Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anger management Classes As Violence Prevention

By George Anderson

Most major businesses and governmental organizations have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) in place to provide assessment and referral, brief counseling or Critical Incidence Debriefing. Colleges and Universities have student counseling and Judicial Affairs for disruptive students. Educators as well as the community must come to terms with the reality of the ongoing problems of person-directed violence. In addition to the very real physical threat posed by such rampant violence, education and workplace civility is threatened. When fear is paramount in their minds, students cannot learn and teachers cannot teach. Many administrators, teachers, and parents feel a sense of hopelessness about the role of schools in combating violence, in which the emphasis has historically been on social control rather than improving the school climate. This approach has been unsuccessful in the workplace as well as schools despite increasing security such as metal detectors, permanent school and work place security officers, and zero tolerance. All of these services may work well in dealing with trauma but is limited in its usefulness for preventing conflict and violence which may impact job and/or academic performance. . Learning how to deal with aggression and hostility in nonviolent ways before violence becomes a stable personality trait is absolutely critical.

Crises counseling and/or Critical Incidenct Debriefing are specifically designed to deal with situations like accidents, violence, murder, death, robberies, bomb threats or suicide. Equally as important as dealing with workplace or school violence are anger management prevention programs which are less costly and far more effective in reducing the incidences of workplace conflicts, violence, accidents and sick day usage. Anger management is the most effective violence prevention intervention currently available.

In both the Virginia Tech Tragedy and the Murder Suicide at the Johnson Space Center in recent days demonstrate the need for proactive rather than reactive measures to prevent person-directed violence in the work or school environment.

Since anger is a secondary emotion which is generally preceded by stress, anxiety, depression or some other perceived threat, voluntary or mandated classes can be implemented to deal with stress related tension at work or on campus. In contrast to mental health interventions such as counseling, psychotherapy or hospitalization, anger management can be mandated based on aggressive behavior, intimidation or threats. One of the most successful such programs is currently being used by the United States Postal Service. For many years, “going postal” was used to describe the frequent violent incidents which occurred among postal workers.

Several years ago, the postal service introduced a ten session anger management course offered on-site, on the clock at no cost to the employee. When first introduced as a pilot, the program resulted in a reduction of sick day usage, dramatic decrease in workplace conflict, increase in morale, increase in production, decrease in accidents and a 226% increase in voluntary referrals to the Employee Assistance Program. In a population of 16,000 employees, the Postal Service saved 1.5 million dollars during the one year pilot program.

Effective April 1, 2007, all Hospitals in the United States were required establish anger management policies for “disruptive physicians". This will likely have a tremendous impact on the improvement of patient care as well as staff retention. Anger management/executive coaching is the fastest growing new area of specialization in human services worldwide and needs to be considered when violence prevention is the goal.

Monday, April 23, 2007

When it is a fact, it is not a problem

By Susan Dunn

Emotional Intelligence is about reading reality correctly, amidst the emotional reactions pressing on your cognitive intellect.

I love this quote:

"If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact - not to be solved, but to be coped with over time." - Shimon Peres, Polish-born Israeli Politician

I like it so much because, with even normal intellect, solving a problem is easy. Dealing with a fact you don't like, however, is not, and requires a great deal of emotional intelligence.

Here are sme FACTS I've helped clients learn to cope with over time:
--An adult daughter who is damaged, vindictive and hysterical.
--A boyfriend who is, and always will be, a "stringer".
--A boss who has very low emotional intelligence and is a "difficult person."
--A colleague who is left-brained (or right-brained) and incapable of whole-brain thinking.
--Someone who thinks the client him/herself is a problem to be fixed.
--A controlling husband.
--An abrasive sister who likes to triangulate with the mother against the client.

With a FACT there are three (3) ways to cope:

+Change the situation;
+Change your attitude; or

The first two (2) pertain to IQ. The last one pertains to EQ.

Learn to know the difference!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Anger Management and Marriage Part 3

By David Peairs

Last time we talked about how people typically deal with anger towards their husband or wife.

So now what are some Biblical ways to deal with anger in marriage? Here are some brief ways to begin.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)

1) Admit to yourself and God that you are angry. There’s no reason for denying it. Plus, as you get it out in the open, you’ll be better prepared to deal with it.

2) Don’t yield to your feelings. If you think you may say or do something that you’ll regret, walk away from the situation until you have control over your emotions. Take a deep breath to bring your physical reactions to anger under control. Realize that YOU are totally responsible for your own actions.

3) Whether the wrong committed against you was real or perceived, intentional or accidental, bring the offense to God and forgive your spouse. Forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for you. As you get in the habit of actually forgiving your spouse, your anger will lead you into sin less often.

4) Don’t give the devil a foothold by dwelling on the offense. If you’ve forgiven your husband or wife, quit replaying the situation over in your mind. Otherwise, not only will you cause those angry feelings to come back, but you will give the devil the opportunity to add fuel to the fire by telling you how evil your spouse is. This will only serve to send you back to square one, negating any progress you’ve made.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)

Now you have some information to recognize how you may be unhealthily dealing with your anger and some recommendations to begin to deal with your anger in a healthy way.

If you’ve let your anger lead you into sin in the past, ask God to forgive you and let it go. You can’t control what you’ve done in the past, but you can control what you do now and in the future. Start preparing now for the next time you get angry, because the time will come again when you’ll need to deal with it. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you control yourself and diffuse the anger without sinning.

And remember Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.”

Monday, April 16, 2007

Anger Matures to Cancer, then Death

By Matuba & Murphy

I have never gone for any anger management classes or anything related to that. I have been angry for the past few days and that should qualify me to be the expert in my own right to comment on anger.

Unattended anger eventually becomes cancerous. It develops into hatred. That - alone, alters one's personality to a certain degree. It is rather difficult to be happy in another part of your life and the other is just full of resentment. Anger management is not important but it is the only thing that will make all of our lives easier. I can testify to that.

My doctor says Cancer is a class of diseases or disorders characterised by uncontrolled division of cells and the ability of these cells to invade other tissues, either by direct growth into adjacent tissue through invasion or by implantation into distant sites by metastasis.

Just like anger Cancer may affect people at all ages, but risk tends to increase with age. Anger has not yet been proven to be one of the leading causes of death. But I know for a fact that most suicide cases in and outside this country were catalysed by anger. The latest trend on wives hiring hit men for their husbands could be all because of anger if not the love for money!

The unrest in Mogadishu, Sudan and in the Middle East is most definalety because people are angry. The Genocide in Rwanda was due to anger-turned-hatred.

The anger in me has also caused some genocide inside me. It killed so many things that I felt so passionate about. I said killed because I know that those are the things that will never ever come to life. I am treating my Cancer - but I'm afraid it has already reached Stage Four. I am terminally angry and I suppose in this modern world - we have therapy and medication to rely on when we are terminally ill.

What made me angry? I'm known to many as a person who doesn't share problems. That's not about to change. People, generally speaking, are heartless and cruel and tend to take people's misfortunes and use them as ammunition against them! I can't even share with my better half because he is already the casualty of my anger. At least he'll live. How I am ever going to survive - remains to be seen!

Danger Signals at Work, and How to Handle Them


Q. How real is the threat of violence on the job, especially from co-workers?

Should you be worried that your workplace isn’t safe enough?

A. Recent fatal shootings at an accounting firm in suburban Detroit, a marketing company in Philadelphia and a shopping mall in Salt Lake City serve as reminders that the workplace can be dangerous.

Kevin Zwetsch, a labor and employment lawyer in Tampa, Fla., says that in the last 18 months he has handled half a dozen workplace violence cases, more than he has in the previous five years combined.

Serious and violent threats can be a major concern in these kinds of cases, but other types of aggression are often a precursor to violence, said Mr. Zwetsch, who works for the law firm Fowler White Boggs Banker. These may be anything from staring to dirty looks to verbal threats to stalking.

A significant amount of violence occurs in retail establishments, but aggressive or violent behavior can also take place in corporate settings, especially during downsizings and layoffs. Depending on how a company handles the delicate task of termination, former employees can wind up bitter about their separation, and those who remain on the job can become depressed and anxious.

Problems of domestic violence — usually involving spouses or significant others who are thought to be cheating — can also spill over into the workplace, Mr. Zwetsch said.

Confrontations between employees have been on the rise over the last 10 years, according to Timothy A. Dimoff, founder of SACS Consulting, a human resources consulting firm in Akron, Ohio, that specializes in workplace security. He said that these included “low level” confrontations like yelling, threats and stealing; physical confrontations involving pushing, shoving, spitting or fighting; and retaliation, which can be anything from scratching the paint on a supervisor’s car to returning to the workplace with a gun.

Q. What indicates that a colleague might become violent?
A. The most common red flag is unusual behavior. Examples may include an outgoing colleague who suddenly becomes withdrawn and angry, or a normally quiet, easygoing worker who is now outspoken and overexcited. Personal trauma — a financial loss or a death in the family — can also push someone to the edge, as can substance abuse.
Employees often recall these kinds of signals only after violence has occurred. “They will describe the co-worker in terms like ‘ticking time bomb,’ ” even though they did nothing about it, said Jerald Jellison, a professor of social psychology at the University of Southern California who specializes in interpersonal relations.
Q. Should you try to head off a problem by confronting a co-worker directly?
A. If you have been on friendly terms with the worker, you might try talking as a friend and seeing if he or she is willing to open up. Sometimes just saying, “Hey, you seem down. Is everything O.K.?” may be enough to help someone start talking, said Robert Siciliano, a personal security expert in Boston who conducts corporate seminars on predicting and preventing workplace violence.

Treat your co-worker with respect and dignity, said Scott R. Gane, vice president of AlliedBarton, a security services firm in King of Prussia, Pa., and a teacher of workplace violence-prevention seminars. But if you feel uncomfortable with the answers you receive — for instance, if weapons are mentioned or if the person becomes angry or extremely withdrawn — it is time to report your concerns to management.

Q. How should your manager or supervisor handle the report?
A. Above all, he or she should never mention your name. A manager should approach the troubled employee as an ally and schedule a meeting to discuss problems and concerns.

“It should be a comfortable conversation that allows the employee to open up; if they get defensive, then management can address it head-on,” said Carly Drum, managing director of Drum Associates, an executive recruitment and coaching firm in Manhattan. “Most problems can be resolved with a meeting like this. But if management waits until the employee starts behaving aggressively or obsessively, it’s usually too late.”

Q. Will it be seen as bad form to report negative or worrisome feelings about a co-worker to your boss?

A. You do have the right to act on reasonable belief. If you feel threatened — even with no threat made — you are within your rights to report that feeling to your employer. You are more likely to be taken seriously, however, if you offer more than one instance as evidence.

“One thing alone may not be enough,” Mr. Siciliano said, “but if you see three or more red-flag behaviors, you should definitely bring it to the attention of a manager or human resources.”

Q. What should your employer be doing to keep you safe?
A. The company’s procedure for responding should be both written and orally communicated to employees, and should give instructions on how to report potentially violent co-workers.

The policy should include zero tolerance for threatening or violent behavior, should bar the presence of weapons and require immediate reporting of incidents, said Jennifer Berman, a lawyer and human resources consultant at CBIZ, a business consulting firm in Cleveland.

“That written policy should be communicated to everyone in the company,” she said, “and backed up with training for managers in how to handle potentially dangerous situations.”

Submitted by Shannon Munford
Daybreak Counseling Service

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Anger Management in Marriage Part Two

By David Peairs
In the first post, I talked about how everyone eventually gets angry at their spouse, whether it’s over something large or small.

This time we’ll talk about how people typically deal with their anger.

First off, know that the anger itself is not a sin…it’s what you do with it and how you respond to it that can potentially be classified as sin.

I’m not going to overcomplicate this post. Generally, there are two ways that people deal with anger.

Many people internalize their feelings of anger. They pretend that nothing is wrong, while pushing any anger that comes back inside. But in trying to avoid dealing with it, unforgiveness and bitterness take root, gradually poisoning their marriage. Turning it inward doesn’t deal with the anger; instead it’s allowed to build up over time. Eventually it results in a blowup or in slowly killing the relationship.

Others externalize it. They turn their anger outward, towards their spouse, kids, or anyone else who gets in their line of fire. They let their feelings lead them to hurt others, either verbally or physically. Many of these people profess that they just “couldn’t control themselves.” This is a person that’s controlled by their emotions, instead of being in control of their emotions. These people will continue to physically or verbally abuse their spouses or kids as long as they can get away with it.

Now, take that same “out of control” person and put them up next to a 300 pound linebacker. Do you think they would control themselves enough to keep from slapping that linebacker around? Oh yeah, because they know they couldn’t get away with that…not without some pretty hefty consequences.

We should never let our feelings of anger cause us to get “out of control.”

Do you fall into one of these categories? Do you internalize or externalize your anger?

Next time I’ll give you some recommendations on Biblically dealing with your anger in your marriage.

Anger Mangement and Marriage- Part One

By David Peairs

At some point, everyone gets angry at their spouse. It could be over something minor like leaving the cap off of the toothpaste, something on a larger scale like their disrespecting you in front of other people, or something much worse.

In marriage, the potential for anger is greater than in other relationships just by the nature of being in such close proximity to someone so often. Your husband or wife will eventually do something that gets on your nerves.

This truth led me to write this brief 3 part series on dealing with anger in marriage. I hope that it will give you something to think about and be of some help. And as always, please feel free to comment with your thoughts on the subject.

In the next post of this series I’ll talk about how people typically deal with anger. Then in the last post I give some recommendations on how to Biblically deal with your anger.

So between now and the next post, begin thinking about how you are presently dealing with any anger towards your spouse, and if it contributes to a healthy or unhealthy marriage.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Anger Management Down Under

By Will Storr

My girlfriend says I frighten her. When she told me this, about six months ago, I was horrified. We seldom argue and when we do I'm never threatening. I've never been violent. But, she says, when I'm in a mood, she's often terrified. What seems like a mere sulk to me is to her a rage so powerful it becomes almost a living thing. It swamps the flat, pushes the air from the rooms and bends out the walls.

I was so confused when she made this claim that

I discounted it. It just made no sense. So I forgot about it. Until - for some reason - now. I'm about five minutes into a three-day intensive anger management course, which I'm attending for purely journalistic reasons, to see if schemes such as these have substance or are merely get-out-of-jail cards for toxic celebrities, road-ragers and parole-hungry psychotics.

"It's a beautiful morning," teacher Mike Fisher is saying, "and I am in a joyful place." I snort inwardly, but transcribe the information carefully. "Life is not a rehearsal," I write. Then, "Listen with LOVE."

"The skills I'm going to be teaching you over the next three days," says Fisher, "are bloody powerful. I've heard stories of gang leaders in prisons being taught anger management and using the techniques to manipulate people. As a therapist, even I could use them for bad. What do you get if you write the word 'therapist' down?" He approaches a flipchart and writes "The Rapist". "That's the danger, that

I will use my power to rape. Not physically, but psychically. I might go home and rape my wife,

I might rape my kids And the concept of danger," he continues, "is absolutely key here. Put a 'D' on anger and what do you get? Danger."

My right foot starts tapping up and down. Silly Californian therapising nonsense. Annoying, chirpy gurus with goatee beards, acronyms, flip-charts, worthiness, three days in an airless, peach-walled room with a gang of problem-ragers. I want to ram my Biro up my nose just to relieve the blinding aggravation of it. But I won't. I'll just sit here, inside my sparking thunderhead of fury, and seethe.

I won't lose it with anyone, though. As I said, I am completely in control; a Zen master of the mind. I'm nothing like the four-stripe crazies who inspired this piece. Omar Sharif, for instance, who was ordered to attend anger management classes in February after hitting a parking attendant who wouldn't hunt down his lost car. Or model Naomi Campbell, who assaulted her maid with a mobile phone when she couldn't find the trousers she'd wanted to wear on Oprah. Or Russell Crowe, whose hotel lobby phone-throwing incident in 2005 probably inspired her. But you don't have to be a defective celebrity to have a problem. Out there, on the streets, the anger's palpable.

In Australia, more than 300 serious cases of road rage are reported each year. Academic journal UrbanStudies asked more than 1620 adult Australians in 2005 whether they'd suffered an incivility in the past month. About a third said they'd been cut off, bumped, endured lewd or dirty looks, bad language or some other rudeness from a stranger. And in Brisbane, psychologist Owen Pershouse of Men Exploring New Directional Strategy, which runs courses helping men overcome anger and other issues, says 1133 men have graduated from the program since 1993. "Mostly from the south-east of the state," he says. "Everyone from politicians to the blue singlet brigade."

"I'm sure people are getting angrier," psychologist Oliver James told me when I called him up before starting Fisher's course. James is the author of Affluenza - the term he's coined to describe the problem of the middle classes putting too high a value on money, possessions, physical and social appearances and fame. "The affluenza virus creates a state of mind in which you don't meet your profound psychological needs," he says. "You're charging around like a headless chicken trying to pay off the mortgage or a better car, always wanting what you haven't got. You're feeling fundamentally frustrated because you're not getting your needs met and that frustration is the cause of anger."

I also asked Richard Layard, economist and the author of Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. Although he says happiness trends are static, he points out that the things that make people feel pleasant are mainly to do with human relationships: "Family, colleagues, community," he says, "and things have not been improving there. We are basically social animals and most of our enjoyment of life comes from contact with other people. I think if there was one thing that would define whether a person is happy or not, it would be, 'Do you feel other people are on your side or do you perceive them as a threat?' Things have got worse there.

In the '60s, 60 per cent of people said yes to the question, 'Do you think most other people can be trusted?' That's now down to 35 per cent."

SO, AS MY TURN TO "CHECK IN" AND EXPLAIN MY "problem" to the group comes closer, I start to worry about it even more. What am I going to say? Well, the truth, I suppose. Which is that I'm no different from anyone else. In fact, if anything, I'm better than many, because I rarely lash out. I hear what Layard and James are saying - we are all desperate for social significance and our trust levels are in concrete boots. I believe it. But my "problem" doesn't come from within. It's not my fault - it's not my value systems or status anxiety or fractured familial relationships that's the cause of all this. For me, it's something much more fundamental: it's the economy, stupid.

So I tell them a wonky theory, a furious hypothesis that coagulates in my head seconds before it leaves my mouth. At some point in the past decade or so, I say, we've stumbled into some looking-glass through which the economy doesn't serve us anymore. We've become slaves to businesses. They treat us with contempt when we clock in at work and after we've clocked out, too, in the heartless wastes of the free market. This is why we've become so angry, why our fury is so unspoken. Because there's no-one to blame but us. What are these corporations but teams of decent individuals just trying to excel at their jobs, because they want security, hope and happiness for their families? We are at war with ourselves.

So who do we take it out on? Who do we shout at? We're not allowed to "do" anger at work, at the station, in the restaurant, down the phone to the call-centre operative (it's not their fault), and heaven forbid you rage at your partner or children. There's nowhere for the fury to go. So we carry it around with us, dangerously, everywhere we go.

I can feel my rage. It collects in the centre of my throat. It's like I've swallowed a cannonball and it makes me want to scream. I am brimful of anger, and when it sloshes out, it does so in the only direction it's allowed to - at inanimate objects. I shout at keys I can't find, at carrots I drop on the kitchen floor, at doors I stub my toe on. Last week I called a spilled glass of elderflower cordial a c..t.

So, okay, I reason - maybe I am angry. The other attendees, however Well, I'm honour-bound not to write about their experiences on the course. But I can tell you that they include a lady who recently drove to her husband's house and stabbed his tyres ("Nobody told me they'd explode"), another who has been informed by his fianccée that if he doesn't get help she's calling off their wedding, and another who's a former football hooligan turned HR manager on police bail after he caught his wife doing unwifely things - and the bruises that were left following the resulting argument were not solely of the emotional kind. These are people who have been hurled into the very troughs of despair by their explosive rage.

Fisher's course is part theory, part a process of unpacking his pupils; taking their rage to pieces and seeing what its motors look like. If there's one single goal of his course, it appears to be to teach us how to understand and then accept ourselves in all our fallible glory. We need to learn how to decode the language of our emotions, to be wise about hunting down their causes and bold about stating them. If we know what we're feeling and why we're feeling it and are unafraid to tell the rest of the world, we'll suddenly find we're in command of ourselves. It takes away some of the terror of being human.

We spend most of the first day on this unpacking process, chiefly in the form of these emotional "check-ins", following which Fisher throws a series of questions and assertions in our direction that act like devastatingly effective sob-grenades. Following my splurge, Fisher asks about my childhood.

"Not this again," I think, as I begin to trot out all the things I've been telling strangers regularly for the past 12 years. In short, the truth is this. Up until relatively recently, I've spent my life hiding in bedrooms. During my childhood and teen years I'd be up there, as far away as I could get from the fury that awaited me downstairs. After I left home, you'd find me cowering under the covers still; shaking off the dreads of another alcohol or amphetamine comedown. I'd watch the walls change colour with the light of the day and I'd lie there, frantic with shame, my brain continuously presenting me with new and noteworthy illustrations of why I'm so appalling; why all the menacing prophecies of my parents had turned out true. The only piece of father-son advice my dad ever gave me was, "Take it from me, the pursuit of happiness is utterly futile". And, to give him credit, that's exactly how I've found life to be, from the day I learned to walk until now.

But I'm less miserable than I used to be. I'm sober and have a stable home life. I even have a genial relationship with my parents. In the grand rainbow of human misery, I barely register in the violet. I've done my decade of therapy, dealt with the doom, despatched the dependencies and I'm all right now.

So I know exactly where Fisher is going with this, and I'm bored with it. And it's got nothing to do with my anger, I'm sure. I'm older, now. Past all that. It's the mere act of living in 2007 that makes you mad.

FISHER USED TO BE AN "EXTREMELY ANGRY MAN" himself, he tells me over dinner. A classic passive-aggressive "imploder", he realised years ago that the source of his rage was his grandfather. "He shamed me terribly as a child," he says. "He was very devious. He would mock me and describe me as stupid and useless and not good enough. It was very embarrassing, very shameful. And I picked up those messages and believed they were true."

So Fisher, like me, spent years in therapy. But there's a twist. The "talking cure" had a dangerous consequence for Mike. By the time he'd reached his early forties, he'd learnt that he didn't need to concern himself with other people's opinions of him, and that he was allowed to show his anger. And he went a bit crazy. "I started to explode," he tells me. "My anger started spilling out in a very extreme form. I was very verbally aggressive. Very threatening. I sent out a lot of poisonous emails. I'd fly off the handle."

"And when did you realise there was a problem?" I ask. "When people started to disappear out of my life," he says. "When people started to stop taking me seriously, when people started spreading rumours about me. People were actually saying, you know, 'You're unsafe'." This realisation led to a period of study and training on the theories of anger that led to his founding the British Association of Anger Management eight years ago. Since then he has worked with more than 10,000 people.

And it's on day two that we begin to get the benefit of Fisher's hard-won wisdom. First, we learn that we become angry when our primary needs are not met. We need to feel valued, safe, significant, successful, cared for, held and encouraged. We also have to have justice, trust, joy and so on. It's when someone gets in the way of one of these vital requirements that the fury comes.

Next, we learn about the Jungian concept of shadow selves. Have you ever had the sensation of a stranger walking into a room and feeling suddenly gripped by absurd levels of hatred? This, says Fisher, is what happens when we encounter a person who is exhibiting one of our shadows, those qualities we possess but that we repress or deny in ourselves. Do you hate arrogant people?

Greedy people? Or is your baciête-noire the obnoxious, ungrateful or slutty? Well, welcome to yourself.

We're also told there are two types of angry people - explosive and implosive. Implosive people rage on the inside. They tut, sneer, shake their heads, doodle violent sketches. So, just because

I rarely shout, I learn, it doesn't follow I don't have a problem. I'm an imploder, Fisher tells me. And they can be just as scary. A sentiment my girlfriend, I realise, understands.

As day three begins, I'm not sure what to think. I've realised I am angry, albeit implosively. But it's

a noxious combination of an unfair world and an unpleasant me that's to blame. And how does Fisher think he's going to solve that? By telling me to live a life that's "authentic"?

"Anger is the symptom," he says. "And shame is the cause. Everyone here suffers from what I call 'toxic shame'. Shamers feel like they have been somehow cursed, that they're not like other people. They think, 'I am flawed and defective as a human being', and, 'If you really knew me, you wouldn't like me'." I don't make notes for this bit. I don't need to. Plus, I'm concentrating all my efforts on trying not to cry.

"We avoid facing our own shame," Fisher continues, "by using such behaviours as " He turns and writes on the board: perfectionism; control; resentment; criticism and blame; moralising; self-contempt and contempt for others; patronising; envy; indifference. "Each of these behaviours focuses on another person and takes the heat off us. You need to practise what I call 'radical authenticity'. You need to accept that the authentic self is often not very nice. But by accepting your shadow-self, you're accepting your humanity.

"We start out life being absolutely who we are and loving who we are. But what happens is that people project all this shit onto us. And we start to learn we're either too much or too little; too big or too small; too clever or too stupid; and we learn very quickly that these behaviours are inappropriate. And then we learn how not to become ourselves."

The final exercise is called the Detour Method. When we find ourselves overreacting to an ordinary situation, this is supposedly a sort of pain-response to a buried trauma. The theory is that if we can identify what's hurting when we spin into a fury, then we can start to "heal". As the class breaks up into pairs, I am freshly dubious. We've been asked to relive a recent angry occasion, decide how old we "feel" and then summon up an incident that occurred at that age. This, apparently, will reveal the sore that's still weeping, causing us to go defensively mental when it's touched. "But aren't we trusting that the subconscious will present us with a relevant memory?" I ask. "How do we know it's not just throwing up a random negative recollection simply because I'm requesting it to?" Fisher smiles dreamily. "You've got to trust the process," he says.

So I try. I remember the last time I became angry. It was three days ago. My girlfriend and I are remortgaging our flat and it involves a lot of tedious form-filling. Ordinarily, all matters of import are left to me to deal with. On this occasion, though, I asked her to complete the application. First she didn't bother. Then, after three nags, she just filled in the bits she could do off the top of her head. When I'd completed the rest of it and posted it, she got a call from a property valuation company to organise a visit. Her response? She gave them my name and mobile number. "It made me feel totally unsupported," I say. "Totally alone."

"How old do you feel?" asks my partner, following the precise Detour Method script. "Um, 14?" I say, making it up as I go along. "What happened when you were 14?"

A still from an incident I haven't considered for years flashes up. It's nothing, really. I don't even know why I still remember it. "We were in the car, on holiday, looking for a bike rental shop," I say. "My dad was angry because we couldn't find it. He was saying, 'Somebody help me'. I saw a road we hadn't been up, a narrow one on a steep hill. He tried it and scratched the paintwork on the door. Then he started shouting - saying it was my fault. My mum told me to apologise, which I did. Then, later that day, she called me downstairs from where I'd been hiding in my room. I thought she was going to say sorry to me, because it obviously wasn't my mistake. But she scolded me some more and made me go out to Dad and apologise again. I just felt totally unsupported. Totally alone."

In that moment, I see the link. And, undeniably, it's powerful. That feeling of having no-one on my side. It's exactly what it was like when my girlfriend let me down. Over the past three days I feel as if I've been on a reverse journey to the inside of myself. I've gone from bitterly blaming the world for making me unhappy, via my current relationship, back to a half-forgotten memory from 18 years ago. Three outwardly unrelated experiences, all of which appear to be connected by the same fear. Abandonment.

IN THE SIX WEEKS FOLLOWING THE COURSE, THE furious homunculus who's been driving my brain is noticeably more serene. Before, I'd spend my hour-long cycle to work gnawing obsessively at some problem, having fantasy arguments in my head. Now I recognise this is just anger "coming out sideways". So I take the time to fathom what's really making me angry, isolate the fear beneath it, then allow myself to be authentically scared for a while, to "sit in the discomfort of my hurt", as Fisher would have it. And - to my amazement - it seems to work.

The biggest test of all, though, came eight days ago, when I was informed my job was going to be made redundant. As I type this, I'm petrified. I feel like I want to run away from everything. But things at home have clung on admirably. Previously, I would have withdrawn so far into myself I'd have virtually lost the power to speak. The sulk inside our small flat would have been gigantic. But I've tried to talk to my partner about how I've been feeling and - bar an "explosive" incident last night when I stormed out and later found myself sitting in a car park - we're getting through this well. And, best of all, my girlfriend tells me she's not been scared at all.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Seven Deadly Sins-Anger

By Nicole DeVendra

Most people can identify with the deadly sin of anger. It's hard not to be mad when something doesn't go your way. Too much anger, however, can actually be bad for your health.

Many people view the younger generation as full of rage. In his book "The Seven Deadly Sins of College Students," English professor Thomas Benton writes: "Seemingly more often than in the past, professors encounter students who are angered by challenging assignments, which they label - with bureaucratic self-assurance - 'unfair' or even 'discriminatory.' When students do not succeed, they sometimes conclude that their professors are 'out to get them' because of some vague prejudice."

Psychology major Leah Paul believes our generation's anger has been handed down from past generations.

"I think there is a lot of expectation from our generation to go and change or fix what generations in the past have done. I know I would be angry if something my grandparents or great-grandparents did was put on me," said Paul.

Computer Science major Grant Dennis is not sure he agrees that the present generation is angrier than those in the past.
"It's kind of hard to really tell since I don't know many people from previous generations, with the exception of my parents. Obviously violence is way more prevalent in society as a whole.

As for how much angrier this generation is compared to previous, I really can't say. I don't tend to be an angry person so I try to surround myself with others who are as laid back as I am," said Dennis.

Whether or not you agree with Benton's view of college students, it is a proven fact that unresolved anger can be damaging to your health. According to the Better Health Channel, unresolved anger can cause many problems, including headache, digestion problems, insomnia, increased anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, skin problems, heart attack, and stroke.

Wendy McGonigal, Director of Student Health Services, confirmed that these symptoms can be caused by anger, and added that these are some of the same symptoms associated with stress. McGonigal believes that unresolved anger is related to stress.

"For most people anger is short-lived. Your body can't maintain that level of anxiety for too long," said McGonigal. According to McGonigal, in her own experiences anger leads to higher blood pressure and increased heart rate. It can also cause an increase in stomach acid, and therefore stomach problems.

McGonigal believes that some people who get angry don't have a "check system." These are people who get physical when they are angry. McGonigal added that alcohol also reduces your ability to control anger, and may lead to physical violence.

McGonigal said that anger management classes are now a popular way of dealing with excessive anger.

Counseling and Wellness Services suggests that anger can have emotional as well as physical side effects.

"Anger results in an increased emphasis on self-centered wants, often at the expense of others. Anger can also create misperceptions that you are acting in a justified manner and decreases your awareness of alternatives, inhibiting your ability to solve the problem. When angry, we also often have difficulty attending to other emotions, restricting the ability to resolve painful emotions," according to the Counseling and Wellness Service's website.

To let go of the anger and move on to the virtue of composure, Counseling and Wellness Services can be a major asset. The website above contains dos and don'ts for dealing with anger, and has links to other resources for letting it go.

Students can also schedule an appointment with a counselor for free to learn things such as relaxation techniques and constructive ways to deal with anger. Students have twelve free sessions per academic year.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Anger has a biological as well as behavior basis

DEAR FAMILY: My brother has always had a temper but he's gotten worse in the last few years.

He is one of those people who always blames everyone else for making him mad. He has become very critical and negative about everything and everyone. He's had so many jobs I couldn't begin to count them and there was always the same story -- he would get mad at his boss or a co-worker over something he thinks they did to him. I thought that when he finally took early retirement that it would be better, but now he doesn't have any money because of them cheating him out of his rightful retirement.

His grown children avoid him. It was so bad for them when they were kids that both of them left home as soon as they graduated from high school, and his son never comes home. My sister-in-law is this quiet mousy woman who just looks totally beaten down. She was always quiet but now she just looks like she would break if you said the wrong thing. I have tried to be friends with her but she doesn't like to go out. I'm certain she never says anything to my brother about his temper.

Our elderly mother is in the last stages of her cancer and is dying. He has been saying ugly things about the doctors and has run off two of the women who were caring for her because of his mouth. I am worried that when she dies he's going to be even worse. I have enough on my plate without having to work around him, too. Is there anything that I can do to help him? I do love him but there are lots of times I just really don't like him or the way he talks and acts. -- STUCK ON ANGER

DEAR STUCK: Anger itself is a normal emotion; however, when it gets out of control, as you have described, it can be most destructive. I believe that anger management has to start with the questions, "Does your brother believe he has an anger problem?" and "Does he want to get better?" If the answer to both is "yes" then lots can be done to help him, but if the answer to either is "no" then nothing can be done to help your brother. Some people enjoy their anger and live a life wherein they use their anger to control and intimidate others. Of course, as you so clearly observe, they never "win" because normal people will avoid them.

Let us assume that your brother answers "yes" to both questions. I like to start by separating out that which is more biologically/genetically based from that which is behavior or "choice."

Was there alcoholism or depression in your family of origin? Were there others in your family of origin who were angry, negative, or who had a temper? Those are clues to a biological basis for anger. With or without a family history, anger in males is often associated with depression. That is, an angry, critical, negative male is often experiencing depression. Common symptoms of male depression include: anger and frustration; violent abusive behavior; losing weight without trying; taking risks (such as reckless driving and extramarital sex); loss of concentration; isolation from family and friends; avoiding pleasurable activities; fatigue; loss of interest in work, hobbies and sex; alcohol or substance abuse; misuse of prescription medication; and thoughts of suicide. The biologic sources are commonly treated with an anti-depressant. Your brother could see his family doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist for appropriate medication management.

That part of anger which is related to "behavior" is most efficiently addressed by a trained professional therapist who can help identify triggers and then help develop healthy appropriate responses. The counselor can also help him identify and implement coping techniques to help him calm himself before responding. There is lots that can be done to help with anger management if a person wants the help. Encourage your brother to seek help.