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"Big Boys Don't Cry" Diagnosis & Treatment of Male Shame and Depression
6 CEUs Big Boys Don't Cry Diagnosis & Treatment of Male Shame and Depression

Section 15
Shame Based Anger

CEU Question 15 | CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Depression CEU Courses
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

The phases of the anger cycle shown in Figure 7 are explained below. As a reminder, the links in the chain that feed your anger consist of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This explanation of the anger cycle contains more details than we can easily show in Figure 7. You will need this extra information in order to fill out your own anger cycle later on.

Chains Become An Anger Act-Out Cycle
Links in the Chain: Thought, Feeling, Behavior

Anger Act Out Cycle Male Depression CEUs

In this phase of your anger cycle, everything appears to be going smoothly. We call this "Pretends To Be Normal" because in reality, your life is not normal. The anger problem you have still exists and is in some way running your life. In the Pretends To Be Normal phase, the anger is not actively a problem but it lies just below the surface. You can get into your anger cycle and explode with a triggering event even when your life appears to be running smoothly and there are no obvious or important problems.

Trigger. The trigger is the event or situation that sets off your anger cycle. Often you are triggered when someone says or does something that bothers you. In a split second your mind races to past events and "old tapes" (also called self-talk) that lead to your anger. You may focus on these past negative events or situations. Triggers are high-risk factors for anger outbursts.

The Build-Up Phase is the part of your cycle where you allow your anger to build. You may even feed your anger in order to help it build quicker. During this phase you have the opportunity to intervene in your anger and work at changing it to be positive anger. Positive anger will help you take action against the problem. Negative anger will contribute to further problems and keep you locked into your hurtful anger cycle.

The Build-Up Phase is where your behavioral chains of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors may be easiest to see. Remember that there is no strict order for your thought, feeling, and behavior links. They may occur as behavior -> feeling -> thought, or thought -> behavior -> thought -> feeling -> feeling -> behavior, or any combination. Also contributing to the Build-Up Phase are your physical sensations, the fight-or-flight reactions we discussed in Chapter Two. These sensations are also called anger arousal.

Thoughts. After an event triggers your anger cycle you begin to experience specific thoughts that are a part of your anger cycle. These thoughts (tapes) are old messages and ways of thinking you may have learned in childhood from family members or other adults who themselves have had anger problems. For example, these "old tapes" may be thinking errors such as "Women are all the same-they just use men," or "Nobody cares-people are out to screw me over," or "I can't trust anyone."

Feelings. Thoughts and behaviors are often linked to specific emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, guilt, depression, frustration, shame, sadness, fury, rejection, insecurity, inadequacy, helplessness, hopelessness, rage, and so on.

Anger arousal is the body sensations that come with your anger. These body sensations or feelings are cues associated with anger-that is, they help you become aware that you are getting angry. For example: tension, stiffness, muscle aches, tightness, heart pounding or racing, rapid breathing, high blood pressure, feeling hot or flushed, upset stomach, and so on.

Behaviors can come before or after thoughts and feelings. When you are in your cycle, you generally behave in certain ways (often out of habit) that set up situations so you can act out your anger, for example: using alcohol and other drugs, or hanging around others who will feed your anger. Three kinds of behaviors that contribute to the Build-Up Phase of your anger cycle are addictive behaviors, fantasy, and planning.

Addictive Behaviors. Many people who have anger problems also have problems with drugs. They drink a lot of alcohol and/or use other drugs to escape reality, to build up their courage, to cope with pain, or to avoid problems. Others use masturbation, overeating, or overworking to avoid problems and escape from unpleasant situations.

Fantasy. Many people who are angry get into a fantasy or a kind of daydream about what they will do, to others, to themselves, to other people's property, and so on. The fantasy is a way of planning or premeditating your anger act by seeing in your mind the way you want to act out.

Planning is setting up the anger act/anger outburst to occur. Examples might include: 1) going to specific places, such as bars or taverns; 2) certain behaviors, such as looking to buy drugs, drinking, mentally rehearsing how you are going to tell someone off or beat someone up, and so on. Many people with anger problems try to convince themselves and others that their anger outbursts 'just happened." They describe their actions as "impulsive" (happening at the spur of the moment). This is a kind of denial or excuse-making-----whatever you do to act out your anger is really planned impulsiveness. Anger doesn't "just happen." Before you hit or yell at somebody, you make a decision (even if it is a quick decision) to do it. When you take the time (however short) to think about making a decision, you are not being impulsive.

This is the anger act (outburst). The anger outburst is the release of built-up anger, expressed in a variety of ways: verbal abuse of others, physical abuse of others or destruction of property, or self-abuse.

Verbal. You express your anger verbally by calling others names, yelling, screaming, arguing, provoking people, making fun of how others look, making negative or sexually suggestive comments about their companions, etc.

Physical. Your anger is expressed through destroying property/objects, or injuring the person such as hitting, punching, biting, kicking, battering, sexual abuse, rape, incest, etc.

Self-abuse. Suicide attempts, alcohol/drug abuse, other self-abusive or self-destructive behaviors are ways you act your anger out towards yourself. Self-abuse is just as destructive as acting out your anger towards someone else.

After acting out your anger you may feel remorse for what you have done or feel bad about your actions. If you have destroyed property, hurt somebody, hurt yourself, etc., right afterwards you may feel sorry about (regret) what you did. After acting out, it is common to feel 1) guilt about what you have done, 2) shame about who you are, and 3) embarrassment over your actions (thinking of your anger as stupid, etc.). Often you start using your defense mechanisms, including justification, rationalization, denial, minimization, and so on.

Next you may feel false remorse. With false remorse, you may try to cover your tracks (for example, if you hit your child and caused an injury, you tell the doctor the child fell down the stairs). Or, you try to make it up to the person you dumped your anger on (apologizing to your wife if you hit her, or buying her flowers or gifts). Another example of behavior resulting from false remorse is doing something "generically" good to compensate for your hurtful anger actions, and to avoid having to think of yourself as doing bad things to others. An example of "generic goodness": Greg screamed at and shoved his wife, and while out walking off his energy, he felt bad. When he saw a guy on crutches trying to get into the corner store, he rushed ahead to hold the door open. Greg gets to feel "good" about himself because he's the kind of thoughtful person who holds doors for strangers on crutches, and meanwhile he's excusing himself for how badly he has treated his wife.

Next you may experience a mood of false resolve. In this mode you tell yourself, "I will never do this again," or, "I will control my anger and not let it get out of hand again." The false resolve usually moves you back into the Pretends To Be Normal Phase.
- Cullen, Murray, & Robert E. Freeman-Longo, Men & Anger: A Relapse Prevention Guide to Understanding and Managing Your Anger, Safer Society Press: Brandon, 1995.

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Personal Reflection Exercise Explanation
The Goal of this Home Study Course is to create a learning experience that enhances your clinical skills. Thus, space has been provided for you to make personal notes as you apply Course Concepts to your practice. Affix extra Journaling paper to the end of this Course Content Manual. We encourage you to discuss the Personal Reflection Journaling Activities, found at the end of each Section, with your colleagues. Thus, you are provided with an opportunity for a Group Discussion experience. Case Study examples might include: family background, socioeconomic status, education, occupation, social/emotional issues, legal/financial issues, death/dying/health, home management, parenting, etc. as you deem appropriate. A Case Study is to be approximately 150 words in length. However, since the content of these “Personal Reflection” Journaling Exercises is intended for your future reference, they may contain confidential information and are to be applied as a “work in progress”. You will not be required to provide us with these Journaling Activities. Only the Answer Booklet is to be returned to the Institute.
The article above contains foundational information. Articles below contain optional updates.

Personal Reflection Exercise #7
The preceding section contained information about the phases of the anger cycle. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 15
What are three examples of false remorse? Record the letter of the correct answer the CEU Answer Booklet.

 
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