22

Aug

Anger is a powerful and often misunderstood emotion.  Everyone experiences angry moments.  That is a natural human emotion.  How these  expressions are expressed, when they are expressed, to whom they are expressed to, and the intensity of the expression determines if it is a problem. What also helps define the severity of an anger management problem is the consequences associated with it.  There are many people who have gone through life being known to have significant anger management issues. they may have actually benefited from having this problem. In the sports world (going back a few years), Mike Ditka,  Bobby Knight, John McEnroe,  Carlos Zambrano, and Metta World Peace. For celebrities  the list would include, Nicholas Cage, Shia LaBeouf, Alex Baldwin and Charlie Sheen to name a few.

All these individuals (and many more) all have one thing in common. They have anger management issues yet have not had significant consequences because of them. In fact, some of these individuals may have actually enhanced their careers because of their difficulties in managing their anger, or at least perceptive that to be the case. The same situation could exist in other settings as well. There are executives who believe that their volatility  helps motivate those under them. Fear and intimidation (as the belief goes) could motivate people to work harder (research actually supports the contrary). Asking these individuals to change their ways, most likely will not be seen by them as a goal to work toward.

Anger management takes effort and motivation to change. However there has to be an investment in change for that to happen. When addressing anger mismanagement we need to access whether or not their expression of anger is providing benefits for them. A example of this would be a teenager who gets angry when parent(s) ask him to do something. The parent may be intimidated by this and reluctant to ask him to do things. In this case, the teenagers behavior (expression of anger) has created a reaction that is favorable to him. Other examples could include a husband or wife backing off pursuing certain lines of questioning when their spouse gets angry. If the angry spouse does not like being asked or held accountable for certain things, this will benefit him/her.

To create change in a behavior there needs to be motivation or investment in change. For a family member wanting this type of change, it is important to understand and try to take away benefits associated with this behavior.  If possible try to attach negative consequences that might create the motivation to change. For the adolescent, it may mean presenting things in a different manner. For example, “I am asking you to take out garbage. This seems to have angered you and you yelling or swearing at me tells me that you are having a difficult time managing your anger. If you go up to your room and show me that you are back in control of your emotions, you will be allowed down stairs again and can continue to watch TV (after you take out garbage).  Interventions would need to be matched with the person and situation. The key is going to be