Psychological Self-Help

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18
assertively getting more of the things they want in life, their depression declines.
Other therapists see a different connection, believing that the pain of having
depression causes the anger to build. My point here is that there are many
connections among emotions and with behavior. You may need to learn about these
connections in order to understand and control your anger.
You might at first believe that dependency (Chapter 8) has very little to do with
aggression, but that isn’t so. In Psychiatry it is a common assumption that a weak,
submissive, dependent person is likely to be very resentful of his/her circumstances
(but often is not able to express their anger). Ask yourself: how many sacrificing
wives and selfless mothers experienced resentment after the Women’s Movement
increased their awareness? Answer: millions. Also, a famous psychology experiment
described in chapter 8 demonstrates that dependency can drive people to be
aggressive even though they aren’t angry. Stanley Milgram studied compliance or
“obedience to authority” by having a psychology instructor direct volunteer helpers
to shock students as a part of an experiment. Actually no electric shock was given
but the volunteers believed they were giving powerful, painful shocks (and felt very
uncomfortable about doing that). The study tried to find out: (1) What percent of
volunteers would follow orders to shock someone? And, (2) How much pain would
they inflict on the subjects? The answers they found were: (1) a high percentage of
them were willing to administer (2) strong shock when urged to. The results showed
that most people will do some very mean, cruel things just to comply with a person
in authority whom they hardly know and may never see again. That study certainly
relates to the willingness of ordinary Germans to carry out the horrors of the
Holocaust. 
Anger is usually directed towards people and most of the people who are targets of
anger get angry in return. Most of this Anger chapter tries to explain why we get
angry and what we can do to reduce or avoid anger. This is a complex matter—so
many experiences make us more or less volatile, including our genes, our
personality, our childhood experiences, our community, our social group, our
frustrations with loved ones and children, our alcohol and drug use, etc. which are
partly discussed in Chapter 9. Watch some children and you will probably observe
that some would prefer to fight than to be neglected. It is fascinating that people
who live in small towns in the South provide an example of the influence of a cultural
code of honor (Nisbett, 2005). Small towns and rural areas across the south and
west to the Texas Panhandle have a preference for violent activities: football,
hunting and shooting, corporal punishment in schools, and support for going to war.
When asked if a man has a right to kill to defend his home, 36% of rural Southerners
say “yes” but only 18% of rural Northerners say “yes.” Note: The murder rate in the
South is 3 to 5 times higher than in similar northern areas. Why is this? Nisbett says
it is because of the Scotch-Irish settlers there were herders (sheep, hogs, and
cattle). Apparently herders the world over are zealous protectors of their flocks and
property…and quick to take offense at the slightest insult. A Northerner would just
laugh off a mild insult; the Southerner doesn’t overlook slights.
Lastly, anger plays a big role in our love and sexual relationships (see Chapter 10).
Who make us the maddest? Often the person we love. Lovers have the power to hurt
us deeply. For unclear reasons, people with intense anger (and maybe serious
mental disorders) get involved in many kinds of sexual urges and activities.
Examples: rape, assault, molestation, sadism, and masochism. Anger plays a role in
impotence, frigidity, and pornography. Research has shown that watching more
physically aggressive porno films increases the aggressiveness in males (Byrne &
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