As an adult who has Tourette Syndrome and associated disorders, I have an intimate understanding of rage through experience. I understand the frustration of shouldering the burden of getting through every day filled with tremendous and constant challenges due to my disorders and associated symptoms. These demands not only test one’s patience continually, they test one’s ability to be still, to perform routine tasks and even to relax. If unable to calm themselves during times of stress, the sufferer may “boil over” emotionally, and release their frustration through angry outbursts.
(See our post Mental Health Challenges in Neurological Disorders for more about stress)
People with neurochemical disorders including Tourette Syndrome and ADHD, often have a low frustration tolerance. They are usually predisposed to poor self-control in the manner of impulsivity and rage. This is especially true in children with neurological disorders. Children are just learning the coping mechanisms and strategies to assist them with daily struggles due to their disorders as well as managing the common unpredictable stress life brings. Dealing with the day to day of managing their symptoms, (which are always waxing and waning), drains away their mental energy to cope with anything else. They can easily become overburdened with stress. Add to this, an under equipped skill set to calm themselves, and outbursts of rage can occur at even the smallest challenges.
At times, the release of this frustration goes beyond the person’s control and the combined behaviours that occur are termed rage. Specific biochemical and hormonal changes occur within the body and brain including the “flight or fight” response. Rational thought, perception and reasoning stop functioning. Learned strategies for calming are no longer useful. The person will often say or do things they would not have ever thought of doing. Often, the person may have no memory or have an altered memory of events that occur during a rage. Shame and depression may also follow rages as the person wonders how they could have acted so poorly and so out of control. It is important for the individual to recognize that the actions that occur during a rage are beyond their control. Feelings of shame post rage will accumulate without this understanding and make the individual more prone to rage. It is also important to understand that despite the involuntary nature of rages, there is help, there are strategies and people manage them effectively. But how?
Referring to my own experiences with rage and TS+, I have always believed that an adult is ultimately able to control their rage. Developing the ability to do so requires maturity and the ability to take personal inventory (asking yourself, “How am I doing right now? How are people reacting to what I am saying?”). Children can eventually learn to take control, but it requires a great deal of training and understanding. I believed that with coping mechanisms for stress, strategies for relaxation, self awareness and education, rage could be controlled.
Unfortunately it is not quite that simple.
Promote understanding by educating others. Promote tolerance through understanding. Please share.