Ken Shyminsky, a former vice president of the Greater Toronto Chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada, draws upon his personal experiences as an teacher and student with Tourette Syndrome to help children with TS and related disorders. He also has Tourette himself and is the founder of the website Neurologically Gifted.
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 behaviors 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? Continue reading