Inner demon, why do terrible thoughts come to our minds and what to do with them

It's good that there is no device for reading yetthoughts, otherwise any of us would be caught red-handed. After all, even the most gentle and delicate person sometimes can be happy with the failure of a neighbor or feel the desire to smash someone's head. Why are respectable citizens happy to watch thrillers with dismemberment, and ardent liberals sometimes catch themselves on xenophobia? And can such "crime thoughts" be prevented? This was written by Jen Pinkcott on the site Psychology Today.

Each of us sometimes catches himself on the wrong,frightening or vile thoughts. Bend over a sweet baby and suddenly think: "I can easily smash his skull." To console a friend who survived the collapse in his personal life, and secretly savor the humiliating details of his story. Go with relatives in the car and in detail imagine how you lose control and leave for the oncoming lane.

The more insistently we try to escape from theseideas, the more intrusive they become and the worse we feel. It's not easy to admit, but we really enjoy the primitive thrill and the misfortunes of others. People are amazingly bad at owning their own black thoughts: we do not control their duration or content. In the 1980s, in his famous experiment, Eric Klinger asked volunteers to write down their thoughts every week when a special device sounds.

The scientist found that during a 16-hour daypeople attend about 500 unintentional and obsessive ideas, lasting an average of 14 seconds. Although most of the time our attention is occupied with everyday affairs, 18% of the total number of thoughts bring discomfort to a person and are marked as bad, evil and politically incorrect. And another 13% can be described as completely unacceptable, dangerous or shocking - these are, for example, thoughts of murder and perversion.

The Swiss psychoanalyst Karl Jung is one offirst seriously interested in black thoughts. In his work "Psychology of the Unconscious" (1912), he described the shadow side of personality - the receptacle of sinful desires and animal instincts, which we usually suppress. How is the dark side of the personality formed? From the point of view of neurobiology, some of the cognitive processes form the "I" with which we are accustomed to identify ourselves-prudent, normal, logical, while other processes serve as a stimulus for the development of a dark, irrational consciousness where obsessive images and ideas are born.

According to Klinger's theory, the ancient preconsciousthe mechanism in our brain is constantly looking for potential sources of danger in the surrounding world. Information about them, bypassing consciousness, is transmitted in the form of emotional signals, which cause unwanted thoughts. Neuroscientist Sam Harris believes that these thoughts are random and completely uncontrollable: although a person has consciousness, he can not fully control his mental life.

Gloomy and frightening thoughts

"It's disgusting, show me more"

People are embarrassed to admit that they are attracted toominous and vile stories: it is believed that this is the fate of freaks and perverts. Fans of bloody thrillers, photo-sets with victims of accidents or alcohol-bound embryos have a reduced capacity for empathy. Thirty years ago, professor of the University of Delaware, Marvin Zuckerman, determined that some people are more likely than others to be thirsty for thrills. In a collision with something abnormal and terrible people with this type of personality are more excited - this can be established by measuring the electrodermic activity.

The craving for unhealthy and eerie things can be anduseful. According to psychologist Eric Wilson, the thought of the suffering of others allows us to neutralize the destructive emotions without causing harm to themselves and others. They may even lead to a state of awe: "I can in a new way to experience the value of my own life - writes Wilson - because I myself and my family is alive and well!"

Thoughts about sexual perversions

"Do not open at work ... and nowhere else"

Many of us consider the most disgustingthoughts related to sexual taboos: there is nothing worse than to catch yourself on a fantasy about something immoral or illegal. The good news is that a little excitement means nothing. Clinical psychologist Lee Baer, ​​a professor at the Harvard Medical School, claims that arousal is the body's natural response to attention: "Try to think about your genitals and convince yourself that you do not feel anything." If you have flashed the idea of ​​rape or sex with a minor, this does not mean that you are going to implement this idea. All people think about sex, but not all fantasies should be taken literally.

Women's erotic fantasies about submission andrape has its logical explanation. Researchers at the University of North Texas found that 57% of women have ever felt excited, fantasizing about a violent sexual act with them as a victim. This can be explained by the desire of a woman to be desired - so much so that a man can not control himself. Another explanation is the influx of endorphins, which are more active in the blood because of accelerated heartbeat, accompanied by a sense of fear and disgust. The imagined situation of coercion allows freedom to be given secret "vicious" desires without feeling guilty. Fantasies about rape, remaining under the reliable control of our consciousness, are not connected in any way with the desire to be raped in real life.

Unpolitical thoughts

"If they find out what I think, they will hate me"

The hateful voice in the head that turns on,when in the field of your attention there is "another" - whether it be a person in a wheelchair, a woman in a veil, a brightly dressed transsexual or a foreigner with an unusual skin color. This voice, which you dazzle all over, calls into question the adequacy, behavior, abilities and, in general, the presence of human qualities in "others". Mark Schaller, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia, believes that such thoughts evoke a primitive defensive mechanism, formed at the dawn of humanity, when outsiders were by definition a source of threat. The mechanism of "psychological immunity," however, does not justify modern manifestations of intolerance - fet-shimming, xenophobia, religious prejudice or homophobia. The good news is that automatically arising non-politically correct thoughts can be overcome: psychologists advise you to stop thinking about how polite and unbiassed you are considered by others, and to concentrate on the personality of the person with whom you communicate.

Malignant thoughts

"Your failure is my joy"

When we hear in the news that some girlcaught the drunk at the wheel and arrested, it does not touch us. But if this girl turns out to be Paris Hilton, we feel a strange malicious satisfaction, which the Germans call "shadenfreude" (literally "joy from harm"). Australian psychologist Norman Feather (University Flinders) proved that we are more pleased with the failure of someone outstanding than the failure of a person equal in status to us. When successful people stumble, we feel more intelligent, perspicacious and self-confident. Perhaps this is how our inner striving for justice manifests itself. But where does the sense of shame come from? According to Professor Richard Smith, the author of The Joy of Pain, there is no point in reproaching yourself for this banal emotional reaction. To overcome the attack of maleficence, one must imagine himself at the victim's place or concentrate on his own achievements and virtues, because the best antidote for envy is gratitude.

Cruel and bloodthirsty thoughts

"I would have a chainsaw now ..."

You calmly cut the onions in your kitchen, and suddenlythe thought flashes through his mind: "What if I slaughter my wife?" If the thought of murder was considered a crime, most of us would be found guilty. According to psychologist David Bass (University of Texas at Austin), 91% of men and 84% of women have ever imagined how they punch a person off the platform, suffocate their partner's pillow, or brutally beat a family member. The researcher offered a radical explanation: since our ancestors were killed to survive, they gave us a predisposition to murder at the gene level. Our subconscious always keeps information about the murder as a possible way to solve problems related to stress, power, limited resources and a security threat. However, in most cases, thoughts of violence do not precede real violence, but, on the contrary, block it. The heart-breaking pictures that the brain draws make us analyze the situation before acting. The script plays in the imagination, the prefrontal cortex turns on, and the eerie thought disappears.

But what happens to dark thoughts when we suppress them?

Hydra dilemma

"The method of radical adoption ..."

The thoughts that we try to suppress becomeintrusive. This is reminiscent of the battle with the Lernaean Hydra: instead of the severed head, new ones grow. When we try not to think about something, we just think about it. The brain constantly checks itself for the presence of forbidden thought, and it again and again emerges in the mind, while a sense of shame and self-loathing distracts us and weakens the willpower. A painful process of repression can exacerbate depression and stress. The more effort we spend on fighting an obsession, the more time we need to recover and rest. In people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, the fight against unwanted thoughts can take up several hours a day. None of us can fully control our consciousness. As Karl Jung wrote, we do not control the shadowy "I", we do not create dark thoughts and desires of our own - and therefore we can not prevent their appearance.

Dr. Baer recommends the Buddhist methodradical acceptance: when an undesirable idea arises, one must try to perceive it as simply a thought, without a deep meaning and hidden meaning. Do not judge yourself or resist - just let your thoughts go. If she returns, repeat again. Another way to let go of the obsession is to write it down on paper and destroy it. This helps to distance yourself from an unpleasant thought, and then literally get rid of it. Another "door effect" can work out - physical movement to another room helps the brain to switch to a new topic and relieve short-term memories. For difficult cases, there is a radical approach: do not let the frightening thought, but on the contrary, before the end of play of their imagination in all its details.

What is really important in dark thoughts? The importance that we attach to them. We can perceive unpleasant thoughts as valuable objects for research - the clues that the shadowy "I" give us. Analyzing its manifestations, we better understand others and ourselves. A dark, vile and uncomfortable thought becomes a source of inspiration. As Eric Wilson writes, people with a developed imagination can turn destructive ideas into fuel for mental and emotional development.

The father of analytical psychology Karl Jung leda diary, which was subsequently published under the title "Red Book". In the diary, Jung fixed disturbing images and ideas from a subconscious, including his meeting with the metaphorical Red Horseman. The presence of the Horseman is unpleasant for Jung, but the explorer enters into a dialogue with a stranger: they talk, argue and even dance. After the scientist experiences an unusual burst of joy, he feels the agreement with himself and the world.

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