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Anger management expert Howard Kassinove, Ph.D., director of Hofstra University’s Institute for the Study and Treatment of Anger and Aggression, discusses anger and anger management.
Anger is “a negative feeling state that is typically associated with hostile thoughts, physiological arousal and maladaptive behaviors. It usually develops in response to the unwanted actions of another person who is perceived to be disrespectful, demeaning, threatening or neglectful.”
It can arise from interactions with strangers but usually arises from interactions with people we like or love, such as friends and family.
Many of the long-term effects of anger are negative — including health problems — but it can have some short-term benefits. It can be an appropriate response to injustice and it can get others to listen to us and comply with our requests.
The best way to deal with anger depends on its target. When dealing with strangers, the situation is probably temporary.
Remind yourself that this interaction probably is not that important, work around it, and leave the situation if need be.
Dealing with anger when it comes to family and friends is a bit more complicated due to the ongoing nature of the interaction.
In this case, avoidance and escape, relaxation, cognitive restructuring, and assertive expression are the quickest and easiest self-help strategies. We all experience some degree of anger; that’s normal.
But if you experience moderate to intense anger, experience anger frequently, hold a grudge, plan to get even, and express anger in aggressive verbal and physical ways, it may be time for professional help.