Monday, June 05, 2006

Honk if you have IED ...

Maybe 1 of every 20 of us suffers from a newly named malady, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, or IED -- uncontrollably angry outbursts that erupt as road rage, spousal abuse or other unjustifiable "severe transgressions," according to researchers from Harvard and the University of Chicago. AP reports:
Mental health research has concentrated on such problems as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, panic attacks and substance abuse. Instead of being considered a mental health problem, anger was thought to be a matter of willpower. But new brain imaging studies show that people with IED have abnormal brain signaling in areas that control anger responses, Coccaro said. When people with rage disorder are shown pictures of people with angry faces, their amygdala lights up far more than is seen in healthy subjects. The amygdala, deep in the center of the brain, governs emotional responses to threats.

How ironic that this new disorder shares an acronym with the Iraqi roadside booby trap known as an "IED."

How long before we see IED used as a defense in a murder trial, or simply listed among the many protected maladies in the Americans with Disabilities Act?


SingingSkies said...

"The simplest coping skill is to get out of the encounter," he (Coccaro) said. "If you feel you're going to explode you just walk away, take a timeout."

Ummmmmmm.....Isn't this something you're supposed to learn in pre-school or elementary at the latest?

I feel quite ambivalent about reports like these. I don't want to let people off the hook for behavior which is harmful to others and could be controlled (either with behavior modification or medication). Yet mental illness is already quite stigmatized and misunderstood, so people who legitimately need and could benefit from treatment often don't get the help they need.

Then you get caught up in the discussion on whether someone whose life is consumed or severely affected by a mental disorder should be forced to take the medications which would allow them to function normally.

I also don't want to see the Americans with Disabilities Act trivialized. People with disabilities which make work and day-to-day activities difficult, if not almost impossible, truly need the provisions of the act to be able to interact in productive ways.

I'm grateful that we are learning more and more about the mysterious functioning of our minds and bodies; however, there is Oh, so much to learn and understand! I don't imagine we'll have it figured out in our lifetimes, nor in many lifetimes to come.

Chancelucky said...

Actually, I already see it all the time in dealing with schools and students with disabilities. No one's all that sure how to deal with it in public settings.