Urge to Harm Self, Others

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I have severe depression…possibly bipolar, urge to severely hurt women. First I’d like to say thank you for answering my question!

Okay so, past these few years I haven’t felt ‘normal’, currently I’ve been told by a counselor I suffer from depression, social anxiety and possibly BPD but I don’t see her anymore, there were times I used to think she was amazing but there were times I wanted to hurt. My mother was emotionally abusive and I had been bullied throughout my childhood/early teens, I was never allowed to express myself as an individual and hid my feelings to the point I sometimes still don’t remember my complete childhood at a given time as in sometimes I would view it as good and at other times really bad etc. Also as a child I remember having a fantasy life detached from my own and still do, I constantly talk to myself (I sit alone everyday and don’t talk to others much at all) and every time I talk to myself I have different opinions about the same matter.
I have strong desires or you could say random impulses to hurt others (women), I have sudden urges to hurt these women, whether it is beating them to death or forcing myself onto then and these women are complete strangers, I have to tell myself no I cannot do this, but a part of me really wants to but I don’t allow myself. I wouldn’t ever hurt any of these women but I have considered it in the past when these urges take control, it can be compared to as an urge to urinate If you get what I mean. I remember as a child wanting to hurt other children sometimes and I would sit there for hours and hours on end thinking about the ways I could do this. I have an pet dog who I adore and would never hurt, its just women I have this desire towards.

In addition to this I have olfactory hallucinations, where I can smell and taste things that are not there, e.g. I can smell my counsellor and taste the smell even though I’ve never met her in person and I can feel her presence around me a lot of the time, sometimes I feel as I am being watched even sitting in a room by myself but that’s not often, and I sometimes see shadows from the corner of my eyes.

Sometimes I believe people are out to get me and can read my thoughts;that everyone is talking and making fun of my thoughts to the point I’ve been scared to leave my house for about two weeks earlier in my life and it still happens occasionally but not to that extent. I suffer form severe depression and contemplate suicide every other day but after lets says having being depressed for 6months, I always suddenly become happy to the point I think I’m an amazing person and become very confident and outgoing making several plans but never get round to do any of them, this last for a few weeks and then I am suddenly depressed again….I’ve also been told I may have bipolar disorder but I don’t know what to think as I feel as if I may be making half this stuff up when I’m not. I now realise I need help but, if I was to go to the doctors I wouldn’t know what to say to them as I am generally afraid of talking to people and they wouldn’t take what I say seriously. Thank You.

A. You are doing the right thing by asking for help. You recognize that you have a problem and want to change. That is very encouraging.

You had a difficult childhood. You experienced psychological and verbal abuse. I am sorry about what you had to endure. Undoubtedly, it was a painful time. Some of that pain likely is still affecting you.

Some people with histories of abuse might develop an impulse to want to hurt others. The helplessness that a child feels when he or she is abused or bullied can be immense and overwhelming. Lashing out at others might feel like a way for them to gain control over some aspect of their lives. It may be a way to cope with the psychological aftermath of abuse. It might also be an attempt to compensate for feelings of helplessness and a lack of power in the world.

Your impulse is focused on harming women. The abuse that you suffered as a child was from a woman, your mother.

It is important to understand that purposefully harming someone is immoral. It’s a maladaptive coping mechanism and it is an act of evil. In all likelihood, it would mean that you would be incarcerated.

You were in therapy at one time but for some reason, it ended. I would strongly encourage you to return to therapy. Be honest with your therapist about how you are feeling. At this point, you’re able to control your impulses but there may come a time when you cannot. By not seeking help, you may be putting yourself and others in danger.

If you cannot control your impulses, then seek emergency assistance. Call 911 or go to an emergency room. The staff can keep you safe and protect you from harming others.

Therapy could be immensely beneficial for you. If you don’t feel comfortable with a female therapist, then choose a male therapist. Therapy could help you to develop positive and healthy coping skills and it can improve the overall quality of your life. I wish you the best of luck. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Dec 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Urge to Harm Self, Others. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/12/12/urge-to-harm-self-others/