Category Archives: anger

When you can’t solve a problem…

you find someone to complain to. Right?

I just lost two hours of my life that I can’t get back, and the problem still isn’t solved. How do you handle frustrations like this:

Buy HP deskjet black ink cartridge for my printer at home. Bring it home. Install. Print 10 pages just fine. Go to sleep. Try to print 2 more the next morning but the black ink is first faint then gone. Take out cartridge and shake it. look at contacts. Determine they are just fine. Try several times. No luck. Determine I must have bought a bad HP cartridge. Call the 800 number. Listen to the options and find none really fit. Choose the printer problems. Describe my printer. Get told its ancient (born in 2000) and not covered. Explain, patiently, that I don’t have a printer problem. I have a defective cartridge. Get transferred, Wait…., explain it all anew to the next person. Get transferred again. Wait….., start explaining it to the new person only to be disconnected somehow.

Call back after dinner. Do the same thing as above (less patiently), get put on hold. Put phone on speaker phone. Do dishes, clean kitchen. After 1 hour, hang up and go swimming with my son.

This morning. Do the chat with a tech. from a local coffeeshop (I only have dialup at home). Describe the whole thing. Another hour later after less patiently telling them that I KNOW it is a defective ink cartridge and would they please just replace it, I’m asked to find some small print on the cartridge that tells that it expired in 2007! I should go back to Walmart, says the tech, and ask for a replacement. If I don’t get satisfaction, I should call back and they will kindly redirect me to the right dept.

Problem. I can’t from the recpt from last Friday. I probably threw it away and thus threw away 2 plus hours of my time and the 40 dollars for the cartridge.

I’m happy that I didn’t curse. I was respectful but firm and direct with the person. But I’d like to tell SOMEONE off. It would seem hp has done a masterful job at getting people to follow protocol, but that means they stop thinking.

Of course, my complaining here probably shows some immaturity on my part. In the scheme of things this isn’t a problem. I have food and water and no one is trying to kill me. I can afford another cartridge…


Filed under anger, conflicts

Race matters: Obama’s speech in Philadephia

MSNBC provides this transcript of Obama’s speech today. As you likely know he is under fire for comments his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, made in sermons over the years. This speech is quite masterful as it rejects Wright’s characterizations but recognizes the reality that is behind his angry judgments about American politics, racism, injustice, and place in the world. He shows the parallel with white anger for being held accountable for the sins of our early fathers. In both cases, impolite speech is understandable but not helpful. He says,

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze

What should we do? He tells us to take responsibility for our lives, reject victim mentalities, insisting on justice for all, acknowledging the legacy of discrimination, rejecting cynicism, working together as opposed to for our own good alone. 

He’s right.  When we see hyperbole, we must acknowledge the truth at the center. Fact: we have been arrogant snobs in dealings with other countries. It shouldn’t surprise us that if we kick the dog, the dog bites back. Fact: The country wants equality as long as it doesn’t cost anything. We keep complaining, but until we all agree that my neighbor’s struggle is my own, we won’t see much change. 

He’s wrong.  Trying harder and being truthful about racial reconciliation progress is good, but it is not enough. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, the breaking of our pride, the demand that our individual identities take precedence over that of God’s humble servants, we’re not likely to make much more progress. Legislation helps curb our sin, but it does not stop the seed of racialization. Only the Cross does that. Isaiah’s prophecy is that God is going to discipline his people so that cannot put their trust in man–whether he is bad (e.g., Ahaz) or good (Hezekiah). He lays us bare then He brings us into Zion so that we know that it is His power and holiness that makes us his people.

One final note from his speech. See how he explains why he doesn’t reject a friend who has said stupid things. In my mind this is how we ought to talk about each other instead of throwing them under the bus in order to get what we want:

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.


Filed under anger, church and culture, Civil Rights, Cultural Anthropology, Great Quotes, news, News and politics, Race, Racial Reconciliation

Suppressed Anger enhances pain perception?

Today in Psychopathology we will be discussing the problem of problem anger. In doing some additional research I found that there has been a fair amount of literature produced on the topic of angry emotions and a good amount in the last year or so.

We know that chronic anger has significant impact on the body and may influence certain disease states such as high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, etc. But, Quartana & Burns (Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science, Chicago) investigated the relationship between anger suppression and increased pain sensitivity. Here’s how they explore the possible connection:

1. They asked 209 healthy and pain-free college students to perform a mental arithmetic task (serial sevens). While doing the task, some were harassed (made angry) and some were told to express their feelings, to suppress their experience and/or expression of their feelings, etc.

2. After the task, they had to put their non-dominant hand into a bucket of ice until they reached the point where they could not tolerate pain any further.

What did they find? Well, first they found that 32% kept their hand in the water so long as to be not helpful in their research. But, they also found that, “Participants who attempted to suppress either experiential or expressive aspects of emotion during anger provocation reported greater pain in response to subsequent pain induction than did participants who suppressed during anxiety induction and those instructed not to suppress, irrespective of emotion-induction condition.” They also found, “Participants who suppressed anger not only reported the greatest pain severity, but also described the quality of the pain as more physically hurtful (e.g., throbbing) than their counterparts who suppressed anxiety or those who experienced angerbut did not engage in effortful suppression. More important, those who suppressed anger also described their pain as annoying and irritating to a greater extent than those who suppressed anxiety.”

This makes sense. When I’m angry, everything becomes an irritant.

Does this suggest that to be more healthy we should be more free with our anger by giving vent to it? Not necessarily so. It does mean that those who hold it in (become embittered?) may become quite sensitive to perceptions of pain–that is, notice all the other things wrong with the world. But anger expression isn’t necessarily the opposite of suppression. Rather, honest self-evaluation, bringing our anger to the Lord, remembering that He is our vindicator may be more important than outward expressions of our anger.

Biblio: Emotion, 7:2, pp 400-414 (2007).

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Filed under anger, counseling science

Ancedotal Science Monday: Anxiety–Depression–Anger

Today, my psychopathology class will explore the problem of depression. Last week we looked at anxiety and next week, we take a shot at understanding the roots of anger. Here’s my thought for today: these three emotional states are not different animals but three manifestations of the same problem.

There is some psychological research and writing suggesting that anxiety and depression either highly overlap or are two ends of the continuum. Further, we understand that the same SSRI antidepressants seem to alleviate both anxiety and depressive symptoms. I would like to suggest that we consider that they do exist on a continuum and anger as the center point.

Consider these simple definitions for our Anxiety–Anger–Depression continuum:

Anxiety: Manifestations of mood revealing a deep sense that something is not right in the world and hope in activating in someway to forestall the danger.

Depression: Manifestations of mood revealing a deep sense that something is not right in the world and hopeless to forestall the danger.

Anger: Manifestations of mood revealing a deep sense that something is not right in the world and frustrated that others aren’t doing something to forestall the danger. 

How might this change our approach to these problems? Not sure it would. However, all of us have some experience with at least one of these three manifestations and so therefore we can better relate to those who experience one of the other two manifestations.

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Filed under anger, Anxiety, counseling science, Depression

Contractual Christianity?

Sean Roberts, one of the interns at our church, preached Sunday on Matthew 20 and the parable where the owner of the vineyard pays those who work only 1 hour a full day’s wage–the same he paid those who worked all day in the heat. During the sermon Sean mused that we, “default so often to a contractual christianity.” Either we ask “What do I have to do to get… [some hoped-for blessing]” or we ask, “I’ve done such and such–what do I get for that?”

Can you relate? Ever have someone with less experience get paid the same or higher than you? The owner of the vineyard reminds the workers that they got what they were promised. The problem, he said, was that the grumbling workers begrudged his generosity. Or how about thinking that if you are more consistent in your spiritual disciplines that you’ll feel closer to God, have a better marriage, etc? Contractual Christianity.

Sean, the pastoral intern, reminded us of two things. First, notice that there are two groups: those who know they have gotten more than they deserve and those who think they are owed more. Second, he also reminded us that the owner deals gently with those who are anger and bitter. That reminded me of how the father treats the son when the prodigal comes back. He gently encourages the older son to take joy in the opportunity for grace.

Sean left us with this thought. God’s generosity is far better than our ideas of fairness. 

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Filed under anger, Biblical Reflection

Righteous indignation: Why we love it and why it endangers the soul

The last few days I have been listening to the various pundits discuss the debacle at Walter Reed Military Hospital. If you haven’t been following it, this link will help. In short, Building 18 at the hospital complex is rat and roach infested AND those wounded soldiers living in it are swamped with bureaucratic barriers and are unable to get the proper treatment they need.

Enter righteous indignation. Continue reading

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Filed under anger, Cognitive biases, News and politics

Ponder this thought on anger

Buechner has a delicious quote…

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back — in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.

you can find this here:

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Filed under anger, Great Quotes

Are you angry at God? Is that okay?

Most people who go through horrific experiences wonder what God is up to, if he really cares, and why he didn’t protect them from the pain they endured. Many also find themselves blaming God, refusing to believe in God, angry at God for the situation they find themselves in. Evangelical authors have responded to these questions and feelings in two general ways. (1) Anger at God is misplaced at best, sinful at worst, or (2) Expressing anger at God is good, honest, and part of the healing process. “He can take it, He’s God.” Let’s look at each view for a moment. Continue reading


Filed under anger, Uncategorized

Science Monday: Is anger something to be managed?

This week in class I’ll be exploring anger, from explosive to silent, from holy to sinful. Simple definition of anger: We want something, don’t get it, and feel wronged for not getting it and justified for feeling and acting the way we do. In this sense, anger is neutral–neither good nor bad. Except one small problem, the people who get angry aren’t neutral. Seems most popular writings on anger either focus on the sinfulness of it or on the healthy expression of it. The scientific study tends to focus on the best steps to managing it (STAR: stop, think, act, review).

In a 2004 article in Psychotherapy(41:2, 161f) Andrew Rothman asks if anger is something to be managed. Good question. Continue reading

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Filed under anger, counseling science, counseling skills