What Exactly Make “Rageaholics” So Manic? The Inside “Dope!”

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Samuel Jackson may be our favorite: RAGEAHOLIC On the surface it sounds kind of crazy — why would anyone enjoy getting angry? Even the Incredible Hulk feels guilty about his epic rages…but scientists have shown that people are capable of developing an anger addiction. And it could all come down to the wonder drug that we manufacture naturally: dopamine. In fact, this is where the term “dope” comes from.

A “rageaholic” is a person who gets excited by expressing rage, or a person prone to extreme anger with little or no provocation.[1] While “rageaholic” is not a formal medical diagnosis, it has been developed as a lay psychology term by counselors and anger-management groups seeking to help people who are chronically angry and who compulsively express fits of rage. There are also 12-step programs for dealing with rageaholics, such as Rageaholics Anonymous in Los Angeles, California, United States (US).[2]

Anger stems from impulsive thoughts and behaviors that result from the more slowly developing frontal lobe of the brain. Think of any kid having a temper tantrum—impulse control is hard, and takes a long time to develop. By the time our frontal lobe has matured, around our mid-20s, we’ve already developed some ingrained habits based on that immature lobe that can send us over the edge into a rage, even when we should know better.

According to Anger Mentor Am Tadas, “As with drugs, an angerholic will in turn crave a larger release of dopamine to feel the same ‘high’ and the only way to achieve this is to up the rage and act out more; either verbally or violently. This is how anger addiction is born.”

And just as with other addictions, angerholics may experience deep regret in the aftermath of a rage-out; but it’s that dopamine high that will cause them to experience it again and again.

Tadas lists 3 key ways that rage actually induces feelings of pleasure caused by the release of dopamine:

1. It is all about the “rush” – that surge of adrenaline in conjunction with increased heart rate and blood pressure can actually feel quite good, even euphoric. A physical manifestation of anger, like slamming your fist on the table or smashing a porcelain plate against the wall will cause your body to release dopamine, creating an even greater sense of excitement. The trap here is that using rage produced adrenaline to feel ‘high’ is like drinking tequila to have less inhibitions on the dance floor – its short lived and is followed by a nasty hangover.

2. Releasing stored up feelings can feel great. When addicts need their daily “fix” but can’t get it they become antsy and irritable. They feel mental tension and discomfort in various parts of their body. When they finally satisfy their craving they experience a wonderful feeling of relief. Anger addiction is no different. Pent up negative emotions manifest in a very uncomfortable way and their release by screaming or punching something brings about a feeling of relief and satisfaction. This latest study explains that a feeling of anger and revenge may activate neural reward centres, aka your pleasure centers in the brain.  The problem is that it’s a vicious cycle – the more the brain is wired to experience pleasure from disturbing emotions, the more the anger and addiction grow together as friends.

3. Being in control feels good. When something or someone robs you of control it feels bad. Somebody offends you, a driver cuts you off, you are denied access to your routine cigarette brake, you name it… You lose power, get angry and decide to use force to regain power so you do something to insult or hurt another being to “re-gain” power. This in turn gives one an illusory boost in power and status. Kicking someone’s ass (verbally or physically) in vengeance can feel awesome. Of course, this is exactly the type of behavior that sparks conflicts and pours more fuel into the fire as a result.  This is why the most famous sage – Gautama Buddha – skillfully describes anger’s attributes as a “honeyed tip with a poison root.”

If you or someone you love may be a rageaholic, the first step is recognizing the symptoms and admitting the problem. Then it may be a long slow road to recovery; but recognizing that the problem stems from a chemical addiction of sorts can help.

Source: Anger Mentor

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