Road Rage, a narcissistic disorder

Today Vancouver was especially rainy and the roads were very wet; driving was difficult. Seeing a driver raging at another motorist in rush hour traffic put me in mind of what might underlie road rage. Why do people get so damn angry on the roads? Its not as though this is uncommon, and it can be dangerous.

When we get behind the wheel, it seems as though our logical brain goes awol. We all know that the roads are public, which means that they are paid for, owned and used equally by all our fellow citizens. We have no more right to the road than anyone else. We also know that not all drivers drive equally well, and that in fact, some drive quite poorly. And yet it seems to us, as we sit behind the steering wheel, that the road is ours, that it belongs to us, that it is there for our exclusive benefit, and that others who use it do so at our pleasure. It’s as though other drivers should know, simply and automatically know, that the road actually belongs to me, and they should defer to me.

What I’m doing when I think this way is personalizing the impersonal; because I use the road, because the road happens to me, it is about me, the road is mine, and in my mind, in my narcissistic mind, I make it my personal property. This is the essence of narcissistic thinking: whatever happens to me is about me; if I use the road, the road is mine. You happen to me when you get in my way, and so to me it’s as if you know that I‘m late or in a hurry or in a bad mood, which means you deliberately provoke me, and deserve my rage. Road rage as a narcissistic disorder.

Crazy, isn’t it? But that’s what happens in the mind of the raging road user. Reminds me of the Rolling Stones, “Hey you get off of my cloud”.

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