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Disinhibition
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Published by HOPES
(Huntington's Outreach Project for Education, at Stanford University)

Disinhibition is the inability to control a sudden desire to do or say something. When these desired actions or words are potentially hurtful, repetitious or socially inappropriate, disinhibition may be considered a problem behavior. Making a comment to a co-worker about the supervisor's horrible hair-do while she is within earshot is an example of a disinhibited behavior.

Generally, these behaviors are unintentional. The damage to the caudate nucleus may cause this difficulty in controlling emotions and impulses.

Damage to the caudate may also result in the inability to experience intense feelings of embarrassment, guilt or shame.

In certain circumstances, a repetitious behavior or an impulsive behavior, such as a temper tantrum, may be an inappropriate response to something in the environment or a change in routine that needs to be addressed.

An unreliable routine can contribute to disinhibition, such that mild feelings of confusion or annoyance are expressed as intense feelings of anger or fear. For more information on frustration, irritability and aggression, click here.