Rage Storm Neurologically Gifted

Rage 1: About Rage

My belief that rage could be controlled was seriously challenged a number of years ago when I was asked to counsel an 11 year old boy who was having up to 20 rages a day at school and home.  The child was unable to control himself in any manner.  At home, he lived with mom and grandmother.  The two women supported each other as they were both of poor health, and endured the constant challenge of rage and violence in their home.  The child was quickly growing and was bigger and heavier than they were.  HIs behaviour was unmanageable in both the school and home setting.

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Fortunately, I already had a trusting relationship established with this child.  When I met with him to counsel him, we reviewed the problem behaviours at home.  As his aggression and violent outbursts were becoming increasingly more dangerous, I warned the child that if he continued to be unsafe, he would be taken from his home and would not be able to live with his family.  The next two weeks saw a positive change.  After that however, he started to re-engage in violent behaviours towards his mother and grandmother.  These behaviours continued to become more severe until finally, he attempted to push his grandmother down the stairs.  He was immediately removed from his home and spent the next nine months in a residential facility.

When he was released and returned home, he was able to control his rage.

So, this eventual success story reinforced my understanding of rage, based on my personal experiences and observations. People who display rage when frustrated are unable to restrain themselves without proper motivation to prevent the rage from occurring in the first place.  They will continue to express their frustration with rage until they have “crossed the line”.  They will push the limits of others’ tolerance until they surpass those limits.  They will “go too far”.  That’s what rage is.  They will only learn to prevent themselves from rage after they have gone “too far” and suffered the consequences.  Dozens of times over the past 20 plus years, I have seen examples that support my observation and belief.  The story I have shared is extreme, and yet the boy I described did learn to control himself after he was kept in custody.  It has also been the case in my home, although our “limit” wasn’t as serious.  Fortunately for us, things didn’t get too far out of control.  They easily could have.

As heartbreaking and scary times had been through my stepson Nathan’s rages, an underlying question directed our responses and our final goal.

 The question – How can we motivate ourselves, (or our children), to pre-empt the “going to far” and gain control over rage before it happens?

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Clearly rage triggers a biochemical change in a person which then pre-empts choice, reasoning, rational thinking and self control.  On the flip side there are deliberate choices, strategies and coping skills that can be utilized to prevent the onset of a rage.  Finding the right timing and the motivation to employ learned skills is an extreme mental challenge requiring practice and tremendous support.

See Parts 2 and Part 3 of Neurologically Gifted’s Series on Rage

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2 thoughts on “Rage 1: About Rage”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It’s a difficult thing to understand that many psychological problems require an adequate system of consequences to provide motivation to change ones own behavior. Have you considered something like structured conflict as a means to control rage and closely associated aggression, as well as a means to learn when some forms of aggression are appropriate?

    As a person with TS I am familiar with the bottomless pit of rage that is always lurking around in the back of the mind waiting to influence my reactions to things I don’t like. One thing that helped me over the years was getting involved in online debate and developing an understanding of things like logical fallacies and other sorts of failures of logic and reasoning. Challenging someone with respect to their thinking is an act of aggression and by carefully focusing it and the associated rage on arguments instead of people I gain regular practice in how to use rage and aggression instead of letting it use me.

    1. Nathan’s learning needs are far more rudimentary. He has ODD so just about everything in our home is challenged. Neither his mother nor myself have the emotional energy to search out new challenges. I think it will be something we work on in later years, if his development allows. We have used structured conflict as a method to teach Nathan natural consequences for his behaviours, and/or allow him to experience the feelings others have due to his actions.

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