Impulse Control Disorders

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IMPULSE CONTROL DISORDERS Many of the self-control disorders involve disturbances in the ability to regulate an impulse - an urge to act. People with impulse control disorders act on certain impulses involving some potentially harmful behavior that they cannot resist. Impulsive behavior in and of itself is not necessarily harmful; in fact, we all act impulsively upon occasion. Usually our impulsive acts have no ill effects, but in some instances they may involve risk. Consider the following two examples. While walking through a clothing store, a young woman decides on the spur of the moment to charge an expensive sweater which is over her budget; she may regret her decision later, but few serious consequences will result. Were she…show more content…
Clinicians usually become aware of a person's kleptomania only when the individual is in treatment for some other psychological problem such as an anxiety disorder, psychoactive substance abuse, eating disorder, or mood disorder (Bradford & Balmaceda, 1983; McElroy et al., 1991). The fact that most kleptomaniacs seen in a clinical context also suffer from another psychological disorder raises some interesting questions. Is it possible that kleptomanic behavior is a symptom of some other disorder, possibly biologically caused? With this possibility in mind, some researchers have speculated that a serotonin deficiency might underlie kleptomania, an idea that is supported by the fact that the medication fluoxetine (Prozac), which increases serotonin in the nervous system, has been found to reduce kleptomanic behavior (McElroy et al., 1991). In addition to pharmacological interventions, behavioral treatments are also used to help individuals control their urge to steal. In covert sensitization, the client is insstructed to conjure up aversive images during the act of stealing (Glover, 1985). For example, a kleptomaniac may be instructed to conjure up disgusting images, such as vomit, when the compulsion to steal is emerging.
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