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Anger Prevention and Management

Anger Prevention and Management
Aggression and Temper

Common problems arising from anger and temper issues can involve damaged relationships, legal and court involvement, alcohol and substance use, guilt, anxiety and other emotional problems.

Secondary physiological problems can arise such as stress rashes, high blood pressure and other stress-induced disorders. Whether the person is a typical “Type A” aggressive personality or has an extreme temper issue, using a combination of practical techniques, NLP and self-hypnosis, anger and temper can rapidly be brought under control and a practical level of relaxation attained.

Without being a doormat or letting yourself be walked over, you will learn skills such as:

  • Dealing with other people’s anger and aggression
  • Dealing with difficult relatives/colleagues/employees/managers
  • Letting go of arguments and rows that should have been forgotten long ago
  • Overcoming your childhood training delivered so effectively by the angry parent(s)
  • Resolving guilt, shame and embarrassment

The “Right Man” Syndrome (developed from Vogt/Wilson)The “Right Man” may alternate with temper outbursts in order to get his own way, with diving deeply into depression when he doesn’t.  The depression is often an unwitting but effective manipulation.  Their family learns to be careful not to upset dad.

The “Right Men” are domestic household tyrants who terrorise their families but they can be found in all fields of life: in business, politics, art, culture. They are poor communicators, appalling listeners, tend to see everything in “black and white” and demonstrate a profound inflexibility.

One key feature is the “rule of permanency” – they tend to see every decision and action, error or mistake, as something that carries a permanent effect that resonates through time.

As a result, they tend to be hopelessly out of date with the current times in terms of fashion, relationships, social and cultural trends.  They also often carry an erroneously fixed and out-of-date view about whom a person is and there is nothing that person (whether it be their son/daughter, neighbour, colleague) can do to convince them otherwise.

The “Right Man” is right because he carries “secret knowledge” about the person, even though that person may themselves have no idea what the “Right Man” is referring to.  The “Right Man” tends to believe that he knows people better than they know themselves.

“Right Men” tend to “sort for error” and often give their approval/disapproval even when uninvited to do so.  These behaviours are usually seen as being rather undermining by the recipients of these actions and the “Right Man” will deny their own actions vigorously.  They only ever “intend” to be helpful.

Their ability at self-deception can be staggering to those who know them well.  Their catch-phrase is: “There is nothing wrong with me; it is everyone else that is at fault.”   (For example, they can read this description and effectively identify a “Right Man” they have known, but rarely will they identify themselves.)

In one respect they are very perceptive and are talented in identifying another person’s vulnerabilities and will exploit these to render the person less-than when this person dares to behave in a way that challenges the “Right Man’s” version of reality.One such example comes from my own encounter with one particular “Right Man” who critically stated derisively, “You are too clever for your own good and that will be your undoing.”

Essential here is that the “Right Man” must always have his way and is afraid of losing face above all (“How dare you talk to me this way?”): anything that might be an indication of his infallibility or erroneous ways, something that he can never admit.

People interacting with the “Right Man” may feel that their interaction is continually being controlled by him and that their answers and responses to him are being manipulated to suit the purposes of the “Right Man.”

One curious feature appears to be that “Right Men” tend to particularly enjoy television shows that involve people “getting caught.”  

And if things don’t exactly go his way, he may scare people into submission by breaking into outbursts of rage or downright violence.  He may demand absolute faithfulness from his woman but “play around” himself since as a God-like “Right Man” this is his divine prerogative (he thinks).

Passive-Aggressive Behaviours

Passive-aggressive behaviour refers to passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to authoritative instructions in interpersonal or occupational situations. It can manifest itself as resentment, stubbornness, procrastination, sullenness, or intentional failure at doing requested tasks.  For example, people who are passive-aggressive might take so long to get ready for a party they do not wish to attend that the party is nearly over by the time they arrive. (Wikipedia)

  • sullen contrariness with little provocation;
  • restlessness, unstable and erratic feelings;
  • the inclination to be easily offended by trivial issues;
  • low frustration tolerance and chronic impatience and irritability unless things go their way;
  • vacillation from being distraught and despondent to being petty, spiteful, stubborn, and contentious;
  • short-lived enthusiasm and cheer with ready reversion to being disgruntled, critical, and envious;
  • begrudging the good fortune of others;
  • quarrelsome reactions to indifference or minor slights from others;
  • emotions close to the surface; they may burst into tears at a small upset;
  • discharging anger or abuse at others with minimal provocation;
  • impulsivity and explosive unpredictability — making others uncomfortable;
  • ability to be pleasantly social with an expression of warm affection but then easily provoked into hurt obstinacy and cruel, nasty interaction (Millon, 1981, p. 254).

Presentation of Passive Aggressive Behaviours in Clinical SettingsI always warn my students, “Be wary of those clients who arrive in a jovial mood and singing your praises.  Be wary of clients who arrive bearing gifts.”

I have found that it is these clients who invariably turn nasty or hostile when they find that they are unable to control the interactions during the therapy setting. These clients may make an attempt at role reversal by discussing the merits, good and bad points and overall performance of the therapist (“analysing the analyst”).  From my own experience, this is most common with alcohol/substance abusers who will often speak disparagingly of all previous therapists and group work and then draw comparisons with my style and way of working.

The implied threat and double bind are, “Play my game, or I add you to the list of people who failed with me.  I will then disparage you too.”Another pattern that can be employed is that of complete passivity – the client simply agrees with everything the therapist says, no matter how contradictory the points are.

One such client sat through each session with soulful eyes staring, yet appeared completely relaxed.  He never once broke eye contact.  His communications consisted only of agreements and any attempt at eliciting an opinion of his own was met with either an unflinching silence or simply a quietly spoken, “I don’t know.”  And of course that never-ending, expressionless eye contact…His wife told me, “I feel like I want to strangle him.”  A sentiment to which I could relate quite strongly.

Another feature and pattern I have noticed in these clients is their frequent inability to either hear or to follow instruction.  For example, one pattern I use in my session designs is to bring the client into the office and instruct them to sit down whilst I go and make the tea/coffee.  I do this casually whilst indicating quite clearly where the client should sit.  Passive-aggressive type clients will fail to follow this instruction, despite its repetition.

Invariably they will instead follow me out into the kitchen and when dismissed more forcefully to go and sit down, they will also invariably sit in the chair that is clearly my chair (my jacket is hung deliberately on the back, case notes and pen sat on the seat, etc)

Sharon C. Ekleberry in her extensive review of passive-aggressive personality disorder writes:

“Passive-aggressive behaviours often brought forth in the treatment setting:

  • Intrusive and unnecessary phone calls.
  • Role reversal with evaluation of the treatment providers — discussing their good and bad points (usually with the balance being on the inadequate side).
  • Projection of anger and then criticism of that anger.
  • Absorbing nothing; responses to identification of passive-aggressive behaviours being denial, minimization, changing the subject, or denying hostile motivation.
  • Absorbing everything and refusing to apply it.
  • Doing the opposite of what the service providers expect.
  • Using insight against both themselves and the service providers (Kantor, 1992, pp 183-185).

Consequently, service providers should not allow themselves to feel apologetic for setting and enforcing limits or reinforcing boundaries between clients with PAPD and staff (Ries, TIP #9, 1994, p. 72).

In treatment, these individuals are inclined to skip sessions, pay late, arrive late, and then announce that they are leaving treatment because not much is happening anyway (Stone, 1993, p. 363). While limits and requirements of the treatment process may well elicit PAPD outrage and protestations of mistreatment, these individuals must learn to manage expectations in a positive manner if they are to be successful in changing their most maladaptive behaviours. They may engage in a sit-down strike against parents, spouses, or other authority figures (including service providers) — refusing to progress in any direction. That defeats the parents or authority figures but also defeats their own ambitions or dreams. Young individuals with PAPD have actually refused to progress in any area of their lives to win the battle with their parents by disappointing them totally (Stone, 1992, p. 362). In treatment, the consequences of self-destructive choices can be pointed out and reflected upon. However, pressure to be more constructive is likely to provoke intensified passive-aggressive resistance.”

Resource Link: Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited, by Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.

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