Have you ever known that you shouldn't do something, but just couldn't stop yourself? Of course you have! Perhaps you couldn't resist having one more piece of birthday cake. Maybe your brother or sister made you so mad that you couldn't help yelling. Everyone experiences uncontrollable impulses like these sometimes. But what if these impulses happened to you all the time? How would you interact with your family, do your work at school, or make friends if you couldn't control your impulses? Jeremiah, for instance, loved fire. He loved everything about it—the way it looked, the way it smelled, how its heat enveloped everything. Even though he knew it was wrong, Jeremiah lit fires and watched them incinerate, eat, and destroy everything in their paths. Jeremiah also liked the smoke detectors in his house. He loved taking them apart. Sometimes, after school, Jeremiah would sit in his room, dismantle the smoke detector piece by piece, and then put it back together. Once the smoke detector was reassembled, Jeremiah would light a match beneath it and time how many seconds it took before the detector let out its high-pitched squeal. People like Jeremiah cannot control all the impulses they feel. Some people may get uncontrollably angry, steal, light fires, gamble, pull their own hair, or perform other impulsive actions that are harmful to themselves, their families, and their friends. When a person has repetitive impulses like these, he may be suffering from a psychiatric condition known as an impulse-control disorder. The stories and information in this book will tell you more about impulse-control disorders, how they affect people's lives, and how they can be treated.
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