Archive for November 10th, 2011

November 10, 2011

Restless Legs Syndrome

jimmy legs

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) or Willis-Ekbom disease is a neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move one’s body to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. It most commonly affects the legs, but can affect the arms, torso, and even phantom limbs. Moving the affected body part modulates the sensations, providing temporary relief. RLS sensations can most closely be compared to an itching or tickling in the muscles, like ‘an itch you can’t scratch’ or an unpleasant ‘tickle that won’t stop.’ The sensations typically begin or intensify during quiet wakefulness, such as when relaxing, reading, studying, or trying to sleep.

As with many diseases with diffuse symptoms, there is controversy among physicians as to whether RLS is a distinct syndrome. The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke publishes an information sheet characterizing the syndrome but acknowledging it as a difficult diagnosis. Physicians generally consider it a real entity that has specific diagnostic criteria., but many doctors express the view that the incidence of restless leg syndrome is exaggerated by manufacturers of drugs used to treat it. Others believe it is an underrecognized and undertreated disorder.

November 10, 2011


andy kaufman by paul hornschemeier

In popular usage, eccentricity [ek-suhn-tris-i-tee] (also called quirkiness or kookiness) refers to unusual or odd behavior on the part of an individual. This behavior would typically be perceived as unusual or unnecessary, without being demonstrably maladaptive. Eccentricity is contrasted with ‘normal’ behavior, the nearly universal means by which individuals in society solve given problems and pursue certain priorities in everyday life. People who consistently display benignly eccentric behavior are labeled as ‘eccentrics.’

Derived from Greek ekkentros, ‘out of the center,’ the word ‘eccentric’ first appeared in English in 1551 as an astronomical term meaning ‘a circle in which the earth, sun, etc. deviates from its center.’ Five years later, in 1556, an adjective form of the word was added. 129 years later, in 1685, the definition evolved from the literal to the figurative, and eccentric began being used to describe unconventional or odd behavior. A noun form of the word – a person who possesses and exhibits these unconventional or odd qualities/behaviors – didn’t appear until 1832.

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November 10, 2011

Impulse Control Disorder


Impulse control disorder is a set of psychiatric disorders including intermittent explosive disorder, kleptomania, pathological gambling, pyromania (fire-starting), and three body-focused repetitive or compulsive behaviors (trichotillomania, a compulsion to pull one’s hair out; onychophagia, compulsive nail biting; and dermatillomania, compulsive skin picking). The onset of these disorders usually occurs between the ages of 7 and 15. Impulsivity, the key feature of these disorders, can be thought of as seeking a small, short term gain at the expense of a large, long term loss. Those with the disorder repeatedly demonstrate failure to resist their behavioral impetuosity.

Considered to be part of the obsessive-compulsive disorder spectrum, impulse control disorders are often associated with substance use disorders because ‘it has been speculated that these disorders are mediated by alterations of partially overlapping neural circuits.’ Impulse control disorders have two treatment options: psychosocial and pharmacological. Treatment methodology is informed by the presence of comorbid conditions.

November 10, 2011


Compulsive hoarding (or disposophobia) is the acquisition of possessions (and failure to use or discard them) in excess of socially normative amounts, even if the items are worthless, hazardous, or unsanitary. Compulsive hoarding may impair mobility and interfere with basic activities, including cooking, cleaning, hygiene, sanitation, bathroom use and sleeping. It is not clear whether compulsive hoarding is an isolated disorder, or rather a symptom of another condition, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

While there is no clear definition of compulsive hoarding in accepted diagnostic criteria (such as the current DSM), there are several defining features: the acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value; living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed; significant distress or impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding; and reluctance or inability to return borrowed items; as boundaries blur, impulsive acquisitiveness could sometimes lead to stealing or kleptomania.

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