Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Anger, and Venting of Same.

There is one school of psychology which teaches that anger is tantamount to an emotional boil, and if we don't vent it, we will be slowly poisoned by its accumulation and spread.

I don't happen to agree with this. I believe that venting of anger is a taboo, and like most other taboos, breaking it the first time carries the greatest weight, and is likely to be accompanied by feelings of guilt.

If we continue to break it, time and again, it loses any power to inform our thinking or control our behavior. We move along the continuum, from remorse and shame at the start, through the doing of it for the satisfaction and power to manipulate, until eventually it becomes habitual.

People who are angry all the time are exhausting company - they require that we be always on guard, so as not to set them off. I had a girlfriend when I lived in the city, whose significant other was a ranter. He was a talented artist, but he was angry all the time, and felt no compunction about expressing his rage. Someone was always pissing him off. He loved to rant about the government - federal and local - that was one of his favourites, because there was so much scope.

He was vociferous in his descriptions of the manner in which other people had failed to meet his standards of conduct. He ranted about the annoying tendency of mechanical objects to break down, wear out, and require repair.

I used to sit in silent wincing while he harangued us, wondering if he thought we wanted to be battered by his opinions, or was he so caught up in the venting of his rage, that we were just acoustical elements in the room?

Anger is a feeling, it's not a right or an entitlement. Pumping our anger out with no regard to those around us is abusive. There is a vast gulf between discussing our anger, the reasons for it, and the healthy ways to deal with it, with our sponsor or a program friend, and just dumping it like a pot of boiling acid over whomever happens to be in the vicinity.

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