Impulsive aggression in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder


Jonathan H. Dowson, Department of Psychiatry, Box 189, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge CB2OQQ, UK.


Dowson JH, Blackwell AD. Impulsive aggression in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Objective:  DSM-IV criteria for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) include examples of ‘impulsivity’. This term can refer to various dysfunctional behaviours, including some examples of aggressive behaviour. However, impulsive aggression is not included in the DSM-IV criteria for ADHD. The associations of impulsive aggression with ADHD were investigated.

Method:  Seventy-three male adults with DSM-IV ADHD, and their informants, completed questionnaires. Impulsive aggression was assessed by ratings of two criteria for borderline personality disorder (BPD), involving hot temper and/or self-harm.

Results:  Logistic regression indicated that features of DSM-IV ADHD were predictors of comorbid impulsive aggression. However, compared with ADHD features, verbal IQ and comorbid psychopathology were more strongly associated with impulsive aggression.

Conclusion:  The findings support the inclusion of features of impulsive aggression, such as hot temper/short fuse, in the ADHD syndrome in adults. These overlap with features of BPD. The findings inform the selection of research samples.