All people have or feel impulses. Often, however, your impulses are not intense enough to overpower your ability to control them. On the other hand, even if your impulses occasionally take over, it’s usually not enough to make you or those around you suffer. If it does, you may have an impulse control disorder.
It is important to define a key term in this area: impulsivity. According to Moller, Barrat, Dougherty, Schmitz, and Swann (2001), impulsivity is a predisposition to rapid, unplanned responses to internal or external stimuli, without regard for the negative consequences of those responses for the impulsive individual or others.
This response can be visible, like making a phone call. On the other hand, it can remain hidden from an onlooker, such as for example a person imagining a conversation with someone else.
In mild cases, the negative consequences are usually not great enough to raise the alarm. The problem is in the long run. A mild impulse control disorder can end up being very harmful, because it is not severe enough for patients to take preventive or treatment measures.
It can therefore become chronic and become more resistant to any treatment. This condition is more common among males, although the gender gap appears to be narrowing and depends on the specific condition.
Impulse Control Disorder
In today’s article, we are going to talk about the major impulse control disorders according to the DSM-5.
Periodic Explosive Disorder
Anger is the main factor in this condition. The energy of the emotion completely overwhelms the individual with this condition. To expend or let out this energy, they can become aggressive and harmful.
We are talking about physical and verbal aggression here. Some abusers have this condition. In some ways, it’s similar to a childhood tantrum. However, adults are clearly much stronger than children.
Patients with this condition seem to improve significantly when professionals offer them other ways to release their energy. As a result, some preventive measures may include exercise, diet changes, or stimulant abstinence.
They may also benefit from certain coping mechanisms that they can use if they feel they are losing control.
Impulse Control Disorder: Kleptomania
People with kleptomania use theft or burglary as an outlet for their fear. It’s a kind of reinforced instrumental behavior that acts as a sedative.
The object itself is usually not of great importance. Whether or not the individual meets their basic needs has nothing to do with this condition. In other words, they don’t steal because they need the items they steal.
This is perhaps one of the most well-known ailments, perhaps because of its prevalence in movies and TV series. One of the most iconic kleptomaniacs is Marie Schrader in Breaking Bad.
She perfectly represents the systematic denial of the problem, as well as how her shame produces energy that she channels through the threat of being caught.
On the other hand, once kleptomaniacs have taken the difficult step of recognizing their problem, they sometimes underestimate the importance of their behavior. They might claim that they only steal unimportant items that won’t make or break the business, grocery store, or family they stole from.
The stealing was liberating for them and caused no major damage. The mind is very skilled at shaping reality in such a way that it can justify and reinforce its behavior.
The adrenaline rush produced by gambling is a form of stress relief for compulsive gamblers. Gambling can be addictive and cost a lot of money. You could win everything, but the law of large numbers says you will lose it all in the end. If it weren’t for that, casinos wouldn’t be viable businesses.
Pathological gamblers face money and relationship problems as a result of their addiction. This particular condition is often not discovered until the stakes have become really high.
In the beginning, it is easy for the individual and society to consider gambling too normal. After all, you can bet very small amounts. However, when things start to escalate, pathological gamblers tend to hide their behavior so that no one gets in their way and the game.
Gambling ends up taking up a significant portion of their physical and mental energy. They spend their free time thinking about where to gamble and how to get away with it. The more they play, the more they believe the next game will get them out of the hole they’ve dug in.
That, in turn, leads to wrong conclusions. For example, they reason that since they’ve had a number of losing games in a row, their next win must be within reach. That kind of thinking helps soften the reality of everything they’ve lost.
Other Impulse Control Disorders
Other impulse control disorders include pyromania, Diogenes syndrome, and nonspecific impulse control disorder. While they all have their differences, the three we described here give a general idea of the common thread between all of these conditions.