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Trying not to lose control
Managing anger can be tough, but is necessary for safety and health
Curtis, a former SIUC student who now lives in Carbondale, realized he needed help with his anger management when he broke his girlfriend’s arm.
She had to tell the hospital what happened, and in turn the police were notified. She did not want to press charges, so nothing happened to Curtis.
“I felt so bad,” Curtis said. “After all I had done, she still did not turn me in. She really loved me and I was a fool.”
Yelling, teasing, crying, depression, violence, aggression and suicide are just some forms of anger.
Feeling frustrated, not having desires fulfilled, or after being assaulted, many people become angry, which can lead to violence, abuse or loss of control.
Several things can trigger anger. The most common are someone’s safety and well-being. If someone feels they or a loved one are in immediate danger, their emotions take over and the outcome can be fatal.
The threat or loss of power, pride, self-sufficiency and self-esteem are also triggers of anger. If someone feels they are being put down and made to feel inferior, anger can take over.
Barb Elam, stress management coordinator of the Wellness Center, said that a common trigger of anger is usually when people perceive some form of injustice and want to retaliate.
“If you are yelling and screaming, you have lost control,” Elam said.
This is a part of what is known as aggressive behavior. Often times someone may discount others by not respecting their rights, or by being demanding, sarcastic or hostile. Someone inappropriately expressing their feelings and opinions can be a great danger to those it is being launched against.
It is important to know how to manage anger and not lash out in the heat of the moment.
“When anger is justified or not, it mostly hurts the angry person,” Elam said. “They are the ones feeling stressed and are not helping, but hurting themselves.”
Elam said that it is important to get treated because research has shown that hostility can be related to high blood pressure and cardiac problems.
This is something students deal with on a regular basis. The everyday routine of being a college student, working and, in some cases, taking care of children, can cause them to be angry at some point in the day.
Curtis had a relationship with a woman that lasted five years, until she finally got fed up with his abuse. Curtis was 17 years old and already out of control and unable to manage his anger.
“I grew up in a house with a father who was always angry because of work,” Curtis said. “He took it out on my mom and she stayed, so I saw nothing wrong with it.”
After he broke his girlfriend’s arm, he decided to enroll himself in anger management classes and get help. He also volunteered his time working with young boys in hopes of helping keep them from taking out their anger on others.
One way of managing anger is by taking responsibility. Instead of blaming the victim or minimizing the facts, one should become aware of the repercussions of the behavior and also learn alternatives to getting angry and becoming violent.
Elam said one method of getting over anger is by talking to someone about the situation.
“If we perceive the situation one way, but then talk to someone else, we can get a different perspective that may calm the situation,” Elam said.
Owning up to one’s mistakes is the first step to treating anger and regaining self-control.
“Not that anger is necessarily a bad thing. It’s what you do with it,” Elam said.
She said many people make the situation worse by getting angrier and not discussing it with anyone.
“You have to take care of self first,” Elam said. “We teach people how to do that through breathing techniques, muscle relaxation and visual techniques.”
There are discussion groups someone can join to help them with anger and how to channel it outward – not toward someone else.
Curtis said the group he joined was great for him and has helped keep him from taking out his frustrations on others.
“If I ever had the chance to get back with my sweetheart, I would,” Curtis said. “I know what I did was wrong, but I can never take it back.”
Reporter Samantha Robinson can be reached at