Intermittent Explosive Disorder -- pathology or psychobabble?

We already have several names for this :

Entry Word: irritable
Function: adjective
Text: easily irritated or annoyed <that irritable old man always yells at people to stay off of his lawn>

Synonyms choleric, crabby, cranky, cross, crotchety, grouchy, grumpy, irascible, peevish, perverse, pettish, petulant, quick-tempered, short-tempered, snappish, snappy, snippy, testy, waspish

Related Words bearish, bilious, cantankerous, disagreeable, dyspeptic, ill-humored, ill-natured, ill-tempered, ornery, surly; sensitive, sulky, thin-skinned, touchy; hot-blooded, passionate

Probably not. More like the lady who goes back to the store and yells at the kid, or goes to the manager and goes ape trying to get the kid fired.

From some of our “Dopers in Retail” threads, it sounds like that lady exists, and maybe we could all benefit if she adjusted her medication.

Your wife didn’t do anything that disrupted her life, just vented a bit. The lady in my hypothetical example is at the very least wasting her time and maybe getting banned from the store.

I dated a guy once who this IED seems to describe. He would go into yelling, screaming, wall-pounding rages for apparently no real reason. He just felt angry. No, not a steroid type at all. In his case, it seemed to go along with massive sugar cravings. I never saw him direct this at another person, but he really seemed out of control and irrational when it happened. I’d say even one instance in the workplace would have been a severe career-limiting-move for him. I hope they figured it out for him, because when he was normal he was a very nice guy.

Actually, I just found a perfect match :

Main Entry: cho·ler·ic
Pronunciation: 'kä-l&-rik, k&-'ler-ik
Function: adjective
1 : **easily moved to often unreasonable or excessive anger **: hot-tempered

A gramme is better than a damn.

Wasn’t there a TV show about a character with this disorder? I know I’ve heard this term before.

Just seems like another way to get wife beaters and criminals off the hook. Everything we do is the result of chemicals in the brain; saying anger is a “chemical reaction” doesn’t really mean anything. And maybe the fact that such a large percentage of Americans have this “disorder” says more about the lax parenting skills of the previous generation than anything having to do with brain pathology. It’s things like this that get psychiatry laughed at.

I don’t know if it’s real or not, but there are two red flags in your quote that should make you skeptical. It’s a newly defined term, yet it has already been assigned to 16MM Americans. Also, it’s described as having a biological component when the studies in question were strictly interviews and questionnaires. Looks like guesswork to me.

And you know what? It REALLY pisses me off! Every goddam lapse of judgment, EVERY SINGLE instance of bad behavior nowadays is attributed to a disorder. **WHEN THE FUCKING HELL WILL PEOPLE TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN ACTIONS?!!11!!**I don’t care if interdimentional space snails have colonized your brain and have a breading ground inside your cerebellum, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS – NOT YOUR MOMMY BECAUSE SHE SPANKED YOU IN PUBLIC, NOT SOME BIOLOGICAL QUIRK… YOU!!11!!.

Err. Did say that this thing was contagious?

Bingo…after we saw a report about this on the news last night, I turned to my wife and said “Ok, pick one – will we see this on one of next season’s L&O, SVU or CI?”

But, how can you be resoponsible for something you CAN’T control? I’m not saying that people shouldn’t try to get help for themselves. However, punishing people for something that they cannot control isn’t going to make problems any better either. Now, I know little about IED, but I am quite familiar with other neurological problems. If IED turns out to be a real thing, that’s fine with me, in fact I would be quite happy. I’m sick of people’s angry outbursts, if therapy and/or medications can help them, that’s fine with me.

They were talking about this on NPR this morning, and the expert was very quick to push “Road Rage” to the side.

This isn’t about the jerk that leans on his horn when you’re not quick enough when the light turns. It’s about the guy who beats his wife within an inch of her life when she burns the toast. This isn’t your garden-variety irritability, but Hulk-like flipping out at the smallest provocation.

Labeling the things that can go wrong with our behavior and cognition doesn’t excuse them, ideally it helps us avoid and correct them.

So what is the purpose of making the diagnosis of IED? Is it to mitigate punishment when someone uses his car as a battering ram?

If they want to go the disease route, I say fine.

But I know a guy who was diagnosed with diabetes and his doc notified DMV and yearly eye exams were mandated and he can no longer drive.

I knew a woman who was taking some industrial strength psych meds for schizophrenia and her doc notified DMV and her driving license was revoked while she was on the drug.

So how about if a doctor makes a diagnosis of IED that he notifies DMV and they can decide whether to let the guy even continue driving.

If you want something you have to give something. This can’t be a free pass for assholes.

What is DMV?

Department of Motor Vehicles. The people in charge of issuing drivers licenses. Some states call theirs something different.

In my experience (and my experience is fairly extensive), over 90% of folks who say they can’t control their behavior continue to willfully make choices that prevent them from getting a handle on their behavior and changing it. This includes alcoholics (like me), people with explosive tempers, compulsive liars and thieves, and people who act out sexually, to name only a few.

However, once a person experiences enough negative consequences from their behavior, there’s a better chance that they will make the choices necessary to allow them to change their behavior (therapy, counselling, medication, mutual-support groups, etc).

Take for example the person with the disease of diabetes. An undiagnosed diabetic shouldn’t be held responsible for going into a hyperosmolar coma and crashing his car from exceedingly high sugars. But once they’ve been diagnosed and told how to manage their sugars they should be expected to maintain sugar levels that allow them to safely drive again.

If they then fail to check their sugars, take their medications, and follow their control plan, and get all hyperosmolar again and run over someone, then they need to suffer consequences. Like those found via the criminal justice system.

I’m a big believer in suffering the consequences of one’s own volitional behavior. :smiley:

That’s totally understandable. To have a problem and not try to treat it is irresponsible. On the other hand, sometimes it seems that people are quick to punish people without knowing the root cause(s) of their behavior. That too, is counterproductive.

Seems we might have a case of Intermittent Explosive Disorder here, folks.
<runs, very fast>

I too feel frustrated at times that every quirk of human behavior is being listed in the DSM (what number are we on, now? 4 or 5? oh, excuse me, IV or V?).

Either that or bad behavior is blamed on simple carbs, too much protein, not enough calories period, sun spots, phases of the moon etc. But hey, if they can make a more specific profile and tie it to some boichemical or genetic mapping, then I’ll get behind it, I suppose.

I thought this was going to be a discussion along the lines of, “I had no idea I shouldn’t eat a industrial sized bag of chips fried in Olestra® right before my job interview”. I was sadly mistaken.

Way out of proportion to the situation - and I think, implicitly, outside the range of what’s normal for adolescents. Every disorder in the DSM-IV specifies that it has to be bad enough to cause serious problems in a person’s life; normal teenage aggression does not result in being fired from jobs, or getting arrested, or what-have-you.

If you’re looking for more objective or quantifiable criteria than that, you’ll have to throw out a lot of mental illnesses and assume they don’t exist. Which, mind you, is not an uncommon nor a ridiculous viewpoint - but I think your argument entails more than you mean it to.

That quote doesn’t suggest that the kid got put on medication. I would agree that the circumstances seem to suggest that it’s too soon to make a diagnosis of the disease, though.

How could a kid who grows up in a structured, disciplined home have ADHD? How could a kid whose parents read to him every day have a learning disability that stops him from reading? How could a kid who grows up in a happy, emotionally healthy home develop depression? How could a kid who grows up in a home where no one is paranoid or hallucinating develop schizophrenia?

I tried here to compare your statement to analogies to other mental disorders to show how ridiculous the argument is. Most mental disorders are not connected to the way a child was raised (though of course some are); that’s part of the reason we view what are - in many cases - basically just extremely maladaptive personality traits as something that can and should be treated by professionals.

Why is your assumption that everyone who suffers from this disorder - and again, your reasoning could be easily applied to several other mental disorders - is not controlling themselves as best they can? You haven’t offered up any support for that viewpoint. If people have such episodes but they can control them and prevent others from knowing about it, then by definition they don’t have the disorder and would probably not be treated by a psychiatrist. The fact that one person gets angry and can control it doesn’t mean that everyone who gets angry can do so.


Cite? What evidence do you have that anyone is trying to use this to evade responsibility? It wouldn’t be permissible under an insanity claim in court, so what point are you trying to make? (I’ll just be charitable and ignore the completely unsupported stuff about “lax parenting”.)

If someone does have a problem, and a diagnosis helps them connect to someone who can treat it - and maybe stop them from going into violent rages - isn’t that a good thing? Or are such people broken, and should they just suffer for it?
What is it about discussions of psychiatric conditions that results in so much straw flying around?

I’ve been wondering the same thing for years. But, I will take a shot.

Lack of education. I think abnormal psychology should be a required course in high schools and colleges. If people actually picked up a book and learned about these conditions, it will make more sense to them. Going by the evening news is not good enough.

People tend to think in the slippery slope kind of fashion. If we consider this as a disorder than eventually doctors will consider walking down the road and chewing gum as a disorder. Then we all will be doomed! No on will ever take responsibility for their actions again!

Fear of an even playing field. Many people know that treatments and accommodations can be quite effective. Give someone a debilitating mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar (who was once unable to cope with normal life demands) a pill, and they might become functional members of society. Give the dyslexic/LD student extra ten minutes on their tests, and they might score higher. Of course, as a result, there will be more people to compete with.

Having a jaded and cynical view of people period. They tend to believe that many people with problems are just trying to get attention and use them as excuses to screw people over.

Eh, ever notice how people with explosive tempers almost never seem to get into screaming fights with cops or in biker bars or with their boss? No, they always lose their temper with their wife, or their kids, or their subordinates at work, or the neighbor.

Somehow the fact that there might be consequences if you lose your temper with a cop or your boss seems to allow them to control themselves.

Of course, there really are people who can’t control their tempers with the cops, those people tend to spend large amounts of time incarcerated.

OP here, to say thank you to all who’ve offered their thoughts and enlightened me. I’m still mulling it over. Thanks especially to – well, no, ain’t gonna single out one or two when so many have provided viewpoints well worth pondering.