Unsuppressed anger

Earlier this year, a colleague and friend sent me an email about unsuppressed anger. I rarely used to get angry, in fact, to the point I had to learn how to. I grew up in a home full of anger and other types of hostility caused by untreated mental health in two members of my family, and alcoholism, and other ‘stuff’.

Accordingly, for many years, I preferred the “flight’ part of fight or flight.

But on social media, there is a lot of anger and bullying around, that’s for sure. As Monica Lewinski said in the TED talk I shard earlier this week, the online world has no perimeters, including after a person may have deleted or edited a nasty or untrue post, as someone somewhere has taken a screen shot of it.

Curiously, the most recent online blast (now over, hopefully), I only emailed one or two replies privately, but did email some mutual friends, primarily asking them to offer support, as I did realise this person was deeply distressed personally, and probably needed support. However, I have been accused of making all sorts of public comments, which is completely untrue.

People with unsuppressed or overt anger, passive aggression, mental health, addictions of any kind, or other uncontrolled issues are difficult to deal with, even for a person without dementia.

Add in dementia and the progressive cognitive disabilities, it affects everything, including one’s ability to function at all.

The wounds are very deep and may never heal, as we’ve lost capacity.

I’ve definitely not been playing the victim card and have remained mostly silent about it, including not taking the recommended police action, but this particular person did, and continued to attack me for quite some time.

Responding to these recent attacks, this is an email sent by one colleague and friend:

“Is this a case of pathological anger? Which is pathologically aggressive, violent or self-destructive behaviors symptomatic of and driven by an underlying and chronically repressedanger or rage. This type of anger stems primarily from long-term misuse of anger, which grows insidiously over time into resentment, bitterness, hatred and destructive rage
Pathological anger may also have roots in or caused by neurological damage and substance abuse (marijuana/alcohol) both of which can impair one’s ability to have insight and the capacity to resist aggressive, angry or violent impulses. The damaged brain loses the capacity for insight and the ability to manage impulse control.
Even so, pathological anger can’t be blamed on neurology, genetics or substance abuse.
It arises usually from the inability to acknowledge, own and consciously address it as it develops starting in our childhood, often as a result of trauma. So, what can you do?
1. Stay calm, safe and involve others.
2. Try not to respond angrily to the other’s anger, you can easily end up being seen as the aggressor yourself.
3. By responding well, you’ll experience less stress and unhappiness as a result of dealing with them. Use confrontational “I” Messages effectively.
4. Distance yourself emotionally.
5. By responding calmly to angry, you set a good example for the other. 
6. Disengage totally from the relationship is a final step, if necessary. Cut the person off. Block! Disengage totally!
Anyway, further to this insightful and helpful information, I’ve also been trying to read the recommended book listed at the end of this post.
REMEMBER: “Destiny determines who enters your life, but you decide who stays.”
Because of dementia and my own mental health, I chose number 6, ahead of the other suggestions, very quickly.
Williams and Williams (1998). Anger Kills: Seventeen Strategies for Controlling the Hostility That Can Harm Your Health.
It is an interesting read, and with some effort from the Amazing Amazon Help Chat box, I managed to get it as a Kindle book, even though technically it is not available in that format yet in Australia.

13 thoughts on “Unsuppressed anger

  1. I thought I was the only one with dementia that found it way hard to deal with someone else’s anger….,.., or my own. Thank you for writing on it.

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  2. I find that I have to work harder to manage my anger as other symptoms from the dementia increase. I have generally been a calm person and even when feeling angry have, for most of the time, been reasonable. Nowadays the frustration is beginning to show, in spite of my best efforts.

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    • Sending hugs… it is reasonable (although uncomfortable for all, including us) for people with a progressive terminal brain disease or disorder such as dementia, that physiologically makes it more difficult to manage emotions including anger. What I find most unreasonable, is anger directed towards people with dementia, by people without dementia.

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  3. Very very true Kate and i hate getting angry and feel bad when i do-i am almost always very happy, content, and calm but we do all get angry at something from time to time.

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    • It’s called being human… the challenge for those on the receiving end, is the person not accepting it’s them, or apologising for being unkind. And sadly it’s made much worse when they manipulate the truth and blame the person they have attacked. Take care x

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  4. Kate,
    Your strength and fortitude never ceases to amaze me.
    Bullying and harassment is never acceptable, in any form nor is there any excuse for it.
    You do not deserve to be on the receiving end of the personal issues and obvious psychological problems of another person.
    These people are cowards and take their own inner frustration, fears and hate of the world out on those they think are more vulnerable.
    You have stayed strong and you also have the support of the masses.
    I agree the right avenue to take is to cut the negative force from your life.
    Sending you big hugs my friend.
    Love you.xx

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    • This crazy online world seems to turn some into people with split personalities – it’s okay to be mean online, and say things they’d be unlikely to say to your face. It’s probably no different to what we once called backstabbing but never knew about. I’ve no doubt it will go on in one format or another forever. X

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  5. Anger with a dementia patient is common as the carer expects more responses especially in the toilet scene.
    I experienced this with my wife and to this day I keep scolding myself every time I am in that room, I know better now.

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