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Why Do I Have Abusive Thoughts?

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From a teen in the U.S.: Whenever I do something mildly wrong, get called an idiot, or just generally feel upset, I feel the need to have violent fantasies about being sexually, emotionally, or physically abused until I cry. The fantasies have been following the same narrative where someone severely abuses me and is justified because I did something horribly wrong to my abuser or their family member.

These fantasies first started in 7th grade when my teacher got upset with me for doing my homework during a group discussion. She stood me up in the middle of class, asked me a question that I should have known the answer to, and yelled at me for getting it wrong. I cried for the rest of the day because I could not stop thinking about what she told me (I don’t even remember what she said). Sometimes I wonder if that had not happened whether or not I would be like this today or if its caused by someting deeper.

Prior to this occurence I never had these fantasies or even cried often, but after that event I spent the next couple of years having these fantasies until I cried in the afternoons and before bed at least once a day(my family never found out I did this).

I do not have them as often now, but occasionally I will feel the urge to do this and I cannot concentrate until I do. I don’t cry after fantasies anymore, but I will start to feel nauseous and sick instead. I don’t understand why I can’t keep myself from doing this or why I find it sort of relieving. I have never been abused in any way and my family is good to me. The fantasies have become very normal to me, but I sometimes find it to be too debilitating and disturbing. They make me feel horrible about myself, but I don’t know how to stop. What does this mean and what do I do?

Why Do I Have Abusive Thoughts?

Answered by on -

A.

Thank you for writing. I’m sure this is hard to live with. I think you keep having the fantasies because at some point they worked for you. You are a sensitive young woman who has a strong moral compass.

In 7th grade, you knew you had done something wrong and earned the reprimand. But, being you, you couldn’t let it go. You felt so bad about it that you went over it and over it. Crying may have relieved some of the intense feelings of shame and perhaps anger that went with thinking about what happened. If it had stopped there, it would have been an unfortunate reaction to a very usual piece of mischief that kids do.

But being as concerned as you are with right and wrong, any time since then that you have felt accused or reprimanded, it has reminded you of that first time when you were not only wrong but humiliated for it. Your unconscious self then also remembered that crying gave you some relief.

I suspect the “lesson” generalized and you started to cry any time you needed relief from stress. Stress just comes with being a teen so there was probably reason to look for some relief every day. But then you end up feeling bad that you feel bad. That must feel terrible!

Unfortunately, your reaction has become a kind of bad habit. Having practiced it for years, feeling sick or crying is an automatic response to stress.

You need some new ways to handle stress and shame. Maybe you can figure it out yourself but you would probably benefit from seeing a therapist who could give you some new tools and help you practice them. I hope you will consider seeing a licensed therapist to help you with this so you can go forward into adult life with less distressing ways for relieving anxieties and stress.

I wish you well

Dr. Marie

Why Do I Have Abusive Thoughts?

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. (2019). Why Do I Have Abusive Thoughts?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 16, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/06/06/why-do-i-have-abusive-thoughts/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 5 Jun 2019
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 5 Jun 2019
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