Impulse Control Disorders

Disorders in this category include the failure or extreme difficulty in controlling impulses, despite the negative consequences. This includes the failure to stop gambling, even if you realize that losing would result in significant negative consequences. This failure to control impulses also refers to the impulse to engage in violent behaviour (e.g., road rage), sexual behaviour, fire starting, stealing, and self-abusive behaviours.

Please remember that the definitions and criteria for diagnoses are constantly evolving and changing (the DSM-IV has been revised several times and is in revision right now). Therefore you will find that not all professionals will agree all the time in regards to certain diagnoses. Thus, we would like to repeat and stress again that it is most important how much YOU are bothered by certain issues, feelings, behaviours and reactions and how much YOU perceive that these interfere in your life. This is where the personal, open and honest discussion with your individual psychologist will be so important and crucial in order to help you to find a way forward in YOUR life (irrespective of diagnosis or not).

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

This disorder is characterized by frequent and often unpredictable episodes of extreme anger or physical outbursts. Between episodes, there is typically no evidence of violence or physical threat.


Kleptomania involves the failure to resist impulses to steal things that are not needed for either personal use or for their monetary value. There is typically anxiety prior to the act of theft and relief or gratification afterward. If the theft is related to vengeance or psychosis, kleptomania should not be diagnosed. (Kleptomania is quite rare, whereas common shoplifting is not).


Pyromania involves deliberate and purposeful fire setting on at least two occasions. There is typically tension or heightened arousal prior to the act and gratification or relief afterward. The fire setting is not done for monetary gain or an expression of anger, vengeance, personal gain, or psychosis.

Pathological Gambling

Persistent and maladaptive pattern of gambling which causes difficulties with interpersonal, financial, and vocational functioning. People with compulsive gambling lose control of their betting behaviour, often with serious consequences. They’re constantly chasing their losses, and they often go to extremes to hide their gambling.


Trichotillomania involves individuals having an irresistible urge to pull out hair, whether it’s from their scalp, their eyebrows or other areas of their body. Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves them with patchy bald spots on their head, which they may go to great lengths to disguise.