When it comes to science of anger disorders, no instruments truly exit that can asses this mental condition as a clinical disorder. To make matters worse, there is currently little agreement among mental health practitioners as to what constitutes an anger problem and there is not even a commonly accepted definition of anger itself. So, is it possible that an anger disorder is just a myth? It depends.
This is simply an area of human condition that psychologist and neuro-scientists have not properly explored yet. According to statement by a cognitive researcher, noted on CSMMH website, “The cognitive theory of anger consists of a constellation of core beliefs, automatic interpretations, and feelings that comprise the manifestation of anger experiences. Although the descriptive element of the cognitive theory of anger is well formulated, the causal element of the theory that relates specific disorder components to specific treatment components is less compelling.”
Yet it may be possible to come to certain conclusions by simple analysis. First it is important to distinguish between one’s usual anger and an anger disorder.
Difference Between Normal Anger and Anger Disorder?
Generally, the literature states that “normal” anger is connected to a specific action as its source (or to the planning or contemplation of such action), while an anger disorder (pathological anger) is mostly directed at oneself or even lacks direction altogether. Also, a usual anger is generally considered to be as a transitory state, generally manifesting in frustration, irritation and annoyance at identifiable targets – specific events or people. One can argue that it is not truly a disorder but more of a habitual, exaggerated response, witnessed in the majority of healthy population. However, if one’s anger stems from physical “malfunctions” that have to do with things like brain injury or personality disorder and seems to be acute and permanent, then it can be considered as a real and valid disorder.
Personality Disorder and Brain Injury are A Factor
Most folks suffering from a personality disorder are notoriously prone to anger. Their anger is usually sudden, raging, and without an apparent reason and directed either inwardly or to the world in general. Its a process that is taking place in their brain and overriding their ability to comprehend the situation and clearly reason through the emotions. Their mental filter is dysfunctional, filtering out all good qualities and focusing on and dwelling in the negative. Many suffer from this state day and night, sometimes able to suppress it but with violent eruptions in the least expected moments.
Additionally, doctors have long known that some types of head injury lead to outbursts of aggression. But there is a study that actually links the uncontrollable anger to a problem in the way the brain functions. Scientists measured brain function in psychiatric patients suffering from a condition called Intermittent Explosive Disorder and came to conclusion that the condition is linked to malfunctioning of part of the brain’s circuitry, possibly caused by an imbalance of certain neurotransmitters.
Two Schools of Thought for Anger Related Conditions
There are two schools of thought about this issue and a final conclusion whether anger disorders are real or a myth depends which school of thought you are comfortable with. One would say an imbalance of a brain chemical, such as serotonin, and the brain’s internal wiring is influenced purely by the genetic and environmental factors; all is hard wired and set into place making an individual a victim of faith. In this case, one might argue that all anger disorders are real. Especially if the brain has no chance to re-wire because of a serious injury.
Second, however, would be to take into account new discoveries in neuro-science and ancient wisdom traditions that suggest we play a conscious and unconscious role in the wiring of our brain via our thoughts and that the brain’s plasticity would allow an individual to change by means of meditation and certain cognitive therapy. In this case, one may argue an anger disorder is simply a very strong mental illusion, controlling one’s actions but ultimately being just a mental state, no different than any other.
Ultimately one would have to answer a deep philosophical question: Is our brain like a radio that only transforms the radio waves or is it more like a radio station that produces the waves? In order words, does our brain create our reality or does it only color it based on its wiring? Depending on your views, this would be the ultimate answer whether anger disorders are a real deal.
If you suspect you are suffering from an anger disorder, make sure to consult with a qualified psychiatrist or a therapist in your area. They should be able to tell you the direction you need to take.