Volitional disorders: A proposal for DSM-V

Leonardo F. Fontenelle, Mauro V. Mendlowicz, Marcio Versiani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In the DSM-IV-TR, specific impulse control disorders not elsewhere classified (ICD) have been designated following four principles: (1) through the addition of an adjective that emphasizes the aberrant character of an otherwise normal behaviour (e.g., pathological gambling); (2) by means of metaphors (such as in intermittent explosive disorder); (3) according to the presumably quintessential nature of their main signs and symptoms, such as impulsive (e.g., impulse control disorders not elsewhere classified), compulsive (e.g., compulsive shopping), or addictive (e.g., internet addiction); or (4) using Greek suffix mania (e.g., kleptomania, pyromania, and trichotillomania). Given this flagrant inconsistency, we argue that time has come to adopt a less arbitrary way of describing these disorders, at least until it becomes clearer whether they are really impulsive, compulsive or addictive or if the preoccupation with this distinction is valid. In keeping with DSM's emphasis on descriptive phenomenology rather than on unsupported theory, a less biased terminology is in order. Therefore, we would like to suggest: (1) the substitution of the term ICD by the more neutral expression 'volitional disorders not elsewhere classified'; (2) the use of the classical Greek suffix mania, already present in some DSM-IV-TR ICDs, as the main naming principle to be adopted in the DSM-V; and (3) the creation of compulsive, impulsive, and mixed subtypes of the 'volitional disorders not elsewhere classified', since they are beginning to be validated by treatment trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1016-1029
Number of pages14
JournalWorld Journal of Biological Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Impulsivity
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Psychopathology

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