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What are the 5 Impulse Control Disorders?

There are five types of stand-alone impulse control disorders. Although impulse control is a factor in other disorders, such as substance use disorder or eating disorders, these are not considered impulse control disorders because other factors are at play. The five stand-alone impulse control disorders are:


Pyromania is an interest or fixation on setting fires or fire paraphernalia. Pyromania is an impulse control disorder and should be separated from the concept of arson, which is a crime. Anyone who sets fires for personal reasons, such as ideology, revenge, or any gain, is not a pyromaniac. While both arsonists and pyromaniacs set fires intentionally, pyromaniacs do so from compulsive or pathological reasoning.

Someone with pyromania will often feel tension or anxiety before starting a fire. They will feel an uncontrollable urge to set a fire and feel discomfort until they can do so. Once a fire is created, a pyromaniac will feel relief or a sense of euphoria.

Not all pyromaniacs will commit a crime, although some may. Some pyromaniacs may set small controlled fires in areas they own to get relief without committing any crime.

Pathological Gambling

While many people may gamble at times, pathological gamblers have a compulsive impulse to gamble regularly and at increasingly higher amounts. Due to the nature of gambling, a pathological gambler can experience severe financial hardship without treatment.

Many pathological gamblers hide the extent of their gambling and will usually be in denial about their problem’s severity. As the problem continues, a pathological gambler will feel the need to bet more often and increase amounts of money to achieve the feeling of excitement they seek.

A pathological gambler will often focus on past gambling experiences or think about upcoming events if they are not engaged with gambling in the present. They will likely be unable to stop or cut back on their gambling and can be distressed or irritable if they try.


Kleptomania is an impulse control disorder that causes the inability to resist the urge to steal items. While some people may steal out of necessity or lack of funds, a kleptomaniac steals things that are not needed. Afterward, stolen items are generally returned, given away, or hidden somewhere. Kleptomaniacs seek the feelings associated with theft but do not necessarily care about the specific things they are stealing.

Most often, kleptomaniacs feel shame or guilt regarding their disorder. Compared to pyromaniacs, where many do not need to commit a crime to set the fire they are urged to, kleptomaniacs repeatedly commit crimes. Kleptomania can therefore cause legal trouble and financial hardship if left untreated.

Many kleptomaniacs will hide their condition from those close to them out of embarrassment and refuse to seek treatment.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Intermittent explosive disorder is an impulse control disorder that causes violent or angry reactions at triggering events. An intermittent explosive disorder aspect is that this aggressive reaction will be a major overreaction to the proportion of the circumstances.

Compared to other impulse control disorders, which are usually hidden and secret, intermittent explosive disorder will affect how a person interacts with anyone in their lives. The disorder can cause significant problems at home, work, or in relationships with loved ones.

Intermittent explosive disorder can cause acts of road rage or domestic violence. It can also cause someone to destroy objects or the environment around them. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with intermittent explosive disorder, you must seek treatment for the safety and wellbeing of yourself and those around you.


Trichotillomania is also commonly referred to as “hair-pulling disorder.” This condition is an impulse control disorder associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder that causes someone to feel the irresistible urge to pull hair out of the scalp or other body parts.

People may pull hair out of their scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or body. They will likely feel embarrassed by the disorder and try to hide all bald patches caused by hair-pulling.

Can Impulse Control Disorder be Cured?

Impulse control disorder does not have a cure, although it is considered to be treatable. While medications may be prescribed to treat symptoms associated with impulse control disorder, no medication has been approved for the disorder’s exclusive treatment.

Even though there is no cure, it is crucial to seek help if you are experiencing symptoms associated with impulse control disorder. Impulse control disorder can have a harmful impact on your life and relationships with those close to you.

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