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Being overly inhibited: As problematic as being impulsive

Academic psychological and self-help literature has a tendency to venerate 'impulse control' and 'self-control' as the hallmark of the emotionally stable individual.  Central to Psychoanalytic theory, and the theory of this website, is the understanding that those who are anxious responsd to impulse or instinctual drive in 2 ways: by giving into the impulse, or by avoiding being stimulated at all.  In fact, psychoanalytic theory proposes that the primary root cause of anxiety is in fact the supression of instinctual impulse: anxious individuals have not allowed themselves to satisfy key underlying human needs.  Typically, and historically (usually in early childhood), the attempt to satisfy such needs has become associated with trauma, and so the individual attempts to avoid satisfying these core needs.  Again, if you wish to understand this further, I would encourage you to go to the 'Romantic Relationships' section of this website (click on the words 'Romantic Relationships' here or click on the 'Romantic Relationships' tab on panal running across the top of the website).  This begins by outlining the basic tenets of Attachment Theory, which is an academic theory build on certain key Psychoanalytic principles. 

In light of this discussion, I propose that the anxious individual will not only do well to learn to control impulse, where she has allowed impulse excessive expression, but that she will also need to learn to allow impulse expression in areas where she has become afraid to allow impulse expression, in order to reduce her experienced anxiety.  A good example of such a situation may be seen in someone who feels perpetually guilty if she is not being 'productive' and refuses to allow herself to have leisure time and feels guilty if she is attending to her own needs rather than to other people's needs.  This attitude is often found in many people who suffer from depression.  Such an individual may need to firstly recognise and admit to this tendency, and secondly begin to force herself to enjoy and value leisure time for herself.  If this behaviour pattern has constituted an underlying habitual life pattern, then this may prove to be particularly difficult, and may involve years of learning to challenge the drive to 'put others first and do not attend to my own needs'.  But it is such an effort that I propose will be necessary in order for such an individual to begin to feel freedom from the anxiety induced by such an attitude.