Impulse Control Disorders

Lacking a safety net

Most people, as they mature, develop control over their impulses: actions are preceded by careful consideration, with thought given to consequences. A negative judgment leads to a refusal to take an action. Some people, however, lack a fully developed safety net, and act without the ability to impose control.

Retraining the mind and developing strategies

  • Failure to think, and failure to resist.
  • Rebuilding new habits.
  • Finding help.

Coping with a lack of impulse control

There are two basic elements in impulse control: the restraint to think well first, and the ability to continue to resist if a person recognizes a potentially damaging action. Failure of either of these functions produces impulse control disorders. A person unable to consider consequences, or a person unable to resist when consequences are severe is at a terrible disadvantage in life.

Few of us begin our lives with good impulse control. For much of our lives, there is a very thin line between imagining an action and immediately trying to perform it. Even when we come to realize that actions can have negative consequences, the ability to resist a desirable action with undesirable consequences can take many years to develop.

In some instances, people are dangerously slow to develop, or suffer from a condition that has reduced impulse control. This can cause serious problems not only for the individual, but for those around him or her. Finding a way to cope with the problem can be a matter of life and death.


There are no entirely certain treatments for all forms of impulse control disorders. There are, however, various counseling and behavior modification programs that can help reduce the issues for some sufferers. Impulse control conditioning can be especially for the normal youngster who is merely a bit behind in development, providing an extra safety net of conditioning and technique to hold him or her over until natural maturity takes over. Conditioning can also help enormously with recovering addicts, who must structure new habits to replace the undisciplined, disorderly behaviors that evolved around the elements of addiction.

These methods can also be of use to those who have lost impulse control through a range of physical maladies. In instances where such events as stroke have left a capable person with reasonable cognitive skills, but impaired judgment, the process of retraining the mind to stop, consider, and choose can return a victim to normal life.

Conditioning and behavior modification

The most successful approach to these problems is through conditioning. Behavior modification is a collection of techniques that provide both conditioned, learned reflexes to situations, and conscious skills and understanding to make the conditioning and reflexive responses secure. By applying negative and positive behavioral reinforcements – “punishments and rewards,” – and providing the understanding to allow a patient to use these skills, a counselor can help a client gain control they have lost, or may never have had previously.

Finding a therapist or program

Finding such skilled counseling or a program best suited to anyone needing help with impulse control therapy, is challenging. The form of counseling is specific, and training and experience can both make a big difference in the success or failure of the process.

Among the better ways of locating great professionals and programs is to turn to a referral agency. Referral agencies specialize in matching clients with high quality professional counselors and programs. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance for an impulse control disorder, don’t hesitate to find help as quickly as possible.

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