Anger Management

Anger Management is a term that describes a broad array of approaches that are on offer to assist an individual in reducing the intensity of their angry feelings or to control their outward expressions of anger.

There are a host of Anger Management programs, therapy techniques, books and philosophies all dedicated to the subject of Anger Management.

Suggesting an Anger Management system approach is one of the first tools produced from the arsenal of a typical non-personality-disordered person when trying to deal with an angry spouse or family member who suffers from a personality disorder.

What doesn't work...

Anger Management is sometimes prescribed toperpetrators of abuse more than it is requested byperpetrators of abuse.

  • Employers force employees into anger management classes out of retribution for unprofessional conduct at the workplace.
  • Judges order from the bench that parents seek anger management professional help in exchange for custodial access to their children.
  • Husbands and wives threaten to leave unless an angry spouse "gets help"

The trouble with forcing someone into an anger management program with a carrot or a stick is that it's much easier to force someone into a program than it is to force them to get anything out of the program.

One of the assumptions pervading the popular anger management industry is that the people it addresses are fundamentally mentally healthy. However, when one considers that approximately 10% of the population reportedly suffers from some form of personality disorder and may be struggling with issues such as dissociation, denial, engulfment, dependency, identity disturbance, fear of abandonment and self-loathing, it becomes easier to understand why anger management programs and enforced treatment therapies are sometimes ineffective. Both the management course provider and the attendee get something out of it - the provider gets a fee for the course or therapy program. The attendee gets tangible proof that they have worked on their issues. Consequently, many anger management programs are little more than a business transaction between personality disordered people who have little incentive to change and program facilitators who address the symptoms and not the source of the underlying personality disorder.

Therefore it is rarely beneficial to force someone into an anger management program.

What DOES Work...

When a person decides FOR THEMSELVES that they need to take a look at their anger and how they express it, they have an opportunity and an open mind to look at more productive ways of managing their anger.

Anger in itself is neither good or bad. Anger just is. It is a spontaneous emotional reaction to perceived injustice.

Most anger management systems address two modes of anger.

Anger turned inwards:

  • Feelings of anger - where they come from, their physiological roots - how anger is part of a basic survival instinct of all animals to self-protect, protect the community, the food supply, offspring and property from outside aggressors and threats.
  • Why suppressing anger can lead to depression - why anger is not evil, that it is OK to feel angry and to suppress those feelings is neither reasonable nor effective.
  • Techniques for feeling better - from breathing exercises, mental exercises, physical exercise, recreation, doing things that make one feel better about oneself.
  • Exploring sources of anger and triggers.
  • Making commitments to make healthy choices in regards to feelings of anger

Anger expressed outwards:

  • The difference between feeling angry and acting angry.
  • Unproductive communications versus effective communications strategies.
  • Techniques for diverting anger at others towards more neutral targets through sports, gainful employment, productive pursuits.
  • The consequences of uncontrolled anger.
  • Making commitments to make healthy choices in regards to expressions of anger.

You can read an excellent article about dealing with personal anger at the APA site here.