My Younger Brother Is Having Spells Of Rage


My younger brother is having spells of rage and is under stress from recently having a baby, being irresponsible, not making right decisions as he is a father now. He is 20. His girlfriend has issues from her parents divorce and is depressed. They have gotten themselves into this situation. Are there any centers or treatment facilities that could help? He has acted in this rage way since 15, and my parents never listened to me that he needed help. I believe he has a disorder/chemical imbalance. He is drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. When he gets mad he loses control. This last time, yesterday, he bashed all the windows in his car with a bat, the door and broke things in his apartment he shares with his girlfriend and baby. The sheriff was inches from arresting him, but they did not. His girlfriend’s parents are not tolerating, as they shouldn’t. My parents have spoiled him beyond means and my brother knows no consequences. My parents are great people and we have had a normal childhood. As his older sister, I have to make the decisions as my parents are clueless, overwhelmed and older. I need help in what I should do next. I made him an appointment with a psychiatrist for the morning. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time.

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If your brother was not arrested this last time, it will only be a matter of time until he is if he continues with the sort of violence you’ve described. For this reason, and more importantly, for the physical and emotional safety of his child and girlfriend and others around them who might try to intervene it is imperative that he get help. What help he needs exactly is not entirely clear. His angry and violent outbursts are obvious enough, but anger is not a diagnosis in of itself. There may be an underlying problem going on (such as, for instance, an agitated depression) that would also benefit from proper treatment. The fact that he is an (I’m guessing unplanned) father at 20, and is also having such rage outbursts suggests that he is impulsive in character, which might just be how he is or might also reflect some underlying condition. Your impulse to get him evaluated by a psychiatrist is a very good one, because through such a doctor his behavior issues have the best chance of being adequately assessed and treated.

Putting aside the possibility that your brother has a mental health issue that needs treatment, it is important to note that he finds himself in a situation (with an unplanned dependent child and depressed girlfriend) that would be very stressful for anyone. I’m tempted to suggest that the outbursts are a dysfunctional way he has put together to cope with this life stress, but you say that he’s been this way for five years so clearly, thought the life stress can’t be helping things, it isn’t at root causing them either. Still, if the psychiatrist ends up prescribing medication to your brother, his inability to cope with his child and girlfriend won’t magically resolve though his agitation might lessen. Psychotherapy of some sort to help him learn coping and acceptance skills would probably be helpful for him if he could tolerate it.


Perhaps the best sort of psychotherapy to point him at would be an anger management program. Anger management programs are designed to raise angry people’s awareness of the mechanics that lead up to their rages so that they learn how to control their rages better. Such programs are also designed to reinforce an appreciation of the consequences of unchecked anger (such as legal and financial consequences). Anger management is often offered in a group format. Your brother might be more receptive to attending an anger management program than other forms of counseling as he will very likely be able to identify with the other attendees. You can read more about Anger Management programs in our Anger Management topic center. Also, our Therapist Search Database may be helpful to you in finding an anger management program (or a therapist in your area who will know where to find one near you). Good luck in helping your brother and your family.

- Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

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