Impulse Control Treatment

by Bob Walsh

Impulse control is one of the most important capabilities you can hone in life. Interestingly, it is also one of the most commonly underestimated ones. For example, if you’d pretty much ask any person whether they would rather have a high intelligence, or be very good at impulse control, most people would say intelligence. Yet, science has shown that being able to manage your impulses is a skill that matters a lot more for a successful, fulfilled and happy life than intelligence.

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An impulse control treatment starts in the mind. Many times psychiatrists just do pharmacological interventions – essentially handing out drugs to change the brain chemistry. However, scientific scrutiny has many years ago already proven that this isn’t an effective long-term strategy to better be able to control impulses.

There are many ways how poor impulse control disorder can manifest itself: for some people it’s gambling, for some people it’s kleptomania, for some it’s substance abuse, pyromania… or simply not being able to stay away from chocolate, and so on. There are so many tempting things in life – it’s vital to be good at resisting the urge.

The most groundbreaking piece of science in this field happen decades ago with the Marshmallow test by Walter Mischel at the Stanford University. He wanted to see how children are capable of delaying gratification. Through follow up-studies, he found that children who were able to resist eating a marshmallow for a couple of minutes at a very early age later had a much higher rate of success than children who weren’t able to do so.

Later on, a whole science developed around how to help people to develop their willpower and master themselves.

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It is now known that a certain part of your brain is particularly involved in the process of impulse control: your prefrontal lobes. These are “newer” parts of the brain from an evolutionary viewpoint. They are more developed in humans than in any other living creature.

It requires a different way of using your brain – and every impulse control treatment worth its salt should address the issue on the level of the mind. But since this is largely a subconscious process that takes place, it must affect the subconscious mind even more than the conscious mind. After all, if your conscious mind would be in charge, simply saying: “No, I don’t want to do this” would be enough. You probably already know from experience that this isn’t enough.

Hypnosis is a very effective impulse control treatment. Just make sure that you choose a hypnotist who is competent in handling impulse control. Alternatively, if you don’t want to or can’t pay thousands of dollars for personal hypnotherapy, a hypnotic induction created by a professional hypnotist who specializes in this area can even be just as helpful. For one, you can listen to it whenever you have 20 minutes of free time to relax and feel like you need a reinforcement. And second, it costs just a couple of dollars and you can start it right away, instead of having to go through the trouble of finding a trustworthy therapist.

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