This disorder, which is listed in DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition), a manual which is used by psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose mental illness and provides the diagnostic criteria (i.e. relevant symptoms) by which diagnosis of the specific psychiatric condition is made, is, as the name implies, related to problems a person has with controlling his/her anger.
According to DSM V, the symptoms of intermittent explosive disorder (IED) are as follows :
2) The high intensity of the aggression displayed during these episodes is clearly out of proportion to the precipitating event (ie the event that triggered the aggression)
HOW COMMON IS IED IN THE GENERAL POPULATION?
Research into this area so far suggests that around 5% of the population may suffer from IED during some period of their life-span. Not infrequently, the disorder first appears during adolescence.
Often, too, the disorder will exist co-morbidly (ie together with/alongside) other mental health conditions.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF IED?
IED can very adversely affect many crucial areas of the sufferer’s life, which include : relationships with family, relationships with friends, reputation, career prospects and even freedom (if the uncontrolled aggression results in an incident which leads to being sent to jail). Clearly, then, a person who suffers from IED urgently requires treatment in order to prevent him/her from potentially ruining his/her own life. But in order to treat it, of course, it is first necessary to understand what causes it. In relation to this quest, research has focused on childhood trauma.
WHAT HAS THIS RESEARCH SHOWN?
Research indicates that the experience of childhood trauma, particularly childhood trauma connected to problematic (ie dysfunctional) relationships with parents/carers is the strongest predictor of the development of IED in adulthood. It is thought that the reason for this is that, as a result of such trauma, the affected individual does not learn how to manage his/her emotions nor how to manage the intricacies of interpersonal relationships.
Neurological issues may also be related to IED ; however, I should point out that such issues may themselves have been caused by the childhood trauma – further research into this is necessary.
POSSIBLE THERAPIES FOR IED :
These include :
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David Hosier BSc Hons ; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).