Angie’s Husband Has A Rage Disorder – Could Yours?


    6 Min Read


    When Ryan and Angie have sex “it’s wonderful” (Ryan’s words). When she says “no” and they don’t have sex – he explodes. Angie says she thinks Ryan has a rage disorder.

    She feels afraid and physically unsafe when he rages.

    He feels his anger is justified because of their history together, which he says includes "her hurting me with sex.”


    Having counseled guys for more than 20 years, I can say with certainty that many guys would actually say something similar. And, ironically, many of their partners could say the same too.

    Sex is a very conflicted and baggage laden subject for many, many partners.

    But sex is not the topic of this article. Anger that becomes a rage disorder is the topic. In the case of Ryan and Angie, the two just happen to go together.

    Does Ryan only rage about not having sex? No.

    He can go into a rage at Angie when he comes home from work and the house is a mess –

    WTF have you been doing all day?!?”

    Or when the kids aren’t doing what he tells them to do the first time he tells them –

    You kids are ungrateful little bastards!!!”

    Or at the attorney representing them in a lawsuit over the plumbing failing in their house –

    That lazy SOB is incompetent as f***!”

    Any of this sound vaguely familiar?


    Is Rage Disorder A Real Thing?

    Rage disorder isn’t actually an official mental health disorder. The term in the official diagnostic manual, the DSM-5-TR, is intermittent explosive disorder. Sounds like doctor talk, doesn’t it?

    Intermittent explosive disorder is actually the medical category for all serious anger problems. However, not everyone who has an anger management problem meets the criteria for this diagnosis.

    Which do you think is a more relatable description – intermittent explosive disorder or rage disorder?

    Yeah, rage disorder is a much more accurate way to describe the experience of people who know someone who has this behavior.


    Another distinction I would draw between the two terms relates to the aspect of time.

    Often people with explosive anger really do explode, they get it out, and then calm down. Sometimes within a short period of time.

    Rage on the other hand at times can last much longer.

    The two can go together at times too, as a person can explode into a rage. Angie has described Ryan this way.

    Here are some descriptions from a couple of other people –

    My wife is very verbally abusive to me. She's says horrible hateful things and has rage issues. I feel helpless. I refuse to engage because I'm a Christian and to me this behavior is very ungodly.” -William
    He sounds just like everything on your site. I’m dying and about at my wits end with his anger, verbal abuse and rage episodes.” -Beth

    Yes, rage disorder is real. It’s not in the DSM-5-TR, but it very much exists in real life.

    What Rage Looks Like

    Rage looks like a tea pot whistling on the stove top as the water in it boils. And until you take it off the heat source, it just keeps on whistling (or raging).

    Rage in a human is similar. Pressure blowing out of them until either the heat source goes away or they run out of water.

    What’s this look like in human behavior?

    • Pacing

    • Fist clenching or pounding

    • Red or contorted face

    • Yelling or screaming

    • Tirades (Definition – long, angry speech expressing disapproval)

    • Throwing things

    • Hitting things/people

    Here’s a real-life example –

    I wanted my husband to go to counseling but he refused so I am at the moment in couples counseling without him (about a year now). He is very unpredictable, easily hurt, and can ratchet up the anger level very quickly to the point that he can rage in front of our son - calling me names, it is all my fault, he is stuck with a wife who is selfish, etc. About 6 months ago he screamed at me to the point that the neighbors were concerned and called. At that point he went to anger management counselor who told him he did not suffer from anger management problems but stress. Does this make any sense?” -Olivia

    If the neighbors are calling because of how loud your partner is screaming and the intensity of the words they’re using – is that a rage problem? Yes, it sure is!

    I don’t think Olivia’s husband is being honest with her about what the anger management counselor told him. Yes, stress is part of the cause of his anger, but if her description of his behavior is even close to being accurate, then he definitely has an anger management problem, and more accurately a rage disorder problem.

    He’s likely hiding from the truth because it’s embarrassing, even shameful, and thus hard to admit that we can behave so badly, especially towards the ones we love.


    Why People Rage

    The anger that fuels a rage disorder can come from anywhere. As I mentioned in the beginning, it can be frustration and disappointment with your partner, kids, or someone you’ve hired to help you. Or any number of other sources.

    But the source is actually not the real problem.

    The real reason rages occur is because people lack a couple of crucial skills –

    • Emotional control

    • Thought management

    Emotions (and feelings) work in tandem with thoughts. Emotions feed thoughts, and thoughts feed emotions.

    For example, think about something or someone you deeply dislike, and negative emotions and feelings will follow. The opposite is true as well. Feeling angry will fuel thoughts about things or people that make you angry.

    People with rage disorder don’t manage or control either one of these areas – their emotions or thoughts.

    They allow their thoughts to stew and race until the only way to get rid of the emotion they’ve created is to rage (like the tea kettle).

    And conversely, they allow their emotions to feed thoughts that intensify and multiply how they feel.


    I have an anger problem myself that I have to actively manage. I like to joke that if people would stop pissing me off then I wouldn’t get angry. But that’s actually not true.

    The problem is not the trigger (people pissing me off) – something or someone outside of me. The problem is inside me – my lack of managing my thoughts and feelings.

    When He Denies (or Justifies) His Rages – What Do I Do?

    Two of the biggest obstacles to any kind of change are denial and justification. This is especially true with rage disorder.

    To a person who rages, their anger isn’t over the top – it actually matches how they truly feel.

    So, of course they’re going to deny their anger is a problem.

    And since it matches how they feel and makes sense to them, they’re also going to justify it.

    If that jerk hadn’t cut me off then I wouldn’t have…”

    If you just kept the house cleaner then I wouldn’t get angry when I get home.”

    If you’re dealing with a partner who rages, then I’m sure you’ve heard something like this before. And there likely are a couple of consistent excuses and justifications you hear regularly.

    I have been in an angry, abusive, violent relationship for almost 4 years with the love of my life. We have a son together and we have split many times due to his anger and violent fits of rage. We have been back together this time for 3 months and I am feeling like I cannot deal with it anymore and I'm on the verge of telling him to leave because I'm so scared that he will accidentally hurt me or our son. He says he will get help but never makes any progress. He makes appointments but never goes. I'm at a loss when I'm trying to talk with him about any of these issues because he just gets angry and we end up arguing or I sit in silence in fear of starting another pointless argument.” -Kristin

    What does Kristin need to do?

    Stop the on and off cycle she’s in with her partner.

    How does she do that?

    Get some help – and she should get it with or without him.


    Breaking through denial and justification typically takes a trained professional. An authority figure with the right skill set is usually required with rage disorders. Once on the other side of the denial wall, cognitive reprograming will be needed to change thinking and emotional intelligence needs to be built to manage feelings more effectively.

    Is this possible?


    I’ve done it myself and have helped many, many others do it too.

    What To Take Away

    Now that you’ve read this article, does rage disorder sound real to you?

    I assure you that it is, even though it’s not an official diagnosis.

    Here are a couple of questions to think about –

    • Are the behaviors you’ve experienced in any way similar to the ones I’ve described?

    • The skills needed to stop a rage disorder are emotional control and thought management. How well do you think the person you’re thinking about does with practicing these?

    • Do they justify or deny their behavior is a problem?

    If you’re thinking, yes, to the first and last questions, and, no, to the second, then do what Angie did and talk to someone like me to get a second opinion from an expert who knows how to identify a rage disorder.

    Know someone who could have a rage disorder? Please share with other readers what that looks like.


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