Common intrusive thoughts

Common intrusive thoughts

We all experience intrusive thoughts. I have worried about suddenly shouting in a lift full of people (thankfully I never have) or doing some other sort of silly behaviour that would generally be frowned upon. This is very common. I thought you might find it interesting to read about common intrusive thoughts that we all have:

The table below shows the results of research findings from a survey of 293 students (198 female, 95 male), none of who had a diagnosed mental health problem.  The column on the left shows the type of intrusive thought and the 2 columns on the left show the percentage of men or women who said they had experienced that particular thought.


The research is from – C. Purdon and D.A. Clark (1992) Obsessive Intrusive Thoughts in Non Clinical Subjects.  Part 1 Content and relation with depressive, anxious and obsessional symptoms.  Behaviour Research and Therapy 31, 713-720.


ItemFemale %Male %
1.   Driving into a window1316
2.   Running car off the road6456
3.   Hitting animals or people with car4654
4.   Swerving into traffic5552
5.   Smashing into objects2740
6.   Slitting wrist/throat2022
7.   Cutting off finger1916
8.   Jumping off a high place3946
9.   Fatally pushing a stranger1734
10. Fatally pushing friend922
11. Jumping in front of train/car2529
12. Pushing stranger in front of train/car820
13. Pushing family in front of train/car514
14. Hurting strangers1848
15. Insulting strangers5059
16. Bumping into people3743
17. Insulting authority figure3448
18. Insulting family5955
19. Hurting family4250
20. Choking family member1022
21. Stabbing family member611
22. Accidentally leaving heat/stove on7966
23. Home unlocked, intruder there7769
24. Taps left on, home flooded2824
25. Swearing in public3034
26. Breaking wind in public3149
27. Throwing something2826
28. Causing a public scene4743
29. Scratching car paint2643
30. Breaking window2643
31. Wrecking something3233
32. Shoplifting2733
33. Grabbing money2139
34. Holding up bank632
35. Sex with unacceptable person4863
36. Sex with authority figure3863
37. Fly/blouse undone2740
38. Kissing authority figure3744
39. Exposing myself921
40. Acts against sexual preference1920
41. Authority figures naked4254
42. Strangers naked5180
43. Sex in public4978
44. Disgusting sex act4352
45. Catching sexually transmitted disease6043
46. Contamination from doors3524
47. Contamination from phones2818
48. Getting fatal disease from strangers2219
49. Giving fatal disease to strangers2517
50. Giving everything away5243
51. Removing all dust from the floor3524
52. Removing dust from unseen places4129

Mandy X

Info: courtesy of IESO Digital health

Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash