BPD Disinhibition (Impulsivity) in BPD By Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University. Learn about our editorial process Updated on December 06, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Digital Vision / Getty Images Disinhibition is saying or doing something on a whim, without thinking in advance of what could be the unwanted or even dangerous result. There’s also another way to think of disinhibition: as reduced control over your impulses, or urges, which means being unable to stop, delay, or change (“inhibit”) an action that is not appropriate for the situation you’re in. Disinhibition is the opposite of inhibition, which means being in control of the way you respond to what’s going on around you. You Know More About Disinhibition Than You May Think Do the definitions provided above sound familiar, even if you haven’t heard the word ”disinhibition” before? If you have borderline personality disorder (BPD), chances are you’ve seldom, or possibly never, been called “disinhibited.” But you’ve likely heard the word “impulsive” many times. That’s right: Disinhibition and impulsiveness (also called impulsivity) are essentially the same thing. Disinhibition is common in people with BPD. Not all states of disinhibition are due to mental health disorders, such as BPD. For example, a traumatic brain injury can lead to disinhibition. Certain medications, such as benzodiazepines, some sleep medications, drugs of abuse and alcohol, can also lead to disinhibition. Of course, everyone has moments when their “uninhibited” behavior does no harm and even contributes to having a good time, such as energetic dancing at a party. In contrast, disinhibition, as the word is used by mental health professionals, is always harmful to some degree to the person behaving impulsively. What Does Disinhibition Look Like? Disinhibited or impulsive actions often have unwanted or even harmful outcomes. Why? Because they range from behavior that’s simply inappropriate, such as suddenly grabbing food off someone else’s plate, to unnecessarily risky and even dangerous, such as stealing, setting fires, explosive attacks of rage, or self-injury. Stages of Disinhibition You can think of disinhibition as occurring in stages even though only a few seconds may pass between thinking of the impulsive act and doing it: Stage 1: You feel a sense of increasing tension or arousal, an urge.Stage 2: You commit the impulsive act. During it, you may feel pleasure, relief, and/or a sense of fulfillment or satisfaction.Stage 3: After the act, you may feel guilt or regret. You also may blame yourself for doing what you did. Do Addictions Involve Disinhibition? Yes. Disinhibition is a key feature of many if not all addictions. Examples include addictive gambling, sex addiction, shopping addiction (especially if you can't afford it), and substance abuse. Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. American Psychiatric Association (2013). Grafman J, Boller F, Berndt RS, et al. (2002). Handbook of Neuropsychology. Elsevier Health Sciences (2002). Holmes EA, Brown, RJ, Mansell, W, Fearon, RP, Hunter, ECM, Frasquilho, F, and Oakley, DA. Are There Two Qualitatively Distinct Forms of Dissociation? A Review and Some Clinical Implications. Clinical Psychology Review 25:1-23, 2005. Ploskin D. “What Are Impulse Control Disorders?” PsychCentral.com (2015). By Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for BPD Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.