Drama king! There's a tantrum-thrower in your midst

May 28, 2013, 00:16 IST | Ruchika Kher and Kanika Sharma

All of us have been witness to people who shout, fight and unabashedly, throw tantrums at the drop of a hat. It gets worse and embarrassing for those in the public spotlight such as Indian fast bowler and serial tantrum-thrower S Sreesanth who most recently took this trait to new levels at the time of his arrest in the match-fixing scandal. Ruchika Kher and Kanika Sharma look deeper into the whys and hows of this irksome aspect of human behaviour

Why do people throw tantrums?
Temper tantrums are a negative trait and is either environmentally-induced or is genetic. Clinical Psychologist and Trauma Expert, Seema Hingorrany informs, “Tantrum throwing is a personality trait that either develops genetically or is the result of any bullying, witnessing poor parental behaviour or any suppressed frustration that comes to fore every now and then.” She adds that people who are suffering from this condition, throw tantrums over everything and especially when they don’t get what they want. “The thought-processing of such people is very weak,” says Hingorrany.

Look at me! S Sreesanth appeals unsuccessfully on Australia’s batsman Adam Gilchrist during the Twenty20 cricket world championship 2nd semi-final at Kingsmead Stadium in  September 2007. From the eccentric levels of over-appealing to his numerous spats with players on-field, the fast bowler’s reputation for throwing tantrums have been well documented. Pic/AFP

Seema Hingorrany, clinical psychologist & trauma expert

Spot the tantrum-thrower
“The main thing with tantrum throwers is that they can’t sustain relationships and even on small matters, their temper starts building and they become illogical in their behaviour,” explains Hingorrany.
>People suffering from tantrum issues are highly irrational.
>They usually evade heart-to-heart talks.
>Their defenses are always very high.
>They have a tendency to raise their voice on everything.
>They always feel that the world is out there to get them.
>Low self-esteem and low confidence.
>High mood swings.
>Usually cranky.

It’s never too late to change
Hingorrany feels that the foremost thing is to identify symptoms and if anything is felt then a health professional should be contacted for therapy and counselling. People should also try and talk out things with the person who has been throwing tantrums unnecessarily and try to find the root cause of the problem.
Remedial measures:
>If it has been identified that a person has temper tantrum problems then he/she should be kept away from loud noises; that makes the person more irritable.
>Sometimes, it’s important to not reason out things with such a person.
>Try and calm the environment.
>Regular therapy is important.

Here comes the ‘King Baby’
Clinical Psychologist Dr Susan Walker enumerates signs that one can identify, “The firsts signs of tantrum-throwing usually occur between the ages of 18 months and two years, and are popularly dubbed as ‘the Terrible Twos’. At this age, children are first beginning to become aware of their own independence, and begin a natural ‘testing’ process, in order to learn what is acceptable to those around them.”

Dr Walker warns that if the child doesn’t learn how to cope with anger and frustration, they can feel prone to assuming power which becomes dangerous to handle for them. “Children may fail to develop this sense of appropriateness or boundaries and may indeed develop a very egocentric view of the world. They may develop what is sometimes called the ‘King Baby’ syndrome. The ‘King Baby’ adult may see themselves as being at the centre of the universe, with everyone at their bidding,” she shares. 

I am invincible
Dr Walker continues, “This type of behaviour may be seen in people from all walks of life, though some or few may have a greater incidence in the public eye. If they already have leanings towards this kind of behaviour, the adoration handed out by the public may make the individual feel more justified in their inappropriate actions, as they experience fewer and fewer boundaries from those who are willing to put up with tantrums.” The person’s tryst with power may lead him or her to believe that they are invincible and can go to the extent of even breaking the law.

I’ll play to the gallery
Reeta Gupta, founder and image consultant of The Network, conveys that tantrum-throwing can adversely affect one’s image. She feels that one can observe when this abnormal behaviour has become habitually associated with projecting on a performance, making the society a part of the spectacle. In such a scenario, the individual may do the following things:

Reeta Gupta, communi-cation and image consultant

> Such a person may take refuge in his or her image, so as to evoke public responses such as sympathy, taking refuge in the fact that he’s an ‘exceptional case’.
> He/she can model themselves on an eccentric but a nice person at heart image or worse, “I am not smart, but at least, I am genuine,” thereby spurring on a cycle of manipulation.

Sreesanth’s tantrums at the time of his arrest
>“When a police officer showed him his identity card, initially he kept silent. But suddenly he started shouting and said that he knew the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Kerala. How can they arrest him, he demanded,” a source said.
>The bowler also happened to be drunk at the time of his arrest and supposed that maybe it was due to his inebriated state that he was getting arrested.

Sreesanth on sreesanth
“Actually, I can’t be a nice man on the field. I try to laugh but whenever I start laughing or be jovial, I get smashed. I mean I am serious, it’s a belief or whatever; it had happened to me so many times. It’s split personality traits maybe but it’s just that even at the nets I am bowling to people, I have fights with the senior players. I don’t really look into who’s there inside the helmet or who is playing against me.”
(While speaking to weekly newsmagazine, India Today, ) 

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