Unwanted Distressing Intrusive Thoughts

Have you ever had a thought, image or impulse suddenly pop into your mind for no particular reason, interrupt your train thought, and make you feel uncomfortable, possibly even upset?  Maybe it’s a thought of dirt or contamination, a doubt over a previous action, of harming someone or saying something rude, or possibly a disgusting religious or sexual thought.  If you’ve experienced such an unwanted intrusive thought, then you’re not alone.  In our studies we’ve found that over 90% of people experience these types of unwanted thoughts on a fairly frequent basis.  We been conducting research into unwanted intrusive thoughts because we know some people become very distressed by these mental intrusions and some even develop obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  Ultimately our goal is to discover a possible cause of OCD and how it might be treated.  Our research studies into unwanted intrusions have investigated a number of specific questions:

  1. why some people experience a lot of distressing intrusive thoughts and other people experience hardly any intrusions,
  2. how an intrusive thought can develop into an obsession,
  3. whether mental intrusions are a universal phenomena evident around the world,
  4. if certain types of thoughts are more problematic than others,
  5. what is the best way to control unwanted, distressing intrusive thoughts?