Some thoughts on social anxiety and anger management

by Jan 25, 2014Anger Management Counseling, Anxiety Treatment, Rage, social anxiety

Some Thoughts on Social Anxiety and How It Relates to Anger Management

As I continue my study of the explosive patient, I’ve been perplexed by the relationship between anger mismanaged and social anxiety. What I’m finding is that social anxiety can be the flip side of a stealth anger management problem.

Here’s a for instance: Generally, with explosive patients, someone in the family of origin regularly blew up at home. The child learns it, is fascinated by it, wants to know why it happens, tries it out, gets good at it, enjoys the power and release of it, and feels righteous about his or her achievement. Then this dyad is carried forward into the now with someone else as witness. That’s a classic anger management scenario.

What I’m finding is that percolating rage beneath the surface of family life can create problems even if it isn’t expressed. What if everyone is good? The adults are responsible. The family has structure, perhaps even a religious or spiritual side. The sensitive child will still be in touch with that other, darker thing that’s going on. Combine this with a no-talk family, and you see where this is going.

Also in this constellation of strong feelings is a rabid loyalty to a lonely parent. The dilemma of the sensitive child is this: I’m growing up. I get bigger and stronger, and I’d like to show the world what I got. But if I go, then mommy will be alone and she won’t survive it. So I better stay small. This is a terrible price to pay. Resentment and love are unhappy cellmates in this scenario.

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Elizabeth Singer is a therapist and anger management specialist in New York City

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The Difference Between Anger and Rage