Dennis B. Kottler, MD
Westlake Village, CA
Few "habits" are as frustrating as CHRONIC LATENESS - both to the person kept waiting and the person running late. Sometimes lateness is difficult to avoid due to unforeseeable events. However, when the behavior is CHRONIC, consider the following causes:
--Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder
--Problems with Self-Sabotage
--Problems with Over-Control
Poor planning and time management usually respond well to brief psychotherapy or life coaching. However, if the problem is more serious, a full psychiatric assessment is indicated to rule out underlying problems such as those mentioned above.
It is nearly impossible to "self-diagnose" the true cause of Chronic Lateness and therefore psychiatric assessment is generally a good place to start.
When Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the problem, this often causes difficulty in making TRANSITIONS, leading to the person getting "stuck" to the current activity, and finding it a problem to "pull away." Also, intervening rituals, such as repetitive checking and other more idiosyncratic rituals, can consume vast amounts of time, also leading to lateness.
Treatment can involve psychotherapy, life coaching, medication, or some combination of these.
When Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the problem, lateness can result from distractibility, hyper-investment in activities such as video games, pathological difficulty in organizing a daily schedule, or pathological "absent-mindedness" and "forgetting." Treatment can involve psychotherapy, life coaching, medication, or some combination of these.
When personality issues, psychological conflicts ,or interpersonal problems are at fault, it also requires professional help to "tease out" and correct the lateness "habit."
In almost all cases, CHRONIC LATENESS does not exist in a vacuum but is part of a more complex web of annoying behaviors, often annoying both to the person experiencing them as well as to others.
Lastly, the toll to a person's physical health should not be underestimated, with constant stress racing to appointments, dealing with the anger of others, and self-castigation. These stressors can lead to elevated heart rate, hypertension, muscle spasm and orthopedic issues, and possibly other physical illness.