What Is Explosive Anger?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 02 January 2019
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Explosive anger is any kind of outburst of rage that comes on suddenly and reaches a point where the angry individual completely loses self-control. In many cases, when people talk about explosive anger, they are specifically referring to some kind of mental disorder related to rage, especially a disorder called intermittent explosive disorder. People dealing with this disorder — most of whom are male — have occasional outbursts where they lose the ability to control their angry impulses, often resulting in intimidating or violent behavior, and sometimes ending in harm to the people around them or property. People who have problems with explosive anger are often treated using a combination of therapy and medication.

Most people experience anger quite frequently for various reasons in their lives, and sometimes these episodes even cause people to act out to some extent, but individuals suffering from explosive anger disorders take things to a different level. For these individuals, the causal action has little or nothing to do with the extremity of the rage, and they might totally lose control over seemingly minor infractions from other people. Once control is lost, these people can be dangerous, acting out in ways that their family and friends may find totally unbelievable and terrifying. Most people who have problem with these kinds of outbursts suffer a great deal of guilt and shame when their anger finally subsides, but by then, the damage is already done.


Experts aren't sure exactly why some people suffer from outbursts of dangerous explosive anger, but a few theories exist which might explain some cases. There is evidence that children who come from families where they are constantly exposed to rage and violence might have less ability to control their own angry impulses. This could be partly for genetic reasons and partly environmental. There may be a chemical element in the brain that's partially responsible for some of these problems, and something like this can be passed genetically in families, but being raised in an environment where people don't control their impulses could also lead to children who never learn to control their own impulses. Other factors that might lead to anger problems include substance abuse and depression.

Explosive anger can be dangerous for family members or anybody around a person who's having an episode. Many people who suffer from impulse control problems related to explosive anger end up engaging in domestic abuse, violent crime, and they can also have a greater tendency to harm themselves. Treatments include medications to decrease mood swings, improve impulse control, and get rid of depression. Therapy sessions are also often a big part of the process, teaching people some basic anger management ideas that can help them practice better self-control.



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