PJ Media

Listening to Anger

Have you ever suffered from severe anxiety, road rage and hyper behavior all rolled into one and wondered, “what the heck is wrong with me?” If so, then you have to read Brian Frazer’s new book a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0743293398?ie=UTF8tag=wwwviolentkicomlinkCode=as2camp=1789creative=9325creativeASIN=0743293398″emHyper-chondriac: One Man’s Quest to Hurry Up and Calm Down/em/aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=0743293398″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / that just came out this week. I saw the cover of the book, complete with a big colored pill (I assume it is supposed to be Zoloft) between two fingers, and was intrigued enough to read the inside cover: “Chronicling his relentless search for inner peace, Frazer takes readers on a hilarious guided tour of his dysfunctional childhood, marked by an extaordinary ability to contract a new disease almost every month, a disturbing obsession with bodybuilding anda veritable sample platter of disorders of every conceivable type….. As an adult, Frazer proves even more high maintenance. His forays into analysis, Kabbalah, yoga, anger management, psychopharmacology, and puppy rearing are all attempts to achieve some sort of lasting happiness and inner peace. He discovers that almost everything works. For about five minutes.”br /br /After reading this mess, I thought to myself, “Another narcissistic tale of an over-achieving yuppie type who is going to bore us with the details of his path to fullfillment.” But the book is much more complex than that and rather than narcissism, Frazer’s anxiety and rage disorder seemed fueled by early psychological experiences that lead him to strive for perfection and hyper behavior to gain the love of his mother who is very sick. Frazer’s mother is struck with Multiple Sclerosis when he is very young and he feels helpless to help her. However, he finds that a surefire way to please her is to adopt hyper behavior–her chief complaint in life seemed to be that nothing ever gets done fast enough. “Her theory was that there was no use in putting things off because you’d eventually have to do them anyway.” At 11, Frazer became very task-oriented and pushed himself to do everything immediately, with an urgency that leads to rage, stomach problems, depression and a lifetime of striving to find a way to calm down. br /br /My favorite parts of the book are where he describes his feelings of rage when he is flipped off by a guy in a Honda Accord and tailgates him and then chases him across a soccer field, and another section where he goes to an anger management class and learns a bunch of hooey about how to deal with anger. By the end of the book, he seems to understand more about where his anger is coming from and says that the myth in his family had been that anger can control things. As a psychologist, I think that anger has a limited place in interpersonal interactions with family members–it is better to use other methods to deal with the people that we love. But this does not mean that angry feelings are “wrong,” for they are only wrong if used in unproductive or destructive ways. Some anger is good, such as anger against injustice, totalitarianism or communism, and can give rise to problem solving in constructive ways that make people more free and not less. br /br /Anger is often a signal, to tell us that something is wrong, that we have been unfairly treated. But it can be a helpless rage that makes us feel that we are cannot change our circumstances. Effective problem solving and figuring out the source of the anger is paramount, as is giving yourself back the sense that you can control the circumstances that lead to the anger in the first place. Each person’s personal journey with anger is different and needs to be explored in the context of their own life, but anger is universal in the way it can lead to change, sometimes in a positive direction. If you have interests in anger, hypochondria, or stress, you should read this book.