I know that anger is a huge problem for people dealing with bipolar disorder.  How do I know?  Not just because I'm a supporter myself or because my mom has it, but because I get TONS of emails on just this subject.

 

You wouldn't believe how many people are dealing with anger these days – whether they have bipolar disorder or not.

 

That's why they have courses called Anger Management 101.

 

Well, Robert Allan PhD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York-Presbyterian

Hospital, wrote a whole book on anger, called Getting Control of Your Anger.

 

In Dr. Allan's book, he talks about a 3-step process for taming rage:

 

  • Identify the hook (trigger) that feeds your anger.
  • Just by knowing that there is a trigger that sets your anger off can be liberating in itself.  It's the first step toward changing your reaction to your anger and not allowing yourself to directly express that anger by yelling or getting physical.

     

  • Step back or remove yourself from the situation causing your anger.
  • By doing this, you can figure out WHY you need the anger.  Then you can try some relaxation or deep-breathing exercises to try to get back some of your self-control. 

     

    He also suggests developing an OBSERVING self, a mini-version of yourself who you visualize sitting on your shoulder viewing the big picture and warning you not to take the anger bait (hook or trigger). 

     

    Dr. Allan says that when we get angry, the feeling is usually fueled by the need for respect or the need not to have our territory breached, or both. 

     

  • Fill the need without expressing anger directly. Instead, ASK for what you need.
  •  

    I think that last point might be a little simplistic.  People ask for what they need all the time, and it has nothing to do with anger.  On the other hand, they ask for what they want, and when they don't get it, that's when they get angry.  So it's kind of six of one and a half-dozen of the other.

     

    We hear a lot these days about rage-aholics.  And we also hear a lot about roid-rage, which is kind of the same thing, only they blame the rage on taking steroids.  I don't know if these people would be able to do point #3 – it takes too much rational thought.  Rage-aholics don't stop to think what they're doing. 

     

    Once a person's anger is out of control, they don't stop to think of what they're doing.  Much like a person with bipolar disorder who is in a manic episode.