Mark* is a 30- year old man with good fortune on his side. Bright, charismatic and a looker, he knows that his life will lead him to the finer things.
“It’s like an energy,” Mark explains. “It’s more than anger…a rage that reaches a point where I have no control.”
Mark is my neighbor and we’ve gotten to know one another over morning coffee. Comfortable in each other’s company, we’ve discussed a myriad of topics; animal welfare, politics, psychology and the like are a few areas that we’ve highlighted. I’ve been curious about his swollen hand and I finally asked him about that.
“I had an argument with a lady that I was seeing. We’ve been on and off and one day she really said some hurtful things. I punched the wall and broke my hand,” Mark concluded. “I let it go too long so the bones had set before I went to the doctor. This isn’t the first time that I’ve broken my hand.”
“This is so foreign to me,” I told him. “Can you tell me in detail what your rage is all about?” I queried.
“When I was a kid I lived in a neighborhood with ten other young boys. My Dad is a military man and I idolized him. From a young age I was fascinated with the army, guns, coups, foreign affairs and so on. I wanted to become a soldier and I couldn’t wait. As kids, our scuffles got more violent as we got older. I recall a kid on the bus who said something derogatory about my sister. We got off the bus and I beat him up and at that moment it felt great. My Dad had taught us to stand up for each other.
“In my teens, I was a cool kid- was bored in school and hung with fellow athletes. We took no flak from anyone. I punched a car window out and dragged a kid out of his car, broke his nose…just beat the crap out of him.
“It’s like this…I’m not terribly tolerant of others as a rule. I get pissed off and that builds. Anger is next and then I go into that rage place. When I’m raging, I feel powerful and justified. The damage that occurs to my body after a fight or hitting an object isn’t felt until the rage passes. It’s a guy thing.” Mark concludes.
Researching IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder) I found that millions of people worldwide seem to have this and women also have these attacks. To qualify, one must have experienced the following;
*Lost control and broke or smashed something worth more than a few dollars.
*Lost control and hit or tried to hurt someone.
*Lost control and threatened to hit or hurt someone.
Further studies show that IED may be neurologically based, a result of substance abuse or a result of familial dysfunction. Wikipedia states, “Many psychiatric disorders and some substance use disorders are associated with increased aggression and are frequently comorbid with IED, often making differential diagnosis difficult. Individuals with IED are, on average, four times more likely to develop depressive or anxiety disorders, and three times more likely to develop substance use disorders.”
“In researching people with this disposition, we found that anger and hostility may actually be lethal,” says Charles D. Spielberger, PhD, a distinguished research professor of psychology at the University of South Florida who’s been studying anger for 25 years. And he means lethal to the person who gets angry, not the one on the receiving end of the anger. “The evidence that anger can detract from your health is mounting all the time. And of course, uncontrolled anger in men can leave your marriage and your career — not to mention your crockery — in pieces.”
[Note: Mark has recently begun seeing a therapist for his struggle with depression and anxiety. Assuming that this topic will come forth in that setting, Mark may get to the other side of this harmful conflict.]
* His name has been changed.