Interestingly enough, anger uses the same energy as aliveness, vitality, vibrancy, and passion, but it has a lot of toxicity in it. So what we are trying to do is let the anger discharge – maybe through acting from within the defensive response or using defensive words such as; “No!” or “Back off!” to try to separate those two energies because at this point this aliveness might just have a chance to come up. (But without knowing more about it, this may/may not be useful there in some situations I know).
I want to share with you a particular Case Study example from my book, “Crash Course” where I worked with a man named David who was probably one of the angriest clients I’ve ever worked with! I mean, I could feel it emanating from every vessel inside his body – in every session. I worked in a 12-story building at that time and I could feel it when he walked into the building (this energy was so strong and I mean, he was a guy who would shoot dogs and I am a dog person!) David had previously been in a serious car accident, which by the way, was his fault although I could never get around to mentioning that fact and he knew it but it didn’t seem to matter.
From this accident, has was injured and there were other things resulting from it that left him very unhappy with what we uncovered during therapy (he wanted me to use his name and the story in my book Crash Course). So, if you have somebody who really has a lot of rage, you might just want to look through the chapter in my book called “David.”
Part of the problem when there’s really strong anger is – anger feels better than fear, well, at least for David it did. I don’t know if it applies to any of your clients but anger also has “strength in it” and he could have felt stronger and more powerful in holding “on” to the anger.
When I would talk to him about his accident, I would say, “You know, if that had happened to me, wow! I would have been terrified,” and he replied, “Oh no, I never feel terror,” and I said, “Yeah but that’s gosh, if that would have happened to me that would have been really scary!” And then he just went into this “Marlboro man” sort of act (he was a Colorado rancher), you know, “I don’t do fear” so I responded, “Okay.”
Excavating David’s FEAR
During our sessions I had planted the seed by using the exercise stated above and it was interesting, because the next week he came back and said sheepishly, “I think there might have been a little bit of FEAR in there,” which was an opening because he was so committed to understanding it, but he was also locked into the fear response. He could not in any way go there, his whole culture was against it. (You know the type, at the time he would go to the bar on weekends with his other cowboy friends and beat up everybody, I mean they just had this “anger fest” and now he is a deacon of his church, got married and has little children – a whole different situation and he sells organic vegetables at the market right here in my town and then now he would say to me “Oh, stop by!”)
Really, it’s not an easy thing working with a client like David. This all took a while and didn’t happen in a couple of sessions – progression took place over a year of sorting out what was really fueling his anger.
This blog was originally written from Module 4.2: Uncoupling Two Conflicting Instinctive Drives that have Become Cross-wired.
Don’t miss seeing Diane in Silver Spring, MD March 13-16, 2015 for her final presentation on the topic: The Neurobiology of Loving Relationships workshop. Register HERE