Road Rage Redefined as Intermittent Explosive Disorder

by Andrew R. Young | December 15th, 2011

Road rage is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a motorist’s uncontrolled anger that is usually provoked by another motorist’s irritating act and is expressed in aggressive or violent behavior.”

National Public Radio did a story on the psychological symptoms associated with the uncontrollable outburst that leads to road rage.  NPR’s news correspondent, Patti Neighmond, interviewed Emil Coccaro, M.D., a psychiatrist from the University of Chicago.

During the interview, Dr. Coccaro defines road rage as a deeper underlying problem called Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Sudden outbursts associated with this disorder happen not only on the road, but in the workplace and at home.  It is often associated with individuals who “are compulsively rigid and explode when their sense of ‘order’ is upset.”   Dr. Coccaro also gives other examples of people who explode due to paranoia or rejection.  Dr. Coccaro is the co-author of a study which suggests that 6 percent of the population has the short fuse associated with this disorder.

Dr. Coccaro goes on to suggest that folks prone to these outbursts do not produce enough of the hormone serotonin.  As such, these individuals would do well with medications like antidepressants and mood stabilizers to help with the imbalance.  Other potential solutions to assuage the uncontrollable feeling of rage include not taking things personally or removing yourself from the situation.

If you are someone prone to these outbursts or know a loved one who may be prone to intermittent explosive disorder, then it is something that should be discussed with your doctor. We are all responsible for keeping our highways healthy and safe.   For further tips to avoid someone who is driving aggressively or displaying signs of road rage, please visit the blog post of November 23, 2011, Aggressive Driving – Just Let It Go.

Authored by: Trial Attorney / Truck Attorney – Andrew R. Young, Esq. – Class A CDL License