Up
4 Faces of Anger
Going Postal I
Going Postal II
Going Postal IIIa
Going Postal IIIb
Going Postal IIIc
Alarming You
Lean n MEAN 1
Lean n MEAN 2
Managing Anger
Injury to Insult
Challenging Authority
Down & Outraged
Gaining Control
Guilt Buster
Styles of Anger

Styles of Anger

 What's your first thought when you read the word "ANGER"? Frustration? Yelling? Violence? Avoidance? Out of Control? These are typical audience responses. Why so many negative associations? Try this question: Did you grow up in a family where it felt safe and secure expressing your angry feelings? How about when you were the target of other family members' anger? Does "safe and secure" come to mind or, more likely, feelings of fear, shame and "Oh, shit!" (If "deep doodoo" comes to mind, I'm sorry, it wasn't that rough.)

 When I ask these "family anger" questions to 50-100 workshop participants, less than a handful respond on the "safe" side. Of course, seeing the isolated hands, I observe, "About the same number of people who show up for the annual 'Adult Children of Normal Parents Convention.'" Based on my personal and professional experience, I suspect not many folks have had good anger role models.

 Well, let's get personal. How do you rate on "The Stress Doc's Seven Self-Defeating Styles of Anger" Index? We'll begin with three:

 1. Plan to Get Even. When you've been unfairly treated or criticized (or, at least, feel you've been) do your eyes widen; perhaps, you have a ghoulish grin? Endorphins have nothing on the biochemical rush as you plot revenge! Bring on the costarring role in Nightmare on Elm Street Part XIX? Or do you simply and stealthily retaliate through gossip and innuendo? Perhaps you're into prevention: "Screw it to others before they can even think about screwing it to you!"

 2. Consuming Anger. Do you try drinking or eating your anger away or is it so consuming it's eating away at you? Maybe you try controlling your hurt and rage through pseudo saintliness or by spouting artificial affirmations - fast food for thought - instead of compulsive eating? If so, these lines from "The Self-Righteous Rap" may strike a chord:

 Are you a martyr in self-imposed prison? Denying your needs becomes "heaven's vision." When you've been hurt you just quietly pray But wish you could scream: "Go ahead...Make my day!"

 3. Intellectual Intimidation. "Oh, you don't really believe that, do you?" "What's wrong with you?" "You should have done it this way." "You are so disappointing to me!" (Restrain me, please.) Know any one who is into "acc-y ou-sations"? Are you a "blameaholic"? The intellectual bully's techniques range from finely judgmental observations to condescending characterizations. Probably a graduate from "The Institute for the Compassion-Impaired." There's a competitive edge to the aggressor that's often a cover for self-doubt or a win-lose, dominant-submissive survival strategy. As I once penned:

 When battling for position you won't stop Cause you know your place -- you're always on top!

 "Competition vs. Compassion" reminds me of a "dueling egos" exchange with my younger brother, a research psychologist; not a therapist. One day, I was telling Larry about some difficult work I had done with a family, some family interventions that I thought were both creative and effective. Upon hearing my description, my brother pipes in, "You should have said such and such to the father." I was struck by the witty but pretty insensitive suggestion, and grimaced. Seeing my expression my brother quickly pounced, "What's the matter, you afraid the father would punch you out?" At this point I counterpunched. "No, I have a higher standard of plagiarism!" (Definitely a graduate of that Compassion-Impaired Institute. Just kidding, lil' bro.)

 Next time, I'll provide two more of the "The Seven Self-Defeating Styles of Anger." So stay tuned...or else ;-).

 Just remember...Practice Safe Stress!
 (c) Mark Gorkin 1992 Shrink Rap Productions

 

 Feedback Segment: How about sharing your thoughts on how you, friends or colleagues use humor in dealing with stress, conflict or moods, yours or others, in your personal life, at home or at work? HFTE will run the best stories and, of course, credit you. (And the real lagniappe, you become a member of the Stress Doc's Stress Buster's Club.) Also, email me to learn more about "The Stress Doc's" serious and humorous on-line support/chat group -- "The Frequent Sighers Club.

 Mark Gorkin, "The Stress Doc," Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is a nationally recognized speaker, workshop leader and author on stress, reorganizational change, anger, team building, creativity and humor. The Stress Doc is a columnist for the popular cyber-newsletter, Humor From The Edge. Mark is also the "Online Psychohumorist" for the major AOL mental health resource network, Online Psych. His motto: Have Stress? Will Travel! Reach "The Doc" at (202) 232-8662, email: Stress Doc@aol.com, or, of course, this website.

Self-Defeating Styles of Anger: Part II

 Part I outlined three dysfunctional anger styles: "Planning to Get Even," "Consuming Anger" and "Intellectual Intimidation." I also quoted a few lines from my favorite "anger" Shrink Rap. Let me introduce two more irate styles in ironic style with the opening of "The Self-Righteous Rap."

 You didn't know life is all right or wrong? You're victor or victim or just don't belong There is no question, life's but bleak or white Forget ambiguity when hooked on Freud-lite.

 What happened to subtlety and shades of gray? The world's drinking and shrinking its brain cells away. The rage that's stirred by mental oppression compels this Shrink Rap regression confession.

 Do you recognize these two complementary styles?

 4. Frequent Flasher. This reactive individual is a fiery flame thrower who's quick to be triggered. The "Flasher" doesn't just expose himself (not a pretty sight) but he is often feeling exposed as well. I've labeled this explosive type the "HE MAN." Driving this aggressive, impatient, hyper person are two underlying complexes, which are thinly disguised with sparks and smoke: "H" stands for "Humiliation," due to oft perceived rejection, feeling shown up and deep-seated unworthiness. And "E" is for "Emptiness," brought on by separation anxiety and feelings of abandonment. (And please, I don't discriminate. A HE MAN can be either male or female.)

 But there's hope, if we can acknowledge our problematic style. I recall a US State Department Manager who finally realized he had to control his temper tantrum throwing inner child. He came up with this strategy. In the middle of a typical, increasingly heated blood starting to boil meeting, Mr. Manager would suddenly announce, "Excuse me, I just remembered, I need to photocopy some documents. I'll be back in five minutes." He'd leave his startled antagonist, walk outside or find a deserted office or bathroom, shout some expletives and then return. Now he could deliver his anger in an adult manner.

 5. The Holy Smolder. Some people try holding back their anger being aware of their Mount St. Helens potential. Others feel a show of anger is a weakness; either you've allowed others to get to you or it's a sign of your being out of control. Such a primitive display. (And with that rigid and righteous thinking, you wonder why some folks are early candidates for heart attacks.) So they smolder away until they implode (high blood pressure, major depression) or explode ("Volcanus Eruptus" Syndrome). And the latency between eruptions invariably decreases.

 The susceptible person here is often the "SHE MAN," the psychic partner to the "HE MAN." The "S" stands for "Savior." This individual isn't much of an individual, more one who blindly and self-righteously upholds "the one right way." This Savior Style reflects or rewards servility more than civility. Always ready to sacrifice or give advice...at a price - unquestioned loyalty and everlasting appreciation - that you are expected to pay. (Of course, The SHE MAN can be a "nice guy" as well a "good girl.") And like the HE MAN, the SHE MAN's overdependence with and upon others has a covert purpose: to distract from feelings of "Humiliation" and "Emptiness."

 So, if you are starting to blow a SHE MAN cover with righteously explosive outbursts, be careful. With a cycle of smoldering and fiery flaming you will only make an ash of yourself.

 I'll finish up the anger style profile next time. Until then, just remember...Practice Safe Stress!

 Feedback Segment: How about sharing your thoughts on how you, friends or colleagues use humor in dealing with stress, conflict or moods, yours or others, in your personal life, at home or at work? HFTE will run the best stories and, of course, credit you. (And the real lagniappe, you become a member of the Stress Doc's Stress Buster's Club.) Also, email me to learn more about "The Stress Doc's" upcoming serious and humorous on-line support/chat group -- "The Frequent Sighers Club.

 Mark Gorkin, "The Stress Doc," Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is a nationally recognized speaker, workshop leader and author on stress, reorganizational change, anger, team building, creativity and humor. The Stress Doc is a columnist for the popular cyber-newsletter, Humor From The Edge. Mark is also the "Online Psychohumorist" for the major AOL mental health resource network, Online Psych. His motto: Have Stress? Will Travel! Reach "The Doc" at (202) 232-8662, email: Stress Doc@aol.com, or, of course, this website.

(c) Mark Gorkin 1992 Shrink Rap Productions

 Self-Defeating Styles of Anger: Part III

 Today's column closes out my seven styles of immature or debilitating anger. The previous two newsletters presented: 1) Plan to Get Even, 2) Consuming Anger, 3) Intellectual Intimidation, 4) Frequent Flasher, and 5) The Holy Smolder. And now, last but not the least dysfunctional:

 6. Silent or Tearful Impasse. This style can range from the pouting to the spouting. Stony silence or aggressive detachment can be a potent weapon. Let's use the popular example of a certain TV watching habit: men's and women's contrasting styles and power struggles over the remote control. Hey, it's not just the male species having an extra, latent ADD chromosome. Focus on the name of the weapon. Dysfunctional anger, as much as deficit of attention, may fuel the desire to be REMOTE and in CONTROL.

 There's another common misguided expression of anger; this time, unfortunately, women seem more susceptible. Instead of clear and direct anger, only tears burst forth. This individual, ironically, remains bottled up. She can't or doesn't know how to channel her aggression into emotion-laden and focused energy and words.

 Guys, especially you overbearing and condescending Type As into "sarcasm"...not all your targets are shedding tears of fear or simply expressing easily hurt feelings. Some of these women (and men, as well) are likely more shocked and incensed by your insensitivity or (clueless) cruelty. Reminds me of a new legal secretary whom a senior partner had verbally abused for an oversight. After tearfully regrouping in the bathroom, she stormed into Mr. Abuser's office and forcefully said, "I don't even let people talk to my dog that way. You sure aren't going to talk to me that way!" (I thought of a variation on a scheme. One could go back into the temper tantrum tyrant's office and start barking. When he wonders what is going on, just declare, "If you're going to treat me like a dog, I may as well start behaving like one! Also, don't pull rank. I may play 'the bitch,' but you are just a 'son of' one.")

 7. Passive Aggressive. Chronic lateness, persistent procrastination or, "Oh, I'm sorry. I guess this is the third time this week that I forgot the report you asked for. Just had too many big projects on my plate." (Notice the subtle dig. And you wonder why dishes get thrown.)

 And speaking of aggressive passivity, there's the bane of my existence...the "yes, butthead." I mean the chronic "yes, butter." But there's hope. Social psychology research suggests a potentially successful counter strategy. First, especially with emotional issues, resist trying to hit quickly your antagonist with contrary facts or logic. Encourage the doubter to extol his or her position and to take your argument apart. Acknowledge the other's position before advancing your own. The reality is we don't just argue facts, but also the status and power aspects of a relationship. So, if we can allow people who say, "Yes, but" to rebut Even if they are a pain in the... (Butt you know what I mean.) We just might get them to say, "But, yes."

 A "yes, but" off shoot and an all too familiar power struggle, comes to mind. I recall my friend Paul's classic comment to his wife Betsy: "I don't mind paying the bills. I just don't like it when you tell me to pay the bills." Well at least it's aggressively passive, with a narcissistic touch.

 Ah...true love! On that note, how about an aggressively stylish close with a variation on 'Tea for Two." Tenaci-Tea for Two: The Narcissist's Version: You for me and me for me. Oh how nurturing you will be. Forget "to be or not to be?" Just simply think of ME, ME, ME!

 Just remember...Practice Safe Stress!

 Feedback Segment: How about sharing your thoughts on how you, friends or colleagues use humor in dealing with stress, conflict or moods, yours or others, in your personal life, at home or at work? HFTE will run the best stories and, of course, credit you. (And the real lagniappe, you become a member of the Stress Doc's Stress Buster's Club.) Also, email me to learn more about "The Stress Doc's" upcoming serious and humorous on-line support/chat group -- "The Frequent Sighers Club.

 Mark Gorkin, "The Stress Doc," Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is a nationally recognized speaker, workshop leader and author on stress, reorganizational change, anger, team building, creativity and humor. The Stress Doc is a columnist for the popular cyber-newsletter, Humor From The Edge. Mark is also the "Online Psychohumorist" for the major AOL mental health resource network, Online Psych. His motto: Have Stress? Will Travel! Reach "The Doc" at (202) 232-8662, email: Stress Doc@aol.com, or, of course, this website.

Feedback Segment: How about sharing your thoughts on how you, friends or colleagues use humor in dealing with stress, conflict or moods, yours or others, in your personal life, at home or at work? HFTE will run the best stories and, of course, credit you. (And the real lagniappe, you become a member of the Stress Doc's Stress Buster's Club.) Also, email me to learn more about "The Stress Doc's" upcoming serious and humorous on-line support/chat group -- "The Frequent Sighers Club.

 Mark Gorkin, "The Stress Doc," Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is a nationally recognized speaker, workshop leader and author on stress, reorganizational change, anger, team building, creativity and humor. The Stress Doc is a columnist for the popular cyber-newsletter, Humor From The Edge. Mark is also the "Online Psychohumorist" for the major AOL mental health resource network, Online Psych. His motto: Have Stress? Will Travel! Reach "The Doc" at (202) 232-8662, email: Stress Doc@aol.com, or, of course, this website.