Let me start by saying I appreciate your love and courage in trying to maintain your relationship. It doesn’t sound easy, but you have tremendous resilience!
This type of anger management requires some finesse, and I’d encourage you to help your boyfriend find an anger management expert. Anger comes from a need that hasn’t been met, and this type of self-abuse makes understanding this need difficult. Until then it may be important for the two of you to think about what might be done to manage rather than prevent the eruptions.
A good anger management clinic or specialized therapist will have access to getting an accurate diagnosis for your partner. Is this a type of intermittent explosive disorder, bipolar reaction? Or something altogether different? Hard to know, but an evaluation by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist or perhaps a neurologist is a good start.
While I could never offer a diagnosis I think it is important to understand that an adequate label may be very helpful because it can help specify specific types of treatment that are known to be effective. As an example, the aforementioned Intermittent explosive disorder, IED, is characterized by these features drawn from this article on PsychCentral.
- Sudden episodes of explosive anger.
- The reaction of the anger or rage is extremely disproportionate to the situation.
- The events happen suddenly with little or no warning.
- May involve yelling, throwing or breaking objects or physical aggression.
- Episodes may occur as often as several times a week or as seldom as once every few months.
- Each episode typically lasts fewer than 30 minutes.
- The sufferer may be impulsive, angry or irritable much of the time.
- Some people with the disorder experience emotional changes before an episode, such as growing agitation or irritability.
- As the tension and energy are released through rage, many report feeling relief or even pleasure.
- Once the episode is over, however, the sufferer may experience significant stress, regret, and embarrassment.
- The disorder often takes a terrible toll on the sufferer’s relationships, self-esteem, and career.
The important part of an accurate diagnosis is it helps to pinpoint a treatment. As an example, IED is best helped by two types of therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive relaxation, and coping skills therapy (CRCST), or medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) or mood stabilizers.
Until this diagnosis is made you may want to have some couple therapy to help talk about strategies that are more functional to help. You can find a therapist in the Find Help are at the top of the page, or through this organization.