Belmont Club

The other kind of IED

The New York Times says that a faculty member at the University of Alabama killed 3 and wounded 6 others after being denied tenure at the biology department. Circumstantial evidence suggested that she was upset at what she believed was unfair treatment. The suspect apparently “had told acquaintances recently that she was worried about getting tenure”, and the NYT quoted one source as saying “she began to talk about her problems getting tenure in a very forceful and animated way, saying it was unfair.”


What makes people go over the edge? Would failure to get tenure be enough? Or will any little thing do? Henry David Thoreau believed that many people, if not most of mankind, were just holding despair in. Thoreau wrote “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” A word, a look, or a series of unfortunate events can be enough to push someone right over the brink. According to a 2006 study “intermittent explosive disorder” (or IED for short) afflicts more than 7% of people. “A national sample in the United States estimated that 16 million Americans may fit the criteria for IED.”

Individuals diagnosed with IED report their outbursts were brief (lasting less than an hour), with a variety of bodily symptoms (sweating, chest tightness, twitching, palpitations) reported by a third of one sample. The violent acts were frequently reported accompanied by a sensation of relief, and in some cases, pleasure, but accompanied by remorse after the fact.

One of the more common manifestations of IED is road rage. Like other types of IED, road rage is more prevalent among men than women. But environmental factors may play a part too. The top 5 road rage cities in America are New York City, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., a list which is exceedingly suggestive.


Various therapies and medicines can be used to treat this condition. But may none of these may feel as temporarily fulfilling as this failed attempt at trying to dump the contents of a computer monitor to the printer. It’s not sure that works, but it probably didn’t do his career much good.  Note to all: in Windows dumping the screen buffer to the memory can be achieved by Alt-Prt Sc. You do not necessarily have to put your monitor on the photocopier.

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