I Have Horrible Evil Thoughts About People I Love

Reader’s Question

I have horrible evil thoughts about people I love. They are so bad, and I get so upset that I sometimes end up crying or hitting myself in the head with frustration. I’m 18, and I’m not depressed, but I find the thoughts are at times unbearably upsetting. Please help me: I’m embarrassed and ashamed and too scared to talk to anyone about this! Thank you.

Psychologist’s Reply

I’d like to point out that you describe being very upset, crying, hitting yourself, a sense of shame/guilt, and having horrible thoughts — but you add “I’m not depressed”. What you are describing is a type of depression. When we experience a long period of high stress or responsibilities, we can reduce the amount of a brain neurotransmitter called Serotonin. This neurotransmitter helps regulate sleep, appetite, body temperature, mood, and energy. When Serotonin levels are low, we have depression — crying spells, fatigue, poor concentration, can’t get to sleep, rapid mind speed, loss of motivation, physical distress, emotional outbursts, changes in appetite, etc.

Here’s where evil thoughts come in. Serotonin is also directly linked to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms such as obsessive thoughts (your evil thoughts), compulsive rituals such as counting or hand washing, obsessive worries, etc. When depression and OCD combine, the individual often has evil thoughts or intrusive/obsessive thoughts that are the opposite of their personality. In depression, the brain turns your thoughts against you. Religious individuals are tormented by profanities, mothers with post-partum depression are tormented by thoughts about harming their new baby, and in your case you’ve received evil thoughts about loved ones. Depressed hardened criminals are often tormented by religious thoughts. It’s weird the way it works…but it’s very predictable. As I think about it, in 38 years of clinical practice no one has every reported a pleasant obsessive thought. Recommendations:

  • Read my article on “Chemical Imbalance” on my website at www.drjoecarver.com. There is also an article on depression that might be helpful.
  • Take a few of the screening tests for depression and OCD on this website. Also read other questions related to depression and OCD by selecting those topics from the list of popular topics in the sidebar of this page.
  • Talk to your parents or your family physician/GYN about your depression. Modern medicine has several antidepressant medications that work very well with OCD symptoms.
  • Recognize that your evil thoughts are related to your recent changes in brain chemistry, probably due to stress. It’s like automatically thinking about food when we’re very hungry. Your evil thoughts are not produced because you are evil, they’re not related to God/Satan, and they are not commands. A fever is a sign that our body temperature is high and your “evil thoughts” are a sign that your Serotonin level is low. The body has built-in indicators/symptoms that surface any time a body system, fluids, or operation isn’t working correctly.
  • While this will go away with treatment, when we experience a depression, our symptoms will be the same in the future. Fifteen years from now, if you begin experiencing evil thoughts again, you’ll know that you’ve become stressed and depressed again. It will be time for a return to treatment to correct the problem.

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