and I’m just going to go ahead and say this: if you have violent thoughts or impulses you are not special, or really extremely disordered, or violent, or on the periphery.
They’re called intrusive thoughts, usually. They are experienced by the entire population. Studies like this one have repeatedly demonstrated that literally everyone has them, and literally everyone has them about violence and inappropriate sexual things.
The difference between disordered intrusive thoughts and “normal” ones is usually that people who don’t have a mental disorder that involves them will just dismiss them, whereas people who have, say, OCD or psychosis or whatever will have them with unusual intensity and frequency. Part of what causes that is that they often will start to obsess over them and think they are true and feel intense guilt, and try to force themselves not to have them. If you’ve ever played the “don’t think about pink elephants” game and found that once you were trying not to think about them, you inevitably did, the effect is sort of like that.
Intrusive thoughts about violence don’t make you violent. In fact, thinking that they make you violent is part of what makes them a mental illness symptom as opposed to a thing everyone has.
I think I may have said this before, but it bears repeating. When I first went in to see a counselor I mentioned that I was having these so badly that it was seriously interfering with my everyday life. I couldn’t so much as go down a stairway—and I don’t live on the first floor—without thinking “Somewhere there is an alternate universe where I’ve just tripped and broken my neck and died.” Or I’d drive over the causeway to work and think “Somewhere there is an alternate universe where I just swerved to the right and drove over for no reason.”
I’m sure the person I spoke to meant to be helpful when she asked me if maybe I was psychic, but no. I am not psychic. I don’t believe in psychics. I believe that there is something physically wrong with my brain that makes me think “If I just stab myself in the eye with this fork, everything will be all right” when I’m under a lot of stress and eating dinner.
Needless to say I haven’t been back to speak to that particular counselor.