Disorderly diagnosis

A View Askew

Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2006

Just when you thought you were normal, science has come up with yet another disorder in its quest to make sure everyone has something wrong with them.

Have a hard time sleeping at night? It has nothing to do with the 64 ounces of caffeinated beverages you downed during the day. No sir. Blame it on any number of chronic sleep disorders.

Can’t seem to focus on that report at work? Yes, it’s boring reading and you’d rather daydream about a trip to Hawaii, but that doesn’t change the fact that you suffer from attention deficit disorder.

Does it drive you nuts when the kids don’t put their toys away? How nuts: I’m-going-to-ground-them-all-weekend annoyed, or obsessive-compulsive-neat-freak crazy?

Wait, did your leg just twitch? It did! I saw it! Restless Leg Syndrome!

In recent months psychologists and the media have focused attention on a new classification of psychological disorder in which sufferers respond to stimuli far more aggressively than the situation warrants.

It’s called —drum roll, please — intermittent explosive disorder, which is not to be confused with Iraqi terrorists’ weapon of choice, the improvised explosive device. Although, I suppose a terrorist making an IED would by definition suffer from IED ... but, I digress.

Did we really need to spend research dollars on this one? Couldn’t these scientists focus on a serious problem — like curing depression, preventing Alzheimer’s or explaining why, for the love of God, I cannot forget the lyrics to the Sir Mix-A-Lot song “Baby Got Back,” even though I despise it and have never purposefully listened to the whole thing? I HATE that!

Aside from the catchy name, what benefit does recognition of this disorder bring to humanity?

It’s not like society didn’t already know about the evils of intermittent explosive disorder. We’ve just had a different term for it — jerk. (Actually, there’s many more terms than that, but “jerk” is one of the few fit to print in a newspaper.)

Following are some of the earth-shattering findings scientists researching this disorder have come up with, as published in reports on the Web sites Psychnet and Psychology Today:

Prepare to be astonished.

No, really.

· “Intermittent explosive disorder is more common in men.” (As any woman could tell you).

· However, “some women have reported an increase in intermittent explosive symptoms when they are premenstrual.” (As any man could tell you).

· “This disorder may result in job loss, school suspension, divorce, difficulties with interpersonal relationships or other impairment in social or occupational areas, accidents (such as in vehicles), hospitalization because of injuries from fights or accidents, financial problems, incarcerations or other legal problems.” (As absolutely anyone could tell you).

And here’s the clincher:

· “These patients may exhibit extreme sensitivity to alcohol.”

So the next time someone’s riding your bumper on the Sterling Highway and nearly runs you off the road while passing at 90 mph the first chance he gets, resist the uncharitable thoughts that would ordinarily pop into your mind. Instead, consider that this poor soul suffers from a bona-fide psychological disorder; one that may someday get him dumped by his girlfriend, kicked out of a sporting event or tossed in jail on a charge of being drunk and disorderly.

Or worse yet, he could end up the subject of psychology journals.

Jenny Neyman is the city editor at the Clarion.

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