Category Archives: Anger

BPD And Resolving Conflict With Others

If we suffered severe and chronic childhood trauma, particularly if, as a result, we have gone on to develop borderline personality disorder, it is likely that, without appropriate therapy, we frequently find ourselves in heated conflict with others, especially those others to whom we are emotionally attached such as partners or family members.

Indeed, one of the hallmarks symptoms of BPD is the experiencing of difficulties with interpersonal relationships.

We may have relationship problems for a variety of reasons that include :

And, when a relationship ends, sufferers of BPD are liable to take it particularly hard, especially if rejected in such a way as to trigger reminders of childhood rejection (on either a conscious or unconscious level). Indeed, the emotional pain of such rejection can be as excruciating as severe physical pain.

Because of the frequent ‘love-hate’ relationships BPD sufferers are prone to creating, the nature of the conflict between the sufferer and his / her partner tends to be cyclical and the first step is to become aware of the cycle and recognize its futility and destructiveness.

We also need to recognize the damage it is doing to our relationship ; conflict leaves both us and the person with whom we are in conflict feeling bad. Indeed, following outbursts of anger and rage, BPD sufferers tend to experience overwhelming feelings of profound shame. So, in essence, everyone loses and the relationship is undermined (and is likely to collapse altogether in the absence of effective, remedial action being taken).

Once we have become aware of this destructive cycle, we next need to make a definite commitment to trying our best to break it.

Obviously, though, if one has had a long history of getting into high conflict situations with others, the process of change is likely to take time and cannot, of course, be expected to work instantaneously ; one needs to learn and practice new social skills until they, in an ideal situation, become ‘second-nature’ and there will inevitably be setbacks along the way, paricularly when one is under intense stress, is deliberately provoked or is facing rejection.

Of course, each individual will have their own set of personal triggers which put them at high risk of entering into conflict with another so the next step is to try to IDENTIFY SUCH TRIGGERS.

Not letting potential triggers set off undesirable behaviors also entails controlling impulsivity ; you can read my previously published article entitled : Control Impulsive Behavior by clicking here. Also, you may wish to read my articles : Impulse Control : Study Showing Its Vital Importance and Childhood Trauma And The Development Of Impulse Control Disorders.

Once triggers have been identified, the next step is to rehearse in the mind how one will respond in such a way as not to create conflict or in a way that de-escalates any conflict that already exists. Using visualization techniques to aid mental rehearsal of one’s new, positive ways of dealing with situations that would have previously led to conflict can be particularly effective.

In his excellent book : The High Conflict Couple : A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide To Finding Peace, Intimacy And Validation (see image below to view on Amazon), Fruzzetti PhD endorses the above techniques and suggests using the acronym SET to help us to remember more constructive ways of dealing with conflict than we may used in the past ; SET stands for utilizing sympathy, empathy and truthfulness.

Assertiveness training can also help to ensure that a gentler approach to dealing with potential conflict does not lead to being taken advantage of.

RESOURCE :

Fruzzetti PhD’s Book :

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Depression : Anger Towards Parents Turned Inward?

The idea that depression is the result of our anger towards others (such as our parents) who have hurt and betrayed being turned inwards towards ourselves is usually thought to originate from the theories of Sigmund Freud, 1856 -1939 (who discussed the concept in his paper entitled ‘Mourning And Melancholia‘), although it is more likely to derive from the work of the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) who, a few decades earlier during the 1880s, wrote that ‘no one blames themselves without the secret wish for vengeance’.

And, more recently, Horney (1885 – 1852) proposed that depression originates from having parents who lack warmth or are hostile, inconsistent and preoccupied with their own needs rather than with those of their children. This negative parental treatment leads to the child developing feelings of anger and resentment towards the parent. However, because the child is dependent upon his / her parents, s/he cannot risk expressing these angry and resentful feelings and so represses them (this repression may also be driven by feelings of guilt about resenting his / her parents, by fear of the consequences of openly expressing anger towards them, or by conflicting feelings of love for them – in relation to the latter, you may wish to read my previously published article : Why Children Idealize Their Parents). This process takes place on a largely unconscious level, of course.

However, rather than dissipate away, these feeling of anger and resentment are REDIRECTED TOWARDS THE SELF. This negative energy then combines with the child’s feelings of his / her own impotence, the negative attitude of his / her parents towards him / her, and a sense of his / her own feelings of hostility, to cause the young person to create a self-concept of being someone to be ‘despised’ (in relation to this you may wish to read my previously published articles : Childhood Trauma Leading To Self-Hatred And Intense Self-Criticism’ and How The Child’s View Of View Of Their Own ‘Badness’ Is Perpetuated.’)

According to Horney, however, at the same time, the child simultaneously develops the compensatory concept of an ‘idealized’ self which is unrealistic and unobtainable, no matter how hard the child / later adult attempts to realize it.

However, in a desperate need to compensate for the ‘despised’ self, the child / later adult develops an insatiable and all-consuming, neurotic need to achieve this ideal state, even though s / he is not consciously aware of the origins of this need. This intense, neurotic need may manifest itself in various ways including perfectionism, an overwhelming need to be loved and admired by everyone (e.g. by becoming famous), or to be omnipotent.

Needless to say, living up to these standards is impossible and the inevitable failure to do so, according to Horney, generates feelings of self-hate. Indeed, the anger associated with these feelings may become so deeply entrenched and buried within the body that the result is psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches and back ache, representing an unconscious, masochistic need to punish oneself.

Anger turned inwards against the self and self-hatred clearly suggests an utter absence of self-compassion which is why compassion-focused therapy may be helpful for some who find themselves trapped in this self-lacerating, masochistic frame of mind, whilst Horney recommended psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

RESOURCES :

Develop Self Compassion | Self Hypnosis Downloads

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

BPD AND ANGER

causes of anger

Anger Management Hypnosis | Self Hypnosis Downloads : CLICK HERE.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)  Anger and Rage

As we have seen from numerous other articles that I have published on this site, those who suffered significant and chronic childhood trauma are at much increased risk of developing borderline personality disorder (BPD) in their adult lives compared to those who were fortunate enough to grow up in relatively stable, non-threatening, loving and nurturing families.

And, as we have also seen, one of the most common and predominant features of BPD is intense feelings of rage and anger which are difficult to control, particularly in stressful situations (even situations which others may perceive as non-stressful or only very mildly stressful).

Theories Relating To Anger :

There are various theories which seek to cast light upon the origins of such feelings of aggression ; four main such theories are as follows :

  • psychoanalytic theory
  • behavioral theory
  • cognitive theory
  • neurobiological theory

Let’s briefly look at each of these in turn :

  • PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY :

FRUSTRATED NEEDS :

Early psychoanalytic theorists attributed the source of anger in the child to deep feelings of frustration caused by not having their fundamental needs met (including unsatisfactory breast-feeding).

‘AN EXCESSIVE NATURE OF PRIMARY AGGRESSION’ :

The psychoanalyst, Otto Kernberg (b. 1929), who carried out important early research into the borderline personality, was one of the first to suggest that temperament (individual differences in personal traits that are biologically / genetically based and relatively independent of the influence of learning) may play a significant role in the development of the adult BPD sufferer’s propensity to be easily moved to feelings and expressions of intense anger. Kernberg referred to those with such temperaments as possessing ‘an excessive nature of primary aggression.’

  • BEHAVIORAL THEORY :

EMOTIONALLY WITHOLDING ENVIRONMENT :

Linehan, an expert in borderline personality disorder (BPD) who devised the therapy for the condition known as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), proposes the idea that aggression in BPD sufferers has its roots in the individual growing up in an ‘emotionally witholding environment‘ thus thwarting the child’s need to have his/her fundamental emotional needs met.

  • COGNITIVE THEORY :

ANGER AS A DEFENSE AGAINST REAL / IMAGINED / ANTICIPATED EXPLOITATION :

According to cognitive theory, one of the main functions of anger is to operate as a defense (a defense which has been unconsciously learned in early life to protect one in a threatening environment) against real or imagined exploitation (e.g. because a parent has used,,  taken advantage of  and manipulated the individual as a child).

  • NEUROBIOLOGICAL THEORY :

ABNORMALITIES IN THE BRAIN’S LIMBIC SYSTEM :

PET (positron emission tomography) scans have revealed that those individuals who have significant problems in connection with their feelings of anger and have histories of aggressive behavior can show abnormalities in the brain region known as the LIMBIC SYSTEM, or, more specifically, in the amygdala and hypothalamus (these are both sub-components of the limbic system) as well as abnormalities in the brain’s prefrontal cortex).

SEROTONIN :

Various research studies have also revealed that impulsive aggressiveness in individuals with BPD is associated with abnormally low levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in the brain.

RELATED ARTICLE : Narcissistic Rage

RESOURCE :

Anger Management Hypnosis | Self Hypnosis Downloads

eBook :

childhood anger ebook

Above eBook now available for immediate download from Amazon. Click here for further information.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Effects Of Repressed Anger Towards Parents

repressed anger

Above video summarizes this article.

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!

repressed_anger

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.

Resources :

 

Anger Management Self-Hypnosis Audio Pack.

 

Click here for further details.

eBook:

anger_management

Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here for more information.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Anger And ‘Thinking Errors’ (Cognitive Distortions).

anger_caused_by_errors_in_thinking_and_unhelpful_learned_beliefs

I have already written several articles which have been published on this site about how certain types of childhood trauma can make it more likely we will develop difficulties with controlling our anger as adults (click here to read one of these articles), or, worse, may lead to us developing psychiatric conditions such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder (click here to read my article on this).

In this article, however, I want to specifically examine how ‘erors in thinking’ can cause us to experience excessive and counterproductive feelings of anger:

 

Thinking errors (sometimes referred to as COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS) we may make that can cause us problems managing our anger as adults:

1)  Jumping to conclusions:

Psychologists also refer to this as ‘mind-reading’ (though this is not meant literally). It means that we may be prone to drawing definite conclusions about what’s motivating another individual based on flimsy evidence. An example might be:

‘I just know that person is deliberately trying to irritate me’

when, in fact, if we were to be more objective, we’d see there was little evidence that the person was , in fact, deliberately trying to do this.

2) Catastrophizing:

This involves exaggerating in our own minds how serious the consequences of something that has gone wrong actually are. People who tend to think in terms of extremes (sometimes referred to as ‘black or white’ thinkers) are particularly likely to do this (ie ‘catastrophize’).

For example, we may tell ourselves that a person ‘has ruined’ our ‘life forever’ and thus become extremely angry whereas a more objective judgement might be that the person has caused us a temporary and quite easily surmountable set-back.

cognitive_errors_and_anger

3) Selective attention/perception:

This involves disproportionately focusing on negatives. For example, we may become very angry with a person by focusing solely on what s/he has done to upset us whilst ignoring the person’s good intentions/motivation and/or all the positive things the person has done for us.

4) Using Emotive Language :

This refers to when we think or speak about a person using exaggerated and emotive language. For example, we might tell ourselves a person is ‘evil’ whereas a more sober assessment of the person we’ve deemed to have wronged us clearly would not warrant such a melodramatic judgment. Therefore, the anger we display towards the person may be as disproportionate as the language we use to describe him/her.

5) Over- generalisation :

This involves seeing a person as always behaving in ways that upset us when, in fact, for example, s/he may only occasionally upsets us with his/her behaviour. A common expression which reflects such over -generalisation is :

‘You never think about anyone but yourself!’

when, in fact, if we gave the matter more thought, we would be able to think of plenty of evidence which contradicted this.

Conclusion:

All of the above then, can make us feel more intensely angry than would be objectively warranted. To put it in a very colloquial way, the above represent examples of how we can fall into a trap of unnecessarily ‘winding ourselves up’. 

anger_and_cognitive_distortions

It is in our own interests to avoid making these errors as anger is so often destructive and counterproductive. Also, being constantly angry is a very painful state of mind which is emotionally exhausting and a waste of energy; energy that could be channelled in far more constructive directions.

Research has shown that a very effective way of treating these types of ‘thinking errors’ is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Click here to read one of my articles on this.

 

Resources:

Control Anger audio download. Click here.

 

EBook:

anger_management_ebook

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma : Dealing with Moodiness and Anger

 

anger and moodiness in childhood

Those of us who have suffered significant childhood trauma often find, in both adolescence and adulthood, that we are full of rage and have great difficulties controlling our feelings of anger. Reasons for this include the conscious or unconscious hostility we feel towards our parent/primary care-giver whom we believe to have significantly contributed to our mental anguish . Such feelings can lead to us :

a) directly expressing our anger towards our parent/primary care-giver

b) DISPLACING the anger we feel towards our parent/primary care-giver onto others (especially if we IDENTIFY such others with our parent/primary care-giver e.g. a therapist) even though they were not the primary cause of it

c) both of the above

d) REPRESS our anger towards our parent/primary care-giver (ie deny it/bury it deep within ourselves) so that we are NOT CONSCIOUSLY AWARE OF IT. If this happens, unconscious processes may take place which cause us to turn this anger in upon ourselves resulting, perhaps, in  self-loathing,  clinical depression,  suicidal thoughts/behaviours and/or psychosomatic illnesses.

 

controlling_mood_swings

FLUCTUATING MOOD :

We may find, too, that, as adults who experienced severe childhood trauma, our moods are far more prone to change than the average person’s. We may, for example, find our feelings of intense irritation and anger are much more easily triggered than they are in most others. In short, we may find our moods and emotions are highly unstable and unpredictable. This, in turn, can cause others to be wary about interacting with us, perhaps feeling that, when they do, they are ‘walking on eggshells.’

We are especially likely to experience problems controlling our moods and emotions if our adverse childhood experiences have led to us developing a mental illness such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

how-to-control_mood_swings

 

WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP OURSELVES TO CONTROL OUR MOODS/OUTBURSTS OF ANGER?

1) If we have a mental illness, such as BPD or PTSD (as referred to above) we should very seriously consider obtaining specialized treatment to ameliorate such conditions. Cognitive-behavioural therapy and dialectical behaviour therapy are two possible options).

2) Improve our diet – for example, a high intake of sugar can cause intense highs and lows directly affecting our mood.

3) Cut down on caffeine and alcohol, both of which can have powerful effects upon how we feel

4) Avoid recreational drugs – this is especially important if we are vulnerable/have a pre-disposition) to developing mental illness. Recreational drugs can tip people over the edge (eg cannabis-induced psychosis).

5) Try to tackle any sleep problems – lack of sleep/sleep deprivation is very likely to make us more irritable/prone to anger.

6) Reduce stress as much as possible – this is extremely important as, when we feel under attack and generally oppressed, then, much like a cornered animal, we are far more prone to ‘lash out.’ This is an inbuilt, biological defense mechanism. If we have been drinking due to stress and, as a result, our inhibitions are lowered, we are particularly at risk of destructive behaviours which we are liable, later, deeply to regret.

Furthermore, if we suffered severe childhood trauma, it is possible that the development of vital brain regions such as the amygdala were adversely affected. Such damage is now known to make it much harder to deal with stress and to make the individual who sustained it generally more emotionally unstable (click here to read my article on this).

 

RESOURCES :

MANAGE YOUR ANGER PACK (downloadable MP3 0r CDs) CLICK HERE

 

EBOOK :

 

content_4964975_DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL

Above eBook now available on Amazon for IMMEDIATE DOWNLOAD CLICK HERE

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).