Rages-what are they and who has them?

Gabrielle A. Carlson, Michael Potegal, David Margulies, Zinoviy Gutkovich, Joann Basile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine rages and define their associated clinical and diagnostic conditions systematically. Children's severe anger outbursts, sometimes called "rages,'" have been associatedwith many disorders, including mania, "severe mood dysregulation,'" and oppositional defiant=conduct disorder. Although reactive aggression has been studied extensively, there are almost no data on this important and disabling clinical phenomenon. Method: A total of 130 different 5-12 year olds were hospitalized over 151 consecutive admissions were evaluated diagnostically with information from parents, children, doctors, nursing staff, and teachers. Rages were operationally defined as agitated=angry behaviors requiring seclusion or medication because the child could not be verbally redirected to "time out.'' Rage behaviors were categorized as they occurred with the specially designed Children's Agitation Inventory. Hypotheses were that rages would be associated with prior treatment failure, and that children with rages would have the most co-morbidities, including learning=language disorders. We did not expect narrow-phenotype bipolar disorder to be specifically associated with rages. Results: Of 130 children, 71 (54.6%) were admitted for rages. Preadmission rages and admission taking an atypical antipsychotic significantly predicted the subsequent number of in-hospital rages. Attention-deficit= hyperactivity disorder with learning=language disorder significantly predicted the occurrence and number of rages. Bipolar disorder was the referring diagnosis in 17=49 (34.7%) admissions with rages and 15=102 (14.7%) of admissions without rages (odds ratio [OR] 3.05, confidence interval [CI] 1.36, 6.80). However, a consensus diagnosis of bipolar disorder occurred in 5 (9.1%) of the sample with rages and 5 (5.8%) in the rest of admissions. Conclusions: Psychiatrically hospitalized children with multiple rages have complex, chronic neuropsychiatric disorders and have failed prior conventional treatment. One third of children with rages had been given a bipolar diagnosis prior to admission. However, only 9% of children with rages were given that diagnosis after careful observation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-288
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Rages-what are they and who has them?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this