Friday, January 18, 2008

Spirituality and Anger Management

If we are to effectively manage anger it, and all affects (fear, depression, paranoia etc) must be addressed at three levels: biological, mental and spiritual. So far, unfortunately, those who teach anger management mainly do so from cognitive-behavioral perspective and leave out the biological and spiritual aspect; their result is not impressive. The methodological approach to anger management explicated in this paper works. You be the judge for yourself.

Most human beings experience anger but some of them are especially prone to anger. In treating these people, myself included, I found the usual anger management methodologies ineffective. I sought what works in healing anger, and if it works it must work for me. A healer must first heal himself before he heals other people.

In this paper I will share with you what worked for me in managing my anger and other affects. I believe that if you practiced this approach to anger management that it would work for you, too.

This approach to anger management combines regular cognitive-behavior anger management and insights from spirituality.

I do not believe that the individual can manage his anger until he has a good grasp of his individual psychology, his personality and his habitual patterns of behaviors. So far, anger management training failed because it is taught by folk who have little or no understanding of human biology, psychology and spirituality; these folk treat the individual as if he can just learn certain anger management techniques, practice them and his anger problem is gone. No, it does not work that way. To manage the individual’s anger you have to understand his body, his personality and spirituality. As long as the individual’s biological, psychological and spiritual structures are not correctly attended to he is not going to be able to heal his anger.

The Formation Of The Self Concept/Personality

Each human being has a self concept, an idea of who he thinks that he is. The self concept is exactly that, a concept, an idea. As George Kelly (1991) pointed out, in childhood each of us builds on his inherited biological constitution and social experience to formulate a self concept. Each child constructs a self concept for himself and concepts for other persons and things in his world. By age six the child’s self concept is apparent and by adolescence it is stabilized and seldom changes.

Whereas sociological factors play a role in the formation of the self concept, I assert that the self concept is largely a product of the individual’s inherited biological constitution. This is what my experience has taught me. As I see it, the self concept, aka individual personality, is, at least, ninety percent determined by the child’s inherited body. Therefore, to understand the individual’s self concept we must understand his specific biological constitution.

Once formed in childhood, the self concept affects how the individual sees everything in his world. You cannot change how the individual sees his world until you change his self concept. Certainly, you cannot manage the individual’s anger issues until you understand and, hopefully, change his self concept. However, it is not easy to change the self concept. If it were easy to change the self concept folk would change them as they change their clothes. The reason why it is not easy to change the individual’s self concept is because it is rooted in his inherited biological datum. Since, so far, no one has figured out how to change folk’s bodies (genes) no one has figured out how to change their self concepts, completely.

The individual’s self concept is not only biological and sociological in origin but also spiritual. To be born on earth each human being must separate from his original state, a unified spirit state.

Spirit is not amenable to empirical study hence science ignores it. Nevertheless, we must factor in the element of spirit if we are to understand the individual and help him change his behaviors. I do not believe that any one can heal his anger issues until he embraces some sort of spiritual explanation of his being. At any rate, I include spirituality in my approach to helping folk understand and change their behaviors.


As I see it, the self concept, personality, ego (I employ the three interchangeably), in effect, says that one is an individual and is separated from other individuals. The self concept says that I am over here and you are over there; we are separated from each other; we are different from each other; some of us are inferior and some of us are superior persons, that is, the self concept believes in inequality. The self concept does not believe in the sameness, equality and oneness of all humanity.

I am over here and you are over there; there is boundary between me and you. Our bodies give us boundaries.

Space, time and matter give us boundaries. Space is separation; I am here, you are there and there is space between us, and for each of us to reach one another he must traverse space; it takes time to traverse space. There is space, time and matter between us.

Matter, space and time are means of separation; they are means of making us feel that we are separated from each other and are individuals.

Existential separation is not emphasized enough by secular psychology. Some religions, fortunately, emphasize it. Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism (especially as represented by A Course in miracles) emphasizes it.

As Alfred Adler recognized (1907) the individual’s body can make him feel inferior or superior to other people. For example, at the race level if the individual’s body is white, considering that in our extant world white is construed as better than black, white body may make the individual feel superior and black body may make the individual feel inferior. In our extant society clearly male bodies are considered superior to female bodies. Thus the individual’s genital may make him feel superior or inferior. Some bodies are healthier than others and some bodies are more beautiful than others; those with healthier and more beautiful bodies may feel superior to those with weak and or ugly bodies. Altogether, the individual’s inherited body, given our current social reality, may dispose him to feel inferior or superior to other people.

Talking at the abstract level does not do it for me. I generally use my experience to illustrate my points. So, let me get personal. The body I inherited, black and weak, made me feel inferior to other bodies. In Adlerian individual psychological terms, I compensated with a sense of superiority. By age six I felt totally inferior; I also felt totally superior to every person around me. I have not seen a human being that I do not unconsciously feel inferior to and consciously feel superior to. This sense of superiority extends to those that society considers very important persons. When I was in my early twenties, a college student, I was fortunate to travel. I visited where so-called important persons live: such as the American President’s White house, the Catholic Pope’s Vatican, the English monarch’s residence, Buckingham palace, the former residences of the various European monarchs such as the Louvre, Versailles etc. In each of these places at the conscious level I felt totally superior to the occupant, present or past (and unconsciously felt inferior to him or her).

For the purpose of anger management it is critical that the individual understand his self concept.

In my case (which I believe is every person’s case, albeit in degrees) my conscious sense of superiority and unconscious sense of inferiority plays a role in my tendency to anger tantrums. At the conscious level, I have a grandiose self concept; I have a self structure that insists on been seen as the most important person on earth.

Given this grandiose ego structure, if I am treated with respect I feel okay with the person so treating me. On the other hand, if I am disrespected by another person I feel belittled and angry at the person I perceive to have so treated me.

My anger response is generally when I perceive myself not treated with respect and dignity by another human being.

When I feel disrespected, I do not care who you think that you are I will confront you immediately. I feel that you have no right disrespecting me, and since you did disrespect me I must show you that you do not have such a right.

So far in my life I have not permitted any one to get away with treating me as if he or she is better than me. I remember a white fellow, an accountant, who worked for the agency that I was the executive director. He treated me as white Americans generally treat black folk: with condescension. I sensed his sense of superiority to me and having confirmed that my perception is correct by asking other members of the management team whether they have noticed that the said chap disregards me I called him into my office and told him to change his patronizing ways or else go find another job. He continued his racist ways and I fired him and gave him a list of attorneys to go hire and sue me. The point is that I do not tolerate any one treating me disrespectfully.

When I become angry I feel total anger and fight to destroy that source of anger (usually a person I believe humiliated me). I experience injury to my sense of pride and feel narcissistic rage. I act out to assuage my injured vanity. By destroying the person I believe belittled me I feel my pride reaffirmed.

In effect, my anger is a product of my grandiose self concept. If I did not have a big self concept I would not be prone to the level of anger I used to be prone to.

For me to heal my anger I must understand my self concept, my ego structure, and my personality, and restructure them, as much as it is possible to do so at the cognitive level.

But, as noted earlier, the individual’s self structure is largely a product of his body and so far no one has figured out how to change the human body. Therefore, figuring out how to change ones thinking alone would not eradicate ones tendency to anger. As long as one has the body one has one must be prone to anger. Because one must be prone to anger the most that one can do is manage ones anger.

Anger management presupposes that the anger is still there but managed. To eliminate human tendency to anger we must change the human body. In the future, genetic science and genetic engineering, no doubt, would figure out a way to change folk’s genes hence change their behaviors; this happy expectation is way in the future. In the present all that we can do is manage our anger.

To manage our anger we must do so at the three levels that constitutes human beings on earth: biological, thinking and spiritual.

The individual must understand his ego structure, his self concept, and his personality. When the individual understands his ego structure he can resolve to restructure it and if he succeeds he would no longer be prone to unmanageable anger.

At present, if you are doing something that hitherto made me angry, I would observe what you are doing and choose to not let it make me angry. Let us say that you are overtly insulting and called me put down names I would let it go by telling myself that you have a right to a negative opinion of me; I would remind me that your opinion, like all opinions, is based on your level of intelligence and education and is by no means correct. I would overlook your derogatory comments.

In the past if you dared make belittling statements about me I would let you have it. As noted, I do not care if you believe that you are the president of the world I would come at you with total force and do so to destroy you. And when I begin my attack I do so relentlessly and eventually take my opponents down.

I had to understand my ego structure, my self concept, and my personality and change them, in as much as they are changeable, before I could manage my anger. It has been a long time that I was overtly angry. These days, I just smile at those who do things that used to make me angry.

I believe that if you have anger issues you must do what I did: understand your ego structure as well as learn anger management techniques.

Conventional Anger Management Techniques Summarized

In traditional anger management training (see Black, 2006) they teach you to understand what makes you angry (which, generally, is anything that frustrates your goal attainment). Human beings pursue goals and whatever prevents them from achieving them makes them feel disappointed. When human beings feel disappointed they feel angry; anger is largely an emotional force aimed at removing the perceived obstacles to ones goals.

Anger has physiological responses so the individual has to understand how his body feels when he is angry. Anger, like fear, makes the human body react in a certain manner. The moment an individual feels frustrated hence angry his heart pounds fast; his body releases sugar which blood carries to his muscles preparing them to fight the perceived cause of his anger.

In anger the individual feels as he feels when he is in a state of fear: rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, rapid movement in his nervous system (information is sent to the brain where it is processed and feedback as to how to respond to the source of frustration is given); the individual’s muscles feel tense and prepare him to fight; his fists are clinched, his face feels red (as blood rushes to it); the individual talks rapidly and does everything rapidly; the cortex or rational part of his brain apparently shuts down and the hypothalamus, the animal part, takes over; the individual is now a pure animal who feels attacked and is counter attacking, is defensive so as to survive. In anger the individual feels his life threatened and fights back, attempts to survive as a biological organism. Anger is the fight part of the flight- fight response in fear response.

In traditional anger management the individual is taught to recognize what makes him angry and to know when he is feeling angry. For example, if some one is saying something that denigrates your sense of dignity and you feel psychologically attacked, you feel angry (as shown by rapid breathing, fist clinching, tense muscles, rapid talking, desire to physically lash out at the person who made you angry). When the individual recognizes these physiological symptoms of anger taking place in his body he can do something about them.

If you recognize the symptoms of anger coming on, the best anger management technique is to get away from the presence of the person you believe is making you angry. When you walk away from the stimulus making your body react with anger, apparently, the neurochemicals released by your body in preparation for anger response calm down.

Taking a walk when you feel angry is the best way to relax your body. When your body is relaxed, the fight neurotransmitters go back to their neuro-receptors, you can then think calmly, which is more likely to be rationally than you would when you are angry.

If you cannot get away from the source of your anger, count to twenty. Counting is a way of engaging your cortex, the intellectual part of your brain in abstract activity, to counteract the hypothalamus, the animal part that wants to fight back. By counting to twenty, preferably backwards, to make it difficult, you give your brain something challenging to do rather than engage in the less cerebral fighting that anger disposes to.

If angry, you should take deep breathes. Breathe in and out and count your breathing. Do so for a few minutes. Watch yourself breathe in and out. Deep breathing relaxes your tense body hence diffuses your anger.

If angry you should visualize beautiful sceneries that ordinarily make you happy. I used to imagine myself running on a beach (I love running on a beach) and that would make me calm down. Alternatively, I would imagine me walking in a bush, hiking (I love hiking). I also imagined myself in rose gardens; admiring roses generally makes me feel good.

If all these fail I would think about a book I read, what it said, and try to concentrate on its content rather than the person I think is making me angry.

Clinching ones fists, tensing and releasing them tends to relax ones muscles, muscles that had tensed up in preparation for attack.

In addition to the above behavioral aspects of anger management is cognitive restructuring. In his cognitive behavior therapy Albert Ellis (1962) teaches that it is not what is happening in the environment that makes one angry, or fearful or depressed but how one interprets it that makes one so. Different persons react differently to the same stimulus.

If a white person called a black person nigger, his intention is to attack the black person’s self esteem, to lower it. If the black person is other-directed, is dependent on social approval, that is, has low self esteem he may feel devastated by such name calling. On the other hand, a black person with high self esteem would shine off the derogatory name calling. Whether you feel fearful, angry or sad therefore is a product of your internal cognitions and not only what happens out there in the environment.

Epictetus, a Roman stoic philosopher predicated his philosophy on the idea that it is your thinking, your mentation, your cognition, your interpretation of events that affects your emotions not the events themselves.

Epictetus was a slave. His philosophy is a slave’s philosophy that enables slaves to accommodate themselves to their master’s abuses and insults. If your master insults you, you can take his insults with a smile on your face. This is what black slaves did to their white masters. The properly socialized slave, Sambo, Negro, smiled as sadistic white folk humiliated him.

Obviously, such a response perpetuates the abusers behavior and encourages oppression and slavery. Nothing heals an abuser better than a smack right across his face. If you hit a person who hit you and make him feel the pain he inflicted on you that quickly heal him of his sadistic joy in hurting other people. Slavery was not stopped in the Roman Empire by Epictetus’ accommodating method; slavery is always stopped by the slave standing up and fighting back and if need be killed rather than accommodate slavery.

The point is that Ellis approach to anger management is useful but also problematic. Sometimes fighting back is the best way to deal with angering situations. It is when black folk stood up and fought their racist oppressors that the later stopped abusing them. I do not teach accommodation and tolerance of abuse. If a human being abuses you, stand up to him and demand that he stop doing so, demand that he treat you with respect and dignity and if he persists in degrading you then launch at him with as much physical and psychological force as you can muster. Force changes behavior, quick.

Clearly, if one has anger issues, one ought to practice cognitive-behavioral approaches to anger management. What I want to add to that approach is self knowledge and spirituality.

Know who you are. This means know your self concept, your ego structure and your personality. To know your ego structure you must know your body. It is helpful if the individual took a personality and intelligence test to ascertain his personality type and level of intelligence. The MMPI and WAIS are validated tests with good reliability results. Certain personality types tend to be more prone to anger than others; others attempt to repress their anger but exhibit them in passive-aggressive ways. The accepted personality disorders are paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal; narcissistic, histrionic, antisocial and borderline; avoidant, obsessive-compulsive and dependent. (I have explained these in other places.)

As noted, body largely determines what the individual thinks and does. So study your body and know what it makes you do.

Body And Personality Are Related

In my observation, the ego, personality, and body are not only related but are the same thing. If you have a tendency to anger it is a product of your body. Body affects your ego structure, your personality.

For you to heal your anger (or any other affect, such as fear, depression and paranoia) you have to figure out a way to calm your body. These days some medical doctors give angry (and or anxious) persons anti anxiety medications, such as Xanax and valium etc. These medications do calm the individual’s body and therefore reduce his propensity to anger, for anger is expressed in excited body. Whatever calms the body reduces anger. Systematic relaxation exercises reduce anger. Even alcohol calms the body and reduces anger. However, alcohol is not a recommended anger management technique because alcohol dis-inhibits the individual and this may lead to aggressive behavior.

Body and personality are synonymous hence anger can be treated with medications as if anger is a physical disorder. By the same token we do treat the other affects such as anxiety, depression, mania, paranoia and schizophrenia as if they are physical disorders. Medicinal treatment of mental disorders presupposes that they are physical disorders and they are. These days most mental disorders are approached from a biochemical imbalances perspective. Schizophrenia is seen as resulting from too much of the neurotransmitter dopamine; mania is seen as resulting from too much of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine; depression is seen as resulting from too little of the neurotransmitter serotonin; anxiety is seen as resulting from too much of an unknown excitatory neurotransmitter or too little of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA. Medications that treat these disorders aim at balancing the putative unbalanced neurotransmitters. The various neuroleptics tend to reduce brain dopamine, anti mania medications tend to reduce brain norepinephrine, anti depressants tend to increase brain serotonin and anxiolytics tend to increase brain GABA. Along this line since anger and fear (anxiety) are really the same affect some believe that anger has to do with whatever neurotransmitter is implicated in anxiety disorder. Thus, some psychiatrists treat anger as an anxiety disorder with anxiolytic medications. Whatever works is fine. The side effects of these medications, however, are too severe to make them the first option in treating anger.

I would rather wait until we discover the genes involved in anxiety, anger and mental disorders in general and use genetic engineering to alter them to bring about change in human behavior.

The Spiritual Aspect Of Anger Management

The individual’s ego, personality and body are the same. When the individual dies his ego, personality and body dies. When I die my body, personality, ego and self concept dies and are gone forever.

What survives physical death is not the individual’s body, ego and personality but the life force in him. That life force is not physical. Folk call that life force spirit, so I will call it spirit, though it is nameless, for what is named and defined is limited; the life force is limitless.

Elsewhere, I delineated my ontology. Let me summarize it here. We are spirit. As it were, spirit goes to sleep and in its sleep dreams that it is a separated self housed in body and lives in space and time.

Our real self is unified spirit. Unified spirit is eternal and immortal. Unified spirit is infinite in number. Unified spirit is the same everywhere; it is equal everywhere and is one.

When aspects of unified spirit decided to separate from it they go to sleep and in their sleep dream that they are a separated selves housed in bodies.

Spirit appears in body and ego and is seem on earth as you and I. When the body dies spirit continues existing as spirit but not as the ego and body it had lived on while on earth. (My religion, if it must be called religion, is similar to aspects of Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism etc. However, what I am talking about is not something that must be believed. It is something that is self evidently true. Any one who so cares can verify the existence of spirit. That subject is beyond the scope of this paper. I have covered it elsewhere.)

For the individual to heal his anger he must understand his self structure in an objective, dispassionate, impersonal manner. He is not to be sentimental or moralistic about it. He must also understand something about spirituality, for human beings are at root spirit.

In the here and now world, some persons have monumental, grandiose self concepts. Such persons are born that way; better still, their bodies made them that way. There is nothing any one can do about it. Their bodies and big egos are neither good nor bad, it is simply the way they are.

Science studies things as they are without making value judgments as to whether they are good or bad.

Empirical observation, science, shows us that some persons have big self concepts, big egos and that others have small egos, small self concepts.

I recall me during the Nigerian civil war. I was a teenager. At a certain point during the war, Biafran soldiers would go from house to house seeking boys, as young as fourteen, to conscript into the Biafran army. Occasionally, these soldiers came to our house to search for boys to be conscripted to the army. The other boys would go hide. Instead, I would stand at the gate to our house and order the soldiers to get the hell out of our house. The fact that they were carrying guns and intimidating folk meant nothing to me. No man born of woman has ever intimidated me. I do not fear death and if those soldiers decided to kill me it would not have deterred me one bit.

Folk felt at a loss that a mere boy was asking heavily armed soldiers to get lost. If I wanted to join the army I would do so willingly but no man born of woman could make me do what I did not want to do. You cannot terrorize and intimidate me into doing what I do not want to do. This is not some youthful oppositional defiant disorder where a boy is in power struggle with authority figures and wants to seem the powerful one. I simply must be consulted before a person told me what to do. I do not tell other persons what to do and do not accept other persons telling me what to. I am the ultimate democrat for all social decisions, as far as I am concerned, must be done by consensus. Dictatorship is something that I cannot countenance.

This is the advantageous side of having an indomitable ego. The negative aspect of it is intolerance of others belittling behaviors.

Everything has good and bad sides to it; all we have to do is study everything objectively without emoting about them been good or bad. Moralizing about the negative aspect of big egos is silly. It is those with big egos, if put to positive use, that bring about positive changes in this world.

Those with big egos can, unfortunately, put their indomitable egos to destructive purposes. Adolf Hitler was one such person.

To reduce your anger you have to understand your ego self concept. Ultimately, to manage your anger you have to have some spirituality. Elsewhere I have written on what to me constitutes real spirituality. Originally, we were and still are one spirit; we decided to separate from oneness and manifest as separated selves. We invented space, time and matter to enable us experience separated ego selves. Each of us used body, space and time to construct a separated self for himself, to form his personality. (All these are metaphors, of course.)

To not feel angry one must eliminate the desire for separated self and return to unified state, to unified spirit self, our true self. In unified self one is in peace and joy. Unfortunately, one cannot be in unified state and still be on earth. One can momentarily experience unified spirit, in meditation, but if one chooses to return to living in our world of space, time and matter, one must return to having a separated ego self concept hence identify with body and be prone to anger. As long as we live in body, space and time we must have egos and therefore be prone to anger and ought to learn anger management.

The Ego Must Be Defended To Seem Real To Us

That which is real needs no defense to make it real. On the other hand, that which is false needs defense to make it seem real in the defending person’s mind.

The separated, special self, the ego, the human personality needs to be defended to seem real in its owners eyes.

If the ego is not defended it does not exist, for it, in fact, does not exist. The ego is a mere dream figure. Each of us sleeps and forgets his real self, spirit self, and in his sleep dream that he is a separated self housed in body. The ego personality is a made up self, it is not real, it is an imaginary self we invented to replace our real self. The ego is a replacement self, a substitute self; our real self is unified spirit self. Because it is a false, imaginary, fantasy self the ego must be defended (with the various ego defense mechanisms) to seem real to us.

I had to defend my big self to make it seem real in my awareness. Defense of the false ideal ego self, as Karen Horney (1950) pointed out, gives one anxiety. If I did not defend that sense of big self it did not exist, for, in fact, it does not exist; it is an illusion, a delusion, a figment of my imagination.

All ego selves, big or small, are fictional selves we invent and wear and pretend to be and defend them.

Try not defending your ego, your idea of who you think that you are and see what happens. You feel peaceful and happy.

Practicing ego defenselessness makes you recognize that you are not the ego, not your self concept, not your personality, indeed, not your body.

Who you are, in fact, is the son of God, a part of God, a part of Spirit who goes to sleep and in your dream of self forgetfulness dream that you are the self concept, the ego self and defend it. You present an imaginary replacement self to the world to relate to and collude with people to relate to it and they do the same with you. All of us mutually deceive ourselves.

If you do not identify with the ego, big or small, and other people do something to insult, humiliate, degrade, belittle the ego you would not feel a thing. You would not feel angry. What would interest you is to state the truth as you see it.

Last year, I jostled with a bunch of Nigerians from a certain tribe that was on an ego trip. They constructed fictional important ego selves and pretend to be them and ask all people to collude with them and see them as they want to be seen, as very important selves. Indeed, in their delusion, they ask other people to see them as their superiors! Imagine that some sons of God asking other sons of God to see them as their superiors! In God we are the same, equal and one. It is insanity to want to see ones self as better than other persons.

I told these misguided egotists that they were dancing a childish ego dance and that in reality all people are the same, equal and one. But as egotists they could not handle the idea of human equality, they wanted to be seen as special and superior to other persons. They saw the person asking them to accept our equality as an enemy.

They must have called me every insulting name they could imagine. Usually their vocabulary is limited, so they called me the same names over and over, again. Their goal was to put me down, to make me seem silly so as to justify feeling their ego arrogance.

Let me observe that during my egoistic days, I felt totally superior to them. During my arrogant days, I did not associate with these folk for they seemed like primitive savages.

The ego lives in darkness where it hatches lies and lives them but the light of truth shines away both the ego and its lies.

Because I did not identify with the ego I did not feel insulted by this name calling folk. Instead, I saw them as amusing little children to be taught some needed lessons in reality. I persisted in stressing the truth of our equality and these folk now know that it is delusional for them to feel special and superior to other people and if they persist in doing so they need to be hospitalized and treated with neuroleptic medications.

(It is the desire for specialness, the desire to seem inferior or superior to other persons, the desire to create ones self and make one better than other persons that led us to separate from God and from each other and invent this world of differences and inequality. It is, therefore, difficult for folk to give up their wish for specialness. In this light whoever asks folk to give up their delusional sense of superiority is seen as an enemy and attacked. I understand why the tribal men perceived me as their enemy; like Satan they see Christ as a threat to them, to their fictional sense of superiority. Truth cannot hide from lies, thus I persisted in stressing the truth while they made their bleeping noises.)

The point is that while other people can try insulting you they cannot succeed unless you identify with the ego. If you wish to appear important in people’s eyes then other people can make you seem unimportant.

If you identify with your real self, variously called the Christ self, unified self etc, it does not matter to you whether other people see you as important or not. You know that your true identity, Christ, is the son of God and, as such, very important and has grandeur, magnificence and worth given by God not human egos.

Human beings can do nothing to take away the worth God gave you, his son. Human beings can say nothing that can make you, God’s son, to feel up or down, good or bad, happy or depressed, fearful or angry.

If you identify with the ego you would feel like a yoyo that other people can put up or down. But the moment you identify with Christ no one can put you up or down. No one can make you angry or fearful or sad.

However, you can make yourself anxious, depressed and delusional by trying to seem important in your eyes and other people’s eyes. All our self conferred importance is delusional.

Real importance is given by God; the individual did not and does not do anything to merit his God given worth.

The ego is a replacement self, a substitute self; it is not our real self. Our real self is the self God created us as, his extension, a part of him; our real self is spirit. We separated from that spirit self and manifested in the world of space, time and matter.

Upon birth on earth the human child feels like he separated from total worth (God) and feels like he is nothing. He feels total sense of nothingness, worthlessness and valuelessness.

Since he just came from God where he had total grandeur and magnificence, obviously, he cannot tolerate feeling like he is nothing. Thus, he tries to give himself a feeling of worth.

In heaven the son of God is given worth by his father; on earth the son of God tries to give him self worth. On earth we invent egos for ourselves and give them imaginary worth.

In Adlerian terms upon birth on earth (in Otto Ranks terms, birth in tragedy) the human child feels like he has no worth, feels inferior and compensates with superiority.

Adler limited himself to secular psychology. In so far that Adler sought the causal factors involved in the etiology of our sense of inferiority he found them only in biological and sociological variables. He is partially correct, of course. But he is wrong for, ultimately, our sense of inferiority is rooted in our separation from God. God is the only source of worth for his children.

To feel inferior one must have known what superiority is. A child could not have sought superiority and worth unless he once knew what they were. The human child, prior to coming to earth, in God lived in God’s glory.


To feel angry a human being must have a self concept, an ego, a self that believes itself separated from other selves. That self must wish to be special, to be important, to be superior to other people and to create itself and other selves. The special ego self perceives obstacles to the attainment of its goals and feels frustrated and angry. Anger is largely an effort to remove the obstacles to the attainment of the individual’s goals

I build on my experience, which is the only experience I know for sure. Rene Descartes observed: Cogito ego sum, I think therefore I am; I think that I exist, therefore, I exist. The only experience I know for sure is my experience, not other folk’s experiences. What other folk tell me is their experiences are what they tell me and I have no way of verifying its truthfulness.

My experience shows me that I tend to be angry when I identify with an ego separated self, a special self and perceive obstacles to it. My anger is meant to protect my ego separated self.

If I did not have an ego self, small or big, I would not feel angry (or fearful or depressed etc).

On earth I do have a separated ego self. All that I can do is understand how it works and change what is changeable in it and live with what is not changeable in it.

I believe that all human beings have ego separated selves and defend them with the various ego defense mechanisms described by psychoanalysis: repression, suppression, dissociation, denial, projection, displacement, rationalization, sublimation, reaction formation, fantasy, avoidance, anger, fear, guilt, pride, shame, depression, paranoia and so on).

The ego must be defended to seem real to its owner. If the ego separated self concept is not defended it is non-existent. The ego is a false self.

Another self, the unified spirit self, invented the ego and pretends to be the ego and defends the ego.

The ego is the unified spirit self’s identity in the world of matter, space and time. When the ego is not defended it disappears to the nothingness from which unified spirit self conjured out from.

It is the ego that feels angry when it perceives its goals obstructed. One of its goals is pride. If the ego feels that other egos have attacked its pride it feels narcissistic injury and rage and fights to destroy the other egos so as to maintain its narcissistic self concept, its idea of importance.

Anger management must include understanding how ones ego responds to what it perceives as attacks on itself.

Ultimately, to heal anger one must stop defending ones ego. One must become defenseless of the ego. If one does so one feels peaceful and happy.

If one adds love and forgiveness to ones behavior repertoire one experiences ones real self, unified spirit self.

The nature of unified spirit self is beyond the scope of this paper. Let me just say that it is real, it is the real self. If you want to get in touch with your real self, the unified spirit self, try meditation.

In meditation you let go all attachments to the ego and ego concepts and stay silent. You desist from all ego based thinking and tell yourself that no concept, idea produced by your and other people’s egos can ever tell you what the truth is. The truth of who you are, who other people are, what things are and mean is beyond ego conceptualization. Therefore, empty your mind of all ego-based thinking and become an open mind, a mind swept clean of all presuppositions and preconceptions of what things are or are not. Just keep quiet.

In silence one experiences ones true self. That true self is ineffable, it cannot be explained in language for speech is designed for communication in the world of separated self, whereas the real self is a unified self and needs no speech.

The unified self is one self and simultaneously infinite selves. Each of us is a self in unified self. There is no you and I in unified self; there is no subject and object, no seer and seen; in unified spirit self all selves are one self; all selves have a unified mind, a joined mind. Unified spirit self is immortal, permanent and changeless; unified spirit self is all knowing.

As long as one makes up ego selves and think that they are who one is and defend them one cannot experience ones true self.

Anger management includes letting go of ones identification with the ego and becoming defenseless when one believes that ones ego self is attacked by other egos, persons.


As Helen Schucman (1976) observed, the ego is a false self, a replacement self, be it the ego that accepts its inferiority (as slaves do) or the ego of superiority. The ego must be defended to seem real in our eyes. We use guilt, shame, pride, anger, fear, paranoia, depression and the other mental illnesses to defend our egos. If not defended the ego disappears from our awareness.

That is correct, if you do not defend your sense of separated ego self it disappears for it was never there to begin with. What is always there is the unified spirit self, the Christ self.

If you did not defend your ego, is defenseless when other people attack your ego, you would experience the peace and joy of unified self.

Nobody can attack your ego unless you invited him to do so. In inviting other people to attack your ego you have given yourself an opportunity to practice defenselessness and forgiveness. In overlooking what the other ego did to your ego you have simultaneously overlooked your own ego; in forgiveness you pronounce the ego not real. In doing so you experience your real self, which is part of unified spirit self. But as long as you defend your ego you cannot experience your real self, unified spirit self.

Let go of your ego and experience the peace and joy of living as our father, God, created us.

If you let go of your ego your affect is no longer a yoyo, no longer determined by how other people treat you.

For example, in the past I used to feel belittled doing what I called menial jobs. In college I did some of those kinds of jobs. But now I do not mind doing any kind of work. My ego is not invested in social prestige. I work to serve people. However, I only do work that I am interested in and have aptitude in. I am doing my kind of work by sharing this information on how to manage anger from biological, cognitive and spiritual perspectives. Pass on this information.

Dr Osuji can be reached at The Center for Love Directed Living, CLDL. He provides workshops on assorted subjects and does so from a spiritual psychological perspective. He can be reached at (206) 529-4745. email:

Daybreak Counseling Service

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Anger Management Strategy: Record the Episode

By Counseling Connection

To begin the management of anger, both counsellor and client require an understanding of the client’s expressive patterns. This can be achieved by encouraging clients to complete an Anger Episode Record. This is a record of each trigger, appraisal, experience, expressive pattern and outcome the client encounters during an established time period.


The target for my anger was:
The situation surrounding my anger was:


The thought I had about the trigger was:


The intensity of my anger was (mark a cross on the scale)


mild moderate extreme

Expressive patterns

I engaged in the following behaviour during this anger episode:

Aversive verbalisations (yelling, arguing, threatening etc)
Physical aggression (kicking, punching, throwing something etc)
Passive retaliation (doing something deliberately harmful etc)
Avoidance (escaping through TV or listening to music etc)
Substance use (drinking a beer, taking an aspirin etc)
Outcome (positive)

List the positive short-term outcomes:
List the positive long-term outcomes:

Outcome (negative)

List the negative short-term outcomes:
List the negative long-term outcomes:

The sample template (above) is an example of how a client might record this information. Recording information in this way fosters self-reflection and promotes personal awareness. Additionally, this information can act as a foundation on which cognitive approaches can be launched.

The anger episode model, illustrates the linear process from the experience of a trigger through to the final outcome. The cycle of anger presented below (image), demonstrates how this linear process is embedded within a continuous cycle of learning.

Our role as counsellors is to effectively thwart the momentum of this learning cycle by assisting clients to modify their response at one or more of the key points within the cycle.

Through the completion of the anger episode record (strategy 1), it is anticipated that clients will have an enhanced awareness of their personal triggers, appraisals and expressive patterns. Awareness, of course, will do little to alter behaviour if clients are not encouraged to engage in corresponding action.

It is therefore essential that any increase in awareness be coupled with appropriate strategies for initiating desired change.

Daybreak Counseling Service

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When pressure turns into violence

There are few workplace experiences that are so stressful as witnessing a sudden outburst of violence, even if it's not directed at you personally.

And as a UK-based stress consultant, I can tell you that Dubai is likely to see a disturbing rise in these incidents, because similar factors are increasingly at play in both countries.

The main factor is undoubtedly the accelerating pace of business and the pressure that it generates. Everything speeds up, including your temper. In the event of a disagreement, there is no time for simmering resentment. All the pressure is on you to get straight back to your work-station, and re-enter that crisis atmosphere that seems to dominate office life, even in the absence of any emergency. However, that is not conducive to good heath or productivity

If this atmosphere at work is continuous, then the sufferer may release all that frustration elsewhere - perhaps in response to slow service in a restaurant or waiting at the bank till. And then the waiters and tellers have to swallow their own dignity, which contributes to a whole new reservoir of stress... (That, of course, is quite apart from the possible effects on home and family life.)

This is, of course, ironic. The person whose tensions suddenly erupt into violence may not be the natural extrovert type at all. He may be just the opposite: the conformist who has simply had to restrain his feelings once too often. "Beware the fury of a patient man", someone said.

Recognised subject

Not surprisingly, Anger Management is now an officially recognised subject for study, and employers right across industry and government are seeing the benefit of training their HR department or line-managers in the relevant skills and drills.

The first step is preventative - identifying the types of environment where violence is most likely to happen, and which types of situations are liable to spark it.

Next, you need to know how to avoid the sort of dialogue and body-language that signals confrontation and challenge, however unintentionally.

Having rid yourself of these, you learn to adopt a positive attitude of openness and approachability that can prevent the build-up of conflict.

Defusing aggression

This has a lot to do with defusing aggression through Active Listening (which you may remember from an earlier edition of this column), a form of questioning that sounds less like an interrogation and more like an interview.

Active Listening is a widely-used intervention that has been shown to generate valuable trust and goodwill, and to keep up verbal momentum, so vital to the resolution of tense situations.

By adding Anger Management to your training agenda, you'll equip your organisation with a toolbox of effective strategies for dealing with angry individuals and keeping a handle on potentially violent incidents.

Key points: Violence at work

Workplace culture in UAE is moving into the danger zone for violence
In the absence of suitable outlets, stress may affect work and leisure
Anger Management can be formally studied, with impressive results

Daybreak Counseling Service