If we're healthy psychologically, then we have the internal resources to self-validate: to admit to ourselves possible inadequacies without experiencing intolerable guilt or shame.But if, deep down, we still feel bad about who we are, our deficient sense of self simply won't be able to withstand such external threats. Paradoxical as it may seem, anger—even though it destroys any true peace of mind or sense of well-being—can yet help us to soothe ourselves.
In what follows, I'll try to highlight some of the insights I've gained from trying to make coherent sense of the self-defeating behaviors I've seen in scores of challenging cases.Anger as Freud's Forgotten Defense If to Freud all defense mechanisms exist to protect the personality from an intolerable attack of anxiety when the ego is under siege, it's strange that he never considered anger as serving this pivotal psychological function.Many have been quite successful in their careers but far less so in their relationships, where anger triggers abound.Regardless of their professional achievements, however, almost all of them have been afflicted by an "I'm not good enough" program (and some with an additional "I'm a fraud" script as well).Howard Kassinove), finally proposed a comprehensive set of diagnostic categories to deal with anger as itself a clinical syndrome—rather than an emotion linked to other mental disorders.
As a psychologist, however, what I've learned about anger has come as much from my efforts as a therapist to better understand its dynamics in my clients as from examining the various writings focused on it.
And just as other defenses hinder healthy psychological coping (by hiding the underlying reality of anxiety that needs to be dealt with), so does anger belie the fragility of the ego that must depend on it for shielding and support.
Anger as a Neurochemical Way of Self-Soothing With very few exceptions, the angry people I've worked with have suffered from significant self-image deficits.
In the past 20 years I've taught well over a hundred classes and workshops on anger management, and delivered many professional presentations on the subject.
When I first became interested in exploring this typically destructive emotion, the clinical literature devoted to it was curiously scant. With the increasing occurrence of such phenomena as road rage, drive-by shootings, high school and post office killing sprees—in short, with the prevalence of violence in America today—the attention given to acting-out, out-of-control anger may never have been greater.
Thus is our critical need for emotional/mental security restored.