Impulsivity is a broad term. It can contribute to a range of behaviours.
When psychiatrist and psychologists think of Impulse Control Disorders they certainly think of the following features:
- Prior to the act, whether it is stealing, shopping etc., there is arousal, urge or tension. However, this can be either in the body and or in the mind.
- At the time of the act, there is a sense of relief, pleasure or release of the tension.
- Immediately following the act there is a sense of relief, a gladness to let go of the urge.
- In the longer term, there may be a sense of shame or guilt. We can see this often in conditions like binge eating disorder and kleptomania, both associated with impulse control difficulties. However, this sense of shame is less likely to be felt in conduct disorder.
- A core feature of impulse control disorders is that there are repeated drives to perform acts which in the long term are harmful to the person.