Just when you thought you were safe from the clutches of newly made up psychiatric disorders, they have invented another syndrome. But this one is even more common than most. If fact, it's likely almost all of us have had this new "disease" at one time or another.
Yes, dear reader. If you've ever gotten enraged at some jerk who cut you off in traffic, you may suffer from Intermittent Explosive Disorder, or IED.
Like most names of psych diagnoses, IED is a description of symptoms only. It has nothing to do with the etiology of the problem. (They would likely diagnose me with "alternative medical madness.")
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According to the shrinks who made up the disease, IED is most prevalent in young adults. It usually starts around age 13 in boys and age 19 in girls. It increases rapidly thereafter, but falls off by the time you reach your 40s. And it's even less prevalent by your 60s.
IED most often manifests itself in road rage and school violence. The syndrome is marked by the victim "misinterpreting another person's harmless action as a personal threat to them and respond by slapping, hitting, or threatening another person, by breaking things, by punching holes in walls or by trying to run somebody down with their car," says author Dr. Emil Coccaro, University of Chicago's chief of psychiatry. He is hailing his work as proof that IED "is really out there and a lot of people have it."
Of course, this is exciting news to Big Pharma. The big drug companies must be salivating at this report. Maybe they'll lobby to dump tranquilizers in the water supply, like fluoride. After all, they need to protect you from your neighbor's anger problem.
By the way, the same article that calls anger a disease places the blame for this disease on TV and bad parenting! If you're wondering how it can be a disease if it's caused by watching TV, you may move to the head of the class.
As ludicrous as this whole story is, the shrinks did get one thing right: road rage and school violence are causes for concern.
But I wouldn't place most of the blame on bad parenting and TV. While violence on TV is getting much worse and parenting isn't what it used to be, there's a lot of evidence that something else is at work in people who regularly lose their temper. I'll tell you what it is in our next health alert.