Within the field of mental health there are any number of illnesses that can be quite distressing to an individual, but perhaps none as life altering as those known as Impulse Control Disorders. Falling into this category are the behaviors of Kleptomania, Trichotillomania, Pyromania, Intermittent Explosive Disorder and compulsive gambling to name a few. Individuals suffering from these maladies have little control over their impulsive behaviors, and because of this often exhibit destructive and disturbing life patterns that tend to repeat themselves in numerous episodes that stretch over decades. The tragic aspect of lacking impulse control is that in many instances an individual is often aware that their actions are askew, but feel compelled to act inappropriately to satisfy a short-term need.
Those individuals suffering from any of the Impulse Control Disorders generally follow the direction of their immediate desires for short-term gratification, and afford little if any thought to the long range implications of their choices. For example a Pyromaniac or Kleptomaniac gives no thought of criminal penalties or of harm to others during an episode, rather centering only on their need to act out. A compulsive gambler thinks not of their financial responsibilities and security, but rather of the immediate rush they receive from gambling. An individual suffering from Trichotillomania feels the need to pull out their own hair, realizing that it is not normal or mentally healthy, but simply cannot control the desire to do so. In nearly every single instance, the individual knows that their actions are outside of the parameters of normal behavior, but cannot stop themselves.
Sadly, individuals suffering from Impulse Control Disorders lack the ability to prioritize the importance of various components of their lives, and as a result bear the related distressing consequences on a daily basis. Broken relationships including those with family, criminal charges, and financial ruin create a sense of self-loathing, which in turn intensifies the effects of original mental disorder, making a peaceful and productive lifestyle an impossibility. The common behavior of those afflicted with Impulse Control Disorder is the self destructive nature in which they approach life, and the collateral damage absorbed by those concerned with their well-being.
A very small percentage of those experiencing Impulse Control Disorder are able to help themselves, and professional therapy is nearly always required for behavioral changes. With appropriate professional intervention, many sufferer’s are able to overcome their issues and regain control of their lives.