Managing Anger

Kimmel & Associates e-Letter

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates

Volume 6, Number 3

March brings the spring and the weather has been absolutely wonderful. With plants in such beautiful bloom, it is hard to believe that parts of the world are in such political chaos as well as experiencing huge natural disasters. It is time for us to not only help with disaster relief but to give thanks for the peace and beauty that we have in our lives. Please take the time to consider making a charitable contribution to help those in need in Japan.

In this March E-Letter, we present information about anger and how to manage this emotion. Our Ask the Doc question deals with adolescent withdrawal and our email of the month is about Perception. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. As always, we appreciate your questions and feedback.

Practice News

Dr. Joel Kimmel was interviewed for an article in the Spring 2011 edition of Kolot: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism. He discussed bullying and the seminar in which he participated at B’Nai Aviv regarding the Bully-Free Synagogue. The entire article can be read at:

Our practice has been contacted by parents who are concerned about their child’s academic performance. For some of these students, we will be conducting psychoeducational evaluations to identify their learning profile as well as to diagnose whether they may have a learning disability, Attention Deficit Disorder, or another type of problem that interferes with their performance. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your child’s functioning in school and whether he/she is performing at his/her potential. You can either call us at (954) 755-2885 or send us an email.

We have also been asked whether we run groups in our practice. The answer is yes and Dr. Jim Kaikobad is in the process of establishing several groups. We are looking for just a few more members in the following support groups:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Breast cancer
  4. Stress management

If you are interested in any of these groups, please call Denise Champagne in our office at (954) 755-2885 for a complimentary initial eligibility consultation.

Handouts from previous e-Letters can be found on our website. We invite you to read and download them if desired.

Managing Anger!

Our E-Letter this month focuses on a normal emotion which can have some very destructive effects. Anger is a normally occurring emotion that happens when a person perceives that they have been wronged, offended, or hurt by another person. The key word here is perceives as we get angry based on how we interpret a situation. We may take it personally or jump to a conclusion where the real situation may be quite different than what we think. When we get angry, we have physiological responses where our muscles tense, our heart beats faster, our thinking becomes hyperfocused on the perceived wrong, our blood pressure rises, and we often feel the need to do something in return. Cognitively, we have difficulty making the correct decisions and cannot think about anything else than what was done to us. Thus anger is an emotion that has both cognitive and physiological effects. Angry people often appear menacing to others in their posture and body language. While they may not recognize this, this presentation can be quite scary to others and the fear may last longer than the angry situation.

People often deal with anger through suppressing the emotion, expressing it directly, or by trying to calm down. Passive anger is anger that is usually expressed in passive-aggressive ways such as by being unreliable, being uncooperative, lying, denying the person, gossiping, and manipulating. Aggressive anger is anger that is expressed directly, often physically. It can include bullying, being destructive, hurting others, blaming others, making threats, and seeking vengeance. Calming down is using relaxation and slowing down methods to decrease the physiological reactions and to just let go of the angry feeling.

Common irrational beliefs that underlie angry feelings include statements that involve the words: must, should, ought and other absolutes. When things don’t go the way they should or must, people with these beliefs get frustrated which leads to feeling angry. Angry people are often demanding, believing that they should get what they want, that things should be the way they want them to be, and that they should not be inconvenienced or annoyed.

There are different anger management techniques that work for different people. First, it’s important to identify when one is feeling angry. When this happens, it is best to take a time out and change your environment to try and get some clarity. Try to understand what is really making you angry and is there a should sentence in your thinking? Change the way you think and accept that things don’t have to go your way. Take some deep breaths and repeat calming words to yourself to “quiet” yourself and calm down. Try to get some understanding of the situation and look at it from a different perspective. When appropriate, assert your thoughts and feelings using “I” talk rather than “you” talk. Finally, let go of resentments and try humor to lighten up the situation. You can also write out your angry thoughts and feelings and talk to trusted others. Use caution in drinking when angry as this will lessen your impulse control increasing the likelihood of acting out.

We offer the following information on Managing Anger:

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.— Buddha

What to Know!

  • Anger is a normally occurring emotion that happens in response to a person’s perception that they have been harmed, offended, taken advantage of, or wronged
  • It is often accompanied by a strong emotional response and a desire to retaliate and hurt, either verbally or physically, those who harmed them
  • Anger can have physical reactions including increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, heightened arousal and vigilance, and tension in muscle groups
  • Anger can feel good, but just for the moment, and can motivate a person to take action
  • Anger can be destructive when it is not dealt with appropriately and can lead to impairment in relationships, decision making, and controlling one’s own behavior
  • Aggressive anger can be expressed through bullying, destructiveness, harming others, intimidation, threatening and blaming others, vindictiveness, and seeking vengeance
  • Passive anger can be expressed through ignoring or denying others, being uncooperative, manipulating, being evasive, spreading gossip, being unreliable, etc.
  • Rage is raw, undifferentiated anger due to an inability to process emotions because of an incapacity to regulate emotions and impulses
  • People usually deal with anger by expression, by suppression, or by calming oneself
  • Expressing anger through verbal assertion not aggression is the healthiest strategy
  • Suppressing one’s anger can lead to high blood pressure, hypertension, passive-aggressive behaviors, and being cynical and hostile
  • Calming oneself down involves thinking rationally and using relaxation exercises to lower one’s blood pressure and heart rate
  • People who easily get angry tend to have low frustration tolerance and believe that things should be their way and that they should not be inconvenienced or annoyed
  • Angry people often have verbal thought patterns that include should, must, ought, have to, got to and perceive situations without a rational understanding of what happened
  • Angry people tend to place more blame on others for their anger and use stereotypes
  • Depression has been classically defined as turning anger inwards, against oneself
  • Managing anger means learning what anger is, how to recognize anger triggers, and learning strategies and exercises to reduce and keep one’s anger under control

What to Do!

  • Pay attention to your emotions and physical reactions to identify when you are angry
  • Take a time out and change your environment to get out of the angry situation
  • Change the way you think; be more understanding and do not take things personally
  • Breathe deeply and repeat a calm word or phrase to “quiet” you
  • Find a solution to the problem rather than complain about it or feel unfairly treated
  • Verbally express and assert yourself and listen to the response from others
  • Use “I” statements to express yourself rather than “you” statements
  • Let go of resentments and use humor, but not sarcasm, to lighten an angry situation
  • Seek professional help if your anger is out of control and is hurting yourself or others

We Can Help!

Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates
5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101
Coral Springs, Florida 33067

As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

Ask the Doc

RB writes: I have been trying to understand my 14 year old son who seems to be a different kid lately. He used to be so friendly and help me do things around the house. Now, he just stays in his room, is very secretive, and gives us one word answers. His grades have dropped slightly in school and he doesn’t want to play soccer any more. Any ideas about what is going on?

Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: RB, this is a situation which we hear often in our office. It’s hard to tell whether your son is just going through a growth stage or whether there is a real problem. The developmental task of adolescence is establishing independence from one’s parents. In a sense, this may be what your son is doing. However, there are other concerns I have.

Lately, we’ve been seeing children and adolescents with internet/technology addiction. These kids can’t seem to stay off their phones or computers and are constantly texting. They develop a private world for themselves which they do not share with their parents. Boys, especially, seem to have more difficulty with videogame addiction. They will stay up all hours of the night and weekends to play in competitive online games. Their personalities and relationships change and school becomes unimportant to them.

Another consideration may be drug use, especially marijuana and alcohol. Some of the signs to watch for include: noticeable personality changes, changes in peer group, truancy, decreased school performance, dishonesty, withdrawal, mood swings, and an anti-authority attitude. Your son may constantly ask you for money and you may be wondering why his friends have changed. Many 14 year olds are now using drugs and your son may have become part of this group. They are usually introduced to drugs by peers and this may be why his friends have changed.

There may be other reasons for your son’s behavior although the above two are the most frequent. I would suggest that you try to talk with him and not enable these behaviors. This may be a difficult task and you may have to catch him when he is in a mood to talk. Try to observe any signs of drug use or if there is any drug paraphernalia. Also, observe his technology habits and see whether they are excessive. This may be difficult for you because it may cause more tension between your son and you. However, if he is engaging in self-destructive behaviors, it is your job as a parent to prevent this. Bringing him, if you can, to a family therapist may open up lines of communication. If there is truly a problem, the earlier you intervene, the better.

Email of the Month

We would like to thank Elizabeth S. for sending us the following email:


In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, the man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent – without exception – forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

  • In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
  • If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
  • Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made … How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our e-Letter.

Till April…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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Copyright © 2014 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.