Impulsive Behavior in Schizophrenia

Recently, I came across a few online tests from that are meant to determine different things about your personality. Online quizzes should be taken with a grain of salt. Don’t put too much stock into them regardless of what they claimed to be formulated around.

So while I don’t hold the tests to be very accurate, some of the questions made me think about my schizophrenia diagnosis, as I think it’s the reasoning for why I answered a lot of the questions the way I did.

There are 3 tests and it was the ‘Obsessions/Compulsions’ quiz that stood out to me. Pretty self-explanatory, it’s purpose is to try and figure out how obsessive/compulsive you are. My overall score was 33% with my highest point being 89% ‘impulse to harm.’

First, let me explain what that means. The difference between impulse and intent/thought to harm is basically:

Impulse: Randomly, I have the urge to do *something* but I’m not actually going to do it because I don’t want to; it was just a fleeting thought.
Intent/Thought: I’m thinking about actually doing *something* and I consciously want to do it.

Now, one could argue that ‘impulses’ in mentally ill people and the general population are different. A healthy minded person might get annoyed by someone and have the urge to slap them while a psychiatric patient might simply be taking a walk and have the urge to bash their head into a tree. There was nothing to trigger the patient’s impulsive thought as there was the healthy person.

Both are impulses to harm and both CAN be ignored, whether you suffer from poor mental health or not. That’s not to say that it isn’t difficult to ignore, especially harder with those already having to fight their mind for control of their emotions and actions. Nonetheless, responsibility falls on us not to follow through.

As a schizophrenic, I have both types of impulses, but the overwhelming majority being ones without triggers that make absolutely zero sense. Not all of the impulses are to do with violence/aggression, mind you.

One of the questions in the quiz in regards to ‘impulse to harm’ was “While driving, have you ever had to resist the urge to run into another vehicle?” or was something along those lines. I can’t remember the exact question. Anyway, it really stood out to me because not doing something dangerous while driving is a nearly constant battle with me, which is a big reason why I hardly ever drive anymore.

When I was 17, I actually ran my car off the road because of an impulse that I now know was a result of the schizophrenia I had been neglected treatment for. At first, it was just an impulse. I was inches from running it off a bridge, but when nothing happened, that impulse turned into voices.

I was young and ignorant; I didn’t know what was going on…so I listened to that voice, spun out on a gravel road in a bad part of town, and ended up in a ditch with my best friend in the passenger seat. Fortunately, we weren’t hurt and the car only needed minor repair, but it was the beginning of a downward spiral that resulted in a psychotic break at age 18.

I managed to get out of an incredibly stressful and dangerous situation where my now wife got me to see psychiatrists and convinced me to take medication and go to therapy. But before that, I was battling psychosis, mood disorder, and PTSD that I had no idea I had and was without the education to understand the signs.

This is why I advocate for mental health awareness.

Not solely because society needs to learn to be more understanding and we need to erase the negative stigma of psychiatric care and disease, but because safety, health, and combating the harmful side-effects of mental illness begins with KNOWING the warning signs and learning how to cope with symptoms before they get out of hand.

This blog in video form:

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