Outbursts of Anger: Temper or Disorder?

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Robert Maurer
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Outbursts of Anger: Temper or Disorder?

When outbursts are frequent, we no longer speak of temperament, but of a disorder that requires the attention of a specialist in mental disorders because it could have very serious consequences.

Last update: April 19, 2020

We all happen to have gods outbursts of anger in life. These are those moments when we lose control and anger takes hold of us, our thoughts, our words and our actions. There is a temporary loss of consciousness and our mind is focused only on the attack, on the irrepressible desire to do harm.



During the outbursts of anger, the brain shuts down and the beast in us emerges. It's a wild side of us that we never give up completely. However, we can temper these angry instincts by making them emerge only in truly extreme circumstances. Some people, on the other hand, become short-tempered at the slightest adversity.

Do not commit any action with the fury of passion, it is like jumping into the sea in a storm.

Thomas fuller

The question that leads to reflection is the following: are these outbursts just a trait of the temperament that characterizes some people? It is true that some emotions are innate, but to what extent they are considered normal and when, on the other hand, do they become a symptom of a disorder?

The outbursts of anger

Anger is triggered by two sources. The first is fear, in any form: simple fear, anxiety, anguish, panic, etc. The second is frustration, again in all its forms: not feeling comfortable with yourself, not achieving goals or desires, things are not going as they should, etc.


When a person gets angry with a certain frequency, they are usually driven by misconceptions that lead them to interpret reality in a frightening or frustrating way. Here are some of these misconceptions:


  • Others can hurt me easily. This idea leads to angry reactions to any sign of disapproval or rejection.
  • Others must act in favor of my well-being and my wishes. It leads to being intolerant of others and their actions when they do not correspond to what we want, think or feel.
  • There must be no obstacles to get what I want. The appearance of obstacles or problems triggers anger and sometimes outbursts of anger.
  • Others need to read my mind and be aware of my feelings. If they don't understand right away or if they don't take our emotional state into consideration, we experience it as an attack.
  • I cannot and must not admit that I am frustrated. Frustration is a weak thing. I must always show myself strong, even if this leads to an accumulation of excess anxiety.

The cycle of anger

Outbursts of anger are the result of accumulated anxiety or fear. We begin to incubate them when we do not pay attention to small annoyances that gradually become frequent. It all begins with a slight discomfort towards oneself, towards someone in particular or with the world in general. It is not taken seriously.

Over time, the person identifies this discomfort, but does not express or manage it. He remains of the idea that sooner or later it will pass or that he must simply look forward. Since the annoying reality does not change, the first symptoms of anger appear: acid criticism, sarcasm or small expressions of rejection.


Despite this, the person still does not pay too much attention to the situation that creates discomfort. On the contrary, he tries to ignore it or to get away from it. This means that at any moment there is a bomb of anger ready to explode out of control, giving rise to new cycles of conflict and anger.



The intermittent explosive disorder

Intermittent Explosive Disorder is a mental disorder characterized by frequent outbursts of extreme anger in response to situations that do not justify such a reaction. From a psychiatric point of view, it is classified as an impulse control disorder. To this same category belong kleptomania, ludopathy and pyromania.

Sufferers of this disorder have brief episodes of anger in which they experience a feeling of release and / or pleasure. A few minutes later, however, he feels remorse. Usually these people destroy objects or physically attack others. The triggering factor is usually unimportant. Finally, it must be taken into account that these individuals manifest high levels of anxiety.


Based on what has been said so far, if a person has frequent outbursts for insignificant reasons and becomes violent, it is clear that they need professional help. It is not a question of temperament, but it is a problem that goes far beyond character and that it requires the right treatment before leading to serious and unwanted consequences.

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