You walk into the Starbucks across from the station to get a cup of Joe. There are two people ahead of you in line. The place is full; the crowd mostly consists of students, with a sprinkling of businessmen, and a few moms grabbing a quick pick me up espresso and a snickerdoodle for junior. The guy at the register is ordering one of those super poofy drinks with extra this, light this, with a hint of this, at a specific temperature. You roll your eyes, check your watch, and make sure your handheld is on. Mr. Triple Pumpkin Cinnamon Spiced Non-Fat De-Caf Venti Latte is informed that they are out of nonfat caramel syrup. He throws his hand up in the air, begins a tirade of curse words, while repeatedly pounding his fists on the counter. OK, this is moderately entertaining, but you feel bad for the college student barista. But his barrage continues and escalates. Patrons with children begin to exit the store. He spews out a couple of words that are beyond offensive, even to a cop. You approach him to tell him to knock it off or to leave. He spits in your face, picks up a couple cups of hot something and throws them at you as you attempt to shield your face. When you can see again he is reaching for something in his coat pocket. You reach for your side arm while hitting the panic button on your transistor. Is this guy psycho or simply an Adam Henry? You wonder how far this is going to go as you make an executive decision about what type of objectively-reasonable force will be required to control this fool.
Anger disorders describe pathologically aggressive, violent or self-destructive behaviors symptomatic of and driven by, an underlying and chronically repressed anger or rage. Anger disorders result primarily from the long-term mismanagement of anger, a process in which normal, existential anger grows insidiously over time into resentment, bitterness, hatred and destructive rage. Anger disorders may also be caused or exacerbated by neurological impairment and substance abuse, both of which can inhibit one's ability to resist aggressive, angry or violent impulses.
For the most part, anger disorders cannot be blamed on genes or biochemistry. They arise from a failure to recognize and consciously address anger as it arises; before it becomes pathological, hostile and dangerous. The process for dealing with anger needs to start in childhood. It needs to be reinforced throughout an individual’s lifetime. Anger disorders can lead to death. They can lead to massacres. They are the things that create your worst nightmare individually and globally.
The Quintessential Anger Disorder: Intermittent Explosive Disorder
Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED for purposes of this article) is an impulse control disorder characterized by repeated failure to resist aggressive impulses that result in serious aggressive acts, violent behaviors and/or destruction of property. For people who have IED even minor incidents (someone not putting on a blinker) can drive them into a rage that is difficult to control. These outbursts are grossly out of proportion to any provocation or precipitating psychosocial stressor. In fact, they can even happen without any provocation.
According to a recent study at Harvard Medical School, intermittent explosive disorder is on the rise. Approximately 16 million Americans (between 5% and 7% of the population) have the disorder. IED can be described as the classic anger disorder. Its main symptom is rage.
This is how a tragic episode of IED/Rage usually works:
- Step 1: An individual(s) experiences some insult, rejection, or stressful event.
- Step 2: An individual(s) then plots a vengeful rampage to restore personal honor or repay the perceived injury.
- Step 3: (S)he then reacts with a gross overreaction of pent-up aggression, anger, rage, and all too frequently, violence including death.