‘Anger management’ works for some and not others. Why? It’s because the anger resulting from past trauma is different. The anger of PTSD is different. It’s fury. As Judith Richards, Founder & Creator of The Richards Trauma Process, says, trauma anger is rage. It’s uncontrollable and it shoots from 0-1000 in a nanosecond. It’s explosive and it’s a purely instinctive response that generally can’t be ‘managed’ consciously or ‘controlled’ by conscious effort.
Let’s contrast this anger with another – the anger or irritation which results from an accumulation of stress or distress. This anger can manifest as irritability, impatience, or frustration. It’s an expression of the cracks that appear when anything’s under enough pressure. It can feel like an internal emotional pressure balloon about to pop. And sometimes it does pop – into burnout, heart attacks, other health issues, relationship damage etc. – if we don’t let the pressure out of the internal balloon.
Given that, in a study comprising 34,000 adults in the USA, 7.8% reported the prevalence of “inappropriate, intense, or poorly controlled anger”, uncontrollable anger comprises a massive problem with far-reaching effects in our society.
In another study including 1,300 adults presenting for outpatient psychiatric treatment, approximately half reported experiencing moderate to severe levels of anger. About a quarter of those participants reported extreme anger leading to aggressive behaviour.
When people experience that uncontrollable trauma anger, often it’s as though something snaps. They lose awareness of what they’re doing and what’s going on around them. When they become conscious again, they’re then faced with the chaos they’ve wrought – their children hiding from them, the dog cowering under the table, their partner physically putting themselves between them and their children, a loved one, perhaps, physically hurt… And then the oppressive guilt, shame, self-hatred and self-blame flood in.
It's a dreadful, damaging, catastrophic cycle with far-reaching effects on your life and the lives of those around you.
And it’s not your fault. You can’t control this kind of anger. But here’s the good news: you can resolve it. Not manage it but resolve it.
Steve Gardiner had PTSD resulting from his experience in the military. He experienced this kind of rage. The effort it took to try to control it was exhausting. He’d suddenly find himself hiding underneath cars having heard a helicopter overhead. He didn’t even remember doing it. And he resolved it. You can listen to his story here.
The important thing to know is that trauma anger can be resolved. It can’t be managed, but it can be resolved.
If you need help with this, book a complimentary strategy consultation with Sally here. It’s too important not to.