by Ned Hickson
Hello and welcome to another edition of our special in-depth medical feature Health Yak, which has been recognized by the U.S. Surgeon General as "extremely topical," meaning that you should not attempt to ingest any portion of this column without first consulting your doctor.
Today we will be discussing a study that suggests as many as 16 million Americans -- or roughly the number of people who never receive their appetizers during an average season of Hell's Kitchen -- suffer from periodic outbursts of anger. I know what you're thinking: What makes this different from a typical outburst of anger, like when I open the air vent in my car and release a cloud of spores the size of shiitake mushrooms?
The answer, of course, is that there is no difference, at least not until someone funds a clinical study, at which point it becomes an official "disorder" treatable by a new drug with minor side effects, such as having your liver grow to the size of Shaquille O'Neal's seat cushion.
According to Dr. Emil Coccaro of the University of Chicago's medical school, which, as you may recall, conducted the definitive study on the yawning habits of the Tibetan mountain yak (Conclusion: After 3,000 yawns, researchers become suicidal), what used to be known as "road rage" has now escalated into a nationwide problem called Intermittent Explosive Disorder. By definition, IED involves "outbursts that are out of proportion to the situation."
For example: Let's say you're at a drive-thru trying to order a bacon cheeseburger and, for the seventh-straight time, the person taking your order insists there is no one named "Macon the Sheep Herder" working there, and to please place your order. And let's say, in frustration, you exit your vehicle and rip the image of a cheeseburger directly from the menu board and begin gnawing on it, causing those in line behind you to drive off through the patio area.
Chances are, you could be an IED sufferer.
According to Dr. Coccaro, his conclusion was based on the results of a nationwide, face-to-face survey of 9,282 adults who were scored based on their response to highly formulated and complex diagnostic observations, such as "I'm guessing most dogs would probably introduce themselves by sniffing your face."
Amazingly, all 9,282 participants in the study were identified as IED sufferers.
"Obviously, the disorder is more widespread than we thought," stated Coccaro, who then added, "You got a problem with that?!"
To determine if you might be an IED sufferer, answer "Yes" or "No" to each of the following scenarios:
1) When my computer crashes, I try to remain calm by thinking about the solitude and freedom of skydiving, ascending through the clouds, and then letting my computer drop from 1,800 ft. into a lake.
2) On at least one occasion, I have attempted to affect change and contact someone in our nation's capitol by yelling at the top of my lungs.
3) I find it difficult to remain calm when, after paying $40 for gas, I have to pay another 25 cents for AIR.
4) Because I have been told it is an important social issue facing our nation, I am frustrated by my inability to really care where there is another 'Twilight' book.
5) Recently, I have been performing yoga as a way to limber up before handing out a good butt-whoopin'.
OK, tally your score by giving yourself one point for "No" and two points for "Yes."
Answer key: If you took the time to actually answer any of these questions you are an IED sufferer. According to the study, you should go ahead and join the millions of Americans already on some type of anti-depressant.
And if you have a problem with that, you KNOW where you can find me!
I'll be waiting right here in the lotus position.