What Are The Effects Of Repressed Anger Towards Parents?
If our parent/s caused us significant psychological suffering when we were growing up, we may have built up a great deal of anger towards them, but we may, too, have repressed that anger and its cause (ie. buried it deep inside our unconscious).
This repression of anger can occur because consciously facing up to the fact our parents emotionally damaged us so much and that this has made us so angry would be too psychologically painful. Hence, we do not allow ourselves to be consciously aware of this; this is what’s known as a psychological defense mechanism.
However, this repression of the real cause of our anger creates problems. One main problem is that we tend displace (re-direct) this anger onto targets who are not responsible for having created it. The result is we might often become inappropriately and disproportionately angry with people who don’t deserve it (eg. getting into bar – room fights, ‘road rage’ etc).
Alice Miller, the internationally famous expert on how our childhood experiences affect our adult behaviour went so far as to suggest it was Hitler’s own repressed anger which led to World War Two!
The diagram above shows feelings which often drive and lie beneath the surface of anger.
There are many other signs which may indicate that we are suffering from repressed anger which I list below:
Possible Symptoms Of Repressed Anger:
1) Depression (Freud was of the view that depression is caused by anger being redirected against the self. He also believed that by bringing the real reason for our repressed anger into our conscious minds could very substantially relieve us of our psychological misery and pain. We need to accept this anger, realize its complete validity and not feel guilty about it)
2) Sarcasm (redirecting our hostility towards our parents through being sarcastic to others)
3) Extreme sensitivity to being rejected (if our anger was caused by our parents rejecting us, this is very likely to make it a extremely hard for us to deal with rejection in our adult life)
4) Becoming disproportionately angry due to trivial causes (such as spilling some coffee)
5) Constant tiredness (repressing anger depletes mental energy)
6) Tension in our muscles
7) Addictions (to numb our emotional pain, eg. alcohol, drugs, exercise, shopping, work, food)
8) Nervous habits (such as nail-biting, skin picking)
9) Passive aggression (expressing anger indirectly)
10) Occasional explosive outbursts of rage when the pressure
repressed anger becomes overwhelming).
How Can Repressed Anger Be Treated?:
Repressed anger and its causes need to be gently uncovered in a safe environment with a suitably qualified therapist. The anger then needs to be diffused in a healthy way (ie not in a way which harms the self or others). On no account should the anger be expressed through violence, as this clearly does hurt others and, one way or another, the self as well, compounding the problem substantially.
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).