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I Sometimes Want to Hurt Others?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

From a teen in the U.S.: I understand this type of question has been asked before, but none of the responses, or even questions themselves, really covered what I am feeling, so… Here goes.

I have the sudden impulse, when I am around loud, messy, or emotional people, to hurt them. Severely. Sometimes my impulses- which, mind you, I never act upon — go so far as to suggest I kill them; sometimes it’s just to inflict pain. At the same time, however, I don’t want to hurt them — it just seems like violence is the only way to get them to stop their actions. This only ever happens around the type of people who make any display of their emotions or eat/talk/etc. loudly, and as far as I can tell it’s just to make them go away, and stop their actions. A part of me suggest they’re too weak to be around if they’re displaying their emotions so overtly, or too simple-minded if they’re talking/eating/etc. too loudly.

Due to some childhood experiences I’d rather not share I tend to have zero tolerance for those I perceive as ‘weak’, which is not a conscious decision as far as I know. It is more of a reaction- when I see perceived ‘weakness’, I get annoyed incredibly fast and want them to either stop the action that displayed the weakness or for them to leave. Usually, in social situations, this can be generally avoided or ignored.

Unfortunately, this perception has spread to my mother, whom I am currently caring for. She and I share a room, and I am witness to her various emotional breakdowns, loud sounds, and other sensory annoyances. I have had to leave the room to get away from the sounds so I did not fall prey to the impulse to stop it myself.

Do you know of any way to get these unwelcome impulses to go away? I’m concerned I may just act on them. Several times I almost have, and it worries me, because I don’t want to hurt them, not really — I just want them to stop, which is not my decision nor within my realm of control. Is there anywhere you can point me towards that can help?

I Sometimes Want to Hurt Others?

Answered by on -


Thank you for writing. You have already shown that you do have control. You have resisted the impulse to hurt others thus far and now you are writing to us here at PsychCentral. There is a core of health at work here. Now let’s build on that.

There’s a saying: “Hurt people hurt people.” Your impulse to hurt others is probably a way you are dealing with your own pain. Your defense against any show of weakness is to feel aggressive. It’s understandable. It may even work for the short run as long as you confine the response to feelings, not action. But, as you already know, unless you find other ways to manage your fears, they will eventually pop and both hurt someone else and get yourself into serious trouble.

What you need is some focused therapy to help you deal with whatever happened that you don’t want to talk about. With help, you can find other ways to feel strong and be strong. With the support and advice that therapy can provide, you can get past whatever it was that hurt you so profoundly. Please take care of yourself by looking for a therapist who specializes in working with young people.

In the meantime: There are a number of hotlines available to teens. Calls are confidential and free. Go to to find the phone numbers. Counselors are available to help you talk out whatever is troubling you at the time and to help you find further help if you need it.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

I Sometimes Want to Hurt Others?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). I Sometimes Want to Hurt Others?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 2, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 10 Mar 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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