What causes anger and how to deal with it
Anger is an aroused state in which the mind's attention is focussed on a potential threat and the body responds by getting ready to run or fight. Adrenaline and other stress hormones run round the body, heart rate and blood pressure rise, breathing gets deeper and faster, blood is diverted from the organs to the muscles, and the whole organism gets ready for action. At the same time, thinking becomes more primitive and modern intelligence, a significant part of what makes us human, disappears. It is a primal, energised state, similar in many ways to sexual arousal, so it can be quite addictive.
Why combat anger?
Many angry people will die before their time, of cardio-vascular complications brought on by the continuing periods of high physical arousal. Life may be dangerous and unpleasant, for themselves, their relatives and friends and the people they meet. The rising levels of angry behaviour in society are making whole communities more stressful, intimidating and depressing places to be.
What can be done?
The first step is to find out what is causing the angry behaviour. Anger doesn't just happen, it is a response to something in the the environment. So, what is triggering it? Is it related to previous traumatic events that need to be de-traumatised? If not, what elements in the angry person's life need to be re-interpreted? The Human Givens therapist will do this, and use guided imagery to help the angry person learn how to manage emotional states once they begin, rehearsing staying calm in situations which previously caused angry outbursts. The patient will also be taught how to become generally calmer.
How can people become calmer overall?
Anyone, not just those who are reacting angrily to their environment, will benefit from learning how to reduce their general emotional arousal level. People who regularly relax, for example, tend to have fewer illnesses and a longer and happier life. And there are other things that almost anyone can do which will have a profound effect on mood and well-being generally, reducing stress by attending to unmet emotional needs.
Emotional needs and stress
Reducing or cutting out over-stimulation from television, DVDs, computer games, drugs, and other unbalancing elements of the modern lifestyle will help; learning calming techniques and new ways of responding to stressful situations is very useful; but the main improvement will come from meeting the essential emotional needs in the patient's life. For a fuller explanation see 'what are the Human Givens?'
To find out whether the way you live is making you angry, nervous or sad, why not take the ENA questionnaire — it could change your life.
If you or someone you know suffers from anger outbursts or excessive rage, there are many things that people can do to help themselves. Useful information can be found in the best-selling book Release from Anger: Practical help for controlling unreasonable rage and CD, Effective Anger Management, by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell.
Explore our articles and interviews
Read Mike Beard's therapist account of Nina's treatment.
An article about the human givens approach that appeared in the major American publication, Family Therapy Magazine.
Ivan Tyrrell talks with Daniel Nettle about the far closer than expected connection between psychosis and creative thinking.
Most people think ethics is concerned with truth, justice, equality, loyalty, fairness, values, principles, morals, etc. All these words in italics are abstractions. They are content free. They contain no sensory information. Such words used to be called 'reifications' in philosophy and are now more commonly called 'nominalisations'.
If people are suffering emotional distress there will always be unmet emotional needs, this is how the Human Givens approach works.
Sheila Barratt-Smith tells Denise Winn that the images and language used to describe birth can determine whether a woman experiences pain — or euphoria.
The fundamental new direction in therapy is more than just a set of new techniques explains Bill O'Hanlon in an article first published in 1995.
The governing organisations of the world seem all at sea. They are missing an essential element: that of the psychology of human nature, which is programmed into us from our genes (the human 'givens').
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In the light of current global events, several people have asled us to make Ivan Tyrrell's fascinating free webinar available once more – you can now watch it online, read on for details...
Understanding extremism in the Syrian conflict through the prism of 'Human Givens' - Thursday 16th March 2017 in Cheltenham