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Anger Information


Some common styles of anger:

1) Anger avoidance. Sally says she'll meet Joe for lunch. She doesn't show. It's the third time in a row, but Joe doesn't get angry. Of course not.

Joe never gets angry, he says. He might be afraid of anger or of losing control, or he might think anger is bad. He stays calm, but he doesn't get angry even when something is wrong, so anger doesn't help him survive. He can't be assertive or say what he wants, and usually gets walked over by others.


2) Sneaky anger. The church ladies want Ruth to make sandwiches for the social next week. Ruth has other plans, but she says OK. The day of the picnic comes, and no Ruth. When they call, she says she forgot.

She doesn't let others know she's angry, and hardly knows it herself anymore. The anger comes out sideways. She frustrates everyone, and doesn't tell anyone about her resentments. So she loses track of her own wants and needs, and doesn't know what to do with her life.


3) Paranoid anger. Howard loves Millie. But he's scared he'll lose her, so he follows her everywhere. He grills her, and flies into rages when she glances at other men. She's just told him, if he can't control his temper, she's breaking off the relationship.

Howard feels irrationally threatened by others. He expects attack and guards what's his. He feels insecure, and trusts no one.


4) Sudden Anger. Martha's mom tells her she expects her to move out of the house one day, and Martha is instantly furious. How dare she! Martha yells and throws things, and pounds on the walls. Her rage only lasts a few minutes, but by then her mom is crying and running out the door.

Martha feels a surge of power, and she feels relieved. But she risks losing control, and being dangerous to herself and others. And she damages things that can take a long time to repair. Peoples' feelings get hurt, homes get broken up.


5) Shame-based anger. Bill picks Mary up from a movie, and forgets to ask her how she enjoyed it. She thinks to herself, "That's proof he doesn't love me. If he cared, he'd want to know about my day. This burns me up!"

The slightest criticism sets off Mary's shame. She feels worthless and unlovable, so she tends to take anything negative as proof she is. Which hurts so much she lashes out. She blames and criticizes others, and wants revenge against people who've "shamed" her. She ends up attacking the people she loves, and feeling worse about herself.


6) Deliberate anger. William wants sex tonight, but his wife says no. He pouts, and accuses her. He's so angry he looks like he's losing control. When his wife gives in and says she'll go to bed with him, his anger vanishes.

Deliberate anger is planned. Wiliiam likes controlling others, and getting his way by threats. This works for awhile, but it breaks down in the long run. People don't like to be bullied, and they figure out how to escape or get revenge.


7) Addictive anger. Melinda is a rageaholic. She's bored and depressed a lot, and once in a while she blows up. "I feel alive when I get into a fight," she says.

Anger is emotionally exciting, and rageaholics like the rush, the high. The addiction is painful and damaging in the long run. Anger addicts forget any other way to feel good, and tend to pick fights. Their anger tends to take on an all-or-nothing character.


8) Habitual anger. Every night, like clockword, Ralph comes home and starts screaming at his kids. He's angry before he gets in the door. The kids give him that "There he goes again" look, and it's like pouring gas on the fire.

Ralph gets angry often, about little things. He wakes up grumpy. He goes through the day looking for fights and expecting the worst. He's gotten trapped in anger, and he's lost all hope of being close to people.


9) Moral anger. Joan's always fighting for a cause. Whatever it is, she's certain she's on the side of justice. She gets furious with people who disagree with her. She feels she has a right to be angry when someone has broken a rule. She feels outraged and wants to punish.

She suffers from black-and-white thinking, and refuses to understand people who are different from her. She has rigid ways of thinking when compromise and understanding would work better.


10) Hate. Mona is going through a divorce. She's on the stand now, testifying against her husband. You can see the hate in her eyes. She'd say anything to hurt him.

Hate is congealed anger. Haters often act on their urge to punish. Mona gains the feeling that she is the innocent victim. She creates a world of enemies, and attacks them with great vigor. Hate causes serious damage over time. Haters become bitter and frustrated, and their lives become small and narrow.


11) Healthy anger. Anger is normal, and it's a signal that there's a problem. Healthy anger is expressed in moderation, is used to solve problems, and is temporary. Healthy anger usually ignores the less important provocations, in order to focus on the important ones. Healthy anger is used to protect myself, and to get what I want without hurting others.



From: Letting Go of Anger, by Ron Potter-Efron, MSW and Pat Potter-Efron, MS, 1995, New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Oakland, CA., pp. 6-13.



Here's a version of Anger Styles you can download:

Download 20-Anger_Styles.rtf