Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer


Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 20, 2011




 Angry is one of the most common search words that people use to find my blog. I did not know that I spoke about being angry so much, but now that I think about it, anger is certainly one of the negative feelings which propel folks into psychotherapy. Like all pain, anger is a clue to internal distress, sometimes rising to the point of needing medical attention. Betrayal makes people angry as I spoke about in my previous posts involving the Monte/Marla drama: Susie, sixty-one, was angry today when she came in, not at me, but at her employee, Tony. Tony did not do his work, and when confronted, he took the opportunity of this negative exchange to attack Susie on a personal level. Susie handled it professionally, but internally, she felt dismantled. “It seems that Tony honed in your vulnerability; on the parts of yourself that you do not feel sure about.” I said. “Well, obviously,” Susie replied. “So that is helpful to us to understand what this vulnerability is all about.” I say, highlighting that getting hurt, although painful, is also an opportunity for self-exploration. “I guess,” Susie says, dismissing the opportunity, but at the same time, understanding that maybe when the pain subsides, she might be able to examine her sensitivity. Susie was angry when she walked in; she was calm when she walked out. Sharing the experience, thinking about her feelings, seems to have diffused them. Immediate gratification happens in psychotherapy, along with the long-term kind. Being angry can be part of a helpful internal journey. Susie reminded me of that.

2 Responses to “Angry”

  1. Shelly said

    I read in a best-selling self-help book that anger is fear turned inward. What do you feel about that? If I am angry at a coworker, why would that imply that I am afraid? And I totally agree with your blog that sharing experiences that bring about certain feelings (like anger), thinking about those feelings together with a therapist, can diffuse those feelings; what do you advise if you share the feelings with a therapist and the therapist uses these feelings as a springooard to teach the client lessons about themselves (the client)? This can come across as judgemental and critical. How does one build trust into the therapist-client relationship?

    • Anger is a lot of things-fear included. Anger is discomfort, trying to be expressed through aggression. If you are angry at a co-worker, there could be multiple explanations. You might feel the unfairness of things and that is certainly a common source of anger.
      The art of therapy is to have the patient feel like it is journey of self-discovery whether than a didactic experience. As a journey of self-discovery it is not about judgment or criticism.
      Trust is built slowly over going through vulnerable times together, and feeling safe through those times. Thanks, as always, for your comments.

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