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Intermittent explosive disorder in adults: Clinical features, assessment, and diagnosis

Emil Coccaro, MD
Section Editor
Susan McElroy, MD
Deputy Editor
David Solomon, MD


Patients with intermittent explosive disorder are periodically unable to restrain impulses that result in verbal or physical aggression [1-3]. The aggressive behaviors are unplanned, out of proportion to the provocation, and cause subjective distress or psychosocial impairment.

This topic reviews the clinical features, assessment, and diagnosis of intermittent explosive disorder. The epidemiology, pathogenesis, treatment, and prognosis are discussed separately. (See "Intermittent explosive disorder in adults: Epidemiology and pathogenesis" and "Intermittent explosive disorder in adults: Treatment and prognosis".)


Aggression is defined as goal-directed behavior that is intended to harm or injure another person or object [4]. Aggressive behavior can be classified by the [5]:

Target – others, self, or property

Mode – physical or verbal

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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 30, 2017.
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