Mike the Mad Biologist

Sidewalk Rage Isn’t a ‘Mental Illness’

It’s called living in Boston. Unbeknownst to the Mad Biologist, we read that some mental health professionals believe ‘sidewalk rage’ is a psychiatric disorder:

Researchers say the concept of “sidewalk rage” is real. One scientist has even developed a Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale to map out how people express their fury. At its most extreme, sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as “intermittent explosive disorder,” researchers say. On Facebook, there’s a group called “I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head” that boasts nearly 15,000 members….

Signs of a sidewalk rager include muttering or bumping into others; uncaringly hogging a walking lane; and acting in a hostile manner by staring, giving a “mean face” or approaching others too closely, says Leon James, a psychology professor at the University of Hawaii who studies pedestrian and driver aggression.

How one interprets the situation is key, researchers say. Ragers tend to have a strong sense of how other people should behave. Their code: Slower people keep to the right. Step aside to take a picture. And the left side of an escalator should be, of course, kept free for anyone wanting to walk up.

I think it’s nuts to bump into people or otherwise being physically aggressive, if for no other reason that some people will bump back. Hard. It’s also a waste of time–just go around them.

Having said that, I think there are a lot of inconsiderate people out there. If you see someone carrying something, or running to catch a train, be considerate and let them by.

Punching people in the back of the head makes you an asshole (not to mention a criminal). But if Jimmy Carter could “lust in his heart”, then I say, let dreamers dream!

Comments

  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    February 20, 2011

    But being Republican MUST be a mental illness. Just look at the bullshit they are trying to pull in congress.

  2. #2 Cuttlefish
    February 20, 2011

    Walking in Boston is a piece of cake. It’s driving in Boston that is a mental illness.

  3. #3 Joshua
    February 20, 2011

    I will say again, as I do every time people bring up Boston drivers: Florida drivers are a thousand times worse, and I don’t just mean the elderly ones. Folks down here actively try to kill themselves and you every time they get behind the wheel.

    Anyway, it amuses me that they’re trying to declare some big trend based on… a 15,000-person Facebook group? Sure, 15k sounds like a lot, but in terms of Facebook groups that’s half the size of something like “Britni Johnson from Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt Middle School is a snotfaced boogermonster lol”.

  4. #4 Virgil Samms
    February 20, 2011

    In countries where people drive on the right side of the road, they tend to walk on the right side of the sidewalk. This contributes to tourists causing traffic jams on sidewalks.

  5. #5 Fred
    February 20, 2011

    People who waste another person’s time by being inconsiderate are assholes. No one is punching people in the back of the head.

    Didn’t you post a link about Bikers that are assholes and ignore pedestrians?

    Seems like the same issue, slow walkers and others that cause pedestrian congestion are assholes that feel they are more important than others. Bikers who ignore pedestrians are assholes that feel they are more important than others. People who want slow walkers to get the fuck out of the way are assholes.

    Fuck, the world is full of assholes.

  6. #6 Jim Sniechowski
    February 20, 2011

    The arrogance of all the speedy types who are responding here is remarkable. The entitlement. And all of this high dudgeon directed against “older” people.

    Well get ready, ya’ll, because older people a will get older and older and older. Some may slow down but many will not. Just the opposite. Given the advance happening in medicine and technology “old age” and “older folks” are becoming misnomers. Spry and sprightly will become more the case.

    Jim Sniechowski
    Ageless Zoom, Inc.

  7. #7 peicurmudgeon
    February 21, 2011

    I think nearly all of us get angry at inconsiderate people at some time or another. These can include pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, dog owners, neighours who mow their lawn early on weekend mornings. The list is almost infinite.

    However, I would think that most of this anger would fall within a ‘normal’ range. I suspect that there are numerous psychiatric disorders that include aggression as one of the symptoms. I really don;t see the need to single out a single instance, sidewalk rage, as needing a separate category of aggression.

  8. #8 AZ
    February 22, 2011

    I moved to Boston six months ago. I was astounded with the apparent unruliness of the street traffic. Then I caught on. It is like traffic in the grocery store: There is an understood speed limit. Everyone knows there is no right place to leave your cart. You are amazed at your own patience. People mumble “excuse me” and “sorry ” a lot. No need for traffic signs. People go with the flow.
    Back on the street it works the same way. I know I can step into traffic at mid-block to get to the T-stop. It is understood that someone will always be meandering through a six-way signal against the lights with a stroller or using a walker. Boston drivers who aren’t texting will even honk for the guys who are when the light changes.