That Rage Has Turned Into An Addiction
Newton Hightower, author of ANGER BUSTING 101, angerbusters.com
addictions have symptoms, which allow us to recognize these problems as addictive
diseases. The signs of addictive diseases are self-stimulation, compulsion, obsession,
denial, withdrawal and craving syndrome, and unpredictable behavior. Like alcoholism
or drug use, anger meets many of the criteria.
those who are rageaholics, expressing anger is self-stimulating. It triggers the
compulsion for more anger. For example, let's pretend that we are going to provide
treatment for alcoholics. On the way to the treatment center we stop and buy a
case of beer. When we get to the meeting, we tell the alcoholics in therapy that
they just need to do a lot of drinking to get it out of their system once and
for all. This is similar to when therapist tell men with rage problems, "You
just need to express yourself and get it out of your system." It is just
as absurd. The more alcoholics drink, the more they want. The more ragers rage,
the more they want to rage.
addiction or "rageaholism" is the compulsive pursuit of a mood change
by repeatedly engaging in episodes of rage despite adverse consequences. Rageaholics
continue to rage compulsively without regard to the negative consequences. Compulsion
or loss of control is the inability to stop expressing anger once we have begun.
The inability to control angry words is a certain sign of rageaholism. Loss of
control--that is addiction.
are frequently preoccupied with resentment and fantasies of revenge. Those thoughts
sometimes rise powerfully and allow no other thoughts to enter. The force of anger
is sometimes irresistible and followed by action. Therefore, the preoccupation
with the "wrongs" of others and revenge continually leads to rage. Progressively,
these thoughts crowd out all others until our life becomes chronically revenge-oriented.
At that point, anger controls
keeps anger addicts trapped. It is the mental process by which we conclude that
the addiction is not the problem; it's "them." Ignorance of addiction
and the inability to examine ourselves, work together to keep rageaholics stuck.
Knowing no other way to live, we deny that there is anything wrong with us. This
system of denial ensures that the process of rage and righteous indignation will
continue. Righteous indignation keeps our focus off of ourselves. This is why
ragers seldom are able to say, "I am wrong."
with any addiction, anger has a detoxification period. Craving is high during
this time. Those who abstain from name-calling, profanity and yelling during this
period report more depression than usual for the first three months. Typically,
during the first 90 days of abstinence, ragers feel vulnerable and spend a lot
of time thinking and hoping for a situation that will allow us to use violence
for some heroic purpose. Afterward, however, if we have achieved complete abstinence
and maintained it for 90 days, we find we no longer think in profane or disparaging
terms. It may even become shocking when we hear others do it.
definition of alcoholism is that when an alcoholic drinks, there is no way to
predict his or her behavior. He may drink appropriately from time to time, just
as the rageaholic may express anger appropriately from time to time. However,
when the alcoholic starts to drink alcohol, all bets are off. No one knows what
is going to happen. When rageaholics start to express anger, no one knows where
it is going to go. The most likely think is that they will explode, rant and rave.
Rageaholics would like to learn how to express our anger appropriately just like
alcoholics would like to learn how to drink appropriately. While there are some
exceptions, I encourage those with rage problems to abstain from the expression
of anger for one year.
plan is only for that small percent of the population who have rage or violence
problems. The approach described here is not for everyone; but for those addicted
to rage, it won't work to express your anger.