Trouble With Anger

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I have some trouble with my anger and people around me. So my name is Adonis, 17 year old Italian guy and I have some issues that I don’t want to physically see a therapist about because it would look bad on my family. I admit that I get angry at times for reasons that aren’t necessary but it’s never put a strain on my relationship with my girlfriend so I pay it no mind until a couple of days ago.

I was out with a friend his girlfriend and my girlfriend and we came across this guy who was running off at the mouth about some inappropriate things he wanted to do with the ladies in the group and after a minute of keeping my cool I hit him, and I kept hitting him until I was satisfied. Found out later that I broke his jaw, knocked out some teeth, and gave him 14 stitches under his eye. Of course I have to go to court now but it’s nothing some money can’t clear up. My family, especially the men have a history of being violent ( not woman beaters ) so that wasn’t a big issue. What I am worried about is that I enjoyed hurting that guy, I absolutely loved it and looking back I have always loved causing people physical pain; more pain the better. I just don’t know if it could lead to something really bad in the future.

I also have a thing where I don’t tolerate people very well so I tend to stay away from people I don’t really care for. I look down on people, feel that they are less important than me, and I don’t think twice about if I hurt them or not. I this something I should try to fix or work on?

A. I would agree that you are having difficulty managing your anger. Your anger and lack of ability to control it have resulted in your being in the court system. From the perspective of the court, you will likely be viewed as the attacker or aggressor in this situation. They will most likely view you as the person to blame for this incident. These types of incidents could very likely lead to future arrests, jail time, lawsuits, and so forth. You have no right to hit someone. You may have the right to defend yourself if you are physically attacked but that was not the case in this situation.

There are several issues to address here. One I briefly discussed above is your inability to control your anger. It only took “one minute” before you were so enraged that it led you to violently attack another person. This seems to indicate that your anger is easily triggered. In other words, it doesn’t seem to take much to provoke your anger.

The second main concern is your reaction to this violent behavior. It appears that you do not view what happened as problematic. As you stated, “it’s nothing some money can’t clear up.” You do not seem to feel guilty or remorseful about the fact that you significantly harmed someone. You also appear to believe that you were justified in what you did. Many people in the same situation would have felt differently. They would have regretted their actions. Many would have felt guilty about the fact that they harmed someone. As far as I can tell, you do not feel any guilt or remorse. This leads to the third and most serious concern which is that you seemed to gain immense enjoyment from physically harming another individual. As you stated, you “loved it.” This is not a normal reaction.

Anger and physical aggressiveness can sometimes be about power and control or more accurately, a lack thereof. You may have attacked this individual because you feel you lack power and control. Attacking this individual may have been your way to gain power and control and to deal with your possible feelings of inferiority. If so, there are other ways to deal with those feelings.

You asked if you should work on this problem and my answer to this question is, yes you should. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. It is unhealthy to enjoy the harming of another person. It can also cause you many serious problems in life.

Therapy can help you manage your anger, identify your triggers and learn a more appropriate response to situations that make you angry. You should search for a therapist who specializes in treating anger. The court may have a treatment program they can recommend for you (and may require that you attend) but if not you can try searching this directory for therapist in your area. Once you identify a few possible candidates, call each of the therapists and ask them about how they would treat your specific situation. Ask them how they would help you reduce your anger. What are their success rates? Can they help you learn to channel your anger in a healthier direction? Knowing the answers to these questions could help you in choosing the most effective therapist.

What is positive about your situation is that you are beginning to recognize that your anger is a problem. Anger and aggression problems can be effectively treated. I hope you are able to locate effective treatment. The treatment of your anger should be a priority. Thanks for your question. I wish you well.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Jul 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Trouble With Anger. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/07/01/trouble-with-anger/