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Katie van Schaijik

A child psychologist’s insights on anger

Aug. 14, 2009, at 1:23pm

I’m reading a book I wish I’d read 20 years ago, before my children were born. It’s called Between Parent and Child, by Dr. Haim G. Ginott. It includes some insights relevant to our discussion of anger, and not, I think, unrelated to the prudishness problem.

In our own childhood, we were not taught how to deal with anger as a fact of life. We were made to feel guilty for experiencing anger and sinful for expressing it. We were led to believe that to be angry is to be bad…With our own children, we try to be patient; in fact, so patient that sooner or later we must explode. We are afraid that our anger may be harmful to our children, so we hold it in, as a skin diver hold his breath…
Emotionally healthy parents are not saints. They’re aware of their anger and respect it. They use their anger as a source of information, an indication of their caring. Their words are congruent with their feelings. [His emphasis.]
There is a place for parental anger in child education. In fact, failure to get angry at certain moments would only convey to the child indifference, not goodness. Those who care cannot altogether shun anger. This does not mean that children can withstand floods of fury and violence; it means only that they can stand and understand anger that says, “There are limits to my tolerance.”

I would be very interested in hearing what Personalist Project adviser, Danish psychologist Dr. Peter Damgaard-Hansen would say to this. He has done a lot of important work on the problem of anger and I suspect would have a different take.


Scott Johnston • Aug 15, 2009 - 3:07 am

I can’t speak as a parent, but it reminds me of a positive use of anger that I have experienced on the receiving end in the context of military training.

In the military (boot camp especially) there is an apparently long tradition of using (actually, quite controlled) anger to get groups of men to do what they are supposed to do in a coordinated and disciplined fashion. Boot camp is famous for raising the use of vigorous shouting to a high art. I was in the Navy and heard my share of this in boot camp. Marine drill sergeants, however, seem to have the reputation of being the most skilled masters of this art.

There is something intriguing about this: the drill instructors whom the men respect and admire the most, often, are the ones who are outwardly the toughest on them and are capable of yelling in the most colorful and fear-inspiring fashion. I am not talking here of drill instructors who are abusive, but of awe-inspiring men who know how to forcefully use verbal invectives without bias in such a way as to command extraordinary results in short order. And always they remain in control displaying no hint of malice or hatred.

It really is remarkable to watch a highly experienced drill sergeant in action. They develop the ability to hurl cutting remarks instantly, appropriate for any particular shortcoming, but in a way that is somehow calm and dispassionate while being fierce at the same time. Most of the men (those who aren’t overly wimpy and who usually end up leaving boot camp—which is a good thing for the military) immediately recognize that the drill instructor, while tough and fierce, does not wish them any harm personally. There is no sense of personal maliciousness. Everyone gets the same tough treatment. And everyone also realizes that while the drill instructor might be in your face one minute for messing up, the next minute he will just as quickly praise you for doing something right. And genuinely.

The combination of equal treatment; absence of ill will (in fact, an evident good will beneath the toughness); skillful verbal salvos that are quick-witted, surgically targeted and fierce (sometimes very humorous as well); an equal eagerness to praise as to punish; and the practice always of leading by example, make for a drill sergeant who is feared, yet highly respected; admired, and even loved. The men know he has their best interests at heart, and they appreciate that he demands high performance from them. They respect that he punishes them swiftly and effectively when they miss the mark, because they know he thinks enough of their potential to believe they can perform highly, and will do everything possible to help them do so. In fact, I would speculate that for some men, boot camp is a place of the harshest and most strict treatment they have ever experienced, as well as a place where they experience others believing in their potential more highly than they have ever sensed.

I don’t claim this is necessarily directly applicable to family life—nor would I suggest fathers run their house like a boot camp. But, somehow, neither does it seem totally unrelated to family life.

Also, I do think men are psychologically “wired” to want to respond to this sort of tough treatment (especially in an all-male context) in a positive way. It’s perhaps a kind of “iron sharpens iron” sort of thing. A man who wants to be a tough and highly proficient soldier wants to be trained by the toughest instructor.

Actually, I’m not sure if “anger” is really the right word for the demeanor of a great drill instructor in the midst of dressing down somebody. In a certain sense, the word does probably apply. But, in this context it is used in a very deliberate, strategic, planned manner. The shouting DI is not angry so much at the individual person as he is angry at a particular mistake and what it represents, and angry at the lost potential for excellence represented by it.

Am I off on a tangent here? I think it relates Katie to your post because a skillful, non-abusive military drill instructor is an example of a person who has become adept at using fiery yet always regulated and purposeful anger in a way that most everyone on the receiving end perceives as not only justified but actually a good that advances the good of the whole group.

Here is a brief example of Marine discipline in action (the Marine Corps Silent drill platoon; see them if you get the chance—they are awesome!)
http://tinyurl.com/o5vllt

Scott Johnston • Aug 15, 2009 - 3:17 am

Perhaps, at times, God’s “wrath” is similar in both method and purpose to a great drill instructor? (Or, more accurately, the other way round.)

Katie van Schaijik • Aug 15, 2009 - 9:40 am

What particularly interested me in the passage I quoted was two things:
1) the fact that most of us have been trained to pretend we’re not angry when we are, which in turn leads to repression and/or uncontrollable explosions.
2) that we ought to respect our own anger and find ways of expressing it that are helpful, not harmful.

I think we Christians have a tendency to fear rather than respect our emotional reactions, and to imagine that the virtuous, Christian thing to do is to speak and act as if we’re not angry, even when we are.

Dr. Peter Damgaard-Hansen • Aug 18, 2009 - 3:29 pm

I think Katie´s two points are very good and I appreciate the invitation to share my views on the matter.
For the next 2-3 weeks, unfortunately, I will be too busy to respond in depth, but for now let me say this:

Pretending we are not angry may be possible, but that does not mean the anger is in-active. It is active way before “the explosion”. It is my firm belief (and observation on numerous occasions) that anger is an “energy” that has to express itself in some ways or other, even when we try our hardest to “put it away”. It will seep out in many indirect ways such as: sarcastic remarks, irritability, impatience, overly critical attitudes towards others (or oneself), harsh judgements, silent treatments, etc. etc. When there is anger inside it will come out one way or the other. Especially children are sensitive to our true emotional states, that we ourselves may be in denial of, which can be terribly confusing and anxiety provoking to them, causing all sorts of “misbehavior”, that in turn will “really” make us angry, now self-righteously blaming them for our own heated response.

Thus in a certain sense it is true, that it is better we are honest about our angry emotions and express them, than try to deny their presence. It is the lesser of two evils, I would say. It is less confusing to the child, but it could still be very harmful. I agree that within the Christian community we have learned to fear our emotional reactions and then fall prey to pretend they are not there, which is not good. However, I do not think, that being honest about expressing our true emotions in itself guarantees a virtuous and righteous response. A lot of harm has been done in the name of honesty.

St. Paul admonishes us in Ephesians to “Be angry – but sin not”. He knows, that when we are angry we are strongly inclined to sin with it, and the challenge to avoid this is huge. I believe, that most of the impulsive anger we express in our relationship with our children is of the harmful sort, because it is more motivated by our own need for emotional release, than by a caring desire to guide the child.

Many parents think it is ok to use anger, when the kids consistently have not responded to “kind and loving” communication.  If kids do not respond to our “kind and loving” attempts to coach them, then I have no doubt, that there is repressed anger/impatience etc. behind the surface already, and the child cannot help but be affected by and respond to these negative vibes.
Coaching, on the other hand, that is based on true kindnes, that does not carry hidden threats, conditional love or vindictive sentiments deep within is hard for children to resist, because they are created in the image of God and genetically wired to respond to love ( true love). This true and pure love, however, is hard to find and hard to cultivate in our hearts. But we should not be discouraged – meeting this challenge and growing with it is what Christian formation and grace is all about. But how can we find the right direction if we are not keenly aware of where, when and how we go wrong ?
Now, then, the big question is this:
If I am angry, and it is wrong to suppress it, and it is harmful to express it, what do I do then ?

I have quite a bit more to say about that and will be back again as soon as I can !
Dr. Peter

Bill Drennen • Aug 19, 2009 - 5:23 pm

Dr. Peter,

I think the 3’rd way you ask about is forgiveness. If we are not to suppress or to act out on it, and if we have communicated our feelings correctly, then our responsibility to ourselves is to release it to God and make the choice of our will to not hold on to it.

I think this is more important even then “working it through” with the person, or councilor.

In my experience I have found 2 important principles seem to be written in stone.

1. When I am angry as a result of an offense against my self (real or perceived), 9 out of 10 times it is because there is something wrong inside me. The other person may have been wrong but my anger was triggered because of something in me. I am responsible for my own anger and only I can resolve it.

2. Healing does not happen via anyone else but only comes from my own change of heart and will. I am not healed as a result of any resolution with an offender but only by me taking the action of forgiving, do I overcome my own weakness and bring Gods healing on myself.

Do you agree?

I think there is also an other type of anger not caused by an offense against ourselves, or rather not coming from a defense of ourselves but which is in response to an offense against truth, God, or an other person. I am thinking for example of an offense against my child. It seems to me that where there is a detachment between the anger and the personal investment in ourselves that the anger does not need to be released but should in fact remain as long as the injustice does. In this case we are not unforgiving an individual or harboring bitterness but we are taking a stand for the true and rejecting evil. While we are called to forgive are we not also called to hate evil and reject it? I believe anger of this type does us no harm or can even help our growth.

I’m not sure I agree with your coaching analogy. The best coaches know the perfect balance between encouragement and correction. Sometimes the team or a player needs a good kick in the rear so to speak, a good loud reprimand. Other times encouragement is most needed. There is a balance. Normally that balance is weighted more towards encouragement for younger teams but as they get older more and more anger is appropriate at times for good coaching.

I agree as parents we need to control our anger and limit it and emphasize the positive but parents should always be free to express anger loudly when called for. If the kids feelings are hurt sometimes that is appropriate and they will learn and get over it. This is assuming that there is a good foundation of love and respect shown and not a pattern of verbal abuse.

While I appreciate modern parenting advances I also think parenting has become much too sensitive and is failing to teach respect for authority. Every blow I received as a kid from my parents and teachers I deserved and I am eternally grateful for. I received a foundation of respect and encouragement but also learned limits, consequences and a healthy fear of just authority.

Children will always eventually try pushing the limit and there are certian behaviours that demand an immediate alarming and wrathfull response. I recall a child’s shock to find me yelling loudly demanding he stop jumping on my sofa (which was valuable and which I spent years training my children to be careful with). His parents would normally let him do it or would use much less force in their attempts to stop him. I recall thinking that while some might think my response exagerated I thought the child could probably use a lot more of it. My children know very well that some things will bring down wrath from Dad and I think its good that they know that. I think modern parents have forgotten how to just say “no” and loudly if they need to.

I understand having said all this that many parents have erred on the abusive side but we need not lower our voices to correct that necessarily. Uncontrolled anger unfortunately can lead to abuse of authority in many ways but this abuse is not simply the anger or volume itself. Usually the manner of correction either humiliates the child or offends their dignity in some other way. It is usually WHAT is said not how loud that is an offense against them.

Teresa Manidis • Aug 18, 2009 - 10:03 am

I remind my children that being angry is no more or less sinful than being hungry, or being bored – it’s just a part of our human existence – and that what we choose to do with our anger (repress it, become violent or cruel because of it) is what ultimately gives it moral weight.

This has necessitated my editing the standard examinations of conscience for children (‘Did I get mad at my brother/sister . . ?  How many times . . ?’) to encompass more the thought, ‘What did I do – or not do – with my anger, or because I was angry?’

I remember driving around one day, and mentioning to the kids that I didn’t like being with a certain person; that I was, in fact, very angry because of something that person had done.  At first, they seemed surprised that I (a ‘respectable’ adult) would voice such a thought.  Then I said, ‘When grown-ups get mad, it means no more – and no less – than when you do.’  This gave my anger a context they could relate to, and was, actually, comforting for them to hear – that adults were, after all, ‘human,’ too.

When explained like this, the whole thing seemed eminently reasonable to my kids, and we then went on to discuss much weightier matters, like if we should get hand-dipped or soft-serve ice cream.

Bill Drennen • Aug 19, 2009 - 2:04 pm

Teresa,

What I don’t like about your comments is that they do not give enough weight to the responsibility we do have regarding our emotions. Negative emotions become sin not only when we physically act on them but also, and maybe more importantly, when the state of our will becomes effected.

For example, when I am angry with my wife and become bitter. If I am not careful, my heart will become closed off, isolating myself and rejecting her which is sinful and a offense to our vows. Unforgiveness is an other example of sinful state of our heart based on our emotions not related to any physical action.

This is why I do not like sayings like your comments that say emotions are not right or wrong but only our actions. This is not scriptural. As we know our Lord said “even if you become angry with your brother”, and “even if you look on the woman” you have already committed sins in your heart.

I have learned that I do in fact have a choice about the emotions I will feel and what I will let them do inside me. The more accurate thing to tell your kids regarding anger is, did they harbor the anger? Did they brood over it or remain in unforgiveness? Did they choose to grasp their anger as a right to themselves rather then surrendering it up to God and forgiving their brother?

An other related thing I learned recently was listening to Dennis Preger’s “happiness hour” where I was startled to hear about our moral obligation to act happy even when we were not. I have always prided myself as being one who did not put on false shows and I thought I was being more honest. This perspective however revealed to me that I was responsible for not letting my emotions negatively affect others. It reminded me that I had a choice with my emotions.

Bill

Teresa Manidis • Aug 19, 2009 - 10:11 pm

The Linde is such a fun place to be when there’s lively debate, let alone flat-out dissention.  And coming from Bill Drennen’s quarter, no less. How delightful.

I think the reason for your dissatisfaction with my last post could be twofold; firstly, you may have just misinterpreted my meaning (see below); or we may, in the final analysis, simply disagree on certain points.  But let’s see which is the case.

You write, ‘Emotions become sin not only when we physically act on them, but, also, and, maybe more importantly, when the state of our will becomes affected.’  Agreed.  Totally.  When I wrote that it matters what we ‘do’ (or don’t ‘do’) with our anger, I was, of course, encompassing mental and spiritual ‘doing.’  I would agree with you (and, also, Christ) that looking upon a woman (or man) lustfully is just as sinful as physically acting upon that lust.  In fact, I think most (if not all) of our sinning first happens in our hearts, although it may later be expressed in more corporeal ways.  So we are in complete agreement here; and I believe you misrepresent me when you write ‘[Teresa says] emotions are not right or wrong but only our actions,’ as if I naively only include physical acting.

I believe we have partial agreement on this next point of yours.  ‘I have learned that I do in fact [1] have a choice about the emotions I will feel and [2, have a choice about] what I will let them do inside me.’  I agree whole-heartedly with your second statement – in fact, that’s the entire point of free will, isn’t it?  Choosing what I will do, in any given situation.  But I do not agree with your first statement – or, if disagreement is too strong a word here – I, personally, have never experienced this, and have no point of reference for it.  If I am happy, I’m happy; if I’m sad, I’m sad.  Again, I agree that what I do with (or because) of these emotions is terribly important.  For example, if I’m feeling especially grumpy, I will recognize that fact, and choose (here comes the free will part) to be more moderate in my responses, be more patient or kind than I feel the situation warrants, not make snap decisions or criticize others, etc, when I am feeling particularly touchy.  But to say I can actually ‘choose’ the emotions I will feel; choose even to forego having negative emotions at all?  I have not been able to achieve that; and (I know you will appreciate the reference, as we are both such huge Tolkien fans) it seems almost an elvish feat to me.

And I think there is a mixing of terms in the example you give of the two spouses; ‘For example, when I am angry with my wife and become bitter, [etc].’  I see the first (anger) as a normal emotion, and the second (bitterness) as a choice, or the ‘action’ of becoming bitter.  Bitterness, brooding, hardening of our hearts – all these things you mention are sins, are actions, are choices; I don’t see ‘anger’ as being on the same footing at all.  To me, there is a world of difference between saying, ‘I am angry’ and saying, ‘I hate you;’ the first implies a feeling (or emotion); the second implies a choice.

On a final note, I had not heard of Dennis Preger’s ‘Happiness Hour;’ and, given what you say about it, I believe I would be ‘startled’ by it, too.  I can’t quite see clear to ‘pretending’ to be happy when I’m not; and the notion that doing so would be (somehow) morally obligatory is unfathomable to me.  Jesus wept.  There are times when our situation, our disappointments or (dare I say?) our emotions call for a different response than joy.  If we ‘candy-coat,’ or camouflage our emotional responses, how then can those around us appropriately respond to our cues of pain, unhappiness or distress? 

You write, ‘I have always prided myself as being one who did not put on false shows, and I thought I was being more honest.’  I agree with you and can only say one thing – keep it up.  Of course, I wish you joy, and no reason to ever have to make a pretense of happiness.  But, if your situation should ever become otherwise, never feel obliged to ‘act’ happy, at least, not in front of me.  I adore you and Joan, in all your permutations.  Give me Bill disgruntled over some cruel injustice; Bill impassioned about righting some heinous wrong; Bill angry and outspoken about some evil left unchallenged in our world or in our church. 

Don’t just give me a smile.

Bill Drennen • Aug 21, 2009 - 5:56 pm

Teresa,

Will try to answer better when I get time.

In general I think we agree on first point although your first explanation to your kids did not express it.

On the second point, I think we are responsible for our feelings themselves not just our reactions to them. I think we have a lot more controll over them then we beleive and do in fact have this elvish power.

I suspect Von Heildebrand would help shed light on this as it was one of his favorite topics.

More later,

Bill

Bill Drennen • Aug 24, 2009 - 5:20 pm

Let me just point out that we do in fact have a lot of control over our emotions. Even where there are chemical imbalances in the brain causing extreme modes, I understand that behavior modification therapy can be just as effective at times along with drugs to control feelings.

While it is complex and probably involves an interplay between what is involuntary and what is effected by the will, the will ultimately must always have the upper hand. Even those emotions that we experience as involuntary as a response to a stimuli, we have allowed ourselves to be programmed to have the emotional response we have and we have the power to change that. It may take a lifetime or more but eventually we should be able to achieve the same maturity that was found in Christ when he did not turn his face from the spitting.

I asked my kids and even Joan (who were all equally in the dark about all this (in my humble view)) if they believe Christ was angry when he was crucified. I believe he likely was not. We choose our emotions really, I have come to see. We think we are passive but we are not. We make a choice to be angry in response to something in us that is affected. Others are only pushing our buttons but we choose the effect those buttons have.

I believe the way we accomplish this is not by any healing action from an other person. It is only by changing our response when we are affected by the power of forgiveness that we are healed of our wounded responses.

As an example, I hate to be corrected while I am correcting the kids. It pushes my humiliation button from my childhood. For years I would get bitter till I finally discovered I had the power to choose a different emotion. With a humble attitude, I choose to forgive and not believe the message of humiliation. I find myself not getting angry because I reprogrammed my self. I am my own best healer with Gods power to forgive. It is a power no one else can have on me.

9 times out of ten, any negative emotion I experience is due to something out of kilter inside me, not because of some terrorist attacking me.

So do not value “honesty” with emotions to highly. You say you prefer us “as we are” but I don’t believe you would hold to that if we really let go of the reins and let the horses run wild! I agree with Dennis Preager that we have a moral responsibility to be happy for the sake of our world and our fellow man. There is a time for grief and anger but we must choose these times ourselves in the appropriate time.

Bill

Katie van Schaijik • Aug 24, 2009 - 9:45 pm

There’s some significant middle ground though, don’t you agree, Bill, between the idea that we have total control over our emotions and no control over our emotions?
Von Hildebrand’s idea of cooperative freedom is key here.
My own interest in being honest about my emotions and respecting them is not about a denial that I have any freedom with respect to emotions, but rather about being “in reality,” about not pretending not to have emotions and not imagining that they are always in the direct control of my will.

Bill Drennen • Aug 25, 2009 - 8:54 am

Definitely there is an interplay between the will, what we control and our experience and what we do not with our emotions but I believe we control much more than we realize and even what we experience as involuntary is a result of our programmed response which we have conditioned ourselves into based on many prior decisions of our will. So “middle ground” I don’t think is the right term. In the long term, the dial is much more weighted on the voluntary side and even in the short term the dial is not in the middle but still closer to the side of our control.

I am very interested in what Von Hildebrand has to say to shed more light.

As far as you comment about honesty, it is more honest to ask yourself, “why do I feel that way?” What have I decided that causes me to have this reaction? What judgment have I made? Is there an other way to think about it? Ect. When we are disturbed there is something in us that causes the disturbance often not directly related to the stimulus. When we find this out we can change our response.

Katie van Schaijik • Aug 25, 2009 - 9:16 am

Bill, are you not speaking too confidently and categorically about things that are very delicate, complicated and mysterious—differing widely in individual cases, etc.?
I mean, while some may have more control over their emotions than they realize, others may have much less than they are willing to acknowledge.  And clearly some emotions are more in the control of our will than others.  Some emotions OUGHT to be strictly governed, some ought to be “ungoverned,” “gone-with” (remember Plato on “holy madness”) and so on.
I like the question, “Why do I feel that way?”, but not “What have I decided that causes me to have this reaction?”  The latter seems to me to load the issue illegitimately.  It assumes that my emotion is “caused” by my will; that by “making a different decision,” I can change the way I feel.
This is true in some cases, but surely not in all.

Bill Drennen • Aug 25, 2009 - 9:50 am

To a degree maybe Katie, but no I think those who you may judge as needing to learn they are less in control of their emotions are those who seek to control by suppressing what they feel rather then dealing with then honestly, taking responsibility and changing where they need to.

There are 3 options, suppression, acting out or surrendering to the will of God. Only the 3’rd option works where we truly transcend our emotions and can change ourselves and no, I think this universally applies to everyone.

Look at the example of Christ. Was he ever out of control of his emotions?

Katie van Schaijik • Aug 25, 2009 - 12:54 pm

“There are 3 options, suppression, acting out or surrendering to the will of God.”

Are you assuming some kind of illegitimacy in the emotion here?  I mean, I don’t recognize a normal and appropriate emotional response as being well-described by any one of those categories.  If I weep over the suffering of a friend, am I “surrendering to the will of God?”

“Look at the example of Christ. Was he ever out of control of his emotions?”

There’s a big difference, isn’t there?, between being “out of control” of our emotions and emotions not being in the direct control of our will.  Lots of emotion is simply spontaneous.

Jules reminded me this morning of Roger Scruton’s formulation for involuntary responses, viz. even though they are involuntary, we are somehow “implicated” in them.  They say something about who we are, our character, what we value, etc.  That far at least I think you and I are in agreement, no?

Bill Drennen • Aug 25, 2009 - 5:41 pm

Im not asuming illegitimacy. Im Talking about negative emotions when I speak about the 3 options. Emotions that may lead us to sin or that we struggle with.

In your example of weeping I would say that you choose to be compassionate or that you are predisposed to be compassionate because of your former decisions of your will. It is quite possible to not weep and condition yourself not to.

Spontaneous emotion is preconditioned. A person kept in isolation all there life may be conditioned not to respond in the ways we think of as invulontary. I agree many times the controll is indirect but many times not and we can learn to effect them in the moment as well. We also have diferent temperments that is God given.

I agree its complex and not always direct but I do think we have a lot more control then we realise and my most important point is that we are responsible for our emotions no matter what and not only for our actions which goes to your last point.

Katie van Schaijik • Aug 20, 2009 - 10:05 am

Thanks, all, for this engaging discussion! There’s much I’d like to add, but I’m rushing out the door to bring Rose to Steubenville (25 years to the month after I went there as a freshman myself).  Let me content myself for now with clarifying one key anger distinction I see that seems to be getting lost:
Anger—properly speaking—is (unlike hunger or boredom) a response to an object;  it’s not just something that “happens” in me; it exists in relation to something else.  Hence, it seems to me, that the key question in evaluating the rightness or wrongness of anger is “Is it due?”  Is it a right and proportional response to the object in question?
One of the most helpful pieces of practical wisdom I got at FUS was this: “If someone criticizes you, the first thing you should do is ask yourself if they’re right.”
Most of us have a tendency to get mad if someone finds fault with us.  But, if we’re mature and serious about truth and right, we should know that our critics are our benefactors and—especially if they are right—do us a great service.  Even if they are wrong, they do us a service, because they inspire a self-examination and they give us a dose of humility.  If we feel angry at them, we should not pretend not to be angry, but realize that our anger is uncalled for and apologize for it. “I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have gotten angry.  You’re right.  Thank you for telling me.”
I find myself frequently having to apologize to my children for getting unduly angry with them over small things, because I realize that it comes from my own irritability, fatigue and impatience and not really their “wrongdoing.”
I also find that anger often comes from unresolved past experiences and hence is all out of proportion with the immediate offense.  In such cases, I think it makes sense to speak of a person having an “anger issue.”  Again, apologies are in order, and perhaps therapy and other kinds of healing, besides just the normal efforts to grow in virtue.

I think these are very different cases from the case of getting angry when there has been a real offense—someone damages my property or lies to me, say.  In this case, it seems to me that there would be something craven in apologizing for being angry, provided we don’t allow our anger to cause us to lash out in kind.

I agree with Dr. Peter, though, that even when anger is just—that is, duly proportioned to an objective wrong (whether against me or someone else)—it is difficult to control.  It easily becomes a destructive force.

I look forward eagerly to hearing more of what he has to say.

Katie van Schaijik • Aug 22, 2009 - 9:05 pm

Fascinating piece by an ex-consecrated RC woman, which touches on our theme here.
http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/arch...

Teresa Manidis • Aug 25, 2009 - 12:53 am

Great post, Katie, and needed to be posted here.  Sadly?  Finally? I am finding more and more of these types of articles . . .

Tabor Smidt • Aug 28, 2009 - 9:28 am

Interesting topic.

Throught the grace of God and true self knowledge one can grow in the opposing virtues to pride (the root sin to many of our shortcomings). Only through perfect charity can one respond to anger properly.  In my own fallen nature and through the sacrament of reconciliation I am continuously picking myself up again. We are allowed by our merciful God to start anew. However, while on this earth the scars do remain. Even after the ressurection Christ appeared to his aposltes with the visible wounds of His crucifixion.

Thanks for everything! Great reading!

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