Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts
A CBT-Based Guide to Getting Over Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts
Published by: New Harbinger Publications
Imprint: New Harbinger Publications
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- Published: December 2019
You are not your thoughts! In this powerful book, two anxiety experts offer proven-effective cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) skills to help you get unstuck from disturbing thoughts, overcome the shame these thoughts can bring, and reduce your anxiety.
If you suffer from unwanted, intrusive, frightening, or even disturbing thoughts, you might worry about what these thoughts mean about you. Thoughts can seem like messages—are they trying to tell you something? But the truth is that they are just thoughts, and don’t necessarily mean anything. Sane and good people have them. If you are someone who is plagued by thoughts you don’t want—thoughts that scare you, or thoughts you can’t tell anyone about—this book may change your life.
In this compassionate guide, you’ll discover the different kinds of disturbing thoughts, myths that surround your thoughts, and how your brain has a tendency to get “stuck” in a cycle of unwanted rumination. You’ll also learn why common techniques to get rid of these thoughts can backfire. And finally, you’ll learn powerful cognitive behavioral skills to help you cope with and move beyond your thoughts, so you can focus on living the life you want. Your thoughts will still occur, but you will be better able to cope with them—without dread, guilt, or shame.
If you have unwanted thoughts, you should remember that you aren’t alone. In fact, there are millions of people just like you—good people who have awful thoughts, gentle people with violent thoughts, and sane people with “crazy” thoughts. This book will show you how to move past your thoughts so you can reclaim your life!
This book has been selected as an Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Book Recommendation—an honor bestowed on outstanding self-help books that are consistent with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and that incorporate scientifically tested strategies for overcoming mental health difficulties. Used alone or in conjunction with therapy, our books offer powerful tools readers can use to jump-start changes in their lives.
“This important book is essential and mandatory reading for anyone affected by unwanted and intrusive thoughts, and their health providers. The authors crystallize decades of experience into a perfectly clear and readable guide. The solution to this misunderstood problem is in this book.”
—Joseph A. Adams, MD, medical director at Baltimore Health Systems and Step By Step of Maryland, LLC, and past president at Smoke Free Maryland
“I wish I would have had access to this book twenty years ago! Sally Winston and Martin Seif have put all the pieces of the puzzle together to help people understand and overcome unwanted intrusive thoughts. This is a must-read book, packed with information to help people suffering with anxiety-provoking intrusive thoughts, as well as clinicians who are trying to help them.”
—Kimberly J. Morrow, LCSW, maintains a private practice in Erie, PA; specializes in the treatment of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); provides training and case consultation for clinicians through www.anxietytraining.com; and is author of Face It and Feel It
“It turns out that commonsense approaches to stopping our worries, such as pushing thoughts away, arguing with them, or seeking reassurance, actually feed these worries and help them grow. Sally Winston and Martin Seif—two of the brightest minds in our field—deliver a simple yet powerful two-step process for change.”
—Reid Wilson, PhD, author of Stopping the Noise in Your Head
“Finally, here is an effective, neurologically based clinical approach to dealing with unwanted thoughts (without having to use a rubber band). The authors’ clear and distinctive voice should be widely heard by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) clinicians, and by those engaged in an ongoing and unrelenting struggle with undesirable ruminations.”
—Ronald M. Doctor, PhD, professor emeritus of psychology at California State University, Northridge; author; active researcher; and practicing behavior therapist
“In their book Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts, Winston and Seif tackle one of the great mysteries of human distress and suffering: the seeming inability to rid our minds of unbidden, unwanted, and disturbing thoughts, images, and memories. Readers are given a rare glimpse into the nature of unwanted intrusive thoughts, as well as their origin and impact on emotional distress. Written in a warm, engaging, yet knowledgeable manner, this book provides new insights for consumers and professionals alike on why common sense fails to soothe the troubled mind. Readers will find practical, research-based guidance on how to subdue unwanted intrusions and overcome their emotional disruption. This book offers much-needed help for those who struggle with the torment of persistent disturbing thoughts.”
—David A. Clark, PhD, professor emeritus in the department of psychology at the University of New Brunswick, and coauthor of The Anxiety and Worry Workbook and Cognitive Therapy of Anxiety Disorders with Aaron T. Beck
“Tens of millions of people have bothersome intrusive thoughts, and most often these thoughts are so unacceptable or embarrassing that many people have trouble telling anyone about them—even their closest family members or friends. At worst, these intrusive thoughts are part of severe problems such as OCD, but we know that almost anybody under stress can occasionally experience intrusive thoughts. Now, at last, a state-of-the-art psychological program written by two of the leading clinicians in the country with years of experience treating this problem is available. The program in this remarkable little book may be sufficient to help you overcome your intrusive thoughts, if therapeutic assistance may be needed, to guide you to the best available resources. I recommend this program very highly as a first step for anybody dealing with this issue.”
—David H. Barlow, PhD, ABPP, emeritus professor of psychology and psychiatry, founder, and director emeritus at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University
“Winston and Seif have done a wonderful job in providing sufferers of obsessive intrusive thoughts with up-to-date and scientifically accurate information about this often crippling problem. This clearly written guide will serve both as a self-help resource, as well as a workbook to be used as an adjunct to psychotherapy.”
—Lee Baer, PhD, professor of psychology in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and author of Getting Control and The Imp of the Mind
“An interesting and original account of a little-understood phenomenon—intrusive thoughts."
—Fredric Neuman, MD, director of The Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Center, and author of Caring, Fighting Fear, and Worried Sick?
“Winston and Seif have written an important and much-needed book. It speaks to those who suffer intensely from unwanted intrusive thoughts and, as a result, descend into a world of anxious isolation. The authors lift the sufferer from a frightening darkness into a world of understanding and onto a path to freedom. This is necessary reading for anyone suffering from the tyranny of unwanted thoughts, and it should be required reading for helping professionals.”
—Bruce Shapiro, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
“What a great book for people who struggle with intrusive thoughts! Two highly skilled and respected experts in the treatment of chronic anxiety explain how intrusive thoughts work, what they mean and don’t mean, why they defy your best efforts at getting rid of them, and most importantly, how to change your relationship with these thoughts so they don’t remain a persistent, negative focus. They help the reader understand that intrusive thoughts don’t persist despite your best efforts; they persist because of your best efforts at arguing with, struggling against, and seeking to avoid these unwanted thoughts. Their book offers plainspoken instructions with lots of good examples that will help you let go of the guilt, fear, and confusion that so often accompanies intrusive thoughts. This is a must-read for anyone experiencing such thoughts, as well as the professionals who seek to help them.”
—David Carbonell, PhD, is a Chicago-based psychologist specializing in treating chronic anxiety for over thirty years, author of Panic Attacks Workbook and The Worry Trick, and “coach” at www.anxietycoach.com