It is very brave of you to write this letter. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. You might be relieved to know that you’re not alone. I receive letters from people experiencing similar problems. Some of them also have violent urges and a desire to hurt people. What’s most important is acknowledging these urges and being proactive. It’s important to keep these urges in check.
One way to ensure you avoid violence is with counseling. It would be helpful to know more about why you want to hurt people. Though I may commonly receive letters from people experiencing similar problems, the desire to hurt people is not the norm. Wanting other people to suffer is a deviation from the normal range of human desires.
In addition, counseling is a good way to control your behavior. This is especially true for people with strong, violent urges. Obviously, if you were to hurt someone, you would likely go to jail. If you were to kill someone, you could go to prison for the rest of your life, or depending on where you live, be executed by the state. Virtually every religion considers murder a sin. If you believe in an afterlife or practice a particular religion, murder may mean that you may face a different type of punishment.
There are several main theories that may explain your urges. One possibility is a lack of power. If the people around you (i.e. your parents), have all of the power, then maybe you have no control. In your fantasies, you seem to be the all-powerful one, the person in control. Perhaps your homicidal thoughts are a psychological compensation stemming from feelings of powerlessness.
Relatedly, violent people who have been victims of abuse may feel the desire to retaliate. They might want to make others feel the same pain they have felt. If they can’t retaliate against their abusers directly, they might take out their frustrations on people who they perceive as weak. You stated that you have not been abused. That may be true, however, your definition of abuse may be different than my definition of abuse.
Some people are motivated to hurt others because they are inherently aggressive. High levels of aggression may be related to mental illness. You mentioned the possibility of autism. A thorough psychiatric evaluation could determine if mental illness is present.
Among people with high levels of aggression, they may not possess good coping skills for properly expressing their strong emotions. Because they lack these coping skills, they may take out their strong emotions on other people in the form of violence. Had they possessed more appropriate ways of expressing their aggression, they may not have acted out in a violent way.
Lacking empathy is another possible underlying motivator. In your case, you have empathy only after being reminded about the reality of an individual’s situation. It seems as though your ability to empathize is within your capacity. Therapy is the ideal platform for developing your empathic feelings more automatically.
I hope that you will consider counseling. A therapist could help to determine whether or not you have autism, a diagnosis your family suspects may be possible. If you feel as though you may harm yourself or someone else, call emergency services immediately. They will protect you and others from being harmed. Good luck with your efforts. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle