Aggression—acts of verbal or physical force used (most often) to express anger—is common, with most individuals engaging in at least mild forms of aggression (e.g., yelling). However, when the aggression becomes excessive in intensity and/or frequency, a diagnosis of intermittent explosive disorder (IED) may be warranted. IED is the only disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for which recurrent episodes of affective aggression is the defining characteristic. These pathological levels of affective aggression exhibited in IED carry a notable economic, social, and personal cost for those who experience it. This entry provides an overview of IED, including history, criteria, prevalence, correlates, and treatment.

History and Criteria

Precursors to IED were evident in the DSM-I, published in 1952, with “passive-aggressive personality (aggressive type),” ...

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