Psychological Self-Help

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conscience. Black discusses the warning signs in children and various ways of
medically treating the disorder. There are about seven million Americans with
this psychopathic disorder. Several books have been written over the years
about this disturbing but intriguing malady.
Just as women have trouble “going through menopause,” it is believed that
men too suffer from fluctuating hormones and stress, maybe as many as 30%
of them. The author, Jed Diamond (2005), calls it the Irritable Male Syndrome
and writes to explain the complex causes and the possible treatments. Men
tend to view emotions as feminine, so it isn’t seen as manly to feel
depressed. We men cover over sadness with anger or workaholism or alcohol
addiction or domestic strife. Women have twice as much depression as men
and men have five times as much alcohol abuse and antisocial behavior as
women. Under stress women seek help, talk, cry and bitch; under stress men
feel mistreated, lose their cool, get angry, and become grouchy.
If any of these descriptions fit you, reading one of these books might be
helpful. Many other books are recommended in this chapter. For the female
sex, an older book that analyzes anger in women and effectively focuses on
turning anger into a constructive force in one’s life is Harriet Lerner’s, The
Dance of Anger.
Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis
Any observer of human emotions recognizes that certain circumstances
and actions by others seem to make us mad. When we are intentionally hurt,
insulted, cheated, deceived, or made fun of--all these things arouse anger
and aggression (Byrne & Kelley, 1981) and distrustful people have more of
these experiences. In each case we had hoped for more--for more
consideration, more fairness, more understanding. We were frustrated, i.e.
prevented from achieving some desired goal. Some theorists believe that
anger just naturally results from frustration. This is called the frustration-
aggression hypothesis. 
Our frustration will be more intense if our goal is highly desirable, if we
"get close" to our goal and expect to get it, if the barrier to our goal
unexpectedly appears and seems unjustified or unfair, and if we "take things
personally" (Aronson, 1984; Berkowitz, 1989). There are several physiological
reactions that accompany frustration, including higher blood pressure,
sweating, and greater energy. Psychosomatic symptoms, such as heart
disease, occur more often in people who are cynics and distrustful but hold in
their anger. Some of us explode, others swallow feelings. Our blood pressure
sometimes goes up more when we explode, at other times it goes up more
when we swallow the feelings, depending on the situation. The more
physiologically damaging anger reactions seem to occur under two extreme
conditions, namely, when we feel utterly helpless, or, the opposite, when we
have overly optimistic expectations of reaching unreachable goals. 
It is obvious that even though we are frustrated and feel angry, we may
not become aggressive--not if such a response might result in our being
injured or rejected or fired. Yet, if you think of anger as a drive, an urge
inside striving for expression, then merely deciding to placate your boss or an
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