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Topic: Rage as a conditioned response to positive stimulus?

Brick started this discussion 4.5 years ago #1,641

Hello.

So, I have searched in many places and talked to other people about this question/concern of mine, with little fruitful advice being offered. This is the general breakdown. I'll provide a quick summary of myself in case that may assist in some way:

24 Year Old White Male, English / Creative Writing Major, Cage Fighter and trained Mixed Martial Artist, Writing Tutor at the university's writing lab, and also a part-time auto parts salesman.

The curiosity: Whenever I hear romantic/love songs, or see people in love/holding hands, or even see groups of people laughing or just being jolly, I am sometimes filled with a ridiculous, almost-overwhelming rage. Typically, my training and hobbies take care of my stress and the frustrations of life; I have a very calm existence, and the peace that I gain from combat and intense training is irreplaceable to me. I do not feel like I am an angry person, per se, but the amount of anger I feel is enough that it develops physical symptoms: my pupils dilate, my skin reddens, my heartbeat quickens, I may start to sweat a little, in some cases. Above all, I feel that push towards violence, the same kind of thrill/excitement when I fight, although even then I do not feel angry. But when this happens, I FEEL violent, I FEEL dangerous. I have an enormous amount of self-restraint besides, but this pattern developed in the last few years and has intensified over the last couple months. Oddly enough, I do not feel this whenever I am the one holding hands with someone, or kissing, or in the laughing group, etc; I've had several temporary-but-successful relationships while I've had this phenomenon occurring.

My first thought was that it was some bizarre conditioned response, but I can't think of any reason why it would be; granted I have had a fair share of crappy relationships, but who hasn't? I'm just not quite sure where to go from here in terms of trying to identify this trait, and eradicate it.

Any thoughts or ideas are appreciated, and I truly thank you.
-"Brick"

Cassandra joined in and replied with this 4.5 years ago, 10 minutes later[^] [v] #0

Brick, tell us about your parents.

Brick (OP) replied with this 4.5 years ago, 8 minutes later, 19 minutes after the original post[^] [v] #0

Father is a preacher as well as an owner of an auto parts store (also where I work part-time). He used to be an abusive alcoholic up until I was about six years old, makes good material for the poetry workshops. Pretty stoic fellow, strict, judgmental; Southern Baptist preacher-type.

Mother is not much; doesn't work, takes a lot of medications and watches TV most of the time. Blames a car wreck for "pain" she feels from injuries from 10 years ago that have all been confirmed by doctors to be healed. She is pretty much non-existent. I know very little of her personality, mainly because I've never seen much of it outside of the temporary insanity that menopause brought out of her.

Neither have been much of a factor since I was 15 and started working.

Cassandra replied with this 4.5 years ago, 11 minutes later, 30 minutes after the original post[^] [v] #0

What was the abuse like (towards who, what kind of abuse) and why did it stop when you were six?

Brick (OP) replied with this 4.5 years ago, 6 minutes later, 36 minutes after the original post[^] [v] #0

Generally towards myself or my older brother; nothing really severe, just the good ol' backhad or whatnot. I don't think he ever hit my mother. He generally used violence or hostile action (such as driving drunkwith me in the vehicle) as a way to attack her. He's always been a very passive-aggressive, I guess some would say emotionally-abusive person.

It stopped when I was six because he stopped drinking then. That seemed to be the key to his hostile behavior, at least the physical part. He was pretty much a stranger from the time I was 6, until I was 12 and started doing sports, then he lost all interest again until I was 18 and started working at his place of employment (he didn't own it then). He's more of a casual aquaintance figure than a father.

On another note, I did find this:

http://allpsych.com/disorders/impulse_control/explosivedisorder.html

The only downside, though, is that the episodes are supposed to be unpredictable, and even though mine occur at times that seem strange (and are thus unpredictable, in a way, from that alone) they always occur in a specific environment.

(Edited 1 minute later.)

Cassandra replied with this 4.5 years ago, 7 minutes later, 44 minutes after the original post[^] [v] #0

So free associate on the word 'love'

Brick (OP) replied with this 4.5 years ago, 10 minutes later, 55 minutes after the original post[^] [v] #0

Other than an uncomfortable, almost nauseous feeling in my sinking stomach, I can think of almost nothing about it. I do not understand it or its applications, its laws, social constructs, the labryinthian structure that is it. I've only seen it cause unhappiness; it's only caused me discomfort, more than all the fighting I've done combined. It always escapes me, literally and in the symbolic sense of understanding. I can't say the word out loud without an immense amount of difficulty. It is a weapon used by some and a vague, abstract idea that tortures others. I don't know if it exists in the romantic sense or not, yet I think it's vital to experiencing joy in the human experience. I cling to the concept, to the notion, but immediately dispel and dissect it at the same time. It makes me very uncomfortable.

Cassandra replied with this 4.5 years ago, 15 minutes later, 1 hour after the original post[^] [v] #0

I think you have the inevitable rage that children develop, and are often not conscious of, when they don't get what they need, but DO get treated in a way they don't deserve.
Your hobbies are an excellent physical release for your rage, but emotionally, they don't provide relief.
You have a little compartment of rage from childhood injustices under close surveillance and lock and key.

You weren't treated with love when you were a child, but you thought that was love, and it hurt.
So 'love' is a threat.
Signs of love, which you didn't get enough of (or any of) triggers your rage.

You have so much self-control, and your physical body gets a great release from your martial art practice, so everything feels calm and under control, except there is that little compartment of rage, that you earned by being a powerless child without the love and protection you needed, and it gets triggered.

The fight/flight/freeze response might be your fear of your own anger-because it's huge and tightly sealed inside you.
Anger may be very threatening to you because anger was expressed abusively in your childhood.
Or, like I said (and you said) it's love itself which is the threat.

You had an abusive, love-starved childhood. You're doing great with your life. A good therapist could help you get in touch with your rage in a controlled way that doesn't overwhelm you and would solve these reactions you're having.

Brick (OP) replied with this 4.5 years ago, 11 minutes later, 1 hour after the original post[^] [v] #0

"You weren't treated with love when you were a child, but you thought that was love, and it hurt.
So 'love' is a threat.
Signs of love, which you didn't get enough of (or any of) triggers your rage" - This resonates with me, and appeals to every logical angle I've examined this issue with. I'm pretty sure you nailed it with these three lines. It explains the conditioned reaction of the fight/flight, and the rage as well. It also explains the reason for the catalyst.

I had thought I had already examined and worked through the childhood stuff, but perhaps not. I doubt it's a fear of anger, though; I embrace it generally, and have found that it is one of the most malleable and useful emotional tools that I've experienced. I think the concept of love itself may be the perceived threat.

Thank you for your time. I'll keep watching this thread to see if others would like to comment, and will perhaps update it later on, but I think just having this new perception will allow me to remedy the situation (I have never seen a therapist etc; I generally fair well at working through things on my own).

A fresh mind really helped :)

shh joined in and replied with this 4.5 years ago, 2 hours later, 4 hours after the original post[^] [v] #0

My thoughts are similar to Cass's...something along the lines of repressed jealousy and anger relating to the love that you were never shown as a child. Seeing other people getting the thing that you "need" but possibly feel like you are not worthy of, due to the way you were treated during your formative years, and beyond is "triggering" for you ...it stirs up a hurt that releases itself as rage or anger.

Molly joined in and replied with this 4.5 years ago, 7 hours later, 11 hours after the original post[^] [v] #0

Brick, just to help open the door even wider to the perspective Cass and Shh are writing about: we all have ego's that make us distinct from other selves. We were not born with ego's. That voice you talk to in your mind? The one your using to read my words? We do not adopt our ego's till around 1 1/2 years of age. They are formed
through our environment,and culture. You
know how people say,"oh god! I sound like
my dad/mom!" This is b/c they have
influenced how our personality/ego is the
most. This also helps give a clue why your
dad/mom are they way they are. The apple
doesn't fall far from our tree,so to
speak. Nobody is stuck with the ego's that we got stuck with. It is just a matter of self inquiry. Good luck!

Mekay joined in and replied with this 4.5 years ago, 1 day later, 2 days after the original post[^] [v] #0

BDM molly isn't Sherry we're friends on FB. trust me not her.
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