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Nervenarzt. 1997 Mar;68(3):171-83.

[Impulsiveness and impulse control. On the psychological and psychopathological conceptualization].

[Article in German]

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Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Medizinische Fakultät, RWTH, Aachen.


Impulsiveness and impaired impulse control are connected with an increasing number of psychic disorders. While impulsiveness presents an enduring, pervasive predisposition of personality, the DSM-IV category of "impulse control disorder not elsewhere classified" is operationalized by specific dysfunctional behaviors. So far, the construction of impulsiveness has really not been sufficiently clarified. What does it means and how can one describes it. Different means of conceptualization are presented from a psychological and psychopathological point of view. Their critical review leads to the hypothesis that impulsiveness subsumes a specific quality of drive, on the one hand, which is closely related to a person's temperament and control mechanisms on the other. Drive and impulse control represent enduring traits that act on all levels of personality function, including behavior, cognitive processing and affect regulation. Finally, a model of impulsiveness is suggested that reflects the close interactions among drive, affect and cognition in the regulation of behavior.

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