Anger is one of the most misunderstood of all of the human emotions. In spite of popular opinion, anger is not a mental or psychiatric disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association, anger is a lifestyle issue. Therefore, anger is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Nervous and Mental Disorders.
Anger is often a symptom of a wide range of medical and mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, dementia, organic brain disorders as well as chemical dependency. This reality may account for the public’s lack of understanding of what anger is and what the appropriate interventions may be to help one manage his or her anger.
If anger is not an illness, then it stands to reason that there is no illness to treat. Therefore, medication, psychiatric treatment, psychotherapy or counseling is neither appropriate nor useful.
Anger is a normal human emotion. Anger is the response to a perceived threat or invalidation. It is a signal to mobilize one’s biological and emotional resources to respond to this perceived threat.
Anger is a learned behavior. Any behavior that is learned can be unlearned. This fact offers a solution to appropriate interventions for useless anger.
While anger is a normal human emotion, it is unhealthy, inappropriate and needless under the following situations: • When it is too intense • When it occurs too frequently • When it last too long • When it impacts health • When it destroys work or personal relationships • When it leads to person or property directed aggression
Given the fact that anger is neither a mental disorder nor a medical illness, intervention programs must be based on strategies designed to teach enhancement skills in self-awareness, self-control, social-awareness and relationship management. These four skill sets are the four domains of emotional intelligence.
The most effective anger management classes/coaching must begin with a non-psychiatric/psychological assessment to determine the participants’ level of functioning in the following areas: anger management, stress management, assertive communication and empathy/emotional intelligence. Following skill enhancement classes/coaching in these areas, a Post-test should be given to determine the success or lack or success of the anger management program.