Impulse Control Disorder - specifically shop lifting / compulsive stealing - is linked to symptoms of eating disorders. In anorexic people, it's connected to the habit of hoarding food or objects and hiding them for later use or consumption.
Although it sounds like a single issue, Impulse Control Disorder is actually a 'catch-all' phrase for a collection of psychiatric disorders, including skin picking (dermatillomania), nail biting (onychophagia), starting fires (pyromania), xompulsive stealing (kleptomania), and so on.
In relation to anorexia and bulimia, the most interesting of the disorders listed above is kleptomania (stealing).
Did you know that stealing is more common in people with eating disorders than in the rest of the population? It's true!
I'm sure more studies are needed, but for the past decade (or longer), research has shown a definite correlation to anorexia or bulimia and theft.
A 1996 research study by Vandereycken and van Houdenhove shows an interesting correlation between impulse control disorder and eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
The study revealed that compulsive stealing was reported in 47 percent of a group of patients who all met the DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic And Statistical Manual For Mental Disorders) criteria for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
The percentage of those with kleptomania was even higher (54.8 percent) in individuals diagnosed with type II anorexia (the bulimic sub-type), than in those with bulimia (48.7 percent) or restricting type anorexia (35.3 percent).
Most shoplifters say that their impulsive behaviors usually compel them into stealing something that is related to their eating disorder in some way. These items might consist of laxatives, diet pills, money, food, and so on.
Many of those involved in the above study reported that it was their embarrassment about having to shop for those particular items that led to the shoplifting in the first place.
Some clinicians argue about whether or not stealing is an indicator of the severity of the eating disorder, but this notion definitely requires further investigation.
Another suggestion that is still up for debate is whether or not shop lifting in these cases is a symptom of impaired impulse control, or just plain stealing?
A number of therapists have noted that disordered eating individuals will go to great lengths and take enormous risks to obtain food when they can no longer afford to indulge their bulimic binges.
Impulsivity is considered to be part of the same spectrum as obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms.
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