a node at the edge  

July 05, 2002
SensoryThe Value of Anger

To get my degree in psychology, I had to establish a specific hypothesis and then design and conduct experimentation to either prove or disprove it. I based my hypothesis on the work conducted by Dr. Martin Seligman on Learned Helplessness.

Dr. Seligman's theory is that an organism (dogs, rats, college sophmores, or other), when exposed to circumstances beyond their control will eventually give up trying to effect change. That doesn't sound remarkable - why try to change your circumstances when they're beyond your control? What is interesting, though, is that even when circumstances change and the organism can effect change, they don't because they no longer have the ability to even recognize that they now have control. They have literally learned how to be helpless.

The end results of learned helplessness can run the extremes of resigned acceptance and indifference to incompetence and burnout to severe personal depression.

Dr. Seligman and others continued this research and further expanded the theory to conclude that the level of helplessness a person experienced was directly dependent on how much they internalized the cause of the helplessness. In other words, if a person attributed the lack of control to something within themselves, they're going to experience learned helplessness at its most extreme. They're going to get severely depressed.

For my work, my hypothesis was that the degree of helplessness a person experiences can be mitigated by another emotion - anger. The way to cure helplessness? Piss the person off.

Sorry. I know you all wanted me to say something along the lines of "learned optimism", enabling personal empowerment, love, joy, or some other form of positive emotionalism. No can do. In the work I conducted as a senior in college and in the research I've conducted personally since, I have found that, at times, there is no healthier or more motivating emotion than anger. And anger, more than any other emotion, is the one that is most unhealthily suppressed by society.

Loved one ill? Accept that its God's will. Job sucks? Accept that only a few people have good jobs. Disaster has hit? Accept that it's a result of bad karma. Don't waste your time trying to fight back and, whatever you do, control your temper - you'll live longer if you do.

Anger has become socially unacceptable.

Well, that's just bullshit.

Revolution isn't based on calm reasonableness, but the fact that enough people became angry at the status quo and fought to effect change. Sure there's almost always an element of self-serving greed at the heart of most revolutions, but the impetus was anger.

Injustices aren't fought because a person, in a moment of love for humanity, happened to decide to devote time to fighting the injustice. The person saw something that made them angry, and their love of humanity helped channel that anger into positive results.

If we all followed the dictate of "accepting God's will" as an explanation for illness, we wouldn't have doctors - we'd have more priests. And a lot more dead people.

Now, anger can be destructive, as we witnessed recently with the shootings at LAX. Usually, though, this type of out of control anger is based on the very thing that we're fighting - learned helplessness. Except, instead of becoming internally self-destructive, the person externalizes the destruction, literally going ballistic.

Healthy anger isn't out of control - it's not red-faced screaming accompanied by acts of unpurposeful destruction. Healthy anger is not shooting innocent people at a ticket counter, nor is it road rage, or abuse of loved ones.

Healthy anger is passion and purpose, determination, and change.

Anger led to the Civil Rights movement and stopped the Vietnam war. Anger prevents corporate monopolies and brings down corrupt politicians. And anger can heal.

Anger, applied effectively and appropriately, is not only healthy for an individual - it's necessary for a thriving society. If it's angry people that forge a new society, it's the gently melancholic, the intellectually pessimistic, and the complacent and indifferent people that destroy it.

Go ahead, get mad. You'll feel better.

(Continued here in new posting)

Posted by Bb at July 05, 2002 01:53 PM


Thanks, Shelly. You put focus on and words to the thoughts I've had bouncing around in my brain regarding my new job.

Healthy anger, effectively and appropriately applied, is one facet of the solution I need to encourage. Not pissy comments shared within the group to help redirect away from feelings of helplessness.

Other facets are silliness and fun, and dignity.

Any suggestions (from your research, of course :-) on how to get folks properly pissed off?


Posted by: Dave on July 5, 2002 04:28 PM

I posted a response but Blogger seems to have blown its servers and dumped all the templates. Boy, am I pissed.

It'll show. I posted the following (rather than commented) to align myself strongly with what you say:

"Sometimes I read a post and just feel, "Yeah, that's it." Burningbird's 'The Value of Anger' is such a piece and demands an immediate response. Shelley's right on the button when she says "Anger, applied effectively and appropriately, is not only healthy for an individual - it's necessary for a thriving society. If it's angry people that forge a new society, it's the gently melancholic, the intellectually pessimistic, and the complacent and indifferent people that destroy it."

I'm an angry person subject to the vicissitudes of society's norms and strictures. Anger can make life uncomfortable but that is where learning takes place, in managing the 'effective and appropriate application' of my anger. We are helpless at times and expressing our instant anger does little to help such situations, but I don't think that fits Shelley's definition of 'learned helplessness'. Learned helplessness is a state of mind fast gaining a stranglehold on our so-called civilized societies. Think Columbine and kids spiking it up between their toes. Think low presidential polls and indifference to human suffering. That's learned helplessness in my book. At other times, we are not helpless and need to express our anger in a way that addresses our earlier impotence in the face of our or others' actions or inaction.

It's a tough one but, as the Bird says, "...anger can heal." Being 'healed' is our 'pain-free' goal. The healing process, though, is likely to be painful. This does not mean it need not be beneficial, rewarding, or even enjoyable. Anger makes us get up in the mornings and fall into bed at night. It also determines what happens between. Without it, we would cease to be. I like to think of it as living. One thing, though, Shelley. The last time I heard anger so succinctly and cogently addressed as a subject, I was sitting listening to a sermon at Mass. Anger is a transcendent emotion and can take us to great spiritual heights. We just have to know where to go and how to get there. The old adage holds; if you're lost, ask for directions. Sometimes, I need to be reminded of these things. Thankfully, there are many angry people out there (appropriately so) quite willing to offer advice and direction.

Anger is a sharing thing...

Posted by: Mike Golby on July 5, 2002 05:58 PM

Great, like I don't have enough random research I'm doing, now I want to read about learned helplessness. Well, I for one am "mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

We should all say that once in a while, and MEAN IT.

Posted by: rev@punitiveart.com on July 5, 2002 08:10 PM

I've just had an "Aha" moment lurking under the old and new world uses of the word "pissed".

Forgive me Mike.... but the very activity of geting "pissed" in an alcoholic sense is so linked to its use in common US parlance meaning "hacked off". If you can't tap into the true rhythm of life you replace this with a vicarious sense of connectedness driven by alcohol.

Posted by: The Obvious? on July 5, 2002 08:53 PM

As a family therapist working with people in their homes, I know the value of anger. But people can get really stuck and your key point that they can't even contemplate new opportunities to change is so true and sad. I find role reversal, pretend, video, and looking at when there were exceptions or they surprised themselves with small change are the first things to explore before real action.
Look for the exceptions. You could throw out the entire DSM IV and put one word..."stuck".

Posted by: steve on July 5, 2002 09:57 PM

Obviously, though perhaps not, I disagree vehemently (which is not to say angrily).

Rather than take up a lot of space in your comments, and since it fits in with the recurring themes of my little bit of cyberspace, I've posted my rebuttal here, and invite your kind attention to it.

Posted by: Dave Rogers (not that other Dave) on July 5, 2002 10:12 PM

You know, I think this applies on a national level to our complacency as we were hit time and again by terrorists, our people dying all over the world and we sat wringing our hands back home. Now that our healthy anger at the 9/11 attacks has coalesced our determination, I think we can forge a stronger society that respects differences but lets people know what the boundaries are. We don't feel the helplessness engendered by continually trying to pacify people who see no evil in the world unless it seen through the lens of a Marxist ideology that blames everything on the supposedly all-encompassing hegemony of wealth.

And I think anger at the horrible state of the former Soviet republics, destroyed by efforts at forced wealth redistribution (although we know it really meant just that different people had it) and the failure of a centralized state to truly meet the needs of a people, will help keep this country a capitalist democracy.

I agree, Shelley. Anger is a healthy thing. Thanks for the thoughts :).

Posted by: susanna on July 5, 2002 11:17 PM

I disagreed too, though not so eloquently as Dave.

Posted by: Dorothea Salo on July 5, 2002 11:21 PM

Just a quick peek in to say that agreement's good, but disagreement's a good thing, too. Makes life much more interesting.

Steve, I will remember and cherish '...throw out the entire DSM IV and put one word..."stuck"' forever.

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on July 6, 2002 12:17 AM

Mike, it's hard for me to think of anger as a transcendent emotion. It seems to me that there's an earthiness to anger, almost an antithesis to spirituality.

For instance, I have used anger as a way of cutting through my own emotional depressions - as a way to 'ground' myself, to break the cycle of hopeless dependency on that which causes the depression. This, to me, is very earthy, pragmatic, practical.

I need to look at anger in this new light, as an aspect of spirituality.

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on July 6, 2002 12:31 AM

Anything that breaks the pattern will do. Sometimes it's anger. Sometimes it's humour. Sometimes it's misery. Sometimes it's just plain being sick and tired of where you are and what you're doing.

Don't limit yourself to just anger!

Posted by: Victor Echo Zulu on July 6, 2002 01:52 AM

Victor, true, other pattern breakers can work, as Steve stated. Still, controlled anger is quite effective personally. That's the same thing as "...being sick and tired of where you are and what you're doing". Well, IMHO.

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on July 6, 2002 08:17 AM

Disagree. Agree. I've long thought anger to be bad. But the motivating power of pissing someone off seems to have a value that may require a contextual analysis... I'm a peacenik. I do not support my fellow anti-war activists who are coming from a hard core of anger. They are perpetuating a cycle of violence that can be interrupted by cooling the anger off. Anger can be a violent, hostility inducing emotion. Wars gain support from these angry feelings. There is no such thing as a just war (even if it feels like it is justified, what we seek is peace and justice). Hence anger in a political is dangerous at best, evil at worst. Anger in a personal context... "I'll show them... rucka-rucka-bullshit... I can do this better than they dreamed of seeing it done." Fine. That's an inward directed use of personal emotion to achieve something. But I infer that anger can be used as a motivator. "If we make him mad, his performance will improve." That kind of manipulation is bad on the face of it.

Gotta go do some work now. Grrrr... that makes me mad. (Incidentally, my best friend always warned people to watch out ofr his temper. By this he meant he was easily angered and woe betide those who got in his way. Why was this guy my friend I wonder... different issue... anyway, he had a heart attack in his thirtties and died young of pancreatic cancer. Single data point on the personal value of anger.

Posted by: fp on July 6, 2002 08:24 AM

I debated whether to make some responses in another posting or in a comment. However, another posting is addressing the "threaded void", whereas a comment is personal. Opted for personal.

Dave Rogers, I appreciate your response but I do disagree with the association between fear and anger. To me, a healthy anger is the antithesis of fear - it helps one overcome fear, to find the strength to follow what could be the difficult - and unpopular - course.

And Susanna, while I appreciate your agreement (and the fact that you never take disagreement personally), I don't think we are talking about the same form of anger. The US may have responded originally out of anger, but all we're doing now is responding out of fear. All of our actions now are based on returning, as quickly as possible to "the status quo" of USA, the Untouchable.

I am angry now, but less at the terrorists and more at those who would use our fears against ourselves. I am angry at those who would use our fears to convince the populace that we must continue bombing in Afghanistan; that we must invade Iraq; that we must suspend civil liberties. And it is from this anger that I speak out and will continue to speak out, and act (non-violently and legally) wherever possible.

Dorothea, I loved your posting because you wrote a perfect counter-point to mine. I have, to all intents and purposes, detailed how I face life's difficult decisions and challenges, as have you. And as we have both shown, there is no 'wrong' or 'right' way in this action - just different approaches based on different people.

I am aware that there is a beauty and a peace and an elegance with accepting that there are events that one can't control. However, there are some things that are so important to me that I must work to change them even though I am surrounded by those who say the effort is impossible.

I know that I most likely risk failure with some of the battles I join - and ridicule and even rejection from those I hold dear. There is a cost. When faced with events and challenges such as these, I use anger as a method of drawing strength from within. No other emotion works - not humor, not misery, not even love.

And there are some things I cannot give up on without giving up on the very core of me. And in that, Mike and I are, I believe, in complete agreement.

Sorry for long comment.

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on July 6, 2002 11:25 AM

Hmm. Had a similar comment/conversation with David Rogers a little more than a week ago here: http://www.kalilily.net/weblog/02/06/30/130732.html.

I called that anger that propels one to act for positive change "sacred rage" -- in contrast to the kind of rage that is only destructive.

Posted by: Elaine on July 6, 2002 11:40 AM

Anger is a bad thing. It comes from fear, and it inspires fear. Fear has a proximate cause. Root out the cause, displace the anger. Anger sucks. Angry people rationalize inhuman behavior. Angry people foster hostility and resentment in others. Angry people haven't learned a loving acceptance that transcends helpless acceptance. Angry people are stunted in their personal development. The "sacred rage" that Elaine talks about is a rare thing. We see it in the movies, and Jesus fell into it with the money-changers in the temple, but that was a one shot deal. He didn't go around in a rage very much.

Anger and hatred go hand in hand. Acceptance and understanding go hand in hand. To base your understanding of anger in a sophomoric term paper kind of way, to use an operant conditioning experiment to generalize about human behavior is shallow at best.

Anger inspires fear, hostility and aggression in others. It is indeed a sharing thing.

Posted by: fp on July 6, 2002 02:59 PM

Shelley, I commend to your reading, Prisoners of Hate The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility and Violence by Aaron T. Beck, M.D. Dr. Beck is considered by some to be the founder of cognitive therapy. It's a rather dry book sometimes, but it makes a compelling case. Anger has its origins in fear. In the work that I've done, I've learned that in every case where I've examined what I was feeling and what I was believing, there was a fear at the root of the emotion. Anger is just the "fight" half of the fight or flight response, the response to fear.

While some people agree that anger turned inward can lead to depressive thinking, the solution is not to externalize the anger and act on it in an angry way, the solution is to examine the basis for the initial angry response, what am I afraid of? What am I believing about myself? Is this true? What can I do about it? Can I get more information? Is there some information I need to share? Often the fear is based on something with no basis in reality. In some cases, we may assume the role of mind-readers, "He/She thinks I'm..." and then we choose to act on these fictitious thoughts as if they were really true, by what we then choose to believe about ourselves or others.

I can go on for pages and pages about how one goes from fear to anger, I have a million examples.

There is also a growing body of evidence that suggests "venting" anger doesn't work. It actually prolongs the stressed state and can lead to greater aggression.

I sometimes think that what you and Elaine may be referring to as "anger" is really a metaphor or a rhetorical device for some other frame of mind. That what you're describing must not include all of the psychological and physiological effects including the release of stress hormones, elevation of blood pressure, and biased thinking. If so, I think you need a better metaphor. There are plenty of people out there getting angry with no need for further encouragement.

There is no such thing as "controlled anger." It's a process can be interrupted, but not controlled. You either interrupt it, or you ride it out and hope nothing bad happens. Maintaining a constant reservoir of anger, that is the ready formation of angry thoughts in response to particular stimuli, is not healthy. And the basis for the fear in anger is almost always something we're believing about ourselves. I want to say it always is, but I'm not 100% positive. In my subjective experience, it always is.

I think it's great, it's essential, to be assertive. I think there's no getting around getting angry, it's going to happen to even the most enlightened soul. What matters is what you do about it. I can think of no circumstance when it is appropriate or worthwhile to encourage people to "get angry."

I hope I'm getting accross how passionate I am about this, and I assure you, I'm not angry at all. ;^)

Posted by: Dave Rogers (not that other Dave) on July 6, 2002 03:55 PM

Frank, Dave - disagree.

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on July 6, 2002 05:07 PM

Sorry - more rounded answer.

In the learned helplessness theory, depression is not anger directed inwards. Not sure where that popped in at.

Dave, Frank, not sure where you got this association between anger and fear, but what I consider 'anger' you must consider something else. My 'anger' is much more positive thing than that which you both describe. And based on this, I guess we'll all have to agree to disagree on this one.

Frank, you stepped over the line with a personal attack. That 'term' paper was two years of work and research and intense interest, as well as personal discussions directly with the researchers, a monograph, and some graduate level classes because I was contemplating going on for a Masters in Psychology at that time. And the fact that I've followed the field ever since.

Demeaning my effort and my opinion to add stature to yours does not give weight to your opinion, does it?

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on July 6, 2002 05:26 PM

"To me, a healthy anger is the antithesis of fear - it helps one overcome fear,"

Anger is fear with a bravado attached. It's fear with teeth. The danger is much like confidence and cockiness. Confidence is good, but in the extreme it becomes cockiness or arrogance, which is obviously bad.

I concur that anger is fear with another face on it..

Posted by: ruzz on July 6, 2002 08:41 PM

Um, Frank admitted he messed this one up over on his site. I think he might be a little nervous about coming here to remark that fact, so I'm doing it for him (without his knowledge or consent).

I hope all can be made well.

Posted by: Dorothea Salo on July 6, 2002 08:45 PM

"Dave, Frank, not sure where you got this association between anger and fear, but what I consider 'anger' you must consider something else. My 'anger' is much more positive thing than that which you both describe. And based on this, I guess we'll all have to agree to disagree on this one. "

I'm happy to agree to disagree, but I am just as confused as you are as to how our conceptions of anger differ. Mine is from "the literature," as they say. Most of the literature I've read connects anger with fear.

Absent fear, you don't have a "fight or flight response," of which the "fight" part is usually recognized as anger.

What you seem to be describing sounds more like indignation, sort of a pronounced expression of disapproval and dissatisfaction, than "anger" or "rage."

Apart from that confusion, I'm happy to agree to disagree. I certainly don't presume to change your mind in this brief exchange; although it does make me sad that there are people who are telling folks to "Go ahead, get mad. You'll feel better." I've got pretty much the majority of my adult life that tells me that isn't so. Your experience seems to be different.

Posted by: dave rogers on July 6, 2002 09:29 PM

Just got back from buying a $21 bolt for the glorified weed whacker and then Men in Black II so have been offline... I want to apologize directly and publicly to Shelley for what were demeaning remarks that should have been edited for truth and suitability.

I'm sorry Shelley. And I do believe that anger is destructive and generally bad, and that the effort we expend in being productive or even courageous can be misconstrued as anger when it is really simpler and less onerous than that.

And I do believe that the pre-abstractive reasoning "personalities" (dogalities?) of "lower" mammal operant conditioning research subjects lack some critical componentry, and that it is a stretch to generalize regarding human behavior from those results. But again, this is not an area of expertise for me and I am sorry I shot from the hip expressing these opinions. Basically I concur with what Dave Rogers wrote above.

...and it pisses me off that you don't! No - that last line was a joke, really.

Hope you're okay with this retraction Shelley. I expressed myself further about this on my blog today after I left the comment that you called me on.

Posted by: fp on July 6, 2002 09:31 PM

I think I owe an apology here too, for making a bad situation worse.

I didn't mean any harm, and I'm sorry for the harm I did cause.

Posted by: Dorothea Salo on July 6, 2002 09:39 PM

Dorothea, you didn't do anything more than try and help - no bad. At all.

Frank, I acknowledge your retraction and appreciate the effort.

I realize that some of you associate anger with fear; other's including myself don't - at least not all anger.

It's one of the mysteries of life...people are different. Go figure. How did that happen?

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on July 6, 2002 09:56 PM

Anger generates intense energy. I have found, personally, that I need to find a safety valve for my anger so that I neither turn it inward nor vent it in destructive acts. Creative art projects are sometimes a good outlet -- turning the feelings into visual or verbal images. Rituals are another way I and some of my friends use to release anger. Did I ever tell you about the time one of my friends, who just got dumped by her boyfriend, brought over a pair of his shorts, which we proceeded to write nasty things on, rip into shreds, and then burn in my little mini-cauldron (really a small iron pot)? Amazing how doing that resulted in this magical catharsis for her. Anger (the by-product of her being hurt) was released, and she was ready to move on. Negative feelings exist. Denying, suppressing, or ignoring them often makes things worse. Anger is what propelled me out of a bad marriage into an extraordinarily interesting life. If I had not gotten really, really angry, I would still be stuck in some sort of Beckett Endgame, trying to understand the un-understandable. I got pissed and I got a life.

Posted by: Elaine on July 6, 2002 10:00 PM

I was reading somewhere today about voodoo acupuncture. You don't have to be there. You just walk down the street and feel a little twinge and "boy does that feel good."

I guess I'll add just this note and then sign out of the anger topic. I don't think it's a good idea to deny or repress your feelings and I think everyone feels anger from peevish disappointment to berserker rage. I know the cathartic effects of strong emotions can be used to shape changes in our lives. I know it is natural to feel angry when deprived or threatened. But I have this hippie inclination to try to process through the anger to another set of (for me) "positive" emotions.

Posted by: fp on July 6, 2002 10:22 PM

Anger without fear?

Would that be righteous indignation? Is it the same as fear that you yourself will be subject to the same (unfair) treatment?

Is being offended really fear of lack of control?

I think maybe the fear is what ignites the anger, then the fear can go away and the anger remains.

And I need to do more thinking about this.


Posted by: Dave on July 6, 2002 10:30 PM

I think there's some sorts of anger ignited by fear, but that good ol' healthy anger, that world-changing-comet-riding-righteous anger, that's something all its own. It's eye-opening, it's productive, it's completely necessary in order to improve a bad set of circumstances. In the broadest sense, I'd rather make the world a better place because I was angry than because I was afraid. Fear is crippling, and anger - healthy anger - is motivating.

And I quote:

Bumper sticker: "If you're not angry, then you're not paying attention."

Arrogant Reference to Own Song Lyrics: "If you want to get angry that's all right/I believe self-expression is all we have/and I have found that it's a certainty in life/that people around me are gonna get mad."

Posted by: Shannon on July 6, 2002 11:56 PM

Shelley, another provocative post, and good discussion. I found some aspects I agree with, and some, perhaps in the comments more than your post, need a little clarification. The anger as a tool of empowerment is especially suspect. I posted a response of sorts, on my site.

Posted by: Michael Webb on July 7, 2002 02:42 AM

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum....

I really love all the folks who use their own fear, helplessness and emotional confusion to make an argument against anger.

I am a great believer in anger as a tool for empowerment. Without anger to slap you up site the head you will never know why things bother you, nor will you ever be able to take a position. You cannot work for or against anything if you do not use the motivation that anger gives you.

The 'kittens, butterflies and rainbow' crowd will point out that anger always turn into destructive rage. Our being here cuts a large hole in that argument.

Passive people have never made things better. They just add to the body count.

Posted by: the head lemur on July 7, 2002 09:08 AM

My two cents on anger..

Anger is only dangerous if it's bottled up. If you deny it, run away from it, it'll come up anyway, it will find you, and in the process it could hurt you or others.

Anger is a very powerful force. If it's allowed to release naturally, it can be a thing of beauty. It can be safe. A source of movement. It makes things happen. I believe that anything that expresses our true nature is beautiful, so when anger comes from inside, it's a source of beauty.

But when a raging firestorm of anger is directed at you, it can be hard to listen. But, if you can, or if it can be quickly re-channeled, a release of anger can be as spectacular as Old Faithful, the Hale-Bopp comet, or a huge plume of anti-matter at the edge of our galaxy.

Anger is real. It can be truly gorgeous.

Posted by: Dave Winer on July 7, 2002 11:11 AM

Anyone hugged the lemur today? Sounds like the lemur needs a great big hug.


Now go out there and chase some butterfies and rainbows!

Posted by: dave rogers on July 7, 2002 03:09 PM

Well, that didn't exactly work. Maybe this will work:


Okay, now you're all better.

Posted by: dave rogers on July 7, 2002 03:10 PM

Dave, Head Lemur's responses was to a general audience, and based on written opinion. Check out your response and ask yourself - are you questioning the opinion, or attacking the person?

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on July 7, 2002 06:22 PM

Sorry, this was in reference to Dave Rogers - forget that there's three Dave's on this thread.

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on July 7, 2002 06:24 PM

Neither one, I was making a joke. I thought it was funny. I guess you had to be there.

Sorry for the confusion.

And let there be no doubt, had I wanted to attack the Lemur, there would have been no ambiguity about it.

But let ask a question. The Lemur writes, The 'kittens, butterflies and rainbow' crowd will point out that anger always turn into destructive rage. Our being here cuts a large hole in that argument.

I'm wondering what that hole is? If, by the generally civil tone of this discussion, misunderstood attempts at levity notwithstanding, the Lemur believes advocates of anger have demonstrated that it is in fact a productive, positive emotion, I'm not persuaded by the argument.

Has someone offered that they were "angry" here? I don't think they have. Has anyone responded out of anger? Well, FP has admitted that he has, and he's taken ownership of that. (We kittens, rainbows and butterfly people like to take ownership of our feelings, and our mistakes.)

So, how has "our presence" in this forum demonstrated anger is a productive, useful emotion? At his web site, the Lemur says anyone who can't "handle" their anger, doesn't have the brains of a gerbil. That's a productive, motivating observation, I must say.

By way of contrast, I would point out that we witness the effects of angry people every day, and perhaps he's right, maybe they all lack the brains of a small furry rodent. But I think the holes in the lives of the families of the people who were killed at LAX last week sort of undermine his argument. I think the holes in the lives of the families of people imprisoned in this country under laws written, in many cases, by angry legislators, convicted, in many cases, by angry juries and sentenced, in many cases, by angry judges, poke a big hole in his argument. I think the violence in the middle east, unless that whole region lacks the grey matter of small furry rodent, leaves a big hole in his argument. Now, John Ashcroft seems to me to be an angry man. Bill Bennett, every time I see him seems to be an angry man. Rush Limbaugh? Angry man, I think. Pat Buchanan? I'd say he's angry. I could be wrong, I don't know for sure. By angry, I mean men who value their anger for it's motivational qualities. It gets them right there out in front on the right side of issues.

No, the Lemur's argument was so poor and sad that I felt the most appropriate response to was play somewhat to the stereotype he cites and call for a hug. Just trying to be a little ironic.

Answering anger with anger, violence with violence is not long term solution to the problems we face. But, I'm repeating myself and I'm not convinced one can ever win any converts on a matter such as this.

I think what happens is at some point,is one is forced to confront anger and know it for what it is, or something goes horribly wrong in one's life. Maybe some people "get it" right from the start. I was not one of those people, I'm not proud to admit. But I get it now, and I'm not confused, helpless or fearful about it one whit.

The Lemur also says anger lets you know you're alive. So does stubbing your toe. I'm not sure we'll find a big advocacy group for that.

There, I think I've attacked the idea, without attacking the man. And the vein in my temple isn't even throbbing.

Posted by: Dave Rogers (not that other Dave) on July 7, 2002 06:55 PM

Oh. A joke. And not based on any negative feelings or anything like that I see. Well, good. Wouldn't want any of that negative stuff around here.

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on July 7, 2002 07:07 PM

For some reason, I don't think the direct link is working, but I've posted a response to this Anger discussion.

Posted by: Tom Bolton on July 9, 2002 12:02 AM

OK. The link is going to something else for some inexplicable reason. Unless by tomorrow the archive system at Blogger actually works, the post is the one from July 9 titled: Wisdom Prayer.


Posted by: Tom Bolton on July 9, 2002 12:05 AM

This really rings with something my therapist told me a month or so back: anger is there to help you ask for what you need. It is a driving force to make things happened.

I'm slowly starting to accept anger as healthy instead of "useless" (that's the idea I was brought up with).

Posted by: Stephanie on July 9, 2002 10:19 AM

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