A Couple's Experience with Intrusive Violent Thoughts

01 Dark Thoughts is a 34-minute podcast that first aired on NPR in 2015.

02 Invisibilia’s podcast hosts Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller walk listeners through the secret history of thoughts.

03 Listeners will meet a man tormented by his own violent thoughts (Harm OCD) and his experience with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).

04 The subject discusses the ways in which his wife participated in his ERP therapy.

In 2015, NPR released a podcast titled Dark Thoughts. This podcast gave listeners a very candid and shocking look into the reality of someone living with intrusive violent thoughts. Intrusive violent thoughts is a form of OCD called Harm OCD.

It’s important to note that the subject did not begin having violent intrusive thoughts until he was in his 30s. The age in which people encounter intrusive thoughts varies. It’s not uncommon for someone to first experience these thoughts later in life.

Unlike academia articles, real emotion is shared and felt as the subject explains how harm OCD impacted his life with his then new wife. His wife is also on the podcast offering her perspective so listeners actually get to hear two sides of the story, a rarity when it comes to content on the subject.

Like many people who experience intrusive thoughts for the first time, the husband-and-wife duo took to the Internet to find answers. But they just became more confused. Helpful, easy-to-understand information wasn’t available.

In his raw, emotionally charged interview, the husband recalled dealing with and finding the difference between loving his wife and truly wanting to harm her with a knife. The couple agreed to try Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), a technique similarly used for people who have phobias. As part of their therapy, the wife agrees to let her husband hold knives up to her throat until his anxiety mitigates.

Their therapy and story are bold reminders that someone who experiences Harm OCD doesn’t need to go through it alone. It’s also worth mentioning that NPR provided a globally recognized outlet that enabled a non-judgemental platform for this couple to share their story. A positive step that proves we’re headed in the right direction with regards to speaking openly and publicly about mental health.

Finally, the podcast inspired additional commentary and articles such as 4 Things You Should Know About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder published on Huffington Post in 2015.