For example I was assisting my sister in photographing a wedding. We were taking pictures as the bride was getting ready and I noticed a ketchup bottle on the kitchen table and the following popped in my head

"you should totally spray her wedding dress with that ketchup"

or one time when I was on a fishing boat (in shark infested waters), the thought popped into my head of

"why not just knock that lady there in the ocean?"

I would obviously never do these things nor do I claim to having edgy or mischievous thoughts half the time or even ever but I can't recall any other examples for myself but when speaking of them to other people, very often someone will have similar experiences. A friend of mine confessed to having a thought (which still upsets her if she remembers it)

She was walking behind her Grandmother while very young and holding a pair of scissors and she thought

"Why not stick those in her back?"

I may even be able to google this I just can't articulate it well enough to get the right search results.

Someone in my office said the phrase of this may be something like Hand of the Imp? but I couldnt see anything


  • 2
    Also called repressed aggression or similar terms. Commented May 14, 2015 at 20:30
  • Can you have the thought of doing something without dreaming of acting on it? The two things seem very similar to me. Perhaps you mean "without the slightest intent to act on it".
    – user61268
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 4:53
  • Some people act on their impulses without thinking of the consequences...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 7:49

1 Answer 1


In psychology, these are known as intrusive thoughts(1). The term is chosen because these thoughts seem to enter your mind from outside, without your control. Intrusive thoughts can occur across a wide spectrum of subjects, from uncontrollable fears, to the urges toward mischief or violence which you experience, to the urge to harm oneself without reason, to suicidal ideation. When these thoughts occur with such frequency or intensity that they interfere with a person's life, they're often considered a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder. In most cases, though, a moderate amount of intrusive thoughts is not considered symptomatic.

  • +1 as this one precisely implies thoughts that the thinker didn't necessarily wish to think.
    – ebwb
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 21:29
  • @Hiigara you should mark this as the answer. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 4:47

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