My Rage Is Not My Problem

Disclaimer: Please note I’m not saying we shouldn’t diagnose or treat mental disorder. Some really do need medication along with transformative life coaching to heal a person or at least “take the edge off”. I’m ranting about how we over diagnose what’s actually sinful human condition and apply labels such that everything but “me” is responsible for the problem. And that there’s a pill for everything instead of putting some muscle into living a transformed life as Christ enables us.

Over the last couple days, a number of media sources cited a controversial potentially new diagnosis to be applied to teenagers called the “Intermitent Explosive Disorder (IED)”. Huffington Post’s article is here. Apparently 1 in 12 U.S. teens get into an uncontrollable rage such that they end up hurting themselves, others and/or property. You would be diagnosed with IED if you have three or more incidences of aggression in a year. I’m sure just about EVERY teenager, with raging hormones and emotions, will have some incidences of pent up aggression.

One diagnosed young adult, now 21, admits “I didn’t develop appropriate coping mechanisms.”

There…he said what the real problem is. It’s not that there’s a rise of a new mental disorder but that he didn’t develop the proper coping mechanisms. Then, instead of saying how he’d now like to take steps to develop the proper coping mechanisms, and then work on controlling how he copes with anger/frustration/not getting his way, he resorts to Big Pharma for a pill.

What really bothers me about all these “new” mental disorder diagnoses being made is how it provides yet another label for your lack of self-control and lack of responsibility or ownership of your issues. It makes the problem dwell on your parents or circumstances  and takes away your responsibility for getting better. It promises an easy fix through medication without giving you the tools to actually be a better person.

So, when does one develop the appropriate coping mechanisms for life?
Childhood? Great guess.  Yes I think it’s essential to say “No” to a child or to punish bad behavior even if they cry and tell you they hate you for it. I believe the job of a parent is to make sure their child grows up knowing how to constructively handle, as much as possible, whatever life might throw at them: success, failure, betrayal, riches, poverty, etc. The job of a parent is not to try to make their child like them or approve of them. (Someone quote this back to me if/when I’m one day a parent and are tempted to get my kid to like me.)

I recommend a three part article series by Dr. David Powlison called “Sane Faith” which really points the spotlight into every heart and mind. Take these examples from the article:

  • “Garrett suffers from intermittent explosive disorder (IED) and is an addictive personality — and Garrett is all about Garrett, and has control issues, big-time.”
  • “Sarah has anorexia — and she’s a perfectionist with low self-esteem.”
  • “Lise has a case of clinical depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) — and she sets impossible standards for herself.”
  • “Chandra suffers from social anxiety disorder — and she’s shy, gets glued to the tube, and needs her chocolate fix.”

Tell me you don’t see a little bit of all of the above in yourself.

Perhaps you can’t identify with just how badly another person flounders. But can you identify with worry? Getting angry? Overindulging in food or drink? Immoral thoughts? Self-preoccupation? Feeling guilty and despondent? Breeding unrealistic hopes? Escape into TV or music or web surfing? Bickering and gossip? Feeling anxious around people? Blanking out on God? All the different ways of being loveless, and joyless, and restless? We can each identify with aspects of what these people do.

We all deal with placing too much importance on the things that shouldn’t matter as well as with putting ourselves in the center of our universe.  Some may struggle with certain areas more than others…but at the end of the day, we all have the same disorder: My Life. And more specifically, life without Christ.

I truly believe that only He, who has the power to create the universe and conquor Death, can free us from those habits and attitudes and responses that seem to dictate what we do. Putting a label on bad behavior misleads us to believe that something bad is happening TO us when really, there’s something bad ABOUT us. This isn’t even about “just say no” because sometimes we just can’t seem to help ourselves, if we’re even aware of it! That is why we need Christ to save us from ourselves. He will reveal what is bad about us and transform us from within, instead of us just trying to conform outwardly.

The downside is it won’t be fast, or easy…and definitely not easy to swallow.
But, you won’t need medical insurance for it!

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