Flying off the Handle
Assuredly we may, at different times and under different circumstances find ourselves angry, miffed, annoyed, irritated and even downright furious. When such anger is a reaction to a specific event and is a logical response, it is normal and you are fine. However, fellow mental health professional, Karen K. Brees, PH.D reminds us that mental health is measured on a continuum…and so is rage.
Professor Sandra Thomas of University of Tennessee adds, “If you get steamed but never release it, you’re eventually going to blow like a shaken can of soda. Suppressing anger isn’t healthy”
A study she coauthored showed that older women who expressed their anger-albeit in healthier ways than blowing their top-had lower levels of the inflammatory markers that are linked to cardiovascular disease.”
What else happens to us when
Anger is Turned Inward?
The famous Dr. Sigmund Freud coined the phrase– Anger Turned Inward. Beginning with this iconic of a man, psychotherapists have since noted the frequent connection between anger and depression. Mental health professional, Dr. Joseph Burgo, American Psychological Association, agrees, “Anger often lies at the heart of certain forms of depression. It may be felt as nothingness; a numbness in which meaning may be completely destroyed- a “flattening” of emotion. In that case we may feel no interest or motivation to do anything.”
Somehow, anger must be expressed.
Anger Turned Outward
What happens when you fly off the handle?
Whether anger is a problem often turns on whether or not other people agree with you that your anger, and the actions you take in the name of your anger, is justified. Angry people most always feel that their anger is justified. However, other people don’t always agree. The social judgment of anger creates real consequences for the angry person. An angry person may feel justified in committing an angry, aggressive action, but if a judge or jury of peers do not see it that way, that angry person may still go to jail. If a boss doesn’t agree that anger expressed towards a customer is justified, a job may still be lost. If a spouse doesn’t agree that anger was justified, a marriage may have problems.
Why Do I Suddenly Fly Off the Handle?
In a phrase- pain, depression, anxiety…vulnerability
Dr. Harry Mills, “Part of the transmutation of pain into anger involves an attention shift – from self-focus to other-focus. Anger thus temporarily protects people from having to recognize and deal with their painful real feelings; you get to worry about getting back at the people you’re angry with instead. Making yourself angry can help you to hide the reality that you find a situation frightening or that you feel vulnerable.
In addition to providing a good smoke screen for feelings of vulnerability, becoming angry also creates a feeling of righteousness, power and moral superiority that is not present when someone is merely in pain. When you are angry, you are angry with cause.”
Again, we hear from Dr. Brees, who offers a way out, “Generally you’ll find socially acceptable ways of venting this anger. Appropriately expressed anger is healthy. Repressed anger or inappropriately expressed anger is not. There are numerous ways to release this energy. Punching a bag, running, playing sports, singing, dancing, recreation, gardening- anything that lets you exhaust this negative energy and leaves you feeling cleansed, works to keep your anger managed. This process is called catharsis.”
Most mental health professionals recommend that you talk with family and friends. But they are just that, people who love and care about you. They are able to give you love and support, but not therapy. Their opinions can make you feel better for a while- even when those you harm forgive you. Others may offer well-intended advise (“cool down”, “snap out of it”, “take a chill pill”, or even “pray for forgiveness” etc.)
You need to seek trained and experienced therapists or counselors to give you what you need.
This is where Counseling on Demand comes in. You need not go through this alone. With our support, you may get through these times; recognizing the roots of your anger and helping you manage it.
We can help. You needn’t leave your favorite/private place. Nor must you wait for an appointment. We are there 24/7. You can begin in 24 hours or less.
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