It has probably happened to you that you have done something violent and emotional that you later regret. We can all get out of the oven at certain times or do things that have consequences for us. However, some people are more inclined to do these behaviors and sometimes they can not even stop themselves. These people are called impulsive people in psychology. In this article, we talk about impulsivity, the characteristics of impulsive behavior, the causes and treatment strategies to deal with it.
What is impulsivity?
Impulsivity or impulsive behavior refers to behaviors that are risky and disproportionate to the situation without the necessary intellectual and logical support. The consequences of impulsive behaviors often lead to unpleasant results. From the perspective of psychology, impulsive behavior is any behavior that is out of proportion to the situation and also poses a potential danger to the individual or others.
Impulsivity Although more common in people with borderline personality disorder, everyone may exhibit impulsive behaviors in certain situations. The possibility of impulsive behavior in a person can not be completely ruled out. Such behaviors, regardless of how they damage our work and social relationships, can lead to financial loss and legal liability if left untreated.
What are the characteristics of impulsive behavior?
What behaviors can be considered impulsive behavior? Psychologists identify impulsive individuals with the following characteristics:
- Lack of balance in speech and behavior.
In general, in psychology, impulsive behavior is one of the main features of borderline personality disorder; Therefore, if a person exhibits impulsive behaviors, he or she is very likely to have the disorder. Therefore, psychologists consider instability in a person’s behavior as a clear sign of this disorder. This instability manifests itself in the emotions, behavior and relationships of the individual.
Such people usually show aggressive and intense behavior in the face of small stimuli and often do not notice the intensity and irrationality of their reaction to the small size of the problem. It should also be noted that impulsivity is not the only sign of borderline personality disorder. It can only be considered a sign of this disorder if it is pervasive and harmful and disrupts a person’s normal life.
tip: Impulsivity should not be confused with coercive behaviors. In impulsivity, one does not realize that one’s behavior is too unconventional; But in behaviors that are forced, the person realizes that his behavior is inappropriate, but for some reason he can not stop it.
Examples of impulsivity
There are many examples of impulsive behavior. To better understand impulsive behaviors, consider the following examples:
- Abrupt leaving the job;
- Sudden excitement;
- Excessive apology;
- Destruction of one’s own property or that of others;
- Overeating or drinking;
- High-risk and unreasonable sex;
- Threatening to harm oneself or others;
- Excessive sharing of emotions;
- Conclude quickly in conversations;
- Disconnection with others under the pretext of a new beginning;
- Sudden discarding of objects under the pretext of changing the decor;
- To provoke conflict over small and trivial issues;
- Inability to hear criticism without reacting negatively;
- Joining and then separating from different groups for no apparent reason;
- Continuous and unreasonable change or cancellation of programs (such as travel, leisure, period).
Impulsivity in children
Children often have impulsive behaviors because they are not yet aware of the consequences of their actions. Some of the impulsive behaviors of children are:
- Interrupting other people’s conversations;
- Shouting when feeling helpless;
- Ignoring danger (jumping in the middle of the street without checking traffic);
- Taking other people’s objects without their permission or disturbing turns;
- Physical contact (pushing other children or throwing objects at others).
Where do impulsive behaviors come from?
Currently, the roots of impulsive behaviors are unknown. No one can say for sure why someone develops borderline personality disorder and why they exhibit impulsive behaviors. However, scientific conjectures have been made. In general, there are two possible reasons for these behaviors, one related to psychological factors and the other to genetics.
1. psychological factors
Borderline personality disorder
People with borderline personality disorder experience emotional instability as a result of impulsivity, self-doubt, dangerous behaviors, and self-harm.
Bipolar personality disorder
In bipolar disorder, a person engages in impulsive behaviors during the manic period.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
This disorder leads to impulsive behaviors in children who are unable to control their behavior. In fact, the child’s inability to control his behavior along with the constant change of focus causes impulsivity in the child with attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder.
Drug use or attempts to obtain drugs may lead to impulsivity.
Antisocial personality disorder
This disorder, which has similarities to borderline personality disorder, is one of the disorders in which impulsive behavior is seen. But with an important difference: in borderline personality disorder, the person experiences intense emotions and, consequently, engages in impulsivity; But in antisocial personality, the individual is devoid of emotion and has no emotion about his or her impulsive behaviors and consequences.
2. Genetic factors
Research on twins has shown that some genes may play a role in borderline personality disorder as well as the resulting impulsive behaviors. Researchers believe that a defect in chromosome 9 may be linked to borderline personality disorder and impulsive behaviors. Mutations such as those that occur on chromosome 9 are more likely to lead to changes in the release of certain hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine. As a result, they affect a person’s behavior and cognition. These two hormones have a direct relationship with a person’s mood.
Impulsivity is also linked to dopamine receptor deficiencies in the brains of people with borderline personality disorder, according to research from Vanderbilt University. If these receptors (especially in the frontal lobe, which is responsible for logical thinking) fail, the person loses some ability to think before behaving.
On the other hand, this deficiency may explain the feeling of emptiness and depression that afflicts people with borderline personality disorder. In general, with the dysfunction of these receptors, a person has less ability to control their behavior and feels less happy and happy.
How is impulsivity diagnosed?
No single test can determine whether impulsive behavior is due to borderline personality disorder or to other factors. For this reason, a set of clinical methods should be used to identify the cause of impulsive behavior. If a doctor suspects a borderline personality disorder, he or she begins the identification process with the help of psychological tests. It then adapts the results to the Comprehensive Mental Disorder Diagnosis Guide (DSM-5) to determine whether a person has a disorder or not.
This difficult and complex process involves two steps that a suspect must go through:
- Defects in character performance, Whose symptoms are manifested by self-doubt, self-criticism, instability in goals, values,. Ideals and career plans.
- Defects in interpersonal relationships, Which are symptoms such as poor empathy with others due to negative attitudes and inability to establish an intimate relationship with others.
Both of these stages must be passed and approved in order to confirm borderline personality disorder in the individual. As mentioned, the process of diagnosing this disorder is complex and requires a lot of skill and experience. As a result, there is a possibility of misdiagnosis. To reduce the likelihood of misdiagnosis, all other factors that may be causing these behaviors and symptoms should be investigated and eliminated.
How can impulsivity be treated?
Although impulsive behaviors are often severe and pervasive, they can be controlled with existing therapies. Therapies used to treat people with borderline personality disorder often target the same behaviors. Therapies offered for impulsive behaviors fall into two categories:
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is one of the methods used to reduce impulsive behaviors by focusing on the development of individual skills. In this way, one learns to reflect before taking action. By learning these skills, one can deal with impulsive situations without having to engage in stressful behaviors.
Mindfulness is one of the skills used in dialectical behavior therapy to reduce impulsive behaviors. In this way, the person is encouraged to be more aware of the present so that he can gain more control over his current behaviors. Mindfulness meditation is one of the exercises offered in this treatment.
Serotonin control drugs, along with small doses of psychotherapy drugs, can reduce impulsive behaviors. These drugs are prescribed when a person’s impulsive behaviors pose a serious risk to themselves or those around them. Mood-balancing drugs are another example used in the treatment of impulsivity.
How to deal with impulsivity?
In addition to pursuing psychotherapy and medication, there are things that any impulsive person can do to cope with and manage their impulsive behaviors. The first step is to identify impulsive behaviors and the will to change them. It can then be dealt with in one of the following ways:
1. Behavior chain analysis
By analyzing the impulsive behavior in detail (what you did and what went through your mind before the action and what you felt), you can better understand the nature of impulsive behavior and think about the consequences.
2. Join sponsor groups
There are groups that help people with various impulsivity disorders. By joining these groups and talking about what you have experienced and hearing what others have done to control your behavior, you can increase your experience and knowledge in dealing with impulsivity. Also, group therapy in these groups will provide you with the emotional support you need to get through these conditions.
3. Replacing impulsive behaviors with healthy behaviors
Although impulsive behaviors can sometimes reduce your stress and anxiety, these two can be better managed; For example, walking, talking to friends, and writing are healthier behaviors for managing stress and anxiety.
4. Practice deep breathing
Deep breathing technique and frequent practice reduce stress and, as a result, reduce the likelihood of impulsive behavior. Focusing on deep breathing also distracts you from the subject matter that could trigger your impulsive behavior.
Do you have an experience of impulsivity in yourself or your loved ones? What methods do you know to deal with it? How have you seen its impact on people’s lives? Tell us and your audience about your experience.