The Angry Book
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I am grateful to my former teachers, at the American Institute for Psychoanalysis, for my training in Karen Horneys theory. Dr. Horney's theory lives on in her books and in the work we do. Without it, this book would not be possible. T. I. R. Those of us who are physiologically whole are born with the potential to feel and to express anger. But the things that make us angry and the ways we feel and the things we do when we are angry are not the same for all of us. The particular, individual ways in which we respond are learned. Generally, no one sits down and gives us lessons. We learn in more effective ways -- starting from the moment we are born.
Response to a seemingly passive parent's unconscious aggressive needs can be subtle or blatant, minor or major. We have all seen mothers who visit someone's house—perhaps yours—and let a small child slowly but surely destroy whatever is in his reach with no effort to control him or with an effort so puny as to effect an endorsement of what he is doing. Unfortunately, not all cases are this trivial (however annoying). There are boys who will commit multiple antisocial aggressive acts (who have the most "peace-loving parents in the world"). As the chief psychiatrist of the Women's House of Detention, Department of Correction of New York City, I saw a considerable number of "sexual acter-outers " Occasionally a girl would come from a home where sex couldn't have been handled on a more Victorian level. Of course parents with enormous sexual repressions often also have strong unconscious needs to break out and to act out something, which children sometimes "do for them." For some people sexual acting-out or promiscuity and prostitution are intimately linked to aggressive needs and are a way of fighting authority. The authority in such cases may seem to be law or society or the Establishment, but the aggression may actually be displaced from the tyrannical, repressive, overrestrictive, constrictive, over- Twisting It: The Assorted Poisons 59 earliest childhood) angry feelings toward her mother and sister. As she was able to feel, accept, and express (with a good deal of emotion) these feelings, the thoughts vanished and sleep ensued. This was no simple matter. For this to happen, her attitude toward anger plus her unrealistic angelic image of herself had to be changed, which required much self-examination in all areas and realistic self-acceptance. We both worked hard and the results were very gratifying. relative and will exist in varied combinations. In any case, the destructive effect will be directly proportional to the degree of perverting. Perverting, whatever the degree, will however always be destructive. It will result in a slush fund of perverted anger, providing ample material for conversion to assorted poisons discussed in Part 3. If it were possible, a measure of the reservoir of slush, of the assorted poisons, of the degree of perverting, or of a combination of all would indicate the degree of freezing it. Freezing it is the measure of success in subverting anger. It never works on anger exclusively. It always affects all our emotions, including love. It is a measure of our total success in removing ourselves from our feelings (especially anger). In removing ourselves from our feelings —that is, in submerging and deadening our feelings—we are extraordinarily destructive of ourselves. This is a form of self-imposed anesthesia (like ether or gas) that kills our spontaneity, sensitivity, and potential creativity. It is the great destroyer of self and human identity and human relatedness. H o w can we relate if we don't feel? We cannot feel with a frozen finger, and we cannot feel with frozen emotions. As with a frozen limb, an emotional gangrene sets in which, in feeling tone, removes us from humanity—from ourselves and other people.A great deal of emotional slush is constantly being twisted into anxiety. Anxiety is derived from many sources—emotional conflicts, hurt pride, loss of self-esteem, and so on, but much of it is derived directly from the slush bank. Indeed, it is my belief that the slush bank provides the principal fuel of anxiety-producing machinery. Anxiety itself is a highly complicated subject on which many papers and books have been written. It is not our purpose to write another one here. However, anxiety as the almost inseparable and sometimes indistinguishable blood brother of perverted anger (slush) is certainly a major poison and therefore deserving of our attention. Slush can be twisted into anxiety that is then felt as primitive anxiety in its raw form. Or slush Parents in this environment will very often produce what is known as a double-bind situation which goes like this: "Don't hold it in -- I can't stand when you do -- let it out! But when you let it out, I will hit you for being disrespectful." This damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't approach promotes severe conflict, much anxiety, great angry problems, and emotional paralysis. Twisting It: The Assorted Poisons 129 anonymous, just another driver, and he needn't fear any assault on his nice-guy status. But he and his car are one, and together they become a formidable instrument of vengeance. On the road they can strike out for every bit of hurt pride ever experienced. Together they can attempt to exact vindictive triumph for every seeming wrong ever inflicted on Mr. Nice Guy. That he doesn't know his enemy (other cars and drivers) makes it so much easier for him to switch to them all kinds of feeling about other people (from home, for example). What's more, he can go on being ostensibly peace loving. How much easier to work out sibling rivalry, feelings of sexual inadequacy, inability to stand up to the boss or to a castrating wife or mother —and all the anger these produce—on the well-populated road where he is anonymous. I feel very strongly that a great many automobile accidents occur because persons suffering from much perversion of anger, from bursting slush funds, bring it to cars and roads, where it overflows. Twisting It: The Assorted Poisons 65 aware of "uneasy feelings" at "different times" or with "certain people" or in "certain circumstances." Not all of us need professional help. But with improved "angry insight" we can all gain and grow and become easier, freer, and happier people. Dreams can be a form of poison. This is true for individuals whose sole angry outlet is dreams and who continually have dreams that are slushladen. Dreams are exceedingly complicated psychological manifestations, and their interpretation is a complex business. Many volumes have been written on the subject, and the last word is far from said. All psychoanalysts agree, however, that a dream can be meaningful only in the terms of the dreamer himself. This means that it is necessary to know the history of the dreamer and the particular and individual meaning of his particular symbols (the words and pictures that appear in his dreams). We must approach any kind of generalization or general symbol-meaning with great care. Every analyst, however, is aware that certain kinds of dreams appear again and again in people with
children respond to a mother's "mood" long before she herself is consciously aware of its existence. This applies particularly to her approval and disapproval of how the child feels and acts. Children do in fact "receive" and "record" what goes on around them, and they learn. T h e y learn by doing over and over again—by repetition—and this doing is often initiated by imitation. T h e y also learn by identification with a parent or relative. T h e y learn by experimenting and testing, that is, by doing and then observing parental response to their actions. Of course all this applies to emotions and how the parents emote and respond to the child's feelings, especially the feeling—and expression—of anger. ways hurt from chronic clenching. It was almost as if he had to keep his jaws closed tight lest the real truth somehow emerge in an unguarded moment. T h e fatigue here is not imagined. It is very real indeed. Just imagine how tired you would be if you kept your body in a constant state of censored, guarded tension. Interestingly, some of the victims of this poison complain of severe cramping in various muscles, and some have been treated for "poor circulation." I know one man who used to chew a hole through a pipe stem at least once a week—until much of his tension and anger were rerouted through healthier channels. Talkiatry – Feel Like You Can’t Talk About It? Virtual Psychiatry Can Help. Virtual mental health care from doctors who take insurance. Visit Talkiatry Freezing it is the total perversion. It combines the perversions I've already described with its own peculiar refinements. We can say that if there was an accurate w a y (and there isn't) to measure the degree of perverting anger, we would then know the degree of freezing it. T h e various preversions are not mutually exclusive. W e — a l l of us—combine putting it off, and putting it down, and so on. Some of us use one perversion more than another. Those of us with great angry problems will undoubtedly make much use of all the perversions. Our healthier confreres will pervert anger to a lesser degree. The particular combination of perversions (or the particular perversion we use most) will depend on our total personal histories and character structures. Of course, consciousness and unconsciousness regarding our difficulties with anger and our perverting of anger will also be Auto poison is not carbon monoxide. Auto poison is the very special but deadly stuff found throughout the world which chronic car-accident makers use to kill and maim other people and themselves. I feel very strongly that many automobile accidents are not accidental at all. T h e chronic auto killer may not be aware of any hostile intent, but his chronicity in this matter is evidence of unconscious intent. Slush is the fuel, the automobile is the weapon, and the results are only too obvious. Of course people who cause accidents may also suffer from a multiplicity of emotional difficulties, but the principal stuff of auto poison is perverted anger. How often we see a so-called nice, easy-going guy become omnipotently maniacal on the road. He is full of auto poison, and he is spewing it out all over the highway. On the road he is
Learn the art of mindful living with over 2,000 mindful practices to train your brain. Stress less, sleep better, and deal with anxiety. Mindfulness.com has 4.5+ stars on both major app stores. Free 7-Day Trial Anger Management for Everyone: Ten Proven Strategies to Help You Control Anger and Live a Happier Life I mean the process of writing any poison-pen letter? This is a poison, first, because it is nearly always generated, not by a single event or act, but rather by the whole slush fund. It is only the slush fund that can generate and sustain the pressure necessary to produce the motivation to write these letters. But it is more than that. T h e writer does not really accept his stand and does not stand behind it. He is actually ashamed of it and refuses to affix his name to and to identify with it. And there is an even more destructive aspect here. T h e poison-pen writer has no desire to communicate or to relate. He wants only to hurt and to feel himself the master of his stabbing missive. His goal has nothing to do with the purposes involved in communicating healthy anger. He is not interested in the recipient's feelings, thoughts, or explanations. He is not interested in clearing the air, improving understanding, or bettering relations. If anything, he wants to maintain his hostility (more about hostility versus anger in the next chapter), his own bad feelings, and the bad feelings he hopes to produce in others. The hit-and-runner, though usually not as sadistic in his intent as the poison-penner, functions largely in the same way. He, too, kills off any possibility of meaningful, constructive emotional interchange. He, too, leaves his victim Putting it on is the process of removing anger from the person, place, thing, or event that we are actually angry at and putting it on a "safer" or less threatening person, place, thing, or event. For example, anger may be transferred from a frightening boss and put on a frightened wife. Though a glimmer of awareness may be present, putting it on usually occurs with complete unconsciousness. An "on-putter" can suddenly get angry at someone for no apparent reason, or he may become angry at an imagined hurt or inappropriately angry at a minor hurt. He may accumulate or exaggerate old hurts and put them on someone innocent without any rationale whatsoever. Exaggerations and accumulations can sometimes be quite violent and can also become chronic, especially w h e n the slush fund is overflowing and finally breaks through the walls When you lose your temper honestly, it can be good for you. In this perennially bestselling book, eminent psychiatrist and bestselling author Dr. Theodore Isaac Rubin shows how one of the most powerful human emotions can change your life. Suppressed or twisted anger can lead to anxiety, depression, insomnia, psychosomatic illness, alcoholism, frigidity, impotence, and downright misery. But understanding and releasing anger can lead to greater health, happiness, and emotional wholeness.
of the reason for or the source of the anger or the relative ease or complexity in perceiving either the anger or its source—everybody, but everybody, gets angry. As you will see later on, this may not always be apparent. But it is sol The only exceptions are those poor unfortunate people who suffer from one or another form of severe brain damage. Perversions This part of The Angry Book describes the allimportant ways in which we pervert the normal, natural free feel and flow of anger. These are the principal methods we use to contribute to the slush fund of perverted emotions. Perverted anger provides a reservoir of emotional slush that poisons one's system and leads to all kinds of emotional infections. 9 bounds are very flexible. I'm talking about a specific condition here, namely, the constant search for mechanical sexual action devoid of anything else. These are the true sex-and-run people.) Some sex athletes in fact show intense hostility and real hatred, and among them are those who are overtly sadistic in their sexual practices. Yet with many there is so great an interest vested in keeping their hostility hidden that they are in no way aware of any hostile feelings. When they are confronted with their sadism, the rationalizations abound: "Oh, it's just for variety," "Oh, she likes it," and so on. It is interesting to note here that psychiatric workers have found that a good many male slushfunders have problems with impotency. Many are premature ejaculators. Their unconscious hostility is such that they would prefer (unconsciously) to ejaculate prematurely—making it impossible for coitus to take place—rather than give women any significant satisfaction. I have found that impotence is only one side of slushfund operations. Many "frigid women" are also tremendous slush-funders—too full of unconscious hatred to permit letting-go close harmony with another human being to take place. After they resolve their angry problems, closeness, including sex- But they had them, and they denied having them. When sexual impulses and fantasies made ordinary denial impossible, they diverted these feelings to physiological areas that served as outlets as well as a form of anesthesia or denial. Thus some Victorian ladies suffered from paralysis of both legs for no physiological reason whatsoever. It was as if a self-imposed, unconscious hypnosis took place that saved them from sexual feelings or conflict. How could a lady who is paralyzed from the waist down have sexual feelings or worries? We don't see many of these "conversion hysterias" anymore. But people still occasionally develop conversion symptoms to avoid confrontation with anger. Of course they also develop all kinds of other symptoms, too, some of which we have already spoken about, such as anxiety and depression. I remember one woman with a paralysis of the right arm who constantly dreamed of stabbing her husband—with her right arm. She was completely unaware of feeling any anger toward him. She likewise denied any recognition of meaning in her dream even though the meaning was quite obvious. As a matter of fact, only months after treatment started did she remember having this repetitive dream. But not all escapes or denials of angry feelings are this obvious. I had a patient in treatment who was Recognition of these "perverting methods' can be very helpful in cutting down "twisting" or the production of "poisons/' which I will discuss in the next section.Ross is one of literature's great heroes . . . [with] elements of Darcy, Heathcliff, Rhett Butler and Robin Hood
Beginnings In this section I want to describe some general considerations as well as some of the beginnings or origins of angry troubles.that dam it up. Victims of these exaggerations or accumulations may transfer a lifelong rage at their mothers to their wives or husbands. Others may become terribly bitter and cynical and spend a lifetime splattering everyone and everything with a loosened fund of old slush. Still others turn their anger from its actual and appropriate direction to themselves and become full of selfhate and suffer serious depression. Some with extraordinary irrational belief splash the slush bank onto others to the point of delusion, fear, and paranoid ideas ("Others want to kill m e " ) . Of course, there are different degrees of putting it on as well as different degrees of inappropriateness. At times the victim will direct his selfhate to other people. At other times he will swear that other people hate him, here again projecting his self-hate. If the degree of selfhate and distortion is great enough, he may suffer from paranoid delusions—feeling that other people want to hurt or kill him. Most cases are not this severe but are still very destructive. In any case, the main intent, conscious or unconscious, is to shift anger to the least threatening person, thing, event, or situation. (Thus a man dissatisfied with his job may chronically find fault with the w a y his wife keeps their home.) This is an attempt to maintain his working ability. Of course failure always stalks on- In this section I want to describe some general considerations as well as some of the beginnings or origins of angry troubles. to get angry, but sometimes you can't, even though the circumstances are identical. It all depends on my mood—which there is no w a y of knowing." " W h y can't you be like me—I never get angry, but when I do, I don't show it. All I do is get cold and sullen and withdraw my attention and affection from you." "If you get angry, I'll know you don't love me." "Nice boys and girls don't get angry—especially at adults." "If you must get angry, at least be polite." "If you get angry, you will not be liked." "If you continue to get angry, you will surely get into great trouble." "Civilized people don't get angry, but if you get angry I'll have to tell Daddy, and he will get angry and will have to punish you when he gets home." Parents in this environment will very often produce what is known as a double-bind situation which goes like this: "Don't hold it in— I can't stand you when you do—let it out! But when you let it out, I will hit you for being disrespectful." This damned-if-you-do, damnedif-you-don't approach promotes severe conflict, much anxiety, great angry problems, and emotional paralysis.