SEI – Final Research paper
Road rage is outburst that involves shouting, gestures and at times has come to physical violence. Is there any science behind the reason for someone who is normally even tempered to suddenly become potentially violent? According to the American Psychiatric Association the answer is yes. These same psychiatrists have diagnosed this type of illness as Intermittent Explosive Disorder or IED. The catch phrase in psychology is known as emotional intelligence, which refers to our ability to attend to inner emotions, successfully regulate them, and appropriately respond to the emotions of others. Road rage is one of the illnesses that has been recognized and diagnosed under IED. Is this problem we know as road rage rising in the United States, is there a typical profile that would be able to identify one as an aggressive driver and should there be a cause for alarm? First let’s start off by saying that aggressive driving is certainly not a new concept in the United States, it’s simply has been given the new name of road rage. “Road rage officially entered the English language in the Oxford English Dictionary of New Words in 1997 being defined as “A driver’s uncontrolled aggressive behavior, apparently caused by stresses of modern driving” (Fong). Road rage can take on various forms of abuse which is directed towards another driver and vary in degrees of severity, such as: verbal or physical abuse (non-contact, contact with vehicle, contact with a person), and the use of weapons. According to the AAA foundation, “there are many reasons that start the altercation which turned into some form of road rage: people have been physically hurt or even shot because they were driving too slow, cut someone off, played the radio too loud, tailgating or failed to use a turn signal”(AAA). These incidences are escalations from a multitude of stressor’s that have led to this eruption. In most of the case studies, there was underlying reason from a recent emotional or professional setback that the person has suffered. Dr. Emil Coccaro, Chairman of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago Medical School stated “People think its bad behavior and that you just need an attitude adjustment, but what they don’t know ... is that there’s a biology and cognitive science to this” (NBC.com). “According to his study, approximately 16 million people are affected by Intermittent Explosive Disorder” (NBC.com). “Some of the underlining signs of this disorder would be multiple outbursts, outbursts that are out of proportion to the situation and lead into threats, aggressive actions and even property damage. Coccaro also believes that the disorder typically appears in adolescences with the average age of onset of 14” (NBC). As we see more and more incidents of road rage broadcasted on the news, you might begin to wonder if there is a way to determine who they are and is there a typical profile of someone who would be prone to become an aggressive driver. In a report completed by the AAA Foundation they stated that “even though there is no one profile for an aggressive driver, the majority of perpetrators are males between 18-26 years of age. However, hundreds of the reported cases show males between 26-50 years of age. Most are relatively young, poorly educated with some type of criminal record, history of violence, drug or alcohol problems, and many have suffered an emotional or professional setback” (AAA). There are many studies showing evidence of contributing factors that will lead up to these extreme emotional explosions. Coccaro said that “For a couple of decades, intermittent explosive disorder, or IED, has been included in the manual psychiatrists use to diagnose mental illness, though with slightly different names and criteria. That has contributed to misunderstanding and under appreciation of the disorder” (NBC). It was discovered during this study that most suffers had other emotional...
Bibliography: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5™). Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013.
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Chicago.cbslocal.com. Prosecutors: Man Punched, Blinded Motorist In Road Rage Incident. Oak Park, Chicago, 20 October 2013.
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Wzzm13.com. Road rage shootout leaves two drivers dead. Ionia, Michigan, 18 September 2013.
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