Mindfulness-Based Approaches to Impulsive Behaviors

Kelcey J. Stratton


The ability to think and act quickly and effectively may have some evolutionary benefits, in which immediate response has important consequences for survival. In our modern world, impulsive behavior may even allow some individuals to express desires in a healthy-albeit defiant-manner. Jetting off on an unplanned vacation, going on a shopping spree, or taking a day off work may represent welcome relief in the quotidian life. However, impulsive actions also have consequences, and impulsiveness has been linked to a variety of high-risk behaviors and a number of psychiatric illnesses. Impulsivity is considered an important element of suicidal behaviors, substance abuse, aggression, personality disorders, attention deficit problems, and criminal behavior (Moeller, Barratt, Dougherty, Schmitz, & Swann, 2001). Although impulsivity is directly mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (DSM-IV; APA, 1994) criteria for several disorders, little research has attempted to uncover the role of impulsivity in psychiatric disorders (Moeller et al., 2001).

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