The flow of human thought does not always follow a purposeful and task
oriented. The human mind is a rich tapestry of constantly shifting thoughts,
images, feelings, sensations, and impulses. The human thought is frequently
interrupted by unwanted cognitive activity. Worry, distractions, attentional biases,
memory lapses, mindwandering, daydreaming, ruminations, and obsessive thought
are examples of mental processes that create cognitive interference and they
play a significant role in a number of psychopathological conditions. There is increasing
evidence that effective treatment of anxiety, depression, OCD, insomnia, and
other conditions will require clinicians to target relevant distressing intrusive
cognitions and the patient’s reaction to these thoughts. It is also clear that the
primary difference between the unwanted intrusive thoughts in clinical and nonclinical
individuals is on of degree rather than kind. The characteristics, responses,
and appraisals of unwanted intrusive thoughts in clinical and nonclinical individuals
find quantitative rather than qualitative between-group differences.
Obsessional thoughts among OCD patients are experienced as ego-dystonic
being inconsistent with perceptions of the self and important personal value systems.
One of the most important features of thoughts associated with depressive
thought intrusions is self-critical, ego-syntonic involving themes of personal
loss and failure. Worry is a predominant feature of generalized disorder. It is
a cognitive phenomenon, it is concerned with future events where there is uncertainty
about the outcome, the future being thought about is a negative one, and
this is accompanied by feelings of anxiety. Trauma related intrusions refer seeing
the trauma reoccur , or visualizing what occurred immediately before or
after the traumatic event in the form of broad range of cognitive phenomena
that includes images, memories, and impulses.
There are various theories concerning the origins of unwanted intrusive
thoughts. Salkovskis suggests that they are a product of problem-solving capacity.
Rackman commented that external cues are important in the provocation of
unwanted intrusive impulses. Klinger suggests that the concept of current concern
plays a central role in understanding the frequent, rapid shifts in thought
The importance of right thinking is emphasized throughout the Scripture. In
the book of Philippians, it reads, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever
is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything
is excellent or praseworthy-think about such things.”The Bible teaches
that man’s feelings, passions and behaviors are subject to and conditioned by
the way he thinks. However, the Bible uses the word heart to describe who we
are at our core and as the source of what we think. Therefore, from the biblical
counseling point of view, managing unwanted intrusive thoughts is possible
by finding what cravings and beliefs ruling one’s heart and renewing it through
Spirit-directed repentance and faith.