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Anger Management

Date: 7 February 2005

MIND MATTERS By Dr Rajinder Singh Ladies and gentleman, almost everyday we read in the newspaper of some violent incidents, which was the result of an angry situation. We read of anger shown on the road in the form of road rage and road bullying. We hear of anger at home in the form of spouse abuse, wife battery and child abuse. We hear of anger at the work place in the form of assault and causing hurt. We even hear of anger in entertainment centre and on the sports field. And we hear of anger shown in romantic relationships in the form of crime of passion. Many of the violent crimes that are committed in the country today such as murder, rape, robbery and assault are caused by aggressive out bursts in people who are in a state of anger or rage. Very often we read in the newspapers or watch on TV anger-related incidents such as road-rage or road bullying, domestic violent at home where the spouse or the children become the victims or even at entertainment centers when people get involved in a fight and in a fit or anger cause considerable damage. Even in a presumably simple and enjoyable event such as soccer, people have vented out their anger and have assaulted and killed each other. These outbursts of anger occur in all places and all the time. The sad fact is that all these are preventable. According to statistics obtained in the US the rate of violent crime is increasing every year and not decreasing even with the best of security and police intervention. Anger is a normal human emotion-like other emotions such as happiness and sadness. Some emotions are good and some may be bad. But both serve some natural purpose. In the case of anger, it is one of the most destructive emotions known to man. When a person is in a state of anger or rage he or she can unleash behavior which can be very aggressive or violent. This violent behavior leads to destruction. The social learning theory suggests that much of anger related behavior and aggressiveness is learned from personal experiences either from the past or form the experience of others. Studies have shown that violent shows on the TV or in the movies can be learned and repeated again by those who are vulnerable especially children and adolescents. Some theories in social psychology state that anger or aggression is an inborn behavior may be of biological importance in situations if such behavior is not controlled or managed properly it can go overboard and end up in unnecessary destruction and disharmony. More destructive that individual anger is mob anger which is often seen in situations such as riots, demonstrations and vandalism. These are highly destructive situations and can lead to harm masses of people and nations can be laid to ruin due to this. People, who easily get angry over the slightest stressful situations, usually have poor coping skills or some of them may even have inherent personality problems. These are the people who often end up with criminal behavior such as assault or homicide. Some of these people try to cope with these anger by self medicating themselves with drugs or alcohol and this is the long ran often leads them to become drug or alcohol dependants making the situation worse. Anger is related to temper and how temperamental we are depends on many factors, such as our genetic make-up and personality and other factors such as learned behavior from our past experiences and from environmental influences. All these factors have to be taken into account when people are treated in the management of their aggressive outbursts. For example it is a well known fact that alcohol and certain drugs have a disinhibitory effect on our natural inhibitions. So a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs may not be able to inhibit or restrict his or her angry outbursts in a particular situation and this is often the result of numerous violent incidents in entertainment centers and domestic squabbles. Another cause of anger or aggressive behavior is frustration, when people are frustrated for some reason or another they tend to show outbursts of anger. The anger may then be projected directly on to the frustrating object or person or it may be displaced on to some other object or person. This often results in damage or destruction to the receiving party. These is such a thing know as “low frustration tolerance”. People with this attitude are unable to tolerate even low levels of frustration in their daily lives and easily get irritated and angry in everyday situations. These people suffer all the consequences of increased stress. Therefore it is important to learn how to maintain a high degree of frustration tolerance for personal well-being. Finally some form of aggression or outbursts of anger may also be due to brain injury or disease. Though these are extreme cases and often rare, they too need to be addressed and the affected person needs to be treated medically. Examples of such diseases are Epilepsy, some brain tumors, schizophrenia, manic states and psychopathic personality disorder. These conditions are treatable and therefore their aggressiveness can be handled. Frustration, pain insults, humiliation and aversive experiences often arouse anger. Therefore situations which provoke such feelings should be curtailed. For example the person or object on whom the anger is directed usually suffers damage in the form of physical or psychological injury but the person who gets angry also suffers in turn both physically and mentally. Physical damage caused by prolonged anger can lead to medial conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, gastric ulcers, ulcerative colitis, migraine, exacerbation of asthma and other psycho-somatic disorders. Psychological damage in people who get angry easily can lead to problems such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, hysteria, self-mutilation and suicidal behavior and drug and alcohol abuse. People who easily get angry also suffer form social problems such as poor interpersonal relationships with others, marital problems, occupational problems and financial ruin. They are often shunned by their colleagues and this result in greater psychological damage to them. Some of the medical conditions seen in hospitals are anger related incidents such as assault, wife battery and child abuse; often we see cases in the A&E department where someone is brought in because of anger unleashed upon him or her by someone else. Thus it is of utmost importance that all parties concerned learn to manage and deal with their anger and eliminates any angry situations that may arise. Learning to manage anger will definitely prevent physical destruction and psychological problems in people.

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