What is "Rage" as a behavior or symptom?

kkd

New Here
What do psychiatrists mean when they use the term "rage" to describe a person's behavior? Does it require actions that are observable by others like yelling, throwing things, physically aggressive behavior, or would it include just angry thoughts in a person otherwise behaving calmly and going about their business?

I have always understood "rage" to involve vocalizations and/or actions, typically explosive, that the person can't decide to stop, rein in, or de-escalate on their own. Like toddler tantrums would qualify, or maybe an adult being so overcome with anger they lash out or yell and scream at someone without their rational mind getting to weigh in and approve or deny the "motion to take action in response to a stimulus."

For instance, could one have a bad day at work or school but not act out in that environment, and come home and let it rip at those who live with them and still call that "a rage"? Or is that just controlling onesself where it's beneficial and choosing to be a jerk when stakes are lower?

Is there such a thing as "rages" that are purely inside the head & you wouldn't know unless you asked the person's thoughts AND they went into vivid detail about violent wishes as revenge or something? Or is that just "sitting there stewing and being angry"?

This is not a current subject in my life, but for some reason I'm stuck trying to define this and another term from before. I googled them both extensively and the results were not even remotely consistent.

If this post belongs somewhere else Mods, please rehome it!
 
What do psychiatrists mean when they use the term "rage" to describe a person's behavior? Does it require actions that are observable by others like yelling, throwing things, physically aggressive behavior, or would it include just angry thoughts in a person otherwise behaving calmly and going about their business?

I have always understood "rage" to involve vocalizations and/or actions, typically explosive, that the person can't decide to stop, rein in, or de-escalate on their own. Like toddler tantrums would qualify, or maybe an adult being so overcome with anger they lash out or yell and scream at someone without their rational mind getting to weigh in and approve or deny the "motion to take action in response to a stimulus."

For instance, could one have a bad day at work or school but not act out in that environment, and come home and let it rip at those who live with them and still call that "a rage"? Or is that just controlling onesself where it's beneficial and choosing to be a jerk when stakes are lower?

Is there such a thing as "rages" that are purely inside the head & you wouldn't know unless you asked the person's thoughts AND they went into vivid detail about violent wishes as revenge or something? Or is that just "sitting there stewing and being angry"?

This is not a current subject in my life, but for some reason I'm stuck trying to define this and another term from before. I googled them both extensively and the results were not even remotely consistent.

If this post belongs somewhere else Mods, please rehome it!
This is just my personal opinion, but I feel I can answer from my own experience, because I have become very familiar with rage in the last few years. For me, rage is the feeling, not necessarily the action, though for me, rage is always a reaction to a trigger, and almost always gets acted out. I now understand my feelings of rage as a fight response to my emotional trigger, which is always, unfortunately, my husband.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
I will concur @breathinginreverse comments.
My own experience and understanding rage is that it can be acted out or contain with a great force of anxiety or other semantic pain in the body. It can also be projected as fantasy - daydreaming revenge scenarios or things like that. The rage energy is activated but then what sort of state? It is a painful burden to carry whether acted out or not. The person knows they have rage...it is not confusing state of mind.

When one learns about the genesis of the rage that is stuck in the body, process the pain/trauma that caused or initiated, then rage may subside to seething, to anger, and eventually to sadness and gone as a way of live or trigger.
 

kkd

New Here
Thank you! I have never been good at naming emotions, and often don't realize I am having them except "i'm fine" or "definitely not fine". Quiet, self-contained thoughts & no snapping at people or other clues would not occur to me as being possible with "rage."
 

Friday

Moderator
Rage looks different on different people. And differently on the same person at different times. Some people shout; others smash things and break shit; others get deadly quiet, smile, and purr. Some people shake with rage, their muscles held so tight they’re incapable of moving smoothly; others loosen up, almost catlike with it. Some people’s rage builds slowly, others have rage washed over them like a rogue wave.

Culture and experience plays a role, too. Cultures that are notoriously loud/passionate may express mild irritation more violently than a towering rage in cultures that place a high value on saving face, or not letting your enemies know your true feelings. Similarly, someone whose never had any reason to practice self-control is often far more violent in their expressions, than someone who has spent years/decades minding their bearing.
 

kkd

New Here
@Friday - would an outside observer know that someone was experiencing "rage" just by observing them (while the person is sitting quietly and minding their own business, without the observer actually knowing their thoughts) WITHOUT the "raging" person even knowing he/she was upset him/herself?

Can someone be dx'd with "rage" on the basis of what others report they THINK the person's thoughts are, when the person hasn't stated their thoughts to the dx'er and has no track record of violent or aggressive behavior?

I mean like the "raging" person is engaged in placid, fine motor skill type activities like building a ship in a bottle, painting miniatures/fingernails, etc. and carrying on perfectly civil normal and organized conversations with those at whom they supposedly are "raging."

And the person manages this for YEARS. Without being any more outwardly pissed off than maybe snapping verbally at someone once in a while?

Basically I am trying to determine if I was somehow scaring the crap out of people without realizing or intending to for years, or if those people were saying so to wind me up. Even if those people had read my diary or whatnot, they would not have known what i was or wasn't thinking. (and i damn well WAS NOT.)
 

Justmehere

Moderator
Anger is an emotion. A feeling state. A body sensation.

Rage is a behavior. Rage is not always an aggressive violent behavior. There is also the idea of cold rage. It's a more passive quiet rage.
What do psychiatrists mean when they use the term "rage" to describe a person's behavior?
I'd consider asking them what they mean. It's not an official DSM diagnosis but rather a loosely used descriptive word.

For instance, could one have a bad day at work or school but not act out in that environment, and come home and let it rip at those who live with them and still call that "a rage"?
I would call that a rage.
Or is that just controlling onesself where it's beneficial and choosing to be a jerk when stakes are lower?
Or rather choosing to rage at people when the stakes are lower.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
would an outside observer know that someone was experiencing "rage" just by observing them
If they have the right training? Then yes.

A good psychiatrist, for example, will be monitoring your body language, including tiny nuances that you don't even realise you're doing, while you talk. Partly to assess whether the words coming out of your mouth accurately reflect your physical and emotional presentation (patients deliberately or otherwise will often say one thing, while feeling something completely different - not always deceptively, for example sometimes through lack of self awareness/insight).

It's important in quite a lot of jobs to know how to gauge degrees of anger in particular in a lot of professional situations. Oftentimes there's safety issues involved (is this calm-looking person actually about to leap across the desk and attack me with my own pen? Or are they reasonably calm?).

Of course, sometimes the assessment will be off. Mind-reading is an art rather than a science? But is it possible for some people to know I'm really angry when I'm doing all the behavioural things to try and seem calm, or even happy? Yeah - some people can do that really well.
 

kkd

New Here
If they have the right training? Then yes.

A good psychiatrist, for example, will be monitoring your body language, including tiny nuances that you don't even realise you're doing, while you talk. Partly to assess whether the words coming out of your mouth accurately reflect your physical and emotional presentation (patients deliberately or otherwise will often say one thing, while feeling something completely different - not always deceptively, for example sometimes through lack of self awareness/insight).

It's important in quite a lot of jobs to know how to gauge degrees of anger in particular in a lot of professional situations. Oftentimes there's safety issues involved (is this calm-looking person actually about to leap across the desk and attack me with my own pen? Or are they reasonably calm?).

Gonna preface this by saying THANK YOU for the comments. I hope my questions don't come off as argumentative; they are asked in the spirit of honest-to-deity info gathering.

1. Supposing the evaluator, even a psychiatrist or other "trained professional," has never met or observed the person? Are they comparing the person's body language, perceived physical tension, etc. against a hopefully wide sample of "normal" behavior? How would they know what THAT PERSON'S angry, sad, guilty, or other body language would look like?
  • What if they get one of those people who are cool and collected in times of crisis, or someone accustomed to daily crap (persistent school or other bullying, gaslighting in DV, etc) for instance? I bet that if the Crisis Shiner was observed on a normal bad-but-not-crisis day their behavior and expressions will read differently (muted, is my guess) than a "textbook" John Q Public's bad day behavior and expressions.
  • What if the observer didn't know they had a bit of an outlier under their microscope, because they have no prior involvement before they make the observation?
  • Or is the assumption that "everyone" shows certain physical cues in certain emotional states *regardless* of personality, NURTURE/HABITUATION, culture, and factors like autism, deafness, etc. that would affect how they interact with the world?

This bugs me like when cops on the news say so-and-so "looked up to no good" or they don't believe someone's sadness or shock because "they're not acting upset" (in the right or expected way). Or when people question assault survivors because "she didn't seem devastated/they sounded too normal while talking about it". Or randos or medical people discounting someone's pain level or injury severity because they aren't displaying exactly the same behavior as the last person they had with the same issue? My husband and his mom hate to "be a bother" and both had nerve things delayed for weeks. One now has permanent damage due to the delay.

I do not have autism but I know I sometimes act/carry myself a little strangely when I am nervous or uncomfortable, and I always worry at airports and stuff because I am sure it looks suspicious. I also have a what I gather is a pretty restricted range of expressions & been badgered about "my depression" by a college ACADEMIC counselor (way off topic for her) when in fact I was having a damn great day and week. That's just my "nothing in particular is happening" face. So I shudder to think what misinterpretations might have happened when I was having a real shit time for years.

And, if well-meaning people can base so much on simple observation, how is it that a person can be supposedly radiating calm rage for a long-ass time before (with no incidents or behavior explosions) the "rage" is suddenly a problem worthy of inquiry?

2. even if the observer is interpreting tension or even anger in the observed person, how do they know the person's a danger to them or anyone else in particular?

@Justmehere - do you happen to know of a movie or book description of the cold passive type rage? Because I assumed rage required yelling or violence I'm just trying to wrap my head around that notion.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
I get the strong impression you feel you are acting and emoting one way, but others interpret and reflect back to you that they experience you another way.

Have you asked them what specific actions or behaviors that you display lead to them saying what they do?

It’s possible that this isn’t an issue with emotions per se, but communication. I have a friend who thinks typing in all caps makes for easier reading. While others pick up on it as anger or yelling. Does it mean they are pissed? No. But is it still read that way? Yes. So they have to figure out how to communicate differently.

I don’t really like the idea of turning to fiction or random stuff on the internet to explain an emotion, but this might help and be in line with what you are looking for: Cold Rage
Keep in mind this isn’t clinical, but a pop culture fandom description.
 

kkd

New Here
Thank you, @Justmehere! Communication's half of it, although much less so nowadays. I have gotten to a point in life where I just plain ask how i'm coming across if it's important. I can read a person or room at least well enough to realize when things are going awry.

The other half is because it was a big part of a crazymaking situation & it makes me over react sometimes today.

I can't ask the people because the misinterpretations were years ago, but they made quite an impression so I do worry it could happen again. There was also a lot of "oh no, you don't feel like X, you feel like Y, despite what you say" and generally substituting their reality for mine, which did not help me stay calm and rational in explaining my side. Also claiming I said or did things I damn well did not, but the "you feel/you are..." parts were basically impossible to disprove. Or being told that something I personally witnessed or was involved in did not happen, or was "really" not what happened/what you think you saw is wrong. Not one-offs, but routine daily things big and small. Did we have milk for dinner or juice all the way up to nope, nobody's even mad so how could there have been a big screaming fight?

I think the fact that I cannot go back and ask if they really believed that, or were saying so for other reasons, and I also can't find out what specifically looked that "rage"-y (if they really did think so) is why I am having a hard time letting this lie. It makes me extra cautious about appearing to be pissed off, and it also makes it REALLY hard not to overreact or get defensive even at stupid little things like "KKD loves pink (nope) /hates Mondays (no real preference) /thought that idea was dumb (i thought it rocked, dammit!)" because misrepresenting a person to others was a problem in my life for a long time & it started small. And correcting the record was "arguing" and overreacting.

It started with likes/dislikes, wants/doesn't want, and that kind of thing that I never disputed until the tween years when I started thinking about "DO i actually like this? Am I actually excited about [whatever]" and had the gall to mention it.

Damn, I've meandered pretty far off the rage topic. "Rage" that i really don't think I felt was part of it much later. Maybe rejection, disappointment and sadness, and eventually I got angry but it was counterproductive to actually let on.

I've been thinking about this pretty often since that video was going around where the lady walking her dog called the cops screaming about a guy "threatening her life" in the park, when (at least on the video) he was calmly asking her to move her dog or pick up its mess or something like that. My FIL also puts words in MIL's mouth a lot (he does it with everyone & he thinks he's helping) and watching her get annoyed and them bicker a little when she states her real view also starts me thinking about it. I no longer have to leave the room to avoid sticking up for her too forcefully but it gets to me whenever we visit with them.

Once again, thanks for the food for thought & the space to ponder it.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
for me, rage is a fifth or tenth emotion in a list of precursor emotions. I know it may appear that a person flies into a rage, but you can bet that inside lots of emotional dominoes have been knocked over by then. Anger plus adrenaline doesn't equal rage, not for me anyway, but by the time I am truly running in "this moment matters and none that came before or any that may come after matter at all" Capitol R RAGE mode you can bet I have been through anger and had adrenaline dumped into the mix along the way.
I am betting most psychiatrists and psychologists have never experienced anything beyond anger being expressed vocally and rarely physically in their own lives. Maybe more as an experience relayed to them by a patient or a professor or in a book.
I think if they had ever experienced what I call RAGE they wouldn't be able to classify anything less using the same word. And in the same vein, what I call a RAGE has never involved combat or even fear of death level violence aimed at me. Times when I have fealt RAGE would be classified as lesser states by someone who has I would bet. little r rage compared to truly deadly force meeting an adversary RAGE.
I wouldn't accept someones judgement that I was in a rage unless I accepted that they knew what the hell they were talking about first.
 
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