The Seven Deadly Sins: Wrath & the Impulsive Temper

"'A blind rage comes over me, as overpowering as my need to paint. Sometimes I think it's the dark side of my muse: the side of her that craves destruction and despair.'"
-Charles de Lint, Memory and Dream (pg. 73) spoken by Izzy's art tutor, Vincent Rushkin.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “wrath” as “strong vengeful anger or indignation,” with “indignation” explained as “anger aroused by something unjust, unworthy, or mean.”

For many ADHD’rs, they are the “unjust, unworthy, or mean.” When you’re born with a “difference,” it’s difficult to escape childhood without feeling less-than. While some seek shelter in the shadows of their homes and schools, others stand out socially by calling attention to the humor of the disorder. (See my past post about the Top Ten Cartoons with ADHD). No matter how one handles a sense of un-belonging, from time to time these feelings manifest in their true form: wrath.

Wrath at oneself, at the restrictions placed upon a person with ADHD, at the structures that exclude the different and the unique…

I nicknamed my dear Huckleberry (left) "Sweet & Viscous" for his erratic temper.

When it comes to ADHD, the shame of the disorder is not the sole cause of wrath. As individuals driven by dopamine, we are often impulsive. ADHD’rs may find themselves acting out in school, at home, or the workplace, unable to control their reactive tempers. Like many individuals, they might feel possessed with anger as their body tingles with adrenaline and their fists clench. They need to do anything to escape the overwhelming feelings of being in their own skin.

In Maybe You Know My Teen, Mary Fowler devotes an entire chapter entitled “power surges” to understanding and managing such volatile behaviors in teenagers with ADHD. While some ADHD’rs experience mammoth bouts of wrath, others are what Fowler terms “the impatient/annoying/irritating” or otherwise, “the stubborn/dramatic” (pg. 179).

Although I had a lot of energy as a kid, I was never aggressive. A subtle form of “wrath” manifested itself when I felt uncomfortable verbally expressing myself. I remember leaving Disney World with my family, very upset with myself for not asking my parents for the toy I wanted from the gift shop. To my six-year-old self, I left behind the stuffed cat from The Aristocats with extreme regret, but I was too shy to say so. Instead, I spent the ferry ride back to the mainland in tears, while my parents were at a loss as to how to pacify me. Twenty years later, I can visualize that moments in detail because my emotions were so powerful. They shook within me because I was unable to transform them into coherent words.

The anger and shame of ADHD can take its toll on any individual, family, or relationship, so it’s important to learn how to channel or ease these powerful energies. The American Psychological Association (APA) hosts an informative resource site about managing such negative feelings and behaviors:
Here are several more resources that help to explain how to manage the “wrath” of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):
ADDitude Magazine, “6 Anger-Management Tips for ADHD Adults”
For parents and kids, I felt like this article offered many helpful tips about managing and overcoming such outbursts:
ADDitude Magazine, “Anger Management for ADHD Children”
What are your experiences with ADHD outbursts? Comment below or email me at WriteToJulianna


  1. This especially helpful for those with ADHD...but I'm glad you wrote about this for another reason. EVERYONE can use a reminder to stop and think about what is making them angry before acting out, most of the time there really isn't the need for it.

    In a fast paced world, sometimes it's hard to compartmentalize the various relationships and commitments we have. Small, unrelated frustrations can quickly build and suddenly feel overwhelming. I know that you writing this will help keep it in the forefront of my mind next time I'm feeling some wwwwwwrath. Thanks Jules...

    -A Big Fan

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