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The Imp of the Mind: Exploring the Silent Epidemic of Obsessive Bad Thoughts
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The Imp of the Mind: Exploring the Silent Epidemic of Obsessive Bad Thoughts

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  558 ratings  ·  49 reviews
In The Imp of the Mind, a leading expert on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder explores the hidden epidemic that afflicts millions of Americans.

In the first book to fully examine obsessive bad thoughts, Dr. Lee Baer combines the latest research with his own extensive experience in treating this widespread syndrome. Drawing on information ranging from new advances in brain techn
Paperback, 154 pages
Published February 26th 2002 by Plume (first published January 1st 2001)
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Sonya Morris
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read for OCDers. It opened my eyes to the reasons behind obsessive thoughts, and that knowledge alone makes OCD more manageable. This was a life changing book for me.
Gabriel Ducate
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. It explored so many aspects of the epidemic of obsessive bad thoughts, to the shocking revelations of past patients, the advice and research and ways of managing these thoughts.

What made me really enjoy this was that the book wasn't pretentious in just telling you the scientific views. Instead it delved into not just one but multiple different cases from actual patients. The included the bad thoughts, sometimes in graphic detail that the
May 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book takes an interesting look at one of the most unspoken illnesses of our time. That is, the illness of obsessive thoughts and how they relate to many of the anxiety disorders, particularly obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The interesting thing about how the author (who, incidentally, is also a psychiatrist and researcher, making this so much better) looks at the problem is that he takes a look at a condition, obsessive thoughts, as the main problem of the individual themselves, and then hel
Jessica Klein
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I never knew that hope could only be a short life. I wanted to die for seven years, but afraid of Hell, universal, I put myself into institutions, because of my intrusive thoughts to murder my father. Then the thoughts assumed a wider breadth to include pedestrians walking on the side of the road. The doctors in every institution, too many to count, informed me that I needed to know that my homicidal ideations nested in my terrible childhood, or perhaps psychopath could apply as well. Ironically ...more
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
As I am currently on a drive to educate myself about various mental health issues this seemed like a useful addition to my little collection. It was certainly interesting though rather dated now. Baer's work with exposure therapy proved a breakthrough for many but towards the end of the book Baer touches on the then new ideas of CBT and considers how the two might work together or sequentially.

Baer's view is that drugs should be a last resort rather than a first resort and realised that helping
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"You are not so abnormal as you think. Every human being is visited from time to time by the Imp of the Perverse, who makes you think the most inappropriate thoughts at the most appropriate times."

This has been in my TBR for more than three years and I regretted that I did not read this sooner.
Although I'm not as "special" as the patients listed in the case studies, this book made me accept that bad thoughts happen to everyone from time to time.

Some topics touched as far as I remember:
Sandy D.
This book by a psychologist who helped developed some of the therapy used for OCD actually seems a bit dated now, but it was only published five years ago (in 2001). Anyway, Baer focuses on the obsessive part of OCD (that's the imp, from Edgar Allen Poe's "Imp of the Perverse"). Baer likes his classic quotes and has many, which add a bit of historical interest and depth to his book.

I learned a few new things about OCD - he explains the difference between CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and ER
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
A comforting book about the intrusive thoughts that many individuals with OCD struggle with. It's a quick read, only 137 pages with examples from his clients over the years. Know that the book only explores the sexual, violent, and blasphemous intrusive thoughts that occur in some OCD individuals and does not explore OCD as a whole. Provides some great ideas for treating intrusive thoughts either with a mental health professional or without. Definitely worth the read if you are interested in OCD ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Although written by a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), The Imp of The Mind is focused on the "O" - obsessive thoughts - that occupy and torment the minds of sufferers. This book explains very clearly and simply what causes obsessions (here called "bad thoughts"), what they tend to look and feel like, when to worry about them, and how they can be managed. It's a very useful overview on obsessions, offering up helpful solutions and direction. Dr. Ba ...more
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
A thorough introduction to intrusive 'bad' thoughts, with a focus on those who suffer from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and the different categories of intrusive bad thoughts, such as religious, sexual or violent thoughts.

This book differs from others on the topic as it also provides samples of many treatment plans, individual cases, detailed explanations and when to seek professional help (in general, it is good to have mental behavioral support in place before trying any treatment, suc
Hannah Goodman
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An awesome book that is the perfect number of pages....this is a topic that can be over explained and confuse the reader but this author does an excellent job of explaining the "why" behind obsessive, scary, intrusive thoughts. He also explains different courses of treatment and what I especially like is that he doesn't insist the only way through this is exposure, though exposure therapy is incredibly effective, it also has to be done with clients who are not only willing but also can take the ...more
Zachary Herde
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who has the feeling that your identity and moral standing is being compromised because of the thoughts in your head, this is an informative book for you. A recent bout with severe anxiety has made me realize that intrusive thoughts have always been a part of my life, but all of the sudden they now become distressing because of the particular themes that they reveal. It’s reassurance, which can be a compulsion, but I’ve felt that understanding what’s going through my head has helped a ...more
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Should be a 3.5. The topic was fascinating, but I was more interested in the science than the self-help stuff. I'd hoped to learn why this was now a "silent epidemic." The book is also really outdated - it's something like 20 years old now and makes a lot of references to, say, Susan Smith. I also wonder how the research has changed since 1999/2000 when it was written. Otherwise OK, but if there was an updated edition or something I'd have been more pleased.
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is very educational for anyone who wants to learn about what OCD really is or anyone who’s just been diagnosed and wants to learn more about what it is, treatments, warning signs, medication, and some research that’s been done over the years. As somebody who has recently been diagnosed about 6 months ago it’s refreshing to read about other people who are going through the same thing .. although I wish nobody would ever get this stupid disorder.
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brief but informative, professional but still compassionate and humane. This is a book I never knew I needed to read until my therapist recommended it. As someone who's suffered with crippling intrusive thoughts since the ripe ol' age of six, The Imp of the Mind was a dramatic eye-opener. My only regret is that I didn't find it sooner.
Ariel's Booklist
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic. One of the best books ive read on this topic. I highly recommend for professionals and the public alike. Very well written, researched and edited. I would like to see a republishing with updated research soon but all in all I highly recommend. Will definitely be keeping this on my shelf and using it with clients.
stephanie c bell
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting book that explains why people experience intrusive thoughts. The book focuses on specific types of thought but if they don't apply to you there is still much to gain through reading about them.
Ethan Reed
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Understanding the relationship between OCD, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts is tough. But this book helped me get started.
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great resource for people living with OCD and their loved ones, in addition to clinicians. Written without a lot of jargon ( so refreshing).
Maria Recker
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm an OCD therapist and I recommend this to any of my clients with primarily mental obsessions and compulsions!
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
Clearly and accessibly written while also impeccably researched. Really only deals with intrusive thoughts that are violent, sexual, and blasphemous in nature.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life and how I understand my OCD. Thank you.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It really opens up the obsessive frightened mind and let's it breathe
Jan Olaerts
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very clear explanation

Easy to read
Easy to follow for people who do not know a lot about psychology
Recommended for people who look for information about OCD
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When people think of OCD, they will most often think of people hoarding, washing their hands, and checking locks repeatedly- the visible signs of OCD. There is another side of OCD, though, that isn’t visible- obsessional thoughts. While it’s possible for someone with OCD to ruminate on neutral thoughts, the one’s that can make lives miserable are ones of violence, sex, and blasphemy.

These aren’t thoughts that just come and go. They become fixed in the mind of the sufferer, repeating themselves-
Jul 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
i can't decide between 3 and 4 stars. i think had i not already been through so much therapy i would give it 4. there are weird things about it that bother me though- quotes start and never-end, punctuation errors, and this is coming from the most punctuation-illiterate person I know.

The theories in this book and the evidence he relates are great though. and he also very clearly sets out thoughts and feelings about the thoughts that people that suffer can't. For instance, I have had what i call
Anthony Mazzorana
Nov 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: ocd
An in-depth look at the obsessional thoughts that many OCD suffers have without any discussion of compulsions. This book focuses mostly on violent, sexual, and blasphemous obsessions. Its discussion of the effectiveness of cognitive therapy and medication is somewhat limited and makes it rather obvious that the book is dated at this point. The use and effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of OCD has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past decade. For a more up-to-date r ...more
Nathan Rose
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended by a friend with OCD. The good: Described the experience of chronic mental fixations in a manner that was easy to relate and understand. Gave lots of great insight. The bad: The experiences mentioned were for only a handful of people, and the same case studies were brought up repeatedly. I'd have liked either more case study analysis or less. Regardless, I feel like I have a better understanding and appreciation for this condition.
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
AMAZING book. Through much prayer, I felt like I was led to this book. I read it, and immediately felt better. The author's manner of addressing the reader is one of comfort and compassion, and also filled with lots of information and reassurance. It's very easy to read because the scientific aspects of the book are in layman's terms. I highly recommend it to any OCD sufferers.
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book explores the obsessions side of OCD (Pure-O). I've read 3 books about OCD so far and this is the book that really stood out the most to me. If you have Harm-OCD, POCD, or any other OCD thoughts then I recommend this book. It does not really talk about compulsions, which in a way allows more focus on the OCD thoughts which makes this book one of a kind.
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Mental Health Boo...: April nonfiction - OCD: The Imp of the Mind 5 26 Apr 25, 2019 07:44PM  

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23 likes · 3 comments
“The Imp of the Perverse will try to torment you with thoughts of whatever it is you consider to be the most inappropriate or awful thing that you could do. To illustrate this point, each of my patients whose thoughts are summarized below (many of whom you’ll meet in later chapters) told me that his or her particular bad thoughts focused squarely on whatever was for him or her the most inappropriate, awful, or shameful thing he or she could think of doing:3” 1 likes
“Having OCD, and tending to see things as either black or white and in perfectionistic terms, as well as being overconscientious, he was extremely hard on himself and insisted that he somehow be guaranteed that he would not one day snap and act on his thoughts. At one point, Frank told me that he was now concerned that he was feeling too little anxiety, which made him think that perhaps he was a sociopath without a conscience after all and would end up like Jeffrey Dahmer!” 1 likes
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