Living on Impulse

From The New York Times:

Impulse_1 Play hooky, disappear for the weekend, have a fling, binge-shop like a Wall Street divorcée. Spontaneity can be a healthy defiance of routine, an expression of starved desire, some psychologists say. Yet for scientists who study mental illness and addiction, impulsive behavior — the tendency to act or react with little thought — has emerged as an all-purpose plague.

In recent years, studies have linked impulsiveness to higher risks of smoking, drinking and drug abuse. People who attempt suicide score highly on measures of impulsivity, as do adolescents with eating problems. Aggression, compulsive gambling, severe personality disorders and attention deficit problems are all associated with high impulsiveness, a problem that affects an estimated 9 percent of Americans, according to a nationwide mental health survey completed last year.

More here.