Aggression and violence in stage two breakdownIt is readily obvious that where people lose emotional control in a situation of high anxiety, violence may result. This is particularly so if the person is experiencing significant threat to the integrity of his or her territory, that aspect of a person which is held inviolable by others. One’s territory might be actually one’s own backyard, and someone is intruding uninvited. Or one’s territory might be a role, or a job, or a specific responsibility. People react fairly quickly in response to others trying to take over their jobs. Territorial threat will, in ordinary circumstances, provoke defensive aggression.In stress breakdown, that defensive aggression is apt to be sudden, unpredictable, and violent, because of the loss of emotional control. Violence is even more likely if the person under stress has been using sedative drugs.
The use of sedative drugs in stress breakdownSedative drugs such as alcohol, barbiturates, chloral hydrate and the benzodiazepine drugs such as oxazepam (Serepax), diazepam (Valium) and nitrazepam (Mogadon) are able to switch off the anxiety response to nervous system overload. The person under stress, who is uncomfortable from anxiety symptoms, can temporarily feel a lot better on taking a sedative drug. The temptation is therefore to stay in the stressful situation and suppress the anxiety symptoms with drugs or alcohol. This situation is something like a motorist blocking out the oil-pressure warning light because the light is interfering with his driving, instead of stopping the car and investigating why the oil pressure has dropped. Ignoring warning signals leads to trouble.When the sedative effect of these drugs wears off, the person is left with a low-grade agitation which makes the person feel worse than he did before taking the drug. This heightened feeling of anxiety may lead to a desire for further doses of the drug to suppress the agitation; the stage is then set for continued use of the drug and the beginnings of a drug dependency problem.In my experience, the use of sedative drugs to suppress anxiety symptoms in stress breakdown lowers the inhibitory reserve and makes the stressed person more prone to aggressive outbursts and actual violence. At this point, the problems of the person with stress breakdown, complicated by continued use of drugs, begin to merge with the problems of alcoholism and sedative abuse. Sorting out the problems of a person with stress breakdown when that person has been using sedative drugs regularly, presents a complex situation requiring expert skills.

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