Anger Free

Anger Free

5.0 2
by W D. Gentry, Doyle W. Gentry

Are you consumed by rage? Do you seethe and simmer, slam doors, or scream at people? Is so, you may be one of the millions afflicted with high-intensity, high-frequency, long-lasting "toxic" anger, a debilitating disorder that can destroy your job, your relationships, and even your health.

Anger-Free offers a simple mind/body approach to alleviating

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Are you consumed by rage? Do you seethe and simmer, slam doors, or scream at people? Is so, you may be one of the millions afflicted with high-intensity, high-frequency, long-lasting "toxic" anger, a debilitating disorder that can destroy your job, your relationships, and even your health.

Anger-Free offers a simple mind/body approach to alleviating dysfunctional anger. Drawing on three decades of professional and personal experience, Dr. W. Doyle Gentry presents a fresh perspective on anger management with clinically tested methods that draw on the psychobiological elements of toxic anger and far surpass the commonly prescribed therapy to "hold it in" or "let it out."

In his easy-to-understand ten-step program, Gentry provides self-assessment inventories to test anger levels, offers case histories as learning tools, outlines the pitfalls of anger management, and sets realistic goals to overcoming the "toxic" behavior. Complete with positive exercises to promote healthy, lasting change, Anger-Free delivers effective methods to master your anger successfully — without professional therapy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Anger, according to psychologist Gentry, is a universal human emotion serving several "positive functions," such as resolving conflicts, promoting self-esteem and motivating needed action. But, Gentry claims, some 20 million Americans suffer from toxic anger syndrome, or TAS, which involves "a level of anger that is experienced by otherwise normal people much too frequently, is too intense, and lasts too long." Caused by a combination of genetic temperament and "lifelong bad habits," TAS exacts a high cost in all areas of the person's life--economic, social, vocational, mental and physical. Using the damaging aspects of TAS as "disincentives," Gentry's "ten basic steps" toward freedom from this problem include self-awareness, stress reduction, personal assertiveness, learning empathy, physical exercise and self-expression through writing and speaking. Gentry provides a comprehensive yet succinct description of the causes and effects of TAS, a diagnostic self-assessment tool, many exercises and specific examples of out-of-control anger episodes. He delivers a surprisingly exhaustive view of abnormal anger, and his treatment exhibits much greater depth of understanding than the usual hold-it-in or let-it-out approaches. (Mar.)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.56(h) x 0.84(d)

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My life is in the hands of any
rascal who chooses to annoy me.

—Dr. John Hunter, eighteenth-century physician

John is a sixty-year old, soon-to-be-retired machinist who has suffered from too much anger his whole adult life. He is a likable man who by all accounts has tried to live a decent life, work hard, and take care of his family. He is an ex-Marine and is proud of having served his country. He pays his bills, attends church regularly, and helps his neighbors when he can. He is ordinary in all respects but one, and that is his extraordinary temper.

"Were you always this angry?" I asked.

"Oh, yes. When I was a kid, I had a violent temper. I've got scars on my head from hammers. I'd get angry when I mashed my finger and throw the hammer straight up in the air. It'd come back down and hit me right on top of my head."

John was clearly the victim of his own anger.

"What did your anger feel like?" I asked.

"Like I was gonna explode... on whoever or whatever was around me. I could feel myself tensing up inside, getting ready to go off. I'd actually see stars," he said.

"And afterward, how did you feel?" I asked.

"Drained! It takes a lot of energy out of you. I was afraid I was going to have a stroke or heart attack — my blood pressure couldn't stand it. I think I got a hiatal hernia from being so angry. And you can't rest; you just toss and tumble."

John remembers first becoming angry when he began public school, up until then, he didn't think of himself as an angry person. "Our family movedinto a neighborhood where everybody was cousin-this and cousin-that and we were outsiders. They picked on us, and we had to take up for ourselves. You fought for everything you got." He's still fighting fifty years later.

Brian is twenty-nine. He is married, has four young children, and is a welder. He goes to college part-time. To look at him, you wouldn't think there was anything wrong with him, but he too suffers from too much anger. Although Brian feels bad about his angry outbursts, he also feels relief.

"Afterward, I feel more relaxed. I guess with it [anger] boiling over, it gets it out of my system."

"Can you control your anger at all?" I asked.

"No. It doesn't build up slowly. It just comes on all of a sudden. Like a switch is thrown. My level of anger rises from zero to the highest point it can, just that quick."

Like John, Brian also had a bad temper as a child. His mother would tell him, "If people push you, you need to walk away." But he would get mad and end up fighting instead.

Brian is most apt to get angry if he feels mistreated or in situations in which he feels helpless, and he tends to dwell on his anger, sometimes for days. "I wouldn't be mad all that time, but I would sit and think about it for a couple of hours at a time."

Brian doesn't come from an angry family, so he doesn't understand why he's always had trouble with his temper. He doesn't like being so angry, and he realizes that his anger is out of proportion to what other people might feel in the same situation. "Where another person gets a little upset, I'm angry!"

Rachel is forty-two, divorced, and the mother of two grown children. She cried as we talked about how anger has affected her life. "There was so much I wanted to do, but anger at the way my life was going kept me from doing those things. My anger hurt me. It kept me from having things that people I grew up with had, like a college education and a good job."

Like the others, Rachel had been angry since childhood. "Nobody fooled with me. I had an attitude." She had been raised in an alcoholic, abusive family, and she had learned to defend herself by staying angry and fighting back at the world.

For Rachel, anger was a defense against a backlog of emotional problems that she constantly tried to hide and that she had never confronted. She thought, "If I don't talk about it — the hurt, the pain, the abuse — I can put it back on this little shelf," But these problems were repeatedly expressed through self-abuse and the abuse of those closest to her.

Sometimes Rachel's anger is so strong that "swallowing it" and getting away from the angry situation isn't enough. At this point, she has to express her anger by throwing things or slamming doors. Her whole life has been a struggle, one that brought her to me feeling guilty, depressed, alienated from loved ones, and full of regret.

David is fifty-five. He's in constant pain from a twenty-year old work injury, which left him permanently unemployed. Repeated back surgery and years of medical treatment have failed to relieve his pain, leaving him a frustrated and very angry man. "The more pain I have, the madder I get. Simple things, stupid things, set me off, like watching my family having a good time when I can't or watching them rake leaves and not being able to help."

David's family has had to bear the brunt of his angry outbursts. "I can tell you when he's angry," his daughter says, "and I just go to my room. I don't want to make him any madder than he already is." The whole family tries their best to dance around his anger. "We all know what to do and what not to do," his daughter explains.

David is full of regret about being so angry, but knowing he hurts his family does not help. David still gets angry. "It's hard to explain. It just builds up over a period of time, and I've just got to let it out!"

David feels hopeless and defeated by his anger. He's tried everything to control it. "I've tried going off by myself. I've cried. I've hollered and screamed. I've burned things, hit things, smashed things...none of it helped. It just cost me in the long run. I'm always sorry afterward, but it's too late. I see tears in my wife's eyes, but it's too late."

Too much anger, in fact, almost cost David his life: it caused him to have a heart attack seven years ago.

I met Dennis when I was working at Duke University Medical School about twenty years ago. He had been admitted to out psychiatric inpatient service, and I was asked to do a diagnostic consultation on him. Dennis was in his late forties, and he had risen from the rank of accountant to president of a rather large company in record time. He was a driven take-charge kind of guy who suddenly found himself extremely depressed, lacking energy and initiative, and feeling worthless.

I remember our first meeting. I came to interview him just as he was leaving to go to his biofeedback class. He was in a hurry to get there so that he could show the instructor that he could "relax more than any of those other patients." As we walked briskly along, I asked him how he felt about being in a psychiatric facility. He stopped abruptly, put his arm on my shoulder, looked straight at me and said, "Son, that's a stupid f—- question, don't you think?" He smiled and went running off down the hall.

Dennis was quickly returning to his former "Type A" self. His depression, which was beginning to lift, had only suppressed his usual cynical, hostile disposition. Underneath it all, David remained a very angry man.

These people all suffer from a common problem: toxic, unhealthy, maladaptive anger. By current estimate, at least 20 million Americans suffer from "toxic anger." You yourself may be one of these people. For almost fifty years, I was, but I am not anymore.

Copyright 1999 by W. Doyle Gentry, Ph.D.

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