What is Anger Management?

Anger management is a phrase that has become more prominent in recent years thanks to a number of uses in popular media, including the name of a theatrically-released comedy. However, the exact term is one that may still not be fully understood, especially to those who are not sure if they actually need this type of assistance.

What is Anger Management?

It is a term from specific training techniques that helps keep a person calm and in control of their emotions despite the anger or frustration that they may be feeling at the time. Since anger usually results from feelings of frustration, being blocked or opposed from doing something we find important, learning to control the feelings provides the pathway to resolution.

Anger itself actually more of a defensive response despite the aggressive nature of the feelings being experienced. This is because the anger may be masking fear or the belief of being powerless or vulnerable in a given situation. The purpose of the anger management approach is to help people identify the reasons for their feelings of anger through analysis and bring them under control so that they do not take over someone’s better sense.

The History of Anger Management

Although the term itself has seemingly been around for just a couple of decades, the practice of anger management goes back thousands of years in human history. Ancient philosophers as well as religious men wrote about the negative effects of anger and how it needed to be curtailed. In fact, Seneca the Younger who was born in 4 BC wrote that people should avoid inciting anger in those who are anger-prone and preventing situations that might lead to confrontations in with the results could not be predicted save for the rise in anger.

The middle ages would also provide many examples of philosophers who would promote self-control in terms of addressing angry disputes among the people. The story of St. Francis of Assisi and the Wolf of Gubbio is but one of several from the era.

In the modern world, anger management techniques started to become popular in the 1970s thanks to more focus by psychologists looking to help people control their emotional outburst. The term Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was born during this time and its development led to the anger management techniques that we see being used today. It is the combination of stress and anger that must be dealt with in a positive manner lest it affect the very health of the person who cannot control their emotions.

The Most Likely People to Suffer from Uncontrollable Anger

Although people with issues in handing their anger, there are certain groups that are more likely to exhibit these symptoms that others.

  • Bullies
  • Violent backgrounds
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Substance abusers
  • PTSD
  • Brain injuries

It’s not to say that people with these conditions are automatically in need of anger management, but a substantial number of those who have uncontrollable anger have one or more of these conditions in their past. These are strong indications that someone who has bouts of anger will need to recognize and potentially address through behavior modification techniques.

However, when brain injuries are the root causes they may require stronger treatments as behavior training may not take hold. In this case, seeing a physician that may provide the proper medical treatment in order to restore the chemical balance in the brain may be necessary.

The Reasons for Managing Anger 

While everyone will get angry, there is a difference between the occasional outburst that is quickly reigned in and incidents that keep building on themselves until the person actually loses control of their emotions and actions. There are medical reasons such as migraines, disabilities, and even post traumatic stress disorder can cause people to let their anger get control of their judgment.

Also, there are psychosocial issues such as living in a situation that causes discomfort or stress. Over time, such conditions may lead to losing control of emotional responses that will require anger management therapy. Although both types of causes are different in nature, the type of treatment is often the same.

Treating Anger Properly

Most anger management treatments use non-medical or no prescription drugs and instead are focused on the patient training themselves to become more aware of situations where their anger gets the better of them and controlling it. Such techniques include the following;

  • Breathing exercises
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Imagery and cognitive reconstruction and more

The several types of therapies that have been developed over the years come from different sources. For example, the study of families in the Air Force led to the technique known as Prevention & Relationship Enchantment Program. In this case, families were assigned to a specific set of management techniques that were designed to diffuse situations before they blew up into out of control events.

The Cognitive Behavior Technique works to open up the patient about the sources of their anger and trying to address it with positive techniques that will curb their tendency to overreact. Part of this technique that is used for children is called Anger Diary Writing. This allows children as well as adults to translate their feelings of anger into words so that helped diffuse the aggression and identify the sources of their frustration.

Another technique popular with children is the use of Positive Mentalization. Through the use of short sessions, students were able to help control their anger and put themselves in a happier mood while interacting with their fellow students. Personal Development helped promote better self esteem and overcome the feelings of limited self worth which was often causational in their bouts of anger.

In the end, proper anger management techniques will help those who cannot control their feelings by putting them into perspective so that they can separate their rational mind from the emotional outburst.  By addressing the issues directly and using positive techniques, many people who suffer from seemingly uncontrollable bouts of anger can be successfully treated.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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