“We speak of men and their rage as if it laudable. "Men just get mad and push each other and it's over", we say. "Women are just bitches; they never let it go." That's because we never can let it go. Because where would we put it? What system? What faith? What institution has room? Has patience? Has understanding for an angry woman?” ― Lyz Lenz
While I’d hesitate to state I have an anger-management problem, it’s not much of a secret that I do have a short fuse. It’s been joked about across my family, with reminisced tales of the epic tantrums I would throw as a child. But what was cute for a four-year-old quickly became disapproved of as I got older.
As an adult, I try to keep my fuse in check, believing that having a temper is something to be controlled and hidden away, as many of us are taught.
So, I was intrigued to learn about the concept of rage therapy. Specifically, activities that encouraged and advocated for embracing anger and rage and letting it all out.
Understanding Anger and Rage
Socially, expressing emotions like anger and rage is frowned upon for obvious reasons. More broadly, even experiencing these emotions can make us feel like ‘bad’ people. We’re conditioned to think that people who can’t keep these emotions at bay are inept or lacking emotional stability.
Overcoming excessive feelings of anger or rage has been managed through therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) - a series of interventions focused on regulating physical symptoms and reactive thoughts. This process helps individuals understand and change their responses through counselling and behaviour modification.
More recent research has started to shine a light on how these emotions can actually have a beneficial driver in our lives. One study from 2017 published in Frontiers in Psychology found that anger is one of our core, basic emotions and plays a vital role in personality growth.
Further research in the book Fuel in the Fire: How Anger Impacts Judgment and Decision-Making has pointed to the ways anger and rage can have positive benefits for self-improvement, helping motivate us to achieve goals.
Wanting to learn more about an area of my personality I’ve always found a hindrance, I spoke with Dr Sheri Jacobson, Clinical Director of Harley Therapy, a UK-based online counselling and psychotherapy platform.
“Many mental health conditions stem from unexpressed emotions. If we don’t give space to these emotions, then we’ll come up against psychological difficulty. Rage and anger are no different. If we can release those emotions in safe ways, then we can provide some relief from them, in the same way as scratching an itch.”
There are many reasons anger and rage might show up in our lives, and the past year has given us plenty to feel pent-up about. As I continued researching the topic, I began reading about the different ways to scratch that anger itch.
This is an excerpt from my print piece 'All the Rage' published in Issue 7 of WILD Wellbeing Magazine.
Purchase a copy here.