Psychological Self-Help

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your belief that you are helpless or powerless." In other words, expressing
anger right in the other person's face feels good and gets the venom out of
your system if it works for you, i.e. rights some wrong or gets the other
person to change, and, at the same time, avoids creating more conflict and
stress. She admits that it is risky business when directly confronting the
person you are mad at. I agree and I'm not recommending direct, explosive,
face-to-face attacks. Tavris never seems to consider private catharsis.
Catharsis occurs quite often in therapy where it is almost universally
considered therapeutic. But there is very little research into the effectiveness
of self-generated fantasy and exercises (like beating a pillow) for venting and
reducing anger. There is some evidence that expressing anger at the time you
are upset reduces aggression later (Konecni, 1975). So, in spite of having
little relevant scientific information to guide us, I'd rely on extensive
therapeutic experience (Messina, 1989) that says it helps to "get angry
feelings out of our system." Namka's (1995) book specifically helps a family
express their anger constructively. We need more and better research. 
Deal with anxiety, guilt, and low self-esteem. All environmental
stresses and internal tensions seem to intensify our aggressive responses.
Karen Horney thought chronic anger was a defense against emotional
insecurity. Perhaps a sagging self-concept is particularly prone to prompt a
hostile reaction to even minor offenses. Stress inoculation methods have been
shown to reduce anger and increase self-esteem (Meichenbaum, 1985; Hains
& Szyjakowski, 1990). Chapters 5, 6, 12, and 14 help change the emotions
that may increase aggression. 
Deal with depression and helplessness. Our first response to
frustration is often anger--a quick vigorous (but often unwise) reaction to
"straighten out" the situation. If we are unable to escape or overcome the
frustration, however, we eventually lose hope and become apathetic. See
chapter 6. 
Make constructive use of the energy from anger. In contrast to the
lethargy of depression, when we are angry, adrenaline flows and increases
our blood pressure, we have lots of energy. Instead of using this "natural
high" to hurt others, we can use it in constructive ways. Examples: if a smart
student in your class annoys you, use your anger-energy to study more and
be a better competitor. If it irritates you that you are out of shape and can't
play some sport as well as others (or as well as you used to), use the
resulting energy to get in shape, don't just eat or drink more and criticize
others. I am not proposing you become a more competitive Type A
personality; I'm not suggesting more anger but rather a more beneficial use
of the anger already present. For instance, try starting your own self-help
group for angry people; try helping others, such as by joining a local MADD
(Mothers Against Drunk Driving). 
Level III: Skills involved in avoiding or reducing anger
It may be reasonable to assume that aggression and violence occurs when
we do not have a better way of responding to the situation. In other words,
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