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A "rageaholic", or "anger addict", is a person who gets excited by expressing rage, or a person prone to extreme anger with little or no provocation. 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).
Origin of term
The word "rageaholic" is patterned after terms such as "alcoholic" and "workaholic", and the condition is called "rageaholism". The term is relatively rare compared to the older term "alcoholic"; that is, 30 major online dictionaries on the Internet define alcoholic, whereas few include "rageaholic" as a valid term.
Potential triggers and coping skills
The Rageaholics Anonymous chapter in Los Angeles, CA (compare with Alcoholics Anonymous), warns of several potential triggers for people who want to control their own tendency toward growing fits of rage:
Once an alcoholic takes that first drink, their chances of getting drunk increase exponentially. Once a rageaholic expresses their anger, their chances of throwing a tantrum also increase exponentially. Rageaholics Anonymous advises, "Abstaining completely from acting on anger is the only answer for a rageaholic." The following are things that can be done right now to avoid expressing the anger and opening the door to another rageaholic episode.
- Take responsibility: Regardless of what triggered it, acting on the anger is dangerous for everyone around. It is time to stop blaming others for the rageaholism.
- Score the anger: Each time they start to lose their tempers, it is useful to score how angry they are on a one-to-ten scale. When they reach a 5 or more, they can try some new behaviors. (See below.)
- Stop speaking: When feeling anger increasing, they need to stop talking. This may feel very uncomfortable at first, but talking when becoming angry is the first step to a rageaholic episode.
- Walk away: When people get angry and continue to argue, they do things they are sorry for later. It can save a marriage, job or trip to jail to take a break when anger is starting to rise.
- Interrupting: The quickest way to escalate a situation is to talk over someone. Even if they interrupted first, concentrating on not interrupting will help prevent a rageaholic episode.
- Staring: There is a huge difference between paying attention and glaring. When people stop staring to intimidate, it stops the cycle that escalates internal anger into acting out.
- Cursing: This is not a moral point. When people stop using profanity, they stop fanning the fire of their anger.
- Name-calling: It is just like cursing. When people stop using demeaning terms (like calling people "stupid" or "crazy"), they stop the expanding cycle of anger that could lead to a rageaholic slip.
- Threatening: People use threats to manipulate and control others. A threat usually implies "I will leave you or hurt you." It plays to other's insecurities, usually escalates their feelings and, moreover, takes the anger up a notch.
- Pointing: Note the cliche, "When we point at someone else, we have three fingers pointing back at ourselves." There is the opportunity to stop blaming others for anger problems.
- Yelling: When people yell, raise their voices, or talk in a mean tone, they fuel their own anger. Many are unaware when they start to raise their voices. People should ask others to respond when the volume is rising and thank them.
- Sarcasm: Using sarcasm and mocking others is a way of expressing anger and humiliating people they care about.
- Throwing things: When people throw things, slam doors, or bang walls, they intimidate others and escalate their anger. It is time for them to stop physically showing their anger.
- Touching: When people touch, hold, or push someone in anger, they are committing a crime. Even if they claim it is self-defense, aggressive touching must stop. A very high percentage of caregivers deluded into thinking they are superior are guilty of this crime.
- Hero stories: When people recount angry events with themselves as the hero, they get to re-feel those powerful angry feelings, fueling the addiction and seeming to justify those actions. It is important to take responsibility for the anger, not glorify it.
- Eye-rolling: People can communicate disgust and anger, non-verbally, by rolling their eyes, sighing or making mouth noises. By doing so, that can often raise the level of animosity by inflaming the other person. It is important to recognize what is being done and abstain from doing it.
- Criticizing: It is not a responsibility to help everyone with anything they haven't asked for help or advice on. Criticizing and lecturing are no longer on the "to do" list.
- Angry driving: Speeding, angry horn honking, cutting people off, and yelling at other drivers, are major ways to keep anger bubbling. Reformed addicts attempt to drive in a relaxed manner, regardless of how others are driving.
- "Rageaholic" in Webster's New Millennium of English, Preview Edition (v0.9.7), 2003–2008, Lexico Publishing Co., webpage: Dcom-rageaholic
- "Rageaholics Anonymous Stopping the Anger Cycle", adapted from Newton Hightower's Anger Busting 101, Rageaholics Anonymous in Los Angeles, 2007
- "alcoholic - OneLook Dictionary Search", OneLook Dictionary Search, 2008, webpage: OneLook-alcoholic.
- adapted from Newton Hightower's Anger Busting 101.