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The Anger Fallacy


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A life without anger is attainable — if you understand The Anger Fallacy.

Anger is everywhere — behind everything from road rage to wrap rage, domestic violence to international conflicts. People cling to their anger, as a tool of influence and a driver of revenge. But is anger really ever useful? And can we learn to overcome it?
In this entertaining and ground-breaking book, two of Australia’s leading clinical psychologists take a radical approach to anger management, exploding the irrational beliefs that fuel this noxious and misunderstood emotion. Through numerous examples from popular culture and the consulting room, and with a sizable dose of humour, the authors show how to combat anger by substituting empathy and understanding for righteous angry judgments. Along the way, readers will learn a new way of viewing people and their actions that is at once powerful and serene.

Constructive anger?
There’s an alarming number of popular books on anger describing a certain kind of anger expression (usually the polite, moderate kind) as ‘constructive’. Anger’s constructive, they say, when it’s framed as a mutual problem.
What?! Mutual problem? Constructive? Anger? Bollocks. Anger is in its essence adversarial. In a conflict, focusing on mutual problems, or common interests, is a very smart tactic, but it is the very antithesis of expressing anger.
Think about what a mutual problem looks like (in the absence of anger); for example, when you and a friend work together on a crossword puzzle, or when a husband and wife discuss what to do about a leaky roof.
Passing off your anger at someone as an attempt to solve a mutual problem is usually a little manipulative:
[A mother to her son] When you spend two hours on Facebook, it really ticks me off. You don’t want to tick me off now, do you? No. So it seems we both have a problem here.
Can you see how this is not an example of a mutual problem in the same manner as the crossword and the leaky roof? The mother is trying to frame her angry response as part of the hard landscape of the Facebook-problem. But it’s not. It’s obviously not. She just added it. If your son is obsessed with Facebook, and this angers you, then strictly speaking: you’re the one who has a problem with it. This doesn’t mean it’s your fault; it just means you’re the one bothered by it and wanting it to change, not your son. From your son’s perspective, you’ve added a problem (an angry mother, an impediment to Facebook usage) that wasn’t there before. So now you both have different problems, not a mutual problem. Don’t get us wrong here: your son’s excessive Facebook use may well have negative repercussions of which he is unaware (e.g., sleep deprivation, repetitive strain injury, early onset myopia, narcissism), and these are well worth pointing out to him; but then your problem is ‘how to communicate these ill effects to my son’ or ‘how to persuade him to stop using Facebook’. Similarly, giving a student a detention may be constructive; but feeling angry at him hardly is.



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Published 03 February 2016
Reads 0
EAN13 9781922117205
Language English

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