Monday, May 31, 2010


In my capacity as an outpatient psychologist, I run
into eight or so conditions every day. These include
depression, anxiety, self-esteem, assertiveness, etc. All
of them are exacerbated by the unsuccessful management of
anger. In my recent ebook, I describe two general types of
anger management phenomena, which are summarized here.
The first is Type I anger management problems. This
category is when people fail to control their anger and then
act it out, usually impulsively, often accompanied by the use
of alcohol and/or drugs, often manifesting in violence, domestic
or “other” sequela. The predominant mode of expression of
anger in Type I anger problems is explosive. It usually
involves the outward expression of too much anger, and
usually results in people getting into trouble. Type I
anger dysfunction is much more often seen in men than women,
but not always.
There is also what I call Type II anger management
problems. I think of it as a subtype or minor version of
anger management failure. The dynamics are similar, even
if the outward behaviors are not. Type II is the exact
opposite pattern of behaviors seen in Type I people; yet,
the root of the problem is the same. Type II anger
management folks don’t express anger directly, sometimes
not at all.
These people express most or all the other major
feelings (sad, happy, love, hurt, fear, disgust, shame and
surprise), but not anger. Of the eight other feelings,
hurt and sadness seem to predominate. When it comes to
anger, these people are blocked. Instead, when they feel
angry, they, one, probably don’t know it because they have
suppressed it for so long, or two, they do something else
and don’t realize there is a connection or link between their
behavior and anger.
As described in other articles, suppression is the
conscious effort to push something out of awareness. When
suppression is used over and over, the brain, literally, begins
to do this automatically. Then we no longer have the conscious
experience of that feeling because it has been automatically,
unconsciously removed. When this happens, we no longer are
aware of what was suppressed. Now, we call it repression.
Then, when (angry) feelings occur, people really don’t know it.
They behave in “other” ways to express this feeling.
For example, high anger repressors often are stoic, or easily
burst into tears. In the latter case, crying “leaks” out
anger, but there is little, usually no awareness that anger is
being expressed by crying. These people often claim to
experience sadness or hurt, because crying, by stereotype is
commonly understood to express these feelings. They will not
admit to anger because for some, usually historic reason(s),
anger is forbidden, whereas sadness and hurt are not. Hurt
may look like anger when it is expressed because it has many
of the same behavior patterns, but the feeling of hurt is
fundamentally different than the feeling of anger; hence it
is allowed. If anger has been “snipped” from awareness, the
experience of anger is then legitimately denied. The
predominant mode of expression of anger in Type II anger
problems is implosive. Type II anger dysfunction is much
more often seen in women than men, but not always.

-Dr. Griggs

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