Ego Dystonic Thoughts

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When talking about OCD it is important to understand the difference between Ego Syntonic and Ego Dystonic thoughts.

It is important to recognize that obsessions are Ego-Dystonic.

As Dr. Richard B. Joelson explains,

“Ego Syntonic –  Ego Syntonic refers to instincts or ideas that are acceptable to the self; that are compatible with one’s values and ways of thinking. They are consistent with one’s personality and beliefs.”(1)

“Ego Dystonic – Ego Dystonic refers to thoughts, impulses, and behaviors that are felt to be repugnant, distressing, unacceptable or inconsistent with one’s self-image” (1)

Here is a quick example:

Let’s pretend you were eating lunch and saw someone drop a necklace. Then you had the thought, “What if I stole a necklace?”

To a person who is a thief, stealing a necklace would be considered ego syntonic, meaning that it comes...

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