Motherhood had always been conceived in the same way as childbirth. What two or three generations ago was “normal” is now not “normal” anymore. Society and women, especially, are awakening, connecting with themselves, our species, and our physiology as mammals. We question why things are the way they are, we are more and more empowered and more committed, we speak out more, we demand more and we make ourselves heard louder and louder every day. And one of these silent taboo topics is impulse phobia?
Women have been made invisible. The maternity that we now call real also makes visible many other things that were previously hidden, that we were ashamed of, or that we lived in secret all our lives, as long as we were not labeled or marked as “crazy,” “exaggerated” or “bad mothers.”
And with this listening to ourselves, sharing, and connecting with our most tribal part, silences are also broken, silences that in no case are easy to break. And lately, we don’t know if it happens to you, too; we get the feeling that there is a lot of talk about something called impulse phobia. In fact, we have received different questions on this subject:
“How can this be happening to me? Am I going crazy? Am I alone with my baby? I’m not kidding; I’m afraid to hurt him! How do I tell someone about this? I’m ashamed to tell them what’s happening to me; I don’t know what they’ll think of me… maybe I’m going crazy…
Six months ago I had my baby, and it’s been several weeks since I have not opened the windows at home and I avoid being alone with him for a long time… I am invaded by a thought, an idea that terrifies me, makes my hair stand on end, and doesn’t let me enjoy my baby… what do I think? That I may want to hurt him. I see dangers everywhere, but the biggest danger is me. I’m afraid of going crazy, having a window nearby and throwing it away, or drowning it with a pillow… I feel very guilty; I’m very scared and anxious all day, especially when we’re alone. I don’t want to hurt him, but I’m afraid of the possibility of being able to do it… what’s happening to me?”
Surely, if you’ve never heard anything like it before, or you haven’t experienced it personally, you may find it strange, barbaric, or crazy. It is inevitable to feel overwhelmed when listening to or reading such a testimony.
Have you ever heard of impulse phobia?
Impulse phobia is not exclusive to motherhood, and it is characterized by the fear of hurting someone or yourself. This lies in the fear of losing control, of going crazy and doing something that is not consciously rational. That is, they are irrational and intrusive thoughts that cause a lot of discomfort and anxiety and can generate a complicated obsessive circle.
But let’s pause: we have to differentiate that fear of losing control and going crazy from fear as a basic emotion. In other words, fear is an adaptive emotion that prepares us for survival, in fact, if we were not afraid, we would not run away from danger. For example, being afraid that coming down the stairs with the baby in your arms could slip and fall is NOT an impulse phobia. Carrying the baby in the backpack and fearing if I drop it is NOT impulse phobia.
In impulse phobia, the particularity of fear is that the perception of danger comes from oneself; in the previous examples, it would be impulse phobia if going down the stairs you thought that I could throw you down the stairs, or that carrying you in the backpack could throw you to the ground. Can you see the difference? When this happens, thoughts intensify, become recurrent, and anxiety levels increase. In other words, in maternity, that fear is directed at the fear of harming our baby, not by accident but in case I go crazy, I lose control, and I do it.
In impulse phobia, the particularity of fear is that the perception of danger comes from oneself, in the previous examples, it would be impulse phobia if going down the stairs you thought that I could throw you down the stairs or that carrying you in the backpack could throw you to the ground. Can you see the difference? When this happens, thoughts intensify, become recurrent, and anxiety levels increase. In other words, in maternity, that fear is directed at the fear of harming our baby, not by accident, but in case I go crazy, I lose control, and I do it.
It can happen that if we start to have these thoughts, we see how we are creating protection mechanisms to avoid the possibility of harming our baby: from closing the blinds of the windows if I go crazy and throw it to hide the knives in the kitchen if I can hurt, among others …
If we feel this way, it is important that we understand that this is something that not only happens to us, it is something more common than we think, and there are different degrees of gravity, although, as we have said, until now there has been silence about it. Remember that thoughts are just that, thoughts; to think it does not mean that they will become reality and that they will become actions.
And what can we do if we feel this way? First of all, to speak in a context where we can feel listened to, not judged. You are not crazy; you deserve it, and you need to be able to express what happens to you. Once we have this space where we can feel welcomed, it would be important to make an assessment by a professional specialized in mental health and, if necessary, start with the treatment indicated in each particular case.
Do not let it pass; break the silence and ask for help; you are not alone.
Do you need more information?
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