It is well known that the aggravation of obsessive thoughts happens when the media reports about certain disasters. Whenever there is news of terrible events, everyone has a heightened understanding of what they are really happening and that it is natural to wonder whether they can not happen to you. During such reflections, images of these events may even arise.
If thoughts are troubling you and you have to actively work to clear your mind of them, reading about a mother who killed her children, or about an armed man who shot innocent babies, may well cause a noticeable increase in your anxiety. The reason is that you are sensitive to such thoughts, not that you are actually going to do something like that. Hypersensitivity can be compared to allergies. Allergic strongly reacts to substances that have virtually no effect on others. In the same way, you react intensely to certain thoughts that leave others indifferent. Just as allergies avoiding allergens, things you are particularly sensitive, causing you to try to ignore, displace, and deny their own obsessive thoughts. Because thoughts get stuck and start to seem like impulses the stronger the harder you try to drive them out of your mind, media reports can of course increase the intensity of your own thoughts. Hypersensitivity has a perfectly reasonable biological explanation, which will be given below.
For example, your stuck thoughts may be related to the possibility of committing some impulsive and dangerous act when you are driving a car. In this case, information about the mother who drove into the oncoming lane (which led to a terrible accident) will start a process that makes your own thoughts perceived as more dangerous. Remember that if you experience fear reading about an accident, it triggers a thought-fighting process, and the ironic thought process can win, leading to a significant buildup of your anxious thoughts.
So, if you learn that a suicide pilot crashed a plane full of passengers, and your obsessive thoughts are associated with a sudden impulsive suicide against your own will, you can redouble your efforts to stop these unwanted thoughts. You can even start hiding ropes and knives, although you don’t really have suicidal tendencies.
If you are haunted by thoughts of trouble that may occur and the need to prepare or exercise extreme caution, however unlikely, then reports of rare but horrific events, such as a plane crash or a shark attack, can generate even more unwanted thoughts in your mind. It will make you try harder to control them. Fear of deadly or severe diseases, such as Ebola virus or AIDS, works similarly. You try to banish these thoughts from your mind, but when the news provides numerous descriptions of the disease – especially the way it is transmitted despite active infection control – the anxiety intensifies. Then you get even more involved in the struggle, and your stuck thoughts like “what if…” start to seem more and more plausible.
Of course, the most frightening thing is the possibility of terrible events, no matter how low or even negligible their probability. This is another case of people experiencing anxiety, stop distinguishing between the real and the imaginary. So if the risks are high (for example, when it comes to death, humiliation or imprisonment), it doesn’t matter how small the chances are. And, of course, the media often pay special attention to terrible, dramatic and traumatic events.
Some people report having obsessive thoughts while watching movies like” the Exorcist “or”the Matrix.” This is what usually happens: you watch a movie, and suddenly out of nowhere you have a monstrous thought associated with what you see on the screen, and it scares you to death. The thought appears again and again, with the result that the fear increases so that you start to wage a real war with your thoughts. As already stated, to fight with thoughts is tantamount to acknowledging their victory.
However, the struggle seems so natural and necessary that you continue it. Ultimately, you don’t know what else to do in a situation like this, and you automatically feel fear, horror, and frustration.
The Restless voice and the voice of false calm are again involved in all this. The voice of wisdom has nothing to do with it.
Anxious voice: maybe I have an obsession? What if that’s why I’m having these horrible thoughts?
Voice of false calm: Don’t be stupid. Obsession only happens in movies.
Troubled voice: No, some religions believe that souls can be possessed. Why not listen to them?
Voice of false calm: It’s all just because of the impressions of the film. Stop thinking about it! It upsets me.
A restless voice: you Never know.
Maybe it is. Nothing can be proved.
Because of movies like the Matrix, people sometimes get hung up on the idea that reality may not be what it looks like, and that it’s impossible to know how other people perceive it. Suddenly it seems that all confidence in the reality of anything disappears, and you may even decide that you are losing contact with the world. As a result, there are obsessive fears. The thoughts conjured up by movies like” the Exorcist ” can relate to possible possession by an evil spirit and trying to figure out if it could actually happen, if it’s happening now, and whether you’re capable of hurting loved ones. Because these ideas scare you so much, you struggle with them, too, and – as you’ve probably guessed-it’s a guarantee that they get stuck in your mind.
The solution here is not to avoid the media – although this is the first impulse of those who face obsessive thoughts. We will show you how to enjoy watching movies, TV shows and use the Internet, regardless of whether it causes temporary obsessions.
Often, the less effort you make to avoid obsessive thoughts, the less your torment (though it is contrary to common sense).
In this Chapter, we have explored important information about obsessions that may have already quelled some of your fears and allowed you to embark on the path of recovery. Obsessive thoughts, no matter how strange and frightening they may be, are of the same type and have no importance. Obsessive thoughts get stuck because you unknowingly amplify them by trying to ban them. Their intensity and frequency vary depending on the nourishment they receive – trigger events in the real world or the looping of your consciousness as a result of fatigue, bad mood or anxiety disorder and, oddly enough, depending on the efforts you make in trying to overcome, avoid or suppress them. Most importantly, these are not impulses, and you have not lost control of yourself.
The next Chapter will describe the different types of obsessions.