I was meeting with an angry man. He told me his last counselor said to buy cheap plates so when he felt anger rising inside, he could throw the inexpensive plates into the fireplace, which would help him work off steam.
He said it was loud, took good aim, and sometimes the shards would ricochet from the fireplace interior and land in the living room.
His psychologist assumed anger had a hydraulic effect that is similar to boiling water. He believed anger rises from inside an individual and the way to overcome the anger is to give it ventilation. The psychologist used descriptors to validate his beliefs. Here are a few examples:
- I was boiling mad.
- You just need to let off steam.
- I have to get away from you, or I’m going to explode.
Unfortunately, these metaphors have evolved from describing how a person feels to a diagnosis of what is happening. If this idea were true, when I say, “My son loves to horseplay” you could conclude he needs to be put out to pasture.
Anger is not a person victimized by a physical hydraulic imposition. It is a bad response from a fearful person who is unwilling to trust God at the moment, so they see no other recourse but to resort to manipulation to bring things back into their more comfortable and ordered universe.
Case Study Questions
- What is your theology of anger?
- Write a detailed plan to help this angry man overcome his problem.
Also published on Medium.