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Does "he has some issues to work out" have some special meaning?

Is it an idiom? How is its meaning different from "he has some problems to solve"?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

There's a particular implication of the "issues" or "problems" involved being mental or emotional ones. It's more closely equivalent to "he's a little neurotic" than "he has some problems to solve".

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+1 It frequently means that the person is such a dysfunctional mess that you should stay away from them. – jbelacqua Mar 20 '11 at 6:34

Yes it is an idiom. Polite way to say he is unstable and needs to see a psychiatrist or at least get a grip :)

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Yes, "he has issues" would imply mental or emotional instability. Extending "instability" from an individual's mental state to the nation's financial state, a business publication referred to the recent wave of American bank failures as "American issues." But perhaps that's such a bad usage that it doesn't deserve notice.

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In this context the "issues" are usually psychological. It's elided out of politeness. "Problems to solve" could just as well refer to homework.

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