Thursday, 15 October 2015

Crazy thoughts

Getting unwanted and peculiar thoughts is more usual than you might imagine. But most people don't like to admit to them because they don't want to appear crazy or irresponsible or dangerous.

It's very common to think about doing violence to other people - murdering them, attacking them, poisoning them, setting fire to them, or being sexually violent. Or you might be convinced you've run someone over, or unwittingly harmed them, or made them ill. Or you imagine your house is about to collapse, or you're dying of terminal cancer, or your car has a deadly fault.

Apparently the vast majority of parents have unwanted thoughts about harming their children (no doubt when little Rebecca is being especially arsey), but they wouldn't dare tell anyone else - unless the other person has confided first.

I have my fair share of bizarre thoughts I'd rather not share. After all, I want to be seen as sensible and responsible, not as some raving lunatic who wants to knife the next-door neighbour.

But when you bear in mind the sort of stresses and strains (and obstreperous people) we all have to cope with in our daily lives, it's hardly surprising our imaginations go a bit wild and start dreaming up outrageous solutions. How convenient it would be if that workmate who criticises everything you do suddenly vanished.

If you keep those odd thoughts to yourself and don't act on them, then it's no problem, it's just the normal workings of the human brain. What's alarming is those individuals who not only have odd thoughts but act on them and cause mayhem. Like the gunman who runs amok in a college, or the nurse who secretly poisons her elderly patients.

Goodness knows what that little old lady on the bus is quietly plotting....


  1. I think the most common one (at least among suburban moms) is thinking about driving off a bridge with the kids in the backseat.

  2. Bijoux: very understandable! Drowning your sorrows, as it were....

  3. I am crazy, but don't have crazy thoughts. At least I don't think I do. Very gullible though. That is a problem.

  4. I'm afraid I'm getting boring in my old age. Not even wild thoughts. How depressing. :(

  5. Susie: No crazy thoughts? What a very well-disciplined mind you must have! But gullibility can get you into big trouble....

    Jean: Another well-disciplined mind. Am I the only one with a wayward brain? Here's an example - When I hear of people mocking the disabled, I wish they would become disabled themselves, so they'd know what it's like.

  6. ". .that little old lady on the bus is quietly plotting...." Hijacking it? Famous last words, "Ha! That's not a real gun!"

    I can't stab my next door neighbour, much as I'd like to, because there is not enough room left under the patio.

    I went shopping in the local supermarket today and I had some really evil thoughts concerning my fellow shoppers, and the checkout girl who threw my wine bottles on top of the biscuits!

  7. Neurones firing off at random............
    Small cva's
    Border line mental illness

    Theres always a cause

  8. Having just had a session with an obstreperous water board official I indulged happy thoughts of doing an Edward |II on him with one of his own defective water pipes...

  9. Keith: Now I'll be imagining that every little old lady on the bus is about to hijack us....

    I'm always very careful to pack biscuits in my bag last of all so they can't get crushed by anything else.

    John: That's a bit scary. Border line mental illness, huh? But I've been having peculiar thoughts since I was a kid, in which case shouldn't I have been locked up years ago?

  10. Helen: Ah, the Cluedo solution at last - it was Helen in the hallway with the water pipe.

    Officials who insist on doing everything strictly by the book and absolutely no exceptions do prompt some pretty grisly fantasies....

  11. There's nothing quite like public transport for cultivating daydreams of committing acts of extreme violence.

  12. Dave: Very true. What with the buzzing earphones and the coughers and throat-clearers and the people with huge backpacks/suitcases. But actually I'm quite patient about eccentric passengers. All I want to see is a bus that actually comes at the time it's meant to and not 15 minutes later.

  13. My bizarre thoughts are restricted to our political dramas. Thankfully, I do not get any other kind. There is so much of the former that it crowds out other possibly bizarre thoughts.

  14. What a seriously disturbing, and disturbed post, Nick.

    Let's take it from the top: If, as you assert, people don't divulge their "crazy thoughts" how do you know anyone has them? It's a dangerous game to play, Nick, to project your own onto others.

    Of all the examples you have given, though according to you "very common", I haven't had one of those inclinations. Not one. Rver. And if I did I'd get myself checked into professional care, and locked up, asap.

    To name the most vile of your assertions: "Apparently the vast majority of parents have unwanted thoughts about harming their children ...". Where do you get this crap from? " ... the VAST majority of parents ..."? Are you ticking alright?

    I am amazed in what "good" humour your other commentators, so far, have taken a frankly unhinged and unsubstantiated account of how the minds of your fellow beings work.

    On danger of you feeding thoughts of coming after me with a clever I take my leave of you, Nick. What you wrote there is beyond a joke and, more importantly, it's beyond reason.


  15. Ramana: How very compassionate you must be, that you never get the urge to throttle someone or put them in a padded cell! As for politics - politicians produce so many bizarre thoughts that my own bizarre thoughts are small-fry in comparison.

  16. Ursula: Goodness, if that's disturbing, I wonder how you see something truly disturbing - like the war in Syria or climate change.

    The thoughts I mention were quoted in an article on OCD. As OCD affects about 1.5% of the population, that's getting on for a million people in the UK. So they are indeed common thoughts, though obviously not affecting every single person.

    I doubt if you would get yourself professionally checked out for wanting to throttle someone.

    As for parents, my source is Abramowitz JS, et al. Obsessional thoughts in postpartum females and their partners: content, severity, and relationship with depression. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings 2003; 10:157-64. And that's just postpartum.

    I may have had a few uncharitable thoughts about you on occasion, but nothing as extreme as coming after you with a cleaver. You've no doubt had a few uncharitable thoughts about me as well, but I remain sublimely unruffled.

  17. Next up: a post on fluffy kittens and adorable grinning toddlers....

  18. The "thoughts" you mention "were quoted in an article on OCD. ... OCD affects about 1.5% of the population." Ok, Nick. I shall not point out to you that 1.5 % of the population is NOT "MOST people".

    How many times have I said to you that I believe you are totally OTT (over the top) with your pronouncements on your fellow human beings? You project onto others ad nauseam. When you post why not leave out bullshit publications gleaned from whatever source and just talk about you and your take on life instead of hiding behind "most" people.

    And do not doubt my words: Yes, I would get myself checked out if I ever harboured the vaguest of feelings you suggest. Unless I were a character in an Agatha Christie. But then I'd be fictional.

    As to your last assertion: You may doubt - again don't project your own feelings onto me - that I haven't had "a few uncharitable thoughts about you". No, Nick, I haven't. Nothing of the magnitude your original post suggests. What I think of you is that you have had some sort of trauma in your early life which haunts you to this day, has coloured your view, something you have been unable to shake off.

    The reason I have followed your writings for a good many years that I have a sort of morbid fascination with your - to me alien - view of the world and its inhabitants. If I could put you under the microscope I would (not to dissect you - just to get a better view).

    You know what baffles me more than anything? That the likes of, say, Cheerful Monk and Ramana, two people who tend to tease out the bright side of life, do indulge you so much. That they haven't lost patience with you yet is a miracle. I haven't lost patience with you either. But am a little fatigued at your relentless (in my view) "ain't the world awful" attitude.

    I am sorry, Nick. Can't promise I won't be back but you do have exhausted me for the time being.

    You "unruffled"? My dear Nick, do not deceive yourself. It takes nothing to ruffle your feathers coming out the other side looking like drawn through the hedge backwards.



  19. my go~to is...
    "i could shoot off their knee caps!"

    as in the idiots who think the orcas in captivity are happy.

    or the idiots who leave babies and dogs in cars to suffocate and die a horrible death in the heat... "oh. i just forgot it was in there!"

    i mentally shoot off a lot of knee caps.

    oh... and the annual horrendous SLAUGHTER of dolphins by the japenese in that bay of blood...
    the list goes on.

  20. Ursula: I meant most people who get unwanted thoughts, not most people full stop.

    Yes, I admit I'm probably OTT at times. Like "most people". And actually I talk about my own take on life quite a lot. In fact some would say I'm rather self-centred.

    Trauma in my early life is spot on. In fact I've mentioned my dismal childhood many times in this blog. How my early trauma might influence my current scribblings I'm not sure, as I've never gone in for psychotherapy. But quite a lot, I suspect.

    I think you're confusing my generally quizzical approach to the world with an "ain't the world awful" attitude. Yes, a lot of things are truly awful, but I do try to find the gold nuggets among the garbage.

    "Drawn through the hedge backwards"? Not physically I don't think, but a good description of my emotional state on occasion. Like "most people" I expect.

  21. Tammy: That thought is probably more violent than anything I would come up with! I do share your disgust though with all the things you mention - excusing captive animals, leaving babies and dogs in sweltering cars and slaughtering dolphins. Not to omit those sick individuals who enjoy killing elephants and lions.

  22. Well now, Nick, I have no intention of telling you what his little old lady on the bus is quietly plotting....! You know the number of my bus and will just have to read about it in the papers or on the News at Ten. :P

  23. I write much from the dark side, the stuff I wouldn't dream of doing I have my characters perform in locum and then see how they get away with it (not).

    My dreams fulfil desires, I think. Stuff that bubbles below the surface often comes alive in deep sleep.

    H'm. Food for thought this.


  24. "After all, I want to be seen as sensible and responsible, not as some raving lunatic who wants to knife the next-door neighbour."

    Think you just gave it away there Nick. A schoolboy error. Someone needs to warn the neighbours.

  25. Grannymar: Oh yes, I know you're not as innocent as you look! You're quietly plotting a frenzy of yarn-bombing....

    www: I think a lot of writers are fictionalising the dark scenarios that run through their brains but can't be expressed openly. The stuff my brain produces while I'm asleep is pretty weird to say the least.

  26. Andrew: The neighbours have installed a top-of-the-range security system just in case I break down their front door with a machete....

  27. the NRA would like to sell you a gun nick! LOLOL
    heaven help us.
    they probably want the children to be armed next.

  28. Tammy: Oh, guns are easy enough to obtain. I've got thirteen handguns and rifles in the cupboard under the stairs. All loaded and ready to go!

    The NRA is a totally irresponsible organisation. Sooner or later the tide will turn against them. And I seem to remember reading that they DO want schoolchildren to be armed "so as to protect themselves". God help us all.

  29. To those who doubt that violent and bizarre thoughts are that common, try these two words: Twitter trolls.

  30. Ursula,
    I think Ramana and CM indulge Nick because they are just nice.

    I have never and will never be tempted to harm my children. In that area I'm assuming you are extrapolating from something about postpartum psychosis, which is rare indeed.

  31. Kylie: Of course I'm not saying parents are deliberately harming their children. I'm only saying that violent thoughts can sometimes cross their minds, but thankfully such thoughts are very seldom acted on. Just as we might fleetingly think of attacking a draconian boss, or an intransigent official, or an obtuse call centre worker.

    I don't know about postpartum psychosis, but as you know post-natal depression is very common.

  32. I think that unwanted thoughts can be very upsetting and disturbing for some people. However, it is usually only those who are definitely mentally ill act on them. Other people, though, do suffer, or so I am told. I sometimes get weird thoughts too, but they don't usually worry me. When the mind at rest it automatically conjures up all kinds of stuff, and if we are asleep this odd stuff comes out in dreams, whereas if we are awake we push them away. Or that is how it seems to me. I think that unwanted fears and compulsions might be something rather different from just the usual idle speculations, though. They can, I am told, be very distressing for those afflicted

  33. Jenny: My "odd stuff" tends to come out in dreams too rather than during the day. Yes, I think most people aren't bothered by the odd bizarre thought. It's only if those thoughts become obsessive or compulsive, and start to disrupt your normal everyday life, that they become a serious problem.

  34. In my clinical experience, most people do in fact have an occasional crazy or violent thought. I think that's quite normal. I talk to patients about those moments where you want to toss your child out the window. Or the surprisingly common experience of having a wish that your significant other (if you are in a bad relationship) would die in a fiery car crash.

  35. Agent: Glad you've confirmed that thoughts like that are very common. Surely if someone's giving you a really hard time, the idea of violent retaliation is simply human nature? Only a saint would smile sweetly and turn the other cheek.