Are you angry all the time? Do you often regret things that you have said or done in anger? Do people try to avoid you when you are angry? These are just some of the questions that might be considered when evaluating what place anger has in your life. Angry All the Time: An Emergency Guide to Anger Control, by Ron Potter-Effron, is a book about anger, the ways that anger manifests, and how to understand your anger so that it doesn’t rule your life.
Ron Potter-Effron divides the chapters of this 135 page book into short segments related to specific anger topics. The chapters are designed to be read from front to back, but it would be easy enough to single out certain chapters to read without reading the book page by page. This book is for those who have already realized that they have a major issue with their anger, according to the author.
The Table of Contents
Part I: Understanding
1 My Life is a Mess Because of My Anger
2 Why? Why? Why? Why Did I Become So Angry?
3 Why Can’t I Stop? The Six Main Reasons People Stay Angry
4 The Anger and Violence Ladder
Part II: Action
5. Fish or Cut Bait-It’s Time to Make a Promise
6. Climbing Down the Ladder, Part 1-No More Violence of Threats
7. Climbing Down the Ladder, Part 2-Keep That Foul Mouth Shut Until You Learn to Talk Right
8. Believe It or Not, They’re Not Out To Get You
9. Saying Good-bye To Old Resentments
10. I Need Help, Too-A Chapter For Partners of Angry People
11. Where Do I Go From Here?
The Best Parts of the Book
My copy of the book actually has post-its on a fair number of pages to identify sections that I have used in counseling for both individuals and with psychoeducational groups. Among my favorite sections, a few activities stand out for their visual and applied value to the person using the book.
This is a personalized sort of recipe that can be used to identify the damages that have been incurred in a person’s life due to anger. In essence, a pie shape is drawn and each slice represents one area of life (the law, friends, work, health, values, and other categories). Each slice can be shaded in according to the amount that anger has intruded in that area. The exercise serves to show the multiple ways that anger can be damaging, as well as to identify certain patterns.
The Anger and Violence Ladder
I have used this exercise numerous times as a full group session. Visually, a ladder is created with different rungs of the ladder dedicated to a certain type behavior related to anger or violence. The book deals with each rung’s topic in depth in Chapter 6. The rungs increase in intensity and each rung offers behavioral examples that might help a person identify how they have been expressing their anger. The rungs include the following, from bottom to top:
Sneaky Anger, The Cold Shoulder, Blaming & Shaming, Swearing, Screaming & Yelling, Demands & Threats, Chasing & Holding, Partly Controlled Violence, and Blind Rage.
The Flaws that I Can’t Ignore
This is a book for those that have issues managing anger, much as the title implies. However, I cannot emphasize enough that the average person could easily be misled that anger and violence are one in the same. Many of the behaviors described in the book could be better labeled as forms of domestic violence. If a person has such a pattern, (whether verbally, emotionally, psychologically, or physically), it is likely that this behavior is directed at their partner or family. People in that category generally DO NOT have an “anger problem.” Too often, violence is minimized or rationalized as an anger problem that can somehow be “cured.” This book will not be a quick fix for the person that has chosen to be abusive.
Angry All the Time: An Emergency Guide to Anger Control might be better marketed to the general public, rather than solely for those that are searching for an answer to an already escalated anger problem. Anger is a universal emotion and it seems to be the behavior part that gets us in a jam once in awhile. The author provides enough examples of how people show their anger for the majority of readers to at least recognize one or two familiar ways that they exhibit their anger. I would have liked to see more exercises regarding healthy ways to express anger or some additional practical tips.
My feelings are mixed on this book. On one hand, I really like the format of the book and the way that the author provides examples throughout the book. In practice, this book has been a useful tool (Anger Pie and Anger & Violence Ladder). When I have used the exercises working with a room full of court-ordered men that have been arrested for domestic violence, however, we adapt the language to exclude the term “anger” and focus more on their choice to use violence. For the average person, the book offers enough to better understand the issue of anger. If a person is truly having an overall problem with anger in their life, this book could be a helpful tool, but not a replacement for seeking professional help.
I’m giving this 2.5 stars out of 5 because I became angry each time I read a section that described abusive behavior as just another form of anger.
***If you are involved with a person that displays a pattern of abusive behaviors, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for more information. There are many programs that provide free or nearly free services to assist. You are not alone.
National Domestic Violence Hotline