Digitus Medius to the News Media

The most inherently dangerous thing we do every day is get behind the wheel of a car. To modify the risk of injury or death in a car crash, we have warning signs, traffic signals and a century of mutually agreed-upon customs regarding passing, pausing and turning.

So when some bozo decides the rules don’t matter endangers your safety, it would seem natural to get angry. But now the news media have medicalized the phenomenon of “road rage.” They took a serious academic study out today about a little-known but quite prevalent diagnoses called “intermittent explosive disorder,” or IED — as in “improvised explosive device,” which has maimed thousands of American military personnel.

The study in the Archives of General Psychiatry mentions nothing about roads or rage, yet the Associated Press has associated a serious mental disorder with the quotidian nature of driving and thus provided more anti-science fodder for late night comics and congressional yahoos, not to mention insulting those who lose life and limbs to those other IEDs.

“Road rage” may be less a psychiatric problem than an orthopedic problem and best left to specialists in controlling the digitus medius.

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