Aboulomania: When Indecision Becomes Pathological

Aboulomania: When Indecision Becomes Pathological
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

We’ve all had to make a tough decision sometime in our lives. During these moments, we start doubting ourselves and we get nervous about not knowing which option to choose. Being indecisive when having to choose something is normal. However, when it starts affecting your daily life, it can become problematic. If indecision starts messing with your personal relationships and it stems from stress, anxiety, or depression, you might be suffering from aboulomania.

First of all, it’s important to highlight that aboulomania is a mental illness, not just a self-esteem or insecurity issue. It makes it impossible for you to live your life, as it keeps you from making decisions. You no longer feel capable of choosing, up to the point where choosing what to have for dessert feels like an impossible feat. This pathological level of indecision then messes with all your relationships.

What unleashes aboulomania?

Research has not been conclusive regarding what triggers aboulomania. Because of this, the potential patient needs to be studied carefully to find the underlying cause of the condition. Then, one can refer to existing studies which have come up with different hypotheses.

A shadow asking for help.

A possible cause for aboulomania might lie in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This is because that’s the area of the brain responsible for decision-making and can be directly related to the condition.

Aboulomania generates a feeling of paralyzing indecision.

However, researchers also believe that aboulomania might be closely related to how one was brought up. Thus, having overprotective parents may create the toxic environment for this condition to develop. Children with overprotective parents develop an unhealthy dependency and rely on others to make decisions for them. What’s more, if someone is a victim of humiliation or abandonment during childhood, the chances for aboulomania increase as shame, strong insecurities, and lack of self-trust can all trigger the condition.

Despite all of this, researchers haven’t been able to empirically prove the underlying cause of aboulomania. This means that, even if they speculate and analyze possible causes, they haven’t found an answer that explains every case of aboulomania.

Living with aboulomania

Emotional dependency and aboulomania aren’t the same. This is why getting professional help is so important since they can help diagnose exactly what’s going on. Below are some situations where aboulomania and dependency may overlap and where one might even get them mixed up.

It’s common for people with aboulomania to avoid being alone whenever they feel a dilemma might come up. But this doesn’t come from a fear of being left alone. Instead, it comes from the need to have someone there to make the decision for them and assume the responsibility. Here, the fear of being alone isn’t the root of the problem, but rather a symptom of a deeper condition.

A worried man.

It’s important to mention that this dependency on people makes it easier to manipulate or lie to individuals with aboulomania. Others can use them and partners can leave them for not being able to make choices or express disagreement. However, leaving someone with aboulomania alone can make them feel powerless and lost.

Diagnosis and treatment

Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand with aboulomania. These are, in fact, the main reasons why patients complain when they finally decide to get help. There are three tests that help narrow down the prognosis:

  • Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI)
  • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
  • Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

After diagnosis, professional help is strongly recommended to overcome this disorder. The process consists of dealing with the symptoms first, the anxiety, depression, or stress, and then with the mental issue. To do so, the specialist will help the patient develop greater autonomy and develop social skills like assertiveness. In addition, in many cases, the specialist will need to help the patient develop their sense of self-esteem.

Going to a psychologist or psychiatrist is very important when it comes to dealing with aboulomania. Someone suffering from this condition might think their indecision levels are normal, but the problem might be more serious than it seems.

A woman with a backpack sitting on a crossroads.

Someone suffering from aboulomania is not capable of making choices. What to have for lunch, how to cut their hair, what to do for a living… Their indecision reaches the point where not living becomes a better option than having to choose how to live.

People with aboulomania can come across as burdensome, as others might feel like they constantly have to push them around. In reality, the greater burden is the one that individuals with this condition have to endure. Because of this, one must find ways to help them gain the autonomy and independence they so desperately need. We should try to understand them.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.