Thoughts are not illegal. You can’t get into trouble for your thoughts. You can’t go to jail for how you think. No one will charge you with a crime for having fantasies. There is no such thing as the thought police. You’re free to think anything you want, about any topic.
However, you should never ignore the danger of homicidal fantasies. They happen for a reason—deep distress, pain and suffering, among other explanations. They always indicate that something is wrong.
Currently, there’s no definitive evidence that indicates that homicidal fantasies lead to homicidal actions. In fact, studies show that the majority of people in the population have thought about killing someone, at some point, in their lives. Despite that fact, most people never kill anyone. Relative to other crimes, murder is relatively rare.
Among individuals who commit homicide, particularly those who commit serial homicide, it is common for them to have had repetitive homicidal fantasies. That is always a red flag. Many serial offenders have described intense, strong urges and a compulsion to kill. These often occur in a stepwise escalation wherein the fantasy grows stronger and more difficult to resist over time. At some point, they feel compelled to act upon their urges.
The key in the aforementioned circumstance is that those offenders made a decision to act upon their fantasies. They chose to do what they did. Some have indicated that they could not control their urge, thus suggesting that their behavior was not their fault but that is far from the truth. They chose to give into those urges. They did it because they wanted to do it. They could’ve gotten help. They knew that their fantasies and urges had been escalating but they decided against seeking help and instead indulged their fantasies. They made a decision to hurt people to satisfy their urges. Make no mistake, it was a choice.
What leads an individual to commit murder is more than just fantasy. I am simply focusing on the role of fantasy for the purpose of this answer but what ultimately leads an individual to kill is not a simple matter.
In your case, you seem aware of the potential problems with your fantasies. By asking your question to us here at Psych Central, you are indicating an openness to treatment. That’s great news. I’m convinced that many of the people who ultimately have committed murder, especially serial perpetrators, had they received treatment, would’ve never have killed.
My recommendation is to consult a therapist. Therapy will help to both reduce your problematic fantasies and provide an opportunity to examine what underlies them. Without treatment, your risk them growing stronger and more intense. Should that happen, you might feel compelled to act on them and hurt people. You must do everything in your power to make sure that never happens. Getting help now is a way to prevent you from acting upon your fantasies.
At this point, you’ve done nothing wrong. A therapist would not be shocked by what you wrote in this letter. They are capable of treating these kinds of issues. Whenever you recognize that something is wrong, and that innocent people may be hurt, it’s incumbent upon you to take action. It would be a mistake to ignore this issue. Getting help is the right thing to do.
I hope that you will consider my advice. It’s important to understand why these thoughts are occurring but most importantly, to ensure that you never hurt people. Thank you for your question. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle