Sunday, August 08, 2004

Some Sane Advice

Milk is good for you. No, milk is bad for you.

Alcohol is bad for you. No, alcohol is good for you.

And so on.

But my favorite controversy is about anger, which used to be my normal emotion.

About a year ago my local paper ran an article that said, in part, "If you're mad and you show it, you might just live longer than those who simply seethe, [according to] new findings from an ongoing study...." That's what I always told those who were around when I blew my top: "I'm just letting off steam; it's better than bottling it up."

But when a lot of people let off a lot of steam, it gets rough out there, as it says in today's paper:
...More Americans are seeing therapists for anger. More are in anger management classes. And more schools are calling in experts to teach students how to solve problems without using fists.

But most angry folks are either stewing or taking their rage out on roads, co-workers and loved ones....

"People are very convinced they are seeing much more rude and angry behavior," said Jean Johnson, senior vice president of Public Agenda, a nonprofit opinion research organization. "They find it very disturbing."...

As politicians egg on furiously divided voters during this presidential election season, unruly students are driving teachers out of the classroom, and rude store clerks provoke customers to walk out without buying....

Bad behavior is troubling, mental health experts say, because it eats holes in the social fabric, from family life to schools to the democratic process. Anger also makes people sick. It can lead to more heart disease, headaches, stomach problems and depression. When anger gets out of control, people scream, yell and, sometimes, hit.
Some anger specialists, of course,
want to get dysfunctional anger classified as a disorder like anxiety and depression. Such a classification would give anger a standard definition and a way to gauge whether it's more widespread, as some researchers now suspect. They hope their work also could lead to a better understanding of anger and more treatments for the short-fused who walk among us, work beside us and live with us.
That's all we need, another official disease to which government programs can be attached.

There's no need for all of this testing and psychologizing. There are two things you can do to remove most of the anger from your life:

1. Retire, so that you no longer have to put up with bosses, co-workers, deadlines, and commuting.

2. After you've retired, move to a place that's far from where you spent your working life, so that you distance yourself from all of the bad memories of that place.

And if you can't do those things just yet, here's what you can do: Twice a day, retreat to a place where no one can hear you and scream as loudly as you can for about a minute. Just vent to your heart's content. If everyone would do that the world would become a much saner place.

I'll send you my bill at the end of the month.

Next patient.