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Anger Management: Cognitive Therapy Interventions

Section 4
Anger Framed: A Study on Emotions

Question 4 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Anger Management
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In the last section, we discussed five myths that perpetuate anger. They are history of rejection leaves a client emotionally depleted, letting go of anger means conceding defeat, no one understands the client’s problems, the client doesn’t deserve to be happy, and there is nothing to look forward to anymore.

In this section
, we will discuss how other emotions create anger.  The four areas we will discuss are pride influences anger, fear’s effects on anger, loneliness creates anger, and anger can reflect inferiority feelings.

How Emotions Create Anger - 4 Areas

♦ #1 Pride Influences Anger
First, we’ll look at how pride influences anger.  Would you agree that pride is an emotion of self-preoccupation?  The goal of pride as an emotion tends toward meeting personal needs.  Kyle, age 38, angrily stated, "I’m at my worst at work. If my customers give me a hard time all day, I work hard to help them.  Then I figure I’ve done a good job and I take pride in that.  But my boss overlooks it and jumps my case for not finishing the damn inventory.  On days like that I get pissed by anything that moves!"  

Kyle’s anger builds each day through frustration at work.  His pride compounds that anger with self-preoccupation, resulting in Kyle directing his anger toward others.  To help Kyle overcome his pride-anger management trigger, I had him try the Relationship Developing exercise, which we will discuss later in this section.

♦ #2 Fear’s Effects on Anger
Second, we will discuss how Kyle’s fear affected  his anger.   As you know, fear can imply hesitancy, apprehension, and doubt.  Fear can set the stage for several dysfunctional behaviors.  As fear relates to cognitive therapy for anger management, fear causes defensiveness.  As you are aware, defenses arise as an attempt to shield oneself from perceived threats.  Defenses are normal, but overdeveloped defenses indicate unresolved fears.  When Kyle argued with someone who overcame his defenses, he resorted to anger.  

Kyle stated, "I know I have a hard time trusting people, but it’s difficult to let someone get close after my ex-wife, Lorie, hurt me so much.  I mean, not only did she sleep around, but she left me with nothing!  Just because I smacked her around a little, the judge gave her everything!"  Kyle’s fear of being hurt made him untrusting, resulting in defenses which only frustrated him further and added to his anger.  Do you have a Kyle who feels they have been hurt, gets defensive, and creates a vicious cycle?

♦ #3 Loneliness Can Create Anger
Third, loneliness can create anger.  Kyle struggled with loneliness and he was susceptible to frequent feelings of disgust, resentment, and disillusionment.  I have found that these feelings can create anger.  Kyle stated,  "I feel betrayed by everyone I know.  Even my family!  I mean, I still talk to them and see them frequently, but they hate me since Lorie spilled her guts to them about me losing my temper."  Clearly, Kyle was experiencing the difference between solitude and loneliness.  As time went by, it became difficult for the other people in Kyle’s life to identify with his.  When a client feels like no one understands them, loneliness-based anger arises. 

♦ Cognitive Behavior Therapy: 3-Step Relationship Developing Technique
To help Kyle overcome his loneliness, I asked him to try the CBT Relationship Developing exercise.

, I wanted to increase Kyle’s awareness regarding which of his personal needs he felt were not being met.  We discussed the needs relating to his desire for improvement.  Some of Kyle’s needs were self-esteem and camaraderie.  Kyle described these needs in his journal.  

Second, I emphasized those needs which could only be met through personal relationships and asked Kyle to focus on nurturing the relationships he had to fulfill those needs.  Kyle’s next journal entry included his plans for positively developing relationships with his family. 

Third, clients can include any positive relationship developments in the journal.  I have found this technique also works well for clients whose anger has negatively affected relationships.  Do you have a Kyle who is an anger management client who might benefit from journaling regarding unmet needs?

♦ #4 Anger Reflects Feelings of Inferiority
In addition to how pride influences anger, fear’s effects on anger, and loneliness creating anger, we will discuss how anger reflects feelings of inferiority. As you know, clients who feel inferior do so for many different reasons. These reasons dictate how feelings of inferiority manifest themselves in anger. As you have probably experienced, aggression is most common.

I spoke with Ron, 42, whose feelings of inferiority stemmed from a mentally abusive father. Ron’s feelings were evident in his open aggression. Ron gave me a few examples of his behavior. When his son was working slowly on his chores, Ron would shout, "Why do I have to yell at you to get you move?" If his wife overspent her monthly budget, Ron would ask, "Do I look like I’m made out of money? Get with the program!" His daughters argued over bathroom time and Ron would shout, "I didn’t come home to hear this. Quit you’re grumbling!"  

Clearly, Ron’s inferiority made him feel obligated to gain a superior edge even over his wife and children.  This edge provides clients with temporary relief from inferior feelings, but perpetuates the manifestations of anger.  

♦ Underlying Values CBT Technique
I asked Ron to divide a sheet of paper into three columns for what I call the Underlying Values technique.  These columns are structured to help a client see the difference between what they say and what they want.

a. For example, Ron labeled the first column "Verbal Dialogue."  In this column, Ron wrote the things he said.  When his son was doing his chores slowly, Ron would yell,  "Why do I have to yell to get you to move?" 

b. The second column was labeled "Inner Monologue."   Ron wrote what he thought his son may be thinking.  Ron wrote,  "Dad is an asshole.  He yells and is always mad because he thinks that keeps him on top of everything." 

c. In the third column, Ron wrote what he could have said to illicit the response he wanted.  This column was labeled Equality Response. Ron wanted his son to work faster, so he wrote, "I know chores aren’t any fun, but as soon as you’re done you can go play."  Ron and I discussed the benefits of recognizing underlying values and how he could apply the technique to become more assertive.

In this section, we discussed how other emotions create anger.  These methods of anger creation are: pride influences anger, fear’s effects on anger, loneliness  creates anger, and anger can reflect inferiority feelings.

In the next section, we will discuss the two intentions of anger displays.  Anger is displayed by choice as negative anger or positive anger.  I’ll also explain Rational Emotive Therapy.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Christ, N. M., Contractor, A. A., Wang, X., & Elhai, J. D. (2020). The mediating effect of rumination between posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and anger reactions. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication.

Deska, J. C., Lloyd, E. P., & Hugenberg, K. (2018). The face of fear and anger: Facial widthtoheight ratio biases recognition of angry and fearful expressions. Emotion, 18(3), 453–464.

Kuin, N. C., Masthoff, E. D. M., Nunnink, V. N., Munafò, M. R., & Penton-Voak, I. S. (2020). Changing perception: A randomized controlled trial of emotion recognition training to reduce anger and aggression in violent offenders. Psychology of Violence, 10(4), 400–410.

Russell, P. S., & Giner-Sorolla, R. (2013). Bodily moral disgust: What it is, how it is different from anger, and why it is an unreasoned emotion. Psychological Bulletin, 139(2), 328–351.

Wagner, V., Klein, J., Hanich, J., Shah, M., Menninghaus, W., & Jacobsen, T. (2016). Anger framed: A field study on emotion, pleasure, and art. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 10(2), 134–146. 

What are four methods of creating anger? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

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