Home News? “Air Traffic Control Anger Disorder” Now Recognized Mental Illness

“Air Traffic Control Anger Disorder” Now Recognized Mental Illness

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Air Traffic Control Anger Disorder
Air Traffic Control Anger Disorder, or ATCAD, is now a diagnosable disorder, and is often exacerbated by incorrect information, or lack of detail orientation. (File photo: A line of Delta Cessna B28-800s line up and wait at runway 45 at Houston Love Field)

(WEST HARRISON, NY) – Calling it a ‘monumental step in recognizing and treating modern workplace issues’, the American Psychiatric Association announced Friday the long awaited update to the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

While most of the updates included simple and otherwise unremarkable updates in the diagnosis and treatment of known mental disorders, including things like bipolar disorder, depression, and ADHD, one new addition stood out above the others: an entirely new diagnosis known as Air Traffic Control Anger Disorder, or ATCAD.

“This is really a big step for us, since adding a new disorder usually takes years of quantitative research, not to mention the process, which can take many additional years, and in some cases, never comes to fruition,” said Dominic Bradley, spokesperson for the American Medical Association.

Over the last few years, there has been an increasing interest in ATCAD, due to it’s symptoms that can manifest themselves in many ways. Many over the last few months have speculated that ATCAD would be added to the DSM due to it’s increasing prevalence, and today, it is official.

ATCAD is defined by:

A. A distinct period of abnormally angry, combative, or irritable mood, lasting at least one week

B. During the period of mood disturbance, three (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted:

1. The individual begins repeating the phrases “say again”, “what is this, amateur hour?”, “What’s with all these fucking VFRs?”, “I’m getting my union rep”, “unable.”, “where is a fucking trainee around here?”, “Take the god damn hand-off, Charlie”, “I can’t even see the god damn runway,” often with increasingly frequency, and often with little or no context.

2. A sudden increase in the number of times the subject checks WebScheduler (or similar workplace schedule program) outside of work, and uses phrases such as “fuck this bullshit, I’m banging in”.

3. Visible bruises and/or marks on the outside of the hands, due to slamming fists on the control console.

4. An increasingly erratic treatment of subordinates, including trainees and less senior colleagues, often combined with phrases such as “I’ve been here 25 years, so fuck you, I’m taking Christmas off this year”.

5. A sudden dislike for literally every chair in the workplace.

6. An overall increase in the frequency of profanity and risque conversation.

7. A notable decrease in tolerance of others volume, display, or position settings, often combined with phrases such as “I can’t see shit on this scope”, or “Jesus Bill, pull the window shades up, it’s not even fucking sunny”.

8. A decrease in the tolerance of situations that require waiting in a queue, most notably while in vehicular traffic.

9. An insatiable appetite for fast food, ice cream, and donuts

10.  Seemingly never ending discussions involving the topics of fantasy football, alimony, how much overtime the subject engaged in during the current year, which trainee is going to fail out of the program first, and missed/unaccomplished personal finance goals.

11. Erratic and/or unusual sleep patterns and/or circadian rhythm disruptions, often coupled with waking up at 2AM, 8AM, and 2PM, before exclaiming “what shift am I working today?”

12. A complete lack of tolerance for incorrect, or otherwise unknown information, combined with phrases such as “what the fuck are you doing with these two Speedbirds?”, and “Where’s my break? I’ve been on this shit for 15 minutes.”

13. Very limited (or an absolute lack of) patience with respect to one on one communications

14. The requiring of every conversation to include what is known as ‘readback instructions’, that is, asking other members of the conversation to repeat themselves for clarity every day, nearly all the time.

C. The individual must have worked air traffic at least once in the past 3 days.

Random outbursts involving certain phrases such as “TAKE THIS FUCKING HANDOFF”, “STOP ASKING FOR A FUCKING EDCT TIME”, and “OH YEAH BIG SKY THEORY AGAIN HERE AT SECTOR 26, HOW’S THAT SHIT WORKING OUT?” are hallmark symptoms of ATCAD.

“ATCAD is a pretty serious diagnosis,” said Dr. Robert Halifax, psychiatrist. “It can really cause a great deal of trouble in nearly all aspects of life. I recently was seeing a patient who had it quite severely. My clinical practice is next to an airport, and every time he heard an airplane, he just started shouting profanities at seemingly inanimate objects, and kicking things. On at least one occasion he was yelling ‘VISUAL, VISUAL!!! ATSAP IT!’. Still not sure what that meant. In any case, it was a real challenge to work with this individual. However, he’s doing much better now. Luckily, with proper treatment, the prognosis is very good, to excellent for most patients.”

While therapy treatments for ATCAD such as cognitive behavior theory (CBT) are in fact helpful for the condition, the first-line treatment is almost always copious amounts of alcohol.

“Typically, we will start the patient at a low dose, something like 12 drinks per day, and then if they can tolerate that, we’ll double the dosage to 20 or 24 per day. I have found most people who have ATCAD have virtually no side effects from such a treatment, which is quite remarkable given the sheer volume of pure ethanol that entails.”

“You know, I really am not surprised this is a thing,” said one air traffic controller, who wished to remain anonymous. “I used to come home and just yell at everyone about my shitty day, and how the guy next to me tried to vector a fucking 152 in front of a G6, how I’m never going to be able to retire thanks to my 7 ex-wives, and all of this. But honestly, you know, these days, everything seems to have a smoother edge. I’m doing just fine,” he said, before bubbling up on a 1.75L bottle of Jack Daniels.

“My husband is a controller, and he was diagnosed with ATCAD last week,” one writer wrote to us, anonymously. “He is doing much better these days, mostly thanks to the fact that he just has stopped caring about rules and procedures. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

One controller, though he was not seeking treatment, found the news very encouraging.

“People used to just think I was a fucking psychopath, but now I can confidently say, I’m doing ok. I am normal, and in fact, I am thriving. I just have ATCAD. That doesn’t make me a bad person. Now get the fuck out of here, before I unplug your ass.”

There are variants of ATCAD, the most notable being PAD, or pilot anger disorder, which involves individuals yelling at everyone they meet, wondering how long it will take before they pay off their student loans, and repeating phrases/questions such as “what fucking city are we even in?”

Do you or someone you love suffer from ATCAD? Visit @atcmemes today and get the help you need.