Sunday, August 22, 2010

Anger: a Primitive Defense

     What, exactly, is anger? Does it serve a purpose beyond that of spectator entertainment ? Is it a primary or secondary emotion ? For most people, when they think of anger, what comes to mind is either the stereo typical picture of rode rage or a child throwing a tantrum.  However, to me, when I think of anger, I think of deep seated, gut wrenching pain. Why then, one might ask, is my concept of anger so different from that of other peoples ?
     Anger is a great deceiver, and it's costume du jour is to act out in an outlandish manner that will have it's audience, both public and private, believeing it's own press. However, no matter how Oscar worthy the performance, I cannot help but be aware that it is just that, a performance.  Believe it or not, the display we often witness is a primative defense designed to protect the vulnerable feelings of someone who is unable to express themselves in a manner that would have them acknowledge a deeper, more tender emotion.
    A few years ago, I would have been fooled too. In fact, it was not until I was an undergrad at a local community college, that I began to suspect the true role of anger in peoples lives. One of my favorite professors, a very wise man to be sure, once posited that feelings were neither right nor wrong, they simply were. Over the years, the concept of emotion for emotion' s sake stayed with me, and as I began my graduate work the meaning of his words took shape, and all of a sudden I understood. Anger is bluster, a secondary emotion used to deny the more significant feelings associated with primary emotions such as pain, hurt, vulnerability, etc. What I ultimately have come to believe is that emotions, for many individuals, are scary, and that it is much easier for people to turn to anger than it is for them to allow themselves to feel what is underneth their anger.
     As I have continued to work, I have come to believe more and more that far too many people are afraid of their feelings; and as such, they take refuge is the more primitive act of anger, which is in essence a form of denial. How then, could I possibly help people reconnect with their deeper feelings and inevitably achieve a sense of balance?
     Although time has a rhythm all it's own, the beat that was metered out on my road to great adventure was the creation of North Valley Anger Management Consultants, a community based firm dedicated to assisting people with understanding the role of anger in their lives; and ultimately, to assist them with identifying their feelings underneth the anger and then appropriately express and integrate their emotions.