Rutgers' Mike Rice Rage: Bad Behavior or a Mental Disorder?


Anger is a "normal part of being a human being," said Dr. Joseph Shrand, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and author of "Outsmarting Anger: Strategies for Diffusing Our Most Dangerous Emotion."

"You have to be very cautious not to hide normal behavior behind a psychiatric diagnosis," said Shrand, who runs the High Point Treatment Center in Brockton, Mass., working with troubled and angry youth.

"In this case, what [Rice] is really exposing is a culture where coaches somehow are basically sanctioned and condoned bullies," he said.

"It sheds a spotlight on aggressive and ferocious coaching that [coaches] think is inspiring and motivating," he said. "They are harassing [players] and belittling them -- the complete opposite. We want to inspire kids and remind them they are amazing, not telling them they are good for nothing."

"Anger is an emotion designed to change the behavior of someone else," said Shrand. "You need to respond with respect. When is the last time you got angry at someone treating you with respect?"

Rice is hardly the first coach to exhibit shocking behavior on the basketball court. In 1985, then Hoosiers coach Bobby Knight threw a chair at a referee during an important game. He later said he regretted the bad behavior.

Dr. Redford Williams, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University Medical School, called the Rice incident "Bobby Knight redux."

"It becomes dysfunctional for sure when you lose your job for your behavior," he said. "It's clear this was above and beyond what is normal for a coach to be doing this toward the people he is working with."

Anger management can work for people like Rice, according to Williams, who has not treated Rice, but saw the videos.

Williams and his wife developed a LifeSkills program that has been shown effective in reducing anger in high school students who are violent offenders. He said the steps could even be useful on the basketball court.

"It teaches the person to increase their awareness of their thoughts and feelings in situations that make them angry," he said.

"First you have to make sure you have the facts -- a kid threw a ball forward, not back to a guard," he said. "You told him to go for the basket at the end of the game and he goes for the basket."

Williams said that instead of an outburst, analyze thoughts first: "What a dumb thing to do. I have feelings of anger and rage that will cause us to lose the game."

Then, said Williams, ask four questions: Is this important? Is what I am thinking appropriate? Is it modifiable? Is it worth it? [I am worth it].

"If you get four yes'es, that means you need to take action, but it doesn't mean you are 007 with a license to kill," he said.

"Guys like the Rutgers coach can learn anger management," said Williams. "It's not rocket science and there's evidence it works."

ABC's medical residents Dr. Thomas Bender and Dr. Viral Patel contributed to this report.

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