Monday, May 31, 2010

Symptoms of Anger Problems--Part II

Symptoms of Anger Problems--Part II
This is the second of two articles on the general symptoms
of anger, and the problems they reflect. Please read the first
article before this one. To continue...
You will be able to “re-compose” faster and more
completely if you are not already burdened by unexpressed
anger. This is where there is already a bunch of anger
lurking in the back of your brain, just waiting for a
tinderbox to ignite it. In this case, even a little
annoyance will launch a tirade. Why? It’s called
piggybacking, but I’ve also heard it called stockpiling or
gunny sacking. You are compromised psychologically because
there are unconscious, unexpressed feelings hiding under the
radar of your awareness. These drain your mental energy,
literally, leaving you with less resources to deal with
present irritations. Then, a little “something” comes
along and triggers a little anger, but the whole truckload
of historic anger comes out, riding on the coattails of
littler event. That’s when dropping the buttered bread on
the kitchen floor causes you to yell and scream at anyone in
sight. I've seen people destroy furniture over a broken pencil
point. All those hidden feelings erupt in a fury. While
the chronic build up of unexpressed anger usually takes awhile,
its expression (“discharge”) is relatively quick. The
diagnostic here is that the explosion is disproportional to the
current stressor.
There are broader problems that can be tied to poor anger
management. Related or “secondary” problems often include
over-indulging in alcohol and/or drugs and then getting into
“trouble.” Trouble includes getting DUI’s (DWI’s, 502’s,
depending upon the state where you live), ending up in the
hospital from injuries incurred while drinking in general
(physical mishaps) or driving intoxicated, or from fist fights.
Following this are financial sequelae. If you get into
fights and/or accidents and/or drink too much, then crash, you
probably are going to end up in jail with your car impounded, or
in some situation that may escalate. The fight that was “your
fault” or the accident that happened while you were “under the
influence” will potentially cost you legal fees, lost wages due
to “time off” to attend court hearings, etc. These are big
Divorce is often the end result of chronic anger, finally
expressed through the dissolution of a longer-term affiliation.
Lack of anger control produces many, many problems generally for
relationships. Individuals who cannot manage their feelings in
general, or anger specifically, or the affect resulting from any
strong feelings rarely escape contention with partners. And,
the closer the partner, the more likely the anger or other
negative feelings will be expressed on or to them. It will for
sure have “some” effect. (As I like to say, the planet closest
to the sun receives the most heat.) People in couples counseling
usually and frequently have at least one partner who struggles
with anger. Domestic violence almost always is the result of
anger management failures and is one of the leading causes of
divorce. Having an affair ends relationships about fifty percent
of the time, and almost always it has a lot to do with unexpressed
anger. The resulting financial burdens after dissolving the
connection with your spouse can be huge.
Business relationships suffer from lack of effective affective
communication; that is, the successful processing of ongoing
tensions, in this case. Like divorces, business partners often
“call it quits” after a fight that expressed long-standing
differences and frustrations. Again, status and finances can
Inmates in prisons, who are “in” for crimes involving
aggression, usually have some kind of anger management problem.
(If they did not have one before entering jail, they often do
after.) Often their entry point into “the system” stems from
domestic violence or from illicit drug use or related activities
(selling, crime); again, often related to the problematic
experience of some form of anger.
Work problems, anxiety management problems, depression and
addictions (to anything) all are touched by this phenomenon.
Usually, when anger is uncontrolled, havoc reigns.
On the more minor side, if you “fly off the handle,” even
with a neighbor, the relationship may end up “strained.” You
might have to find another person from whom to borrow that next
cup of sugar.

-Dr. Griggs

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