MISMANAGED ANGER STYLES
* Authorís note: The aspect of anger management in stress management classes has been virtually ignored until about five years ago, when it was shown that hostility above all other behavioral Type A traits was the link to coronary heart disease. Further studies showed that unresolved anger was also a direct link to breast cancer. Even now, people still donít give the emotion anger the attention it needs in stress management training. We feel that it merits attention, given the rise in violence in the American community and the predicted rise in work-related violence with disgruntled employees. Here is some additional information that may help you to strengthen this aspect of your presentation.
What has become obvious from research studies conducted to examine the role of anger is that those who mismanage their feelings of aggression far outnumber those who express anger effectively. In his research on the expression of anger, Neil Warner in his book, Make Anger Your Ally, cites four classic mismanaged anger styles or behaviors that people employ to express their anger. They include: somatizers, self-punishers, exploders, and underhanders.
Somatizers: Somatizers, as the name implies (soma means body), represent a passive behavior style that takes its toll on the body. Somatizers are individuals who choose not to overtly express their feelings of anger, but rather suppress these feelings for fear that to show anger will result in the rejection or the loss of approval of those who have caused a grievance. Consequently, this mismanagement style promotes the martyr role for those who choose it. Somatizers distinguish themselves from other mismanaged anger behavior styles in that when anger feelings remained suppressed, these emotional responses soon manifest as physical symptoms such as migraine headaches, ulcers, colitis and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).
Self-Punishers: A second passive behavior style of mismanaged anger involves those people who channel their anger into guilt. These people often get angry with themselves for getting angry with others. As a result, they deny themselves a proper outlet or catharsis of their anger. Instead, they punish themselves with control measures which in effect lower self-esteem. For example, these limits of control can be seen in food intake (overeating or starvation), excessive drinking, and even styles of clothing, all of which deflate self-esteem.
Exploders: Exploders represent the stereotype of uncontrolled aggression. Exploders are people who express their anger in a hostile manner, either verbally or physically. Like a volcano, they erupt, spreading their hot lava in a path of destruction toward any person around them. Exploders pent up their feelings of anger and then often erupt at people or objects which are not associated with the primary cause of frustration. Explosive behavior is sometimes displaced onto others, where feelings of anger are suppressed toward the provoker, but then released or projected onto innocent victims including employees, spouses, and children who were unrelated to the original cause. In many cases explosive anger is used as a form of intimidation to maintain control of a situation or other peopleís emotions. It is this behavior that is targeted by psychologists as indicative of Type A personality and the factor most closely associated with coronary heart disease.
Underhanders: Like the exploder, the underhander exhibits an active style of mismanaged anger that inflicts mild abuse to individuals within oneís proximity. What separates underhanded behavior from the explosive style is that underhanders usually target their aggression directly at the cause of the threat in what they perceive to be socially acceptable means. Underhanders seek revenge for injustices to their ego and try to sabotage their "enemy" with little acts of aggression in a somewhat socially acceptable way. Examples include walking in late for a staff meeting and sarcastic comments (verbal sabotage), both of which demonstrates a need to gain control of the aggressor. Underhanders see themselves as lifeís victims and although their anger is often directed at the cause, resolution is rarely accomplished.
Warner points out that every individual tends to employ all of these mismanagement styles at some point, depending on the situation and people involved. One style, however, becomes the dominant behavior in each personality and is used most extensively in daily interactions. It should be pointed out that none of these four behavior patterns is healthy (e.g. to switch from a somatizer to an exploder is not recommended). Warner suggests that one begin to recognize his or her feelings of anger, and then channel them to more creative outlets.
CREATIVE ANGER STRATEGIES
Human anger is thought to be uniquely comprised of conscious thought, physiological changes, and some form of related behavior. Therefore, the most successful strategies of dealing with anger involve cognitive coping strategies, relaxation techniques, and behavior modification. The following is a list of suggested ways to creatively deal with your anger. There are both effective and non-effective ways to deal with the various shades of this emotion. The best suggestion is to learn a variety of ways so that one or more can be available when situations arise that trigger the anger response in you. Based on the works of Carol Tavris (1982) and Harold Weisinger (1985), and in the spirit of self-help 12-step programs to modify behaviors, the following suggestions are provided to help you learn to manage your anger more creatively.