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Impulsivity and compulsivity are the defining features of various psychiatric disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and behavioral and substance addictions. Once thought to be diametrically opposed, compulsivity and impulsivity are increasingly recognized as orthogonal symptom dimensions that are linked by shared neurobiological mechanisms. This chapter selectively reviews impulsivity and compulsivity from a transdiagnostic perspective. It begins by discussing the neurobiology of impulsivity and compulsivity and the relationship of these constructs to addictive disorders. The chapter then discusses the clinical features of specific compulsive and impulsive disorders (as well as gambling disorder, a putative behavioral addiction), with a focus on comorbidity and treatment. The complex interrelationships among compulsive, impulsive, and addictive disorders have implications for how these disorders are assessed and treated.
Non-heterosexual populations experience poorer mental health outcomes than their heterosexual counterparts. Few studies, however, have examined how mental health varies across the continuum of sexual orientation. Nor has any study examined possible links between sexual orientation and traits of impulsivity and compulsivity, which contribute to functional impairment across a broad spectrum of psychiatric disorders. To address these limitations, the present study sought to identify addictive and impulsive/compulsive problems associated with sexuality in a university sample.
A 156-item anonymous survey was distributed via email to 9449 students at a public university in the United States. Sexual orientation was assessed using the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, a modification of the Kinsey scale. Current use of alcohol and drugs, mental health status, and academic performance were also assessed, along with valid trait measures of impulsivity and compulsivity.
Same-sex attractions were significantly correlated with a range of mental health problems and substance use. Additionally, same-sex attraction was significantly correlated with certain behavioral addictions (compulsive sexual behavior and binge eating disorder) as well as impulsive/compulsive traits. There was no relationship between academic performance and sexual attraction.
Same-sex sexuality is associated with impulsive/compulsive behavior and addiction. These health disparities may be related to stable individual differences in self-control.
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