Tag Archives: Impulse Control Techniques

Control Impulsive Behavior

 

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Do You Find It Hard To Control Impulsive Behavior?

If we have suffered severe childhood trauma which has led us to develop borderline personality disorder/BPD (click here to read my article on the link between childhood trauma and BPD) one of the most harmful symptoms we suffer may be a grossly impaired ability to control impulsive behavior.

The kinds of self-destructive, impulsive behaviours that an individual suffering from BPD may experience are :

– over-spending

– reckless driving

– binge eating

– shop- lifting

– gambling

– reckless sex (e.g. promiscuous unprotected sex) – click here to read my article on this)

– substance abuse

Often, people with BPD will give in to such impulsive activities in a desperate attempt to fill a profound sense of inner emptiness and desolation.

METHODS TO HELP US CONTROL IMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR

Three methods often recommended by psychologists to help us control impulsive behavior :

1) REFLECTION

2) DELAY

3) DISTRACTION

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1) REFLECTION – often, if we carry out an impulsive act, we deeply regret it the next day and are filled with a deep sense of shame and despair.

We can actually use this to our advantage by reflecting on such feelings we are likely to experience BEFORE we indulge ourselves in the impulsive behaviour; hopefully, through such anticipation of how we will feel later, we are less inclined to go ahead and carry the impulsive behaviour out.

In order to utilize this strategy most effectively, many people find it very helpful to write out the following four questions on a piece of paper and then carry it around with them (e.g. in a wallet or handbag etc.), for instant reference should the need arise!

These four questions are as follows :

a) How important to me is it that I act out this impulsive act in the great scheme of things?

b) How will I feel about having carried it out tomorrow?

c) How will I feel tomorrow if I DO NOT carry out the behaviour?

d) If I indulge in the behaviour, what are the likely long-term consequences?

2) DELAY – an alternative strategy is to DELAY acting upon our impulses. For example, if we have the urge to do something that is likely to be self-destructive, such as gambling, we may experiment by delaying doing it by, say, an hour.

Then, next time, we can delay by an hour and a half, then, the time after that, by two hours…and so on…and so on…

This actually strengthens our ability to delay gratification and resist potentially harmful impulses (by strengthening relevant neurological pathways in the brain).

The goal is to strengthen this ability to such a degree that, eventually, we find it no harder to control our impulses than does the average person.

3) DISTRACTION – the third strategy entails distracting ourselves from our impulsive feelings. This method works best if we plan in advance what we might do to divert ourselves from our potentially self-destructive urges, should they arise.

Of course, chosen distractions will vary from person to person; however, I provide some examples below:

– gym

– jogging

– home exercises

– phoning a friend

– cinema/film

– taking up a hobby which we find both interesting and enjoyable

ALTERNATIVE BEHAVIORS :

Some people with BPD are sensation/thrill seekers as they have a need to compensate for inner feelings of emptiness (see above) and this has led to their impulsive, self-destructive behaviours. More healthy (yet still exciting) behaviours which may act as  alternatives (given correct training and supervision) include :

– bungee jumping

– sky diving

– skiing

– mountain climbing

– rock climbing

– extreme sports

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive and different individuals will, no doubt, find activities most appropriate to them.

Resource :


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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

BPD, Alcoholism and Impulsivity

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It is not uncommon for alcoholism and borderline personality disorder (BPD) to go hand-in-hand (click here to read my article on the relationship between alcoholism and childhood trauma). Those suffering from both alcoholism and BPD are particularly likely to have problems controlling their impulsivity.

The reason for this is the twin effects of alcoholism and BPD :

– ALCOHOLISM makes it harder for those who suffer from it delay gratification when intoxicated

– BPD is linked to those who suffer from it having difficulties with inhibitory control

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These findings were reflected in a research study carried out by the psychologist Rubio, at the University of Madrid. The study involved nearly 350 participants and the results were as follows :

GROUP ONE – ALCOHOLICS WITHOUT BPD :

These participants had a much greater inability to delay gratification when compared to healthy controls. For example, they preferred to drink ‘now’ rather than feel better later (ie not have a hangover). Relapse rates amongst such individuals were found to be high.

GROUP TWO – ALCOHOLICS WITH BPD :

These participants were found to have a lack of inhibitory control over their thoughts and actions : once they started to drink, they found it very difficult to stop.

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CONCLUSION :

We can infer from these results that  in the sub-group of alcoholics with BPD, their alcoholism may be secondary to their lack of inhibitory control, whereas in alcoholics without BPD, their alcoholism is more likely to be due to their inability to delay gratification.

TREATMENT IMPLICATIONS :

The above further implies that alcoholics with BPD may benefit from treatment for their alcoholism that differs from treatment given to alcoholics without BPD ; specifically, it is now thought that alcoholics with BPD may benefit most from therapy which helps them to develop greater behavioural control – such therapy can involve medication and/or psychotherapy.

NOTE : Regularly drinking to excess is often due to an ultimately counter-productive coping mechanism known as ‘DISSOCIATION.’ Click here to read my article on this.

RESOURCES :

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR RESEARCH INTO IMPULSIVITY

MP3s :

OVERCOME IMULSIVITY MP3 – CLICK HERE

 

EBOOKS :

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery