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There’s something so appealing about disturbing things. Once in a while, you might come across a blurred image that exclaims WARNING or NSFW in the title and you instantly have an undeniable desire to look at what’s hidden. You might instantly regret it the moment you see the picture, but there was no way to fight that curiosity, right!

Whether it’s stories, images, or videos, we often seek them out hoping to scratch some sort of an itch inside our brains. We need that little adrenaline boost that it provides.

The pictures below are not very disturbing, but they are getting there, lingering in the uncanny valley territory. Sometimes disgusting, sometimes plain weird, these images were collected from the Cursed Images X page. Scroll down to see the worst of them.

While these images are quite bad, they’re nothing compared to the awfulness you can find online. Smart phones with their high-resolution cameras make it easy to capture the most awful situations while they’re happening. And the internet helps them spread like wildfire.

Of course, educating yourself on the atrocities happening around the world is necessary. How else can you be a good advocate for the causes you believe in? However, regularly exposing yourself to disturbing content can do some psychological damage.

Research shows that digital forensic examiners that work with graphic evidence related to child abuse experience trauma by analyzing it. Another paper showed that people who watch disturbing content, such as videos from war zones and terrorist attacks, experience similar trauma to people who are actually going through it.

A person is especially sensitive to content in which the harm is directed toward a group of people that one identifies with. For example, police violence videos against black people tend to resonate with black people more. Furthermore, people are also likely to consume more content that is related to the group they feel like they belong to.

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So, disturbing content is everywhere, it’s unavoidable, and we all feel the need to look at it. But how do you deal with the imagery you cannot unsee? Well, there are a few strategies out there. 

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Jen M
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2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Now it's fricking "X-ing". So dumb, and every media outlet says "X - formally known as Twitter" in reference to it. Haha Elon, you complete Twat!

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One is to try to attend to the physical manifestations of disturbance. See, when you watch a disturbing video, your brain reacts to it as if it is actually happening to you. So, it will activate your fight or flight response. Your heartrate will increase, your breathing will speed up, and your muscles will tighten. Your body will get into a position to do something about the stressor.

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Chihuahua Mama
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2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

When you're enjoying being outside and your human wants to bring you back in

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When that happens, you need to try to settle down. Start taking deep, calming breaths and consciously untense the muscles. This will send the message to the brain that you’re actually okay and there’s no need to panic. Reassuring yourself with soothing self-talk would also really help.

Then, step away from the stressor. Close out of the video or the photo or, even better, put your phone or computer away for a moment. Take a walk outside or just around your home. You can also counter the negativity you just saw with something pleasant to balance things out. This could be turning on some music you like or putting on a show that always brightens your mood.

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After the immediate situation is dealt with, you might need to still deal with the memory of the stressor, who often likes to come back as an intrusive thought. When that happens, you have to try to redirect the train of thought to another more positive place. Intrusive thoughts can be hard to shake off, but with practice, redirecting should come with more ease.

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Then, you should work on preventing it from happening again. This might mean avoiding anything with sensitive content warning or stepping away from the news cycle for a while. You can even tell your friends and family not to check in about certain matters. Know that your inner peace is important.

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nancy
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2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

If you look closely, it's photoshopped. They copy and pasted the eye on our right.

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All in all, let’s all be considerate about the type of content we consume. We should be very conscious about the additional negativity in our lives and how much of it we can really handle. And if you feel like you’re a little sensitive, maybe cursed images, like the ones on this list, should be the farthest you venture into the 'disturbing' territory.

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Multa Nocte
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2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

To me there is nothing more refreshing than a religious person with a sense of humour.

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Sooploosh MacSchnibble
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2 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I wish I knew how to set backgrounds on zoom so I could do similar things. I distinctly remember wanting to have a background w a dinosaurs mouth open to make it look like he was gonna eat me :3

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Unauthorized Kiwi
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2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

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Note: this post originally had 142 images. It’s been shortened to the top 40 images based on user votes.