Occasion of Intrusive Thoughts?

Hey everybody,

(This is my first post so have patience with me :D)

I believe I am scrupulous and have OCD. I already am trying my best to have a regular confessor and I’m going to ask him soon to answer my questions. In the mean time, I need to ask you all a question.

Is it sinful to do something where you’re likely to get intrusive thoughts (which you never consent to, of course)?

For example, if I play a certain football game, for a split second a thought pops up saying “Kill him,” or something like that. Since intrusive thoughts aren’t in of themselves sinful, and this isn’t a proximate occasion of sin, do I have to avoid doing things that might bring them up? I’m not trying to rationalize anything, I just want to know.


If you are having intrusive thoughts and/or other OCD symptoms, please seen not only your regular confessor but a mental health professional too. Getting help is very important.

No ,not at all, try not to be hard on yourself, just be yourself, relax, & enjoy the life given to you

Dear SHoJjhmou,

Welcome to CAF!:wave:

You may like to read the November newsletter from Scrupulous Anonymous at mission.liguori.org/newsletters/scrupanon.htm. The other newsletters are interesting, but this one covers those annoying intrusive thoughts.

May God bless you.

I would like to add something that MAY help against intrusive thoughts.

I have been battling intrusive thoughts too.
And also have been in treatment for OCD before, during which I have learned about the method of thought-stopping.
Just over the last few days I have found out that this may work also for intrusive temptations. Just been trying it out, it seems to me that this is a possibility that may help with scrupulosity related intrusive thoughts too.
That is, picture a red stop sign, maybe also tell yourself in your thoughts STOP along with picturing the sign.

I am not sure if this helps.
As for your question… something I have asked myself before too.
I have also felt that I have gotten more emptations lately because I have beomce MUCH MUCH stronger against my scrupulosity and won some ver yimportant battles against it… as if the “evil one” doesn’t want to let me win and be a happy person… But if that is the case, should I allow him to make my life hard like this and then forbid myself to do more and more things?
Something to consider.

Of course there is the question of near occasion of sin. But intrusive thoughts themselves are not sin. Maybe if you were sure the situationw ould lead you to real sin (that is, start enjoying and indulging on those thoughts) then again it would be different…

But such things really best to discuss with your confessor/spiritual advisor/pastor/priest who can help you. Because I would not want to say something wrong here, this is too delicate a topic, for me as well. I can find answers for myself better now, but still a little unsure to say “that is certainly so”; plus everybody’s situation again is different, and I would hope, and do believe, that the priest you will talk to will be lead by the Holy Spirit to tell you exactly what is good in YOUR CASE.

(Here a different way of putting what I emant above: Isn’t in some cases avoidance also dangerous (unless it is really something that leads to near occasion of REAL SIN)? in that it would make our life more and more narrow, take away more and more freedom? )

But then again, some situations may evoke such strong scruples that we know we are not ready to deal with, and in such situations maybe it really is better to not put oneself there. Let’s say… ha ha for example, if I know reading posts on this forum will put scruples into my head, maybe I should wait until I am stronger still… :wink: :wink: )

May God bless you and give you peace…

Just food for thought…

Thanks everybody for your responses! :slight_smile:
Yeah, now that I think about it, it makes no sense that it’s sinful. :blush:

Thanks again. :thankyou:

Hi there,

I too suffer from intrusive thoughts, so I know what you’re going through.

My problem is trying to distinguish between intrusive thoughts and thoughts that are my own fault.

Sometimes I get the urge to think a bad thought and go ahead and think it. This all happens very quickly (about 3-5 seconds). I’m wondering if actually knowingly thinking the words in your head (while not meaning them) is considered an intrusive thought or is it consent?

Most of the intrusive thoughts I suffer from are blasphemous. However, they happen very quickly. If I get in any way annoyed or frustrated about anything to do with religion these thoughts happen.

Has anyone else experienced this?

We all get intrusive thoughts, we just have to make sure we don’t turn those thoughts into actions.

It may help to ask yourself: Did I WANT to think them in my head, or was it rather that I couldn’t resist, because the urge/intrusion was so strong?

I think I have experienced that before, it goes so fast and it makes you think a thought a bit longer than just a flash of a second, but still with the feeling of a kind of… like it just feels almost pointless (I wonder there too sometimes, should one try harder, or is it not possible?) to totally resist it because it is so strong, I know I will at least think PART of even though I don’t want to, i don’t enjoy it… the thought or feeling itself is also part of the INTRUSION, without my consent I hope (I also have insecurities in this area still sometimes) but I know at least part of it will forumulate in my brain, because it just goes so fast…and it seems like totally blocking it off is near impossible…and I just let it pass… Not sure if I said that right.
Maybe there are ways to block it off before it manifests, like immediately put another image into your head and hold on to it strongly… as I said earlier, maybe a STOP sign… or a psoitive image, like a sunset or something, I think i ahve tried that before.

I thinkt he important thing is that we fight those thoughts but without fearing them so much that the fear makes them stronger.
Does that make sense or am I wrong?

Hi Kathrin,

Thanks for your input. It is a great relief to speak to someone who has experienced this.
Sometimes I hear a certain word or trigger that causes a bad thought. Over a very brief period ( a few seconds) I think other words that make the thought even worse and then finally stop. Like you said, it is the urge to think this rather than the enjoyment of the thought itself.

Unfortunately, however, i am not as shocked by the thoughts as I used to be and I seem to be just letting them happen.

Also, you say you suffer from scrupolosity.

I seem to spend all day analysing every thought and then having to prove to myself that its not a mortal sin. It’s like guilty until proven innocent!!

I always want my home Alabama to obliterate the rival. I don’t see a problem here.

One problem is that the more we fear such instrusive thoughts, the more attention we give to them, the more they seem to come… and as somebody else mentioned, most if not all people have such thoughts once in while, but somebody who doesn’t suffer from scrupulosity might just shrug them off and forget it again… while somebody who is scrupulous might start to wodner about its sinfulness, and FEAR it will happen again… which by itself makes it likely to happen again…

I would very much recommend you to read Father Doyle’s “Scruples and their tretament”; there are very helpful things in their, for me they were anyway:


Plus of course talk to a trusted priest. Who can give you advice exactly for your situation, and hwom you can trust, certainly more than strangers on the interent ;).

Hi Kathrin, I think I may have mentioned earlier at some stage, I felt like yourself in my youth and 20’s that I too felt like you do, I worried myself senseless , then it took a while but I discovered for myself, that its best to become relaxed about things, because being scrupulous becomes an obsession that only harms yourself…
if only I had someone to talk to about it, I made myself an unbearable burden.
and I still feel this way, but I continue to assure myself that its ok, I need to relax about things.:slight_smile:

Nope - you’re on target, I think, and I speak from experience with both scrupulosity (specifically sin or blasphemy-oriented) and general life (fears of harming self or others or losing my mind) intrusive thought battles. Very good description of how the process takes place and some good strategies! :thumbsup:

At the end of the day, if we would much rather not have all those stupid thoughts and the ensuing dilemmas to deal with, I think it’s quite safe to say they are definitely “intrusive,” “unwanted,” and in no way sinful or a sign that we’re crazy! If we could push a magic button and get rid of all of it forever, I daresay we’d be pushing that button with every fiber of our being!

St. Francis de Sales, in his book Introduction to the Devout Life, has a chapter on anxiety and he likens it to an animal caught in a trap. The more the animal struggles against the trap, the more entangled it becomes. We too must relax as much as possible so other parts of our brain can reassure us. He also recommends in times of temptation run for refuge to Jesus instead of trying to battle the temptation head on. It works! :yup: Thought stopping is good too - it must be firm and if the thought tries to creep back, just go “I already said stop, end of discussion!”

Again, nailed it! :wink: I don’t have as much trouble in this area as I once did, thanks be to God. It’s more at the stage now where I feel He is calling me to “pay it forward” with the healing I’ve received. I will look at the Fr. Doyle files, though - thanks for posting the link - it never hurts to have extra resources whether for myself or helping others. God bless!

Kahrin and 3doctors,

Thanks a million for your input.

When I started having intrusive thoughts a year ago, they sort of barged their way into my mind so I knew they were not my fault.

However, lately the who process takes a few seconds with each thought - i hear a trigger word, which I associate with something, and the thought gets worse (over a few seconds). I do not want these thoughts, but the fact that they happen slower and I feel I could stop them but allow myself to continue thinking them was what was bothering me.

It is really a relief to hear from someone who has been through this.


I’m not a neuroscientist, so take this with a grain of salt - but here’s my amateur hypothesis of I think what happens to those of us with this lovely little brain quirk. :wink:

I think it’s kind of like a collapsing star that becomes a black hole - the more gravity it acquires, the more force it exerts on a wider part of its surroundings. The surroundings in this case being our own brain neurons and the connections between them. So that over time, more associations are built up in that area. So in our brains, the original intrusive thought (the “black hole”) is smaller, but as it attracts more “stuff” (in this case, thought associations) it becomes larger and seemingly more powerful.

If you’re still with me on this - and if it’s totally confusing let me know and I’ll attempt to clarify - as the intrusive thought that first came alone came quickly. Then it accreted more mass, more force - so it’s connected to more parts of our brain. So naturally our brain is going to be doing more processing of it.

This processing makes us perceive the intrusive thought(s) as happening more slowly, perhaps more deliberately (but really that’s just an illusion because it’s “magnetically” attaching itself to parts of our brain where our will and other thought processes are occurring. But just because it tries to claim more “brain space” doesn’t mean it really is controlling us. It can sure be a pain in the posterior, though! :mad:

Once again, thanks.

That makes a lot of sense.

Really? Wow! :smiley: I kind of got my geek on there so I wasn’t sure if it’d be clear . . . glad it was helpful! :slight_smile:

If you never ever consent to the thoughts, then it sounds like you are not in any near occasion of sinning. But don’t go by what I say, ask your confessor. God bless you.

That’s true. The tricky part, though, is that those of us with OCD/scruples go through times when we question whether or not we did consent, and go back and forth endlessly . . . yes, maybe we did, no, surely we didn’t . . . ad infinitum :hypno: So a confessor can help, and some of us may also need a counselor who understands and is respectful of the Catholic Faith, and perhaps also some medications, to be able to accept what the confessor is trying to get across. I was mostly helped by the confessor on sin issues, though general anxiety and OCD have required medication and counseling. Everyone’s different! :wink:

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