You are about to meet Drew Walker, 16, who, at first glance, had it all: Movie star face, perfect white teeth, high honor roll. Moreover, he possessed the rarest of personality traits, namely, charisma.

Drew was a snake charmer, using his honey-toned voice and razzle dazzle smile to attract, charm and captivate. Who did he attract? Girls. 

Unfortunately, this sunny side of Drew is not the topic for today. No, a more disturbing account, one hidden, is about to begin.

Drew had a hair-trigger temper. The smallest provocation — his mother telling him to tuck in his shirt, his girlfriend Raquel who failed to return his call ASAP — could unleash volcanic anger.

More frightening was an episode of violence, occurring on a sultry summer night, under the watch of a full moon. Drew was out cruising in his black Mustang, music cranked up high. As he approached an intersection, another car cut him off and raced past. Enraged, Drew rocketed past the vehicle, slammed on his brakes, and forced the other car into an abrupt stop.

Drew jumped out and pounded on the other driver’s window. An older man opened his car door and shouted, but Drew hit him in the face, followed by a second punch which missed and slammed into the car door frame. Oblivious to the pain, Drew elbowed the man’s nose, breaking it. As his rage receded, he realized, with horror, what he had done. “Grandfather, I need your help.” He turned his car around and headed for the emergency room.

Dr. Eli Washington, an emergency room physician, took his first break of the night. He exited out the back door, trudged up to the picnic table and sat his tired body down. His mind slipped out of gear and roamed the hills and valleys of his life.

After his wife had died two years ago, he had fallen into a black hole of pain. What brought him back was his daughter, Marin: “Dad, Drew is growing up without a father. He needs you.” That was all it took. Eli and Drew went camping, fishing and grew close. But recently, a wall had descended, and distance grew between them.

Eli sighed, looked up and marveled at the full moon. Having studied Greek mythology, he thought to himself: “Hello there, one-eyed Polyphemus, ruler of the night. You are the last of your race, the noble Giants known as Cyclops. For 10,000 years, you have kept watch over the human race. So tell me, does the human heart have more good than bad? 

“Eli, it’s Drew, in room 3,” yelled Benny, the night supervisor. Drew was sitting up on a flat steel stretcher, holding a bag of ice over his right hand. Eli spoke. “See your x-rays here? That is called a Pugilistic fracture, a bone break caused by fighting.”

“Grandfather, it’s nothing. I just got mad and hit my wall.”

Six weeks later: Eli sat at the picnic table, eating his sandwich. It had been a slow night. He looked overhead, into the moonless vault of the night, and spied low-lying clouds that raced across the sky: a chariot of fire pulled by eight massive black horses, whose manes and long tails were ablaze with blue fire. Something told him to go back into the emergency room.

“Dr. Washington, the sheriff is here — there is an unidentified body in room 10.” Eli pulled back the thin sheet and fixed his eyes upon the hands. Both were deeply cut, swollen, broken, proof that Drew had died fighting like the Devil. “Eli, is that your grandson?” the sheriff whispered. Eli nodded, “Yes.”

Two weeks later: Eli parked his car, but before entering the emergency room, he looked heavenward — a shiny silver new moon. 

He read the patient chart before meeting the young girl. Raquel Carver, age 16, about to give birth. “Dr. Washington?” Raquel asked. She handed Eli a sealed envelope.

“Dear Grandfather: This letter means that something bad has happened to me, and I can’t be there to help Raquel. She is carrying my son, and I told her to find you. Raquel is the only girl I have ever loved, and I need you to take care of her. Ask her the name of our son. I think you will approve.” Love, Drew.

Conclusion: It is estimated that about 6 million teenagers in America have an undiagnosed condition called Intermittent Explosive Disorder. The cause of IED may be located in early childhood development, where impulse control — the ability to think before acting — has failed to develop. These teens are at risk for jail or death. 

The content of this article is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for treatment by a professional. The characters in this story are not real. Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.

References: 1. Monitor on Psychology, page 21, Sept 2012, vol. 43, no 8. 2. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, 1995.

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