Expressing aggression by fighting, screaming or pounding walls is a myth.
The fact is that this only encourages further aggressive outbursts.
Angry outbursts, both verbal and physical are on the increase in our society. This can cause enormous misery among relatives, colleagues and innocent bystanders.
Anger, excessive rage or aggression can result from a build up of stress, lack of negotiation skills, chronic low self-esteem, addiction, brain damage, fear, traumatic experience or conditions related to what is known as ‘the autistic spectrum’.
Anger used in the right context is a resource that nature gave us to defend ourselves, our families and our territory. It is part of the fight or flight response, which evolved to help our survival. This stress response prepared us to fight (anger) or flee a dangerous situation. So, by whatever action was taken our bodies would automatically burn up the stress hormones and then return to normal functioning. This is fine when it occurs occasionally. However when the fight or flight response is being fired continually due to excessive anger, this can have serious consequences for our health, including:
- Hypertension – (high blood pressure)
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Damaged or blocked arteries
- Aggravated heart disease
- Increased susceptibility to infection
- Longer recovery from major trauma to our body (such as operations and cancer
All people, including children, only suffer from excessive anger if something is not working in their lives. Therapy therefore focuses on finding out what is missing or malfunctioning, and then helping that client get their life back on track. The first step is showing the client how to calm themselves down by using breathing techniques, relaxation and visualisation. Next the client is encouraged to develop an awareness of negative, hostile and resentful thoughts that are churning around in their head – their own ‘self-talk’. This is achieved by applying the following:
- ABC technique: Awareness – Block – Challenge these thoughts
With practice this eventually enables the client to take a new perspective on a situation that previously would have resulted in an angry out burst. This is called reframing and is one of the most powerful psychological techniques for changing behaviour.