They Call Me Mr. Post-Traumatic Embitterment Disorder

It may be the next Narcissistic Personality Disorder (which is already the next sex addiction) — something called post-traumatic embitterment disorder is now enjoying a moment in the harsh, joyless sun.

According to the LA Times, the American Psychiatric Association recently discussed applying the term to "people who feel they have been wronged by someone and are so bitter they can barely function other than to ruminate about their circumstances." Some argue that these feelings can be strong enough to constitute a mental illness akin to post-traumatic stress disorder, with the difference that while people with PTSD usually feel fear and anxiety, people with post-traumatic impediment disorder feel a desire for revenge.

Dr. Michael Linden, who named the disorder, says it occurs in 1 to 2% of people, usually those who have worked hard and suffer an unexpected setback. He says the embittered "feel the world has treated them unfairly. It's one step more complex than anger. They're angry plus helpless." He also says they rarely seek treatment, because they feel that an unjust world, and not their own attitude, is the problem.

Most of us have felt this way at times, and we may be entering an especially embittered era as many hard-working people lose their jobs and their savings. Putting a name to how they're feeling may help some people, and if it's true that, as Linden says, post-traumatic embitterment disorder can lead to murder in extreme cases, it's worthy of further study. On the other hand, most people who are bitter don't murder their families, and it would be unfortunate if post-traumatic bitterness disorder became just another "excuse for bad behavior" (as Sadie argues sex addiction has become). In addition, it might actually be harder for some people to snap out of their bitterness if they're convinced they have a disorder. As with all mental illness diagnoses, post-traumatic bitterness disorder may help people find relief if applied scrupulously. If thrown around willy-nilly, however, it may just make people feel — or act — worse by pathologizing a very common feeling.

Bitterness As Mental Illness? [LA Times]

Earlier: Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Everyone's Doing It