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Thoughts about Inflicting Harm

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I would never purposefully harm (or kill) an animal or another person, but sometimes I think about it. I’ve thought about stabbing my mother while she’s asleep or hurting one of my animals. Today I picked up a hammer that my kitten had knocked to the floor and immediately envisioned hitting her with it. I love my mother, of course, and I love my animals, and I would never do anything to harm them. Sometimes I do lose my patience and get a little rough with my animals when they’re being brats, but I’ve never intentionally hurt them, and I always feel horrible if I even so much as shout at them. I just want to know why I envision doing these things when I’m not even capable of doing them, why I would even think about such acts. (From the USA)

Thoughts about Inflicting Harm

Answered by on -


  I think it take courage to talk about these uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. The important thing here is that you know the images and reactions are not something you would act on. Since your profile says that you are in college, I would use the university counseling center to discuss the discomfort that comes when these thoughts come up. There are techniques that can help you deal with them very directly, which should help reduce your anxiety.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Thoughts about Inflicting Harm

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Thoughts about Inflicting Harm. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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