“I’m just flaming angry!” (But why?)

Take another look at the image. Frightening, don’t you think? In preparation for an article on anger, I looked at numerous face images, but none could convey the emotion like the wave of fire you’re looking at. Let’s chat…

I’ve presented pieces on anger before; however, it’s been a real issue for me lately. So I wanted to share some of my relief research. I mean, I can’t imagine anger isn’t a dilemma for most anyone (whether they know it, or not) who’d visit chipur.

Let’s handle our business in two parts, beginning with the foundations of anger. Now, I’m packing 10-pounds of goods into a 5-pound bag, but such is education and growth. Right?

So, okay, just why do we become angry? Oh, sometimes it’s as simple as something not going our way – it happens. But within the context of chronic, or pathological, anger; I’m thinking the roots travel just a bit deeper.

How ’bout we take a look at two perspectives – the psychoanalytic and the cognitive? I think you’ll find our chat interesting (and it may just ring a few bells).

The 20th century French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, believed we generate aggression as a psychological defense against the threat of something known as fragmentation – a sense of losing control over self-cohesion. Simply, falling apart at the seams. Here’s his rationale…

Lacan believed a sense of cohesion is often a ploy to mask our innate vulnerability and weakness. If he’s right, it makes sense that any outside force would hold the potential to yank our masks and expose the terrorizing truth regarding the ever-looming possibility of falling apart.

So the self-defense continues in the form of presenting the illusion of power – right at our fingertips. And that supposed power is aggression, so often expressed and received as anger.

Then there’s the psychoanalytic defense mechanism known as regression. It’s generated by the ego, the great mediator between the id (the HQ of our primal drives) and the superego (our social conscious). Regression forces us to give the heave-ho to healthy and mature coping strategies in the face of intense internal distress.

So in lieu of using age-appropriate management strategies, we unconsciously elect to revert to patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior from a stage of psychosexual development in which we’ve become fixated. Now, this fixation could take us back in time to anywhere from birth through late-adolescence.

Fascinatingly, the stage chosen for the reversion is generally one during which some sort of major unresolved conflict or trauma occurred. By the way, Sigmund Freud (Uncle Siggy) named the psychosexual stages oral, anal, phallic, latency period, and genital.

Now, what I find plausible here is the possibility that we’re unconsciously holding onto pain and anger in a misguided attempt to reconnect with the person(s) who inflicted wounds, and generated trauma, during a developmental stage in which we’re fixated. And this occurs in a hopeless effort to achieve a wrap, and a sense of healing.

Indeed, even though the regression and fixation traps us within the walls of intense distress, they at least bring us close to the scene of the crime, and the perpetrator(s). And being at least “close” equates to having a shot at resolution.

Does any of this connect with you?

Without as much detail, let’s hop over to the cognitive theory side of the fence. The cognitivists would submit that anger is an incredibly powerful emotion grounded in a real or perceived event. They’d go on to say that anger’s presence in our lives may be generated by any combination of genetics, life-experience, poor conflict-management skills, and learned behavior.

And they’d likely suggest when we’re angry we blame others, and situations, for all of the hubbub; as opposed to taking responsibility for our misguided expectations. Indeed, if the events at hand don’t jibe with our perception and expectation of the way things should be – boom – all hell breaks loose (as in the image).

Like the psychoanalysts, the cognitivists would remind us that anger is a deeply rooted defense mechanism that protects us from a variety of situations from which rescue is perceived to be necessary. Hence, its power and energy aid in both emotional and physical survival.

So that can be a good thing, but the downside is when anger becomes horribly mismanaged and taken beyond the boundaries of its biological and psychological purpose. It then becomes incredibly dangerous.

Phew – how ’bout it??? Tons of stuff. Well, let’s put the brakes on Part 1. But be sure to come back tomorrow and we’ll apply all of this theoretical psychobabble to our lives. Deal?

Anything on your mind thus far? Sharing is caring, so why not comment?