Life Philosophy Science

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.” – Richard Bach

Okay, I have to say that I think I’ve now heard it all.  I heard this news story on NPR today that just made me shake my head in disbelief.  We are so focused on ensuring that we have no personal accountability, we have created a laundry list of “disorders” to explain why we do bad things.  Today’s accountability dodger is the “Intermittent Explosive Disorder” or IED [Isn’t it ironic that it has the same acronym as Improvised Explosive Device].  The story applied this disorder to people who road rage, saying that it was the explanation as to why people get out of their cars and start screaming, and or beating other people’s cars.  In a less sophisticated time, we would have simply said, “The devil made me do it.” — which was a load of manure then, and it still is now.

I am a commuter and have been for about 15 years.  I’ve had to travel to DC and Richmond on a regular basis, and while the traffic is not nearly as bad there as it is in California, there are days when I wanted to get out and start screaming, especially when it’s a heat index of 110 degrees, and the AC is taxing the engine.  But, have I gotten out of the car and started doing anything along those lines?  No, because I would hope that I can exercise more restraint than a 5-year-old.  Intermittent Explosive Disorder is just another way of saying Temper Tantrum.  And no matter how you put it, clinically or philosophically, it’s still the ravings and a petulant child.   We, as adults, are supposed to be able to act in calm and calculated fashions.  100 years ago, no one in society would have ever accepted a grown person to have an angry outburst without some sort of significant repercussion.  But now we are willing to remove yet another layer of accountability from ourselves, and label it as a disorder.  When does it end?

Disorder is defined as “a condition involving a disturbance to the usual functioning of the mind or body”.  What a perfectly nebulous definition!  This means that we can pretty much label anything out of the ordinary as a disorder.  If you eat too much, it’s a disorder.  If you can’t pay attention, it’s a disorder.  If you are stressed, its a disorder.  But is it really a disorder?  Is it something beyond your control?  Probably not.  But now if someone starts road raging at you, you’ll feel inclined, by misinformation, to say, “Aww.  Cut him some slack, he’s got the IED and can’t help himself.” How long until people are cleared of murder because they had an intermittent explosion that resulted in the death of 10 people? 

Now, let me clarify all this.  I am not saying that there aren’t people who have serious medical conditions that cause unexpected or disorderly behavior.  But I cannot accept that everyone who exhibits these symptoms is “afflicted”.  For instance, I know people who are overweight because they have a thyroid issue, and I know people who are overweight because they sit on the couch, watching TV and eating Twinkies all day.  Should these two people be treated the same way?  Absolutely not.  The person with the thyroid problem can be treated medically, and spend the rest of their life fighting their weight.  The person sitting on the couch will benefit from the plight of the person with a thyroid disorder, and claim that it’s not their fault they are overweight — but it is all their fault and its is our fault for giving them a fictitious disorder to hide behind. 

One of the biggest contributors to all the problems in this country is our lack of accountability.  From the President, to the person working at McDonald’s, we are ALL accountable for everything that is happening.  We have allowed ourselves to be a country of complainers. We blame everyone else for our problems.  Look at politics, the right blames the left and the left blames the right.  Well actually, it’s all their faults, but even more so it is all of OUR faults.  We have continually elected people who have misrepresented the rest of us for decades.  And when something goes wrong, we blame them.  Well, they only do what we tell them to.  If they aren’t doing what we want, then don’t re-elect them! 

But I digress.  The point to all of this is that we must stop making excuses for our own actions.  There are people who have real disorders, but the majority of us who have bad habits or practices do not have a disorder.  Drug addiction, alcoholism and obesity are for 99% of people are self-inflicted, but we use every excuse in the book as to why we should be allowed to continue with the behavior.  

So today, I would just like to end by saying that in my opinion, Road Rage is not a disorder.  Road rage is simply an adult acting like a child.  Rather then prescribe pills, anyone caught road raging should be put over someone’s knee and spanked.

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