harmful thoughts and looking for signs of agreement with the thoughts

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