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FEATURETaming the beast in usby Dr Leow Chee Seng, Senior Consultant and Fellow of British Institute ofHomeopathyWhile there are many ways to address anger issues, learning to recognise andacknowledge the underlying reasons can go a long towards curtailing your angryresponses.E veryone gets angry at one time or another. Anger is a common emotion experiencedby all humans as a natural response to a threat or problem-solving, assertiveness, tactical withdrawal and maladaptive responses – such as social withdrawal, self-harm, verbal and physicala challenge – provoking the impulse to protect, aggression – is commonly identified by counsellorsdefend or attack. during anger management therapy.Still, anger can also become problematic and can Aetiologybe a major symptom of underlying personal issues The major causes of anger control problems for– which eventually needs to be addressed. And it any individual are likely to be an interaction ofneeds to be tackled fast if anger is experienced both internal and external factors. Hence,with such a frequency or intensity and there’s poor it’s important to look into its aetiology – theimpulse control. discussion of causes, origins, evolution and implications of this phenomena.Let’s start by really understanding just what anger is– an emotional state influenced by our cognitions,behaviour and physiology. Internal factors underlying anger triggers can usually be traced back childhood experiences. TheseCognitions refer to anger the emotion, the response include a family history of violence or aggression,relates to personalising it – like “He purposely upset bullying, experience of physical and emotionalme” – and catastrophising with ultimatums like “I abuse or neglect and even sexual abuse.will never promote you”. In short, anger arises whena person perceives that core values have been There are also external factors to be considered –violated. and these include aggression, frustration and peer- influenced factors. Equally important to note areThe starting point to addressing this personal environmental factors like noise; overcrowding andissue is to learn adaptive responses – or behavioural poor living conditions – which are usually categorisedresponses towards anger. Possible solutions like as external influential dynamics.12 SEPT/OCT 2010 • OH!
FEATURESome people are fortunate enough to learn healthy Inadequacy refers to embarrassment and humiliation.anger management skills during their childhood. As Fear is always related to being nervous, scaredadults, they have access to these skills, which come and terrified. Lastly, gladness that is able to reinforcenaturally. our good actions can be categorized as content, relieved, satisfied, happy and joyous.Those who didn’t learn to develop methods touse angry feelings effectively have to devise new By identifying the underlying emotions andbehaviours, repeatedly try them – and with successes, feelings, we will then be able to control our angercontinue to practise them. Relaxation is the basic tenet responses. Often harsh, punitive, angry feelings areof anger management. continually heightened by inaccurate judgmentsAnger relates to emotion. It is important to become which tend to dehumanise the person at whom theycomfortable with feelings in general and then with are aimed.anger specifically. When you feel angry, you needto assert yourself as the physiological response Common self-judgmental statements like “I am nois triggered in the autonomic nervous system by good” and “I am stupid” will make a person feel angryadrenaline. Adrenaline increases the heart rate, towards himself. This is the same emotional responsesweating and flushing. as you have been angry with someone.You need to replace misinformation about anger, Understand why you had even come up with theidentify the uses of anger and replace unclear labels ‘names’ you called that person. These ‘names’ could– so you can clearly identify the difference between be actual verbalisation of thoughts where theanger and other emotions. judgment is extremely dehumanising. When you have identified such a tendency in your behaviour,If you have difficulty experiencing the fear and anxiety you have to stop it immediately.that anger defends, or if you tend to blame outsidesources for either your anger or your fear, you may try In anger management sessions, I always remindto replace the personal misinformation about anger. clients no treatment intervention for anger will workFor example, should you be angry with someone for unless he/she is able to recognise it as a problem in themaking you work late when the response is really first place – and indeed, it is their problem.because you’re afraid of going home in the dark? In my opinion, motivational work is often aWe have to learn to take responsibility towards the prerequisite to successful engagement in angersource of anger and finally, we should learn how to control treatments. Clients who deny they haveface up to our own fears. any problem with anger control, who have no motivation to change or have very significantBesides, we have to further re-educate ourselves by impulse control problems need to be guidedseriously dissecting the taboos which imply “badness” carefully – or their anger will simply make them– and figure out for ourselves if the uneasy feelings dismiss any realisation of their problem.triggered are based on false beliefs. Once this critical realisation is achieved, they mightNatural advantages benefit from pre-treatment preparation such asBe aware that every feeling or emotion we experience building a therapeutic relationship, enhancingis good. Each has a specific purpose that enhances self-esteem, competency and control recognition,your ability to cope with life, as well as to ensure the personal anger awareness and basic anger andsurvival of the human race. aggression monitoring.In general, there are six feelings that relate toemotion. Sadness is associated to feeling unhappy Note that this a process which will take time to beor being mournful. Loneliness can be described as effective and will require significant self-disciplinefeeling rejected or unwanted. Guilt is always labelled to be inculcated successfully. So, if you haveas something to be ashamed about and linked to destructive thoughts about yourself or someoneneeding to be remorseful. else, seek professional advice now! OH! JUL/AUG 2010 • OH! 13