An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 9, Number 9
While September means that Fall is here, it has also been designated as an awareness month for National Child Obesity, National Child Cancer, National Ovarian Cancer, National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery, National Prostate Cancer, and National Preparedness Month. The High Holy Days also fall in this month and we would like to wish all our Jewish friends and clients a Happy, Healthy, and Sweet New Year. While we do not see much of a change in season here in South Florida, the temperatures will soon drop and the rainy season will be over. The holidays will be upon us and another year will have passed by. We hope that you are taking this opportunity to live every day to its fullest.
This month’s E-letter focuses on Understanding Anger. Our email of the month is about The Hazards of Sitting and our Ask the Doc question is about excessive video game playing. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. We thank you for the many responses we received to our August E-Letter and as always, we appreciate your questions and comments.
Divorced Women’s Support Group. We will begin an eight week support group for women who are divorced in October on Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 7:15 P.M. This educational and support group will be facilitated by Dr. Terry Newell and areas of focus will include, but are not limited to:
- Co-parenting issues
- Living life as a single parent
- Dealing with depression
- Navigating finances
- Developing personal interests
- Managing stress
For further information or if you are interested in joining this group, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.
Depression group. A weekly depression therapy group meets regularly in our office. This group is run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.
Research Study. If you are overweight, you might consider participating in a research study. Our practice has been asked by Life Extension Institute to participate in conducting research assessing the effects of cognitive therapy, nutritional supplements, and medications on weight management in overweight individuals. Informal results continue to show success for those subjects who are in the study. For more information about the study, contact Jillian, at 954 755-2885.
Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Our practice is one of the few offices certified to provide the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Sometimes referred to as the Divorce Class, it is required by the State of Florida for all parents divorcing or separating even if not legally married. We have provided this course many times and have designed it as a 4-hour, one-session presentation that focuses on ensuring that parents protect their children from the effects of divorce or separation by setting aside their differences and focusing on the children’s need for both parents in their lives. The course also provides information about divorce as loss, gives an overview of the Florida laws and statutes related to divorce and custody issues, and offers information on how children react to divorce based on their ages. The course is offered live on a flexible schedule, based on the availability of those attending the course. Please contact our Administrative Assistant, Jillian, at 954 755-2885 for additional information.
Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, www.KimmelPsychology.com. We invite you to read and download them if desired.
Our E-Letter this month focuses on Anger which is a completely normal human emotion but is often thought of as being bad or something one should not feel. It is a truly powerful feeling that can be both constructive and destructive. It can vary from mild annoyance to fury and rage. Angry people stop thinking logically and consequently they can be very difficult to deal with. This leads to relationship problems, work issues and even health problems. After all, how does one communicate with a very angry person? At its worst, anger can result in violent behavior. When angry, a person’s heart rate and blood pressure rise as do their levels of adrenaline and noradrenalin. People’s posture and demeanor also change so that they can appear imposing and menacing. Often, they are not aware of how frightening they can be to others.
People mostly get angry when they feel threatened or when they feel unfairly treated. We all have a set of expectations of how we think the world should operate. When it doesn’t, we get frustrated or angry. Depending on how strong we believe the “should” is can affect our level of anger. In fact, in Rational Emotive Therapy, we are taught to identify the “shoulds,” “musts,” “have tos,” “got tos,” and “ought tos” in our thoughts as these statements will lead to anger. An example of this is: “look at that jerk. He shouldn’t have cut me off. How can he be such an idiot?” A typical reaction would be to get angry. In fact, some people get so angry that they respond in anger leading to road rage. This happens fairly often and while he shouldn’t have cut you off, he did. He’s not angry. You are. Are you taking it personally? Most of the time, the world functions differently than we want it to and we need to be flexible and accept this. It’s better to be flexible and let it go than to remain angry potentially ruining the rest of your day.
People get angry for different reasons. Often it is to achieve control and manipulate others. When attempts to control others get reinforced, this pattern only becomes stronger since getting angry works. People also get angry to feel powerful and dominant over others. This is actually bullying and can lead to impaired relationships. While other people may acquiesce, they will not respect that person or may even become passive-aggressive. You would not want to bully your waiter as he will be bringing your food. People also can become angry with themselves. This is traditionally seen as anger turned inwards and leads to depression and self blame. Finally, at times, people get angry because of their moral outrage and unfairness. In response, they may join groups to fight what they think is injustice and maltreatment.
Anger can be expressed either passively or aggressively. Passive anger involves indirect expression of anger and is often referred to as being passive-aggressive. Passive expression includes being evasive, acting indifferent and unconcerned, being fake, being cold, setting others up to fail, manipulating, being late to appointments, being provocative, being secretive, and being critical. Aggressive anger includes bullying, destroying property, shouting and screaming, vandalism, hurting and abusing animals or people, being selfish, making threats, intimidating others, being vindictive, and being outright violent.
There are three basic ways of managing anger: suppression, assertive expression, and calming oneself. When you hold in anger and try to think about something else, you are suppressing it. However, this can lead to anger turned inward resulting in depression and health problems. Assertive expression is the best way to express anger. When a person is assertive, their feelings are voiced in a respectful, nonaggressive manner. They clearly state what they are thinking without being pushy or demanding. Being calm involves lowering your bodily reactions through deep breathing, meditation and other relaxation techniques until the angry feeling subsides.
The following are different strategies for reducing and eliminating one’s feelings of anger:
- Practice relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, and imaging
- Restructure your thinking not to take things personally. Replace your irrational thoughts, the “shoulds”, “musts”, “terribles”, etc., with more rational thoughts like “It’s really not so bad”. Be logical
- Try to understand the situation and develop a solution to the problem
- Assertively express your feelings but do not blame. Use “I talk” and begin with: “I feel angry because” and listen to others
- Try to see the humor in people and situations but do not get sarcastic
- Do not escape into food, drugs, alcohol, gambling and other addictive behaviors in order to feel good
- Change your environment. Take a break and walk out of the situation until you calm down
- If you are unable to manage your anger, consider speaking to a therapist or a counselor
We offer the following information on Understanding 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 normal human emotion that varies from mild irritation to fury and rage
is defined as the act of intentionally causing one’s own death
- When anger gets out of control, it can lead to violent behavior and problems in relationships, problems at work, and problems in health
- It is an emotion that is accompanied by biological changes including increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased adrenaline and noradrenalin
- People often become angry when they have been hurt, feel unfairly treated, when they expect that things should go their way, or when they take situations personally
- Anger, especially when expressed with a domineering posture, is often used as a strategy to influence and control others and to achieve goals
- Anger varies among people in that some people get angry easily while others have a higher threshold for getting angry
- How a person expresses anger is often learned in childhood by imitating the behaviors of angry people around them, especially parent
- Anger is also necessary for our survival as it is an adaptive response to threats
- While the natural way to express anger is through aggression, people often deal with their anger three ways: assertive expression, suppression, and calmness
- Being assertive, that is, by verbally expressing anger while being respectful of oneself and others is the healthiest way to express anger
- To be assertive, a person speaks up for themselves and clearly verbalizes their angry feelings and why they are angry without escalating the situation
- When anger is suppressed or held inward, a person usually doesn’t stop thinking about it and it can often lead to depression, high blood pressure, and other health problems
- Suppressed anger can lead to cynicism, hostility, and passive-aggressive behavior
- Calmness, via meditation, deep breathing, etc., can lower the intensity of anger
- People often get angry to feel powerful, to control others, or in response to a threat
- Constructive anger can correct wrong behaviors, promote social justice, communicate negative feelings, and find solutions to conflicts and wrongdoings
- Destructive anger impairs a person’s ability to think clearly, to control their behavior, to empathize with others, to understand the situation and it can lead to aggression
- Passive anger can be expressed through obstructionism, ignoring others, evasiveness, manipulation, giving the silent treatment, obsessive behaviors, and self-blame
- Active anger can be expressed through aggression, bullying, selfishness, criticizing, threatening, verbally hurting others, blaming, using drugs, and frightening/terrorizing
WHAT TO DO TO CONTROL YOUR ANGER!
- Practice relaxation techniques including deep breathing, meditation, and visual imaging
- Think differently by replacing irrational thoughts with more rational ones so that you don’t take things personally and can be more understanding of why you feel angry
- Be aware of certain words in your thinking such as “should” and “must” which can lead to disappointment, frustration, and anger
- Find the humor in situations and use logic and problem solving to defuse your anger
- Assertively express your angry feelings; talk it out with others
- Do not resort to drugs, alcohol, food, cigarettes, or gambling to feel better
- Seek professional help if you are not able to manage your anger
We Can Help!
Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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
JW writes: My 19 year old son plays video games 5 to 6 hours a day. He does well in school but after his homework is done, we don’t see him until the next day. He goes into his room and plays online. He will even have his dinner in his room. Sometimes, he even plays in the morning before school. He has friends just like him and will hang out or go to the movies with them. When we confront him, he asks what’s the problem as he does well in school and doesn’t get into any trouble. We feel he is missing out on a lot. Should we do anything about this or let it go?
- Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: JW, you ask: should you let this go. My question is can you let this go? It seems like it is really bothering you and you probably think this is wrong. I tend to agree with you. While many, many adolescents your son’s age engage in similar behaviors, I personally think that playing video games as he does prevents the development of social skills as well as confidence in dealing with the outside world. Maybe I am old school, but I think he should be interacting with others so that he learns about people and can develop real life knowledge of how to get along with others.
Excessive video game playing allows him to “live” in a fantasy world that may be better or worse that the real world. He does not get an opportunity to see how beautiful or how painful the real world can be. He may learn how to navigate a fantasy world but he may not learn how to navigate the real world in which we all live. In my opinion, he will not learn how to deal with the frustration or success of everyday life.
For example, consider what he would learn if he had a job instead. He would learn that working allows him to earn money and develop independence. He would learn to take direction and supervision from superiors and that his job is important to the functioning of the company. He might learn how to deal with angry or frustrated customers as well as how to be part of a team. Isolating himself within his room prevents the attainment of these experiences and skills. It also disrupts family relationships as he is effectively, a boarder in your home. I don’t think you may be able to reason with him because he may actually have a video game addiction. Besides, he is not getting into trouble.
I would recommend that you and your spouse recognize that for the development of his physical and mental health, his time playing video games needs to be severely reduced. He won’t like this or understand this yet it is something you need to do to improve his life. You will have to set boundaries and rules for how much time he can play, if at all. You will also need to utilize enforceable penalties if he violates those rules. Finding these penalties may not be that difficult as he is still dependent upon you. You might require him to get a job with his free time as an alternative. When you confront him, you will need to do this together and you will need to be strong and committed to it.
Email of the Month
We would like to thank Richard L. for the following email (click on the picture for an expanded view):
Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our e-Letter.
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Copyright © 2014 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.