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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Do you know what it's like to be afraid of your own mind?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38922points) September 1st, 2011

This has more to do with having dark thoughts/fantasies about others (involving hurt/violence/death) than it does with going through panic attacks or depression. It strikes me that these kinds of thoughts are quite common rather than extraordinary but we suppress any conversation about them. I know I often think about many things that would scare people, I do think about murder and would I be able to commit murder if I was angry enough…I often think about impulse control and how many people must suppress many impulses on a daily basis…

Given data on how many rapists and violent offenders as well as psychopaths are out there, you know at least some of the people you run into on a regular basis would and could hurt you if that’s how it would go down, chance wise…

As a corollary, I see people sometimes and I swear I can tell that they want to hurt me, somehow…I just can tell…do you feel that way sometimes?

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34 Answers

Haleth's avatar

I think it’s natural to have dark or violent thoughts. Living together in non-violent societies is a pretty recent development compared to how long humans have been around. We’ve developed self-control and social rules to cope with it, but that probably goes against our instincts.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Haleth Do we have an inherent drive to violence…beyond self-defense?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I really don’t, personally. As someone who deals with obsessive thoughts, I feel fortunate that these thoughts aren’t typically dark and violent. Of course I have thought about these things, but it has never been to a degree where it scared me, or made me question what I’m capable of. I’m sure it is very common, though… and I think it’s quite normal. I also do believe that we are naturally violent, I think that most animals are.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf That’s interesting. Why do you think we’re ‘naturally violent’? As an aside, I just learned that men are more likely (men more than women, that is) to be violent in societies that are least egalitarian. That is, there is more violence in more sexist societies.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I just think that if we weren’t, it wouldn’t be necessary for most people to suppress it.
Nature is violent, and we are a part of that. We have a conscious desire to back away from it in most cases, but I do feel that it is in our nature.

Judi's avatar

When I watch shows like Dexter and Breaking Bad I marvel at my ability to sympathize with really bad people.
On my moms death bed she actually said, “I ought to just kill her, (my sisters truly evil ex daughter in law) I’m going to die anyway.
My mom was the kindest person I know. If even SHE had those dark thoughts, I’m sure we are all capable of it. I think the danger comes when we let ourinds ponder on those thoughts and they become an obsession.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf A very interesting answer. It’s given me a lot to think about.

Haleth's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That’s a great question. I’m going to have to really give it some thought.

thorninmud's avatar

Brains routinely crank out all kinds of crazy shit. Part of their normal functioning is to creatively imagine all of the possibilities that could emerge from a situation. That would be scary if I thought that all of those scenarios my neurons are spinning are actually revealing my character, but they’re not.

My character lies in my ability to impose filters between all of that mental imagery and my actions. I (or more accurately, my prefrontal cortex) can look at that mish-mash of images and pass judgment on them, see how they would play out in the real world, and reject the harmful scenarios. If I had reason to suspect that my prefrontal cortex were impaired in some way, or underdeveloped through lack of exercise, then yes, I’d be scared. But mine seems to be in pretty good working order.

Scooby's avatar

I try not to linger there for too long….. Yes I do…… In answer to your question, that’s why I work & keep busy as much as possible, otherwise I start to dwell :-/
Not healthy thoughts…...

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I agree with the dark and violent jellies. That’s why it’s fun to blow stuff up or shoot stuff up, smash things, vandalize things, etc or watch violent sports. We just get socialized to where we control our behavior. But the thoughts are still there. Sometimes I scare the crap out of myself with what I can think of.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Is it scarier that my thoughts don’t scare me?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I am very creative but practice good self control.As long as I have that,I am ok.;)

beccagolling's avatar

I do know what its like. I scare myself quite alot at times. Its a very scary thing because sometimes I cannot stop thinking those thoughts.

tom_g's avatar

I am completely void of any violent thoughts most/all of the time. The only exception is when I perceive a threat to my kids. Some strange part of my brain kicks in and I realize that I am capable of some messed up shit to protect my kids. I won’t go into details, but lets just say that it would be nice to never have to really take care of business.

I had never felt anything like that until I was a parent, and it was quite scary the first time it happened. It felt like I was taking a peek at my evolutionary past or something.

flutherother's avatar

I know what you mean. I like true crime and trying to get into the minds of extremely violent individuals but I don’t obsess about it and I don’t feel frightened by these thoughts. I have never encountered anyone who I felt wanted to seriously hurt me.

mazingerz88's avatar

Not afraid. Just annoyed sometimes that I could think of so many dark scenarios. Not afraid since I know I would not be doing any of them and not afraid since I also know that watching too many violent, horror and disturbing movies since I was a kid did that to me.

Blondesjon's avatar


It’s the only mind I have and it’s the only mind I’ve ever known. We are very comfortable with each other. We act as equals but we both know that I hold veto power over any final decisions concerning physical action.

nikipedia's avatar

I don’t know if I ever have violent thoughts. I would have a hard time killing someone even in self-defense.

mazingerz88's avatar

@nikipedia I think you just stumbled onto the secret of why horror movies with female protagonists have been successful. : )

Blackberry's avatar

I honestly can say that I don’t think about phsysical violence that much, but instead I think about verbal abuse. It’s not on a daily basis of course, but sometimes I will say the cruelest things about someone in my head if I’m pushed to it. And it doesn’t scare me, either, is that bad? The only thing that scares me is super nihlistic and depressing thoughts, but we’re not talking about that.

Eureka's avatar

I had a huge problem with anger and rage in my earlier years. I would become so angry that I would throw things, break things, scream at the top of my lungs. Then I realised that whatever/whoever made me that mad was not wasting one second of their time even thinking about me. That made all my anger and actions simply a waste of time and energy. Now, if someone pisses me off, I just ignore them. Not worth my time.

I am going to go against most of the comments here, and say that I don’t think having dark or violent thoughts are at all normal. Nor do I believe that any of the strangers in my everyday encounters are thinking of doing me violence. That being said, I am more aware of who is around me and what they are doing now then I was 10 years ago – as, let’s face it, there are a LOT of batshit crazies running around.

But to personalize that, and think when you see someone that they want to harm you is not normal.

I mean no disrespect, but I suggest you look into some sort of therapy and/or medication. What a frightening world you live in. I know that sounds really blaise, but I have a friend who, when she goes off her meds, hears voices that tell her the people around her are going to hurt her – and that causes her to do things that end up badly.

I would not wish that for anyone.

Hibernate's avatar

No and I don’t want to get there where my mind to “wonder” around with these sort of “fantasies”.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yes, I know what it’s like. In spite of my rants here and occasionally on facebook, in my “offline” life, I try to control myself and really suppress the urge to bitch people out on a daily basis. I really have to watch what comes out of my mouth, even though my mind is running 90 to nothing, with a thousand different things I’m just itching to say. I also have to restrain myself from slapping people, but thank God I’ve never had a real urge to actually kill someone. I have thought about it, but never had a desire to carry it out.

That’s the main reason why I have social anxiety issues. I’ve made myself “anti-social” because I’m scared to leave my house and interact with people. I’m afraid to be around people that I don’t know really, really well, because I’m almost certain that I’m going to say something truly awful.

I guess it’s a combination of being afraid of my mind and my mouth.

augustlan's avatar

I generally don’t have violent thoughts, either. About the most worked up I get in my head is a bit of road rage. I will think someone is an asshole, just for the way they are impeding me. GET OUT OF MY WAY, DAMN IT. I know that’s not rational, but I don’t worry about it. It’s gone in a flash, and I never have the urge to run them off the road or anything.

Like @ANef_is_Enuf, I do have obsessive thoughts. Mine can be extremely horrifying, but not because I’m being violent. I get recurring images of my kids dying, and horrible shit like that. That does freak me out a bit.

Berserker's avatar

I often have thoughts like that, but they often quickly turn into complete fantasy, and don’t compliment the actual situation or action I was originally thinking about. (unless it’s extremely dramatic, and something that wouldn’t happen in real life) My murder scenarios aren’t much different than my zombie invasion scenarios in the end, when it comes to style, for lack of better word.

See, I’m a big wuss. Fictional death and violence rocks my world, but real life stuff like that is horrible, and I’d never want to do it, or even see it happen. The dead don’t bother me, but seeing someone die would fuck me up. At least the first time, I guess. There’s many people I despise, but what I genuinely feel for them, which is realistic when it comes to this question, is that they would just go away. Sometimes I often wish they would die.
I might have the murder approach, in that I reason this; if someone at work won’t stop bullying me, (which has once been the case) for them to stop it, I could kill them. That would definitely solve the problem, since they’d be dead and couldn’t bother me anymore.
And that type of thought does freak me out, because I’m sure I’d feel nothing if I did it, or if they died through some other means.
I’m a wuss in that I couldn’t see someone being shanked to death, because the images and noises I would experience would disturb me, and not because I valued that person’s life. This is the part of my mind that frightens me, because it shows me how heartless I actually am. And even then, I’m a lot more scared of people’s reactions to this, rather than my own existing darkness, and what it is. The whole coward thing I have going on I don’t like, but what can I say.
But to console myself, this applies to people who fuck with me, and not every single person I meet.

’‘looks at Fluther list’’ Tha fuck, everyone’s gone. XD

AshLeigh's avatar

Everyone who really knows me is afraid of my mind… ;)

King_Pariah's avatar

Sometimes I think it would be fun to indulge that part of me. And I’ve been lucky so far to be able to do so in a completely legal manner.

Corey_D's avatar

Yes. I am generally a very gentle and empathetic person but I also have anger issues. I spent the first 18 years of my life filled with hatred for everyone around me and that gave rise to some very violent and sadistic fantasies. The thing that scared me though was not that I had those fantasies but the feeling of joy and satisfaction that I had at the pain that I inflicted on people in them. I’ve put all of my hatred behind me now but that angry person is still a part of me.

Corey_D's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Hi. I guess it’s been quite a while hasn’t it?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Corey_D Sure, you pop up every once in awhile. Everything good?

Corey_D's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Yeah, pretty much the same

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