Having Disturbing Thoughts about My Friend

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’m worried about my thoughts about my friend. He is very depressed and has recently been self-harming by starving himself. He is seeing a therapist and getting help. At first I tried to help and it wasn’t easy as I was feeling depressed but i always put him first. But, I thought about what would happen if he killed himself and now I want him to do it, I want him to die. This is a horrible thing to feel.

I myself have been receiving counseling within my college and through discussing my childhood, she said that I seem to have been deprived of any attention & affection from when i was growing up (which is true and how i feel). I know that when I did start feeling down, my tutor offered lots of support and I enjoyed the attention and I made things worse just so I could get more of it. Now things are better the attention has gone and I’m tempted to let things go again. I haven’t yet and I feel I am much stronger now.

This thought for my friend to kill himself is because people know he is my only friend and I know, well, I think it would make me upset so I would get support. I just find it hard to be independent and I feel I need constant reassurance and attention. Wanting my friend to die is extreme and I’m concerned abut me thinking this.

I can function on my own in a limited manner, i.e i can get on with work within my college, care for myself. Although I am not very good at going out on my own due to social anxiety. I just after like a period of depression I feel good, great in fact and now I am planning on sorting my college work out, catching up and trying my best so I’m successful. But I need someone to push me, to tell me what to do otherwise I’ll eventually reach a dead end and I need constant support. If I don’t get it I begin to fall back to square 1 and this desire for my friend to die I feel is warning signs that I’m reaching that dead end and will need something soon otherwise I can feel me falling again.

I feel guilty and evil for wanting him to die just so i will get attention. I want to talk about it but I don’t think i would be able to. I mean it’s hardly normal and a very dark thing to say. I just don’t know what it is why do I feel like this, why do I need so much support? I am considering mentioning this to my counselor but i don’t know how she’ll react and I’m worried about what she’ll say.

Hence why I asked here, is there something seriously wrong with me to think in this way? I hate the feelings he doesn’t deserve that. I just don’t feel I can be any help to him if I feel like this and without him I would have no one, yet, I want him to die. It makes no sense I’m really confused I just don’t know what to think.

Thanks for reading.

A. I understand your concern. It is important to keep in mind that your thoughts are just that, thoughts. It is difficult to know for certain what prompted them. I suspect, as does your counselor, that the reason is related to your own unresolved psychological and emotional issues stemming from your less-than-ideal childhood. There is a strong possibility that your negative thoughts are a symptom of your own personal suffering.

To believe that you are evil is to pass a moral judgment about yourself but let’s look at the facts. As you wrote, you don’t really want your friend to die. You long for the attention that you might receive from being the friend of an individual who died. In addition, you have guilt about your feelings. As M. Scott Peck discussed in his book about the nature of human evil, evil people are not “blessed by guilt.” Guilt is a blessing to “good” people. Guilt is a blessing because it prevents behavior that would be considered evil or sinful.

I would strongly encourage you to discuss this matter with your therapist. The fact that you are bothered by your thoughts makes it a very important and appropriate topic for therapy. You feel shame about your thoughts but it is imperative that you are as honest as possible throughout the course of therapy. The therapy process is stymied when an individual withholds important information.

The other aspect of your question is why you continue to need support. An individual who has been damaged during his or her early formative years often experiences psychological problems as an adult. That is the standard psychoanalytic view of psychological problems and it seems to be true for many people. In addition, most people throughout their lives need guidance in some form or another. Needing that guidance is nothing to be ashamed of. Unfortunately, many people believe that needing help is akin to being a failure. It is one of the primary reasons why some people refuse to go to therapy. In their view, needing help is shameful and it’s a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are not born knowing how to live. The fact of the matter is that life can be very confusing and guidance is often necessary. You have a therapist and many would consider you to be very fortunate. If you have access to the proper guidance, then I would suggest utilizing that valuable resource. I hope this helps. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Having Disturbing Thoughts about My Friend. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/07/my-friend-is-having-disturbing-thoughts/