Jun 132012
 

I stumbled onto this excellent article that I’d like to share, Anger: Attachment and Neurobiological Perspectives.  It gives a thorough explanation of anger management styles and how they originate in attachment.  I think many of us will find it a useful tool for examining our own anger as well as that of people we know.

The author, Daniel Sonkin, Ph.D., wrote these words at that top of the page:

In all close relationships, we affect each other’s emotions. This emotional contagion process allows us to get into the mind of others and really understand them.

I thought this was particularly interesting because psychopaths are so difficult to understand.  They lie about everything and none of their behaviors make any sense.  Yet, I believe that the only way to understand what motivates a psychopath is by feeling the contagion of slime that they project at us.

When an abuser behaves angrily, one might assume it’s because he IS angry.  Lundy Bancroft, author of  Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, explained it differently.

anger management

He states that angry men rage because it gets them the reaction they want.  It’s not that they aren’t really angry, they are, but that anger is controlled and suppressed most of the time.  Then it’s allowed to escape like the steam on a pressure cooker, whenever it suits the abuser or when it will get him what he wants.  In other words, with an abuser you really never get a clear picture of his emotional state, what you’re getting is an act.

Still, the act is meant to slime his victim with a feeling of fear and powerlessness, that’s the reaction they expect.  I propose that fear and powerlessness is what the abuser himself is feeling and that the anger is a way to bypass that feeling onto a victim so that he doesn’t have to feel it himself.

Copyright © 2012-2013 Skylar

  97 Responses to “More Thoughts About the Role of Anger”

  1. D2, my own experience has been that a pet’s reaction to a psychopath isn’t always reliable. I think much depends on the individual animal.

    My dog has never been wrong, for instance. I always pay close attention to how he responds or behaves toward a person. When he senses bad energy he does not approach them or act in his usual friendly manner. Sometimes he will stand between me and the person to let me know.

    Once, years ago, I was looking for pasture to rent for my horses. A man who offered to rent pasture to me came to visit me and to meet my horses and discuss the possibility. When he walked into their pasture, one of my geldings, who had never once shown any aggression toward people, pinned his ears flat and charged him! I should have heeded the horse’s warning instincts, because I did in fact rent pasture from the man and it was a grave mistake on my part.

    Psychopaths will act differently toward your pets in your presence too. Not all animals will pick up on them.

    I have read that some psychopaths who own animals are not abusive toward them, which even seems more confounding, so how animals react or are treated isn’t always a reliable indicator.

    From my own knowledge of two people I realized were psychopaths, in both cases they were negligent owners but one couldn’t discern that without observing over a period of time. One psychopath, for instance, owned several animals and took “better” care of favored animals that to them mirrored their narcissistic needs, and neglected the others, some atrociously, and came up with excuses for their poor conditions and dispositions.

    Another psychopath I knew owned several animals and they all appeared well attended to, but you would catch them acting abusively or negligently if you paid close attention – that psychopath was secretly abusive toward them when he thought no one was watching.

  2. I don’t know if any of you have spent much time on George Simon, Ph.D.’s website but OMG is he a good man. Completely dedicated to the cause and fighting the good fight against Spaths and other disturbed and manipulative characters. He posts articles all the time and answers questions and comments tirelessly. I’ve never believed in cloning but he would be an exception as well as having my vote for president……..of the WORLD!

    D3

    • I liked his website, so I got his book. It was informative but only up to a point. He doesn’t really get the shame aspect of character disorders.

      • Agreed but for some reason I don’t get it either. I’m still waiting for the shame ah ha moment. I also think, and suggested to him, that concrete word for word examples of what to actually say to a real life manipulator or Spath would really be helpful. I think I would have gotten out earlier if I was able to call the Spath out of his bull #### better. Not get the rug pulled out from under my feet so easily. BUT…….it is what it is and I’m lucky it wasn’t worse AND I hope it won’t be worse. I’ve said my good byes, spoke my mind and truth and threw his abusive words back in his lap as well as his responsibility for his own dysfunction and choices. I’m done…..
        My focus now and in the future is me and getting the help and support I need to deal with life the best I can.
        Love to you Skylar,
        D3

        • D2, I saw someone write here before about changing their user ID to reflect their new beginning, what do you think about doing that?

          • AncientHeart, I love the idea. I’m not urge how to do it though. Here’s my new name…..Dorothy. The wizard of OZ is my all time favorite movie and Spaths are like the great and powerful Wizard of OZ, once you see Behring the curtain, they unmask, the truth is revealed. I’m sure you can make the myriad of other connections, who couldn’t after being slimed by a Spath? ………………and I have a little dog too!! Lol
            Thanks for the suggestion! It’s a fantastic idea, the name means more to me than I can even put into words at the moment! Synapses firing all over the place!!
            Love,
            Dorothy

            Skylar……..how do I change this?

          • This is very interesting….. I prefer my interpretations of the OZ symbolism but this is still interesting and I had never heard it before!
            http://www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/archive.cgi?noframes;read=115708

          • Dramatized, just sign up with a new name, like you did before.

  3. Sky, have you seen this?
    http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rjfp19

    Not sure which link is best used.

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09585180110056867

    Are any of your writings specifically about shame?
    D3

    • Dramatized,
      The second link is interesting. It looks like there is lots of reading on that site. Thanks.

      • Skylar, I tried to sign up with my new name. I have not received the email confirmation to activate it though.
        Drama

        • Drama,
          I didn’t get any request. So I changed your nickname.
          You can still log in with your same username (Dramatized3), but your posts will have your nickname, Dorothy.

          • Skylar, I will try to register again. Thanks!

          • Skylar, please just delete my old info entirely and I will re register with the new. Something is weird. I’d rather be able to just use the new info to do everything.
            Thanks again,
            D3

          • Dorothy,
            I think we need to just leave your account as is because otherwise it will delete all your new comments, if I delete the account.

      • I’m just starting to read this and I’m really seeing the difference between shame and humiliation. Spath=shame, Victim=humiliation. That’s exactly what I feel is humiliation. And yes……I would love to ” get revenge ” but I know better. I just want to be there when what goes around comes around on him. I don’t even need to be there, I just want to hear the story.
        http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09585180110056867

      • The definitions that I have read, describe humiliation as being “shamed unjustly”. In humiliation you feel you were treated unfairly. While in shame, you accept that you were judged as lacking and that you agree with the judgement.

        • Well I know, unless there has been some huge misunderstanding…..and I mean huge…….that I feel humiliated. I feel like I’ve been done wrong. The shame that I feel is from myself, on myself for not heeding the warnings and being love hungry enough to allow myself to be deceived. However, I do see that I was systematically weakened by his “relationship” tactics, his Spathtics(new vocabulary word!). I liken it to clinging to the side of a boat that is sinking (the illusion of a relationship/ future), eventually there is nothing left to hold on to and you have to kick harder and harder to keep yourself afloat while the waves are crashing in your face (spathtics). By the time the last board slips below the water, your so tired you can barely tread water on your own.

  4. Truthspeak

    AncientHeart, I am VERY wary of people who are animal advocates because I’ve met SO many disordered people claiming to care so deeply about the welfare of animals. It’s EASY to “care” about something without a voice. I’m not suggesting that the people that I could identify as disordered abused the animals in their care, but they were abusive to their fellow human beings, absolutely.

    ANY organization can provide a valuable cloak of respectability for a disordered person, especially those organizations that are of “altruistic” nature and involve animals. “How can he be a sociopath? He ‘loves’ that cat so much?” was what one person actually said to me when I described what the exspath had done and clearly was. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! They say the words to human beings, and they’re false. What, on earth, can make a person believe that expressing “love” for a pet is clear evidence that they are trustworthy and of “good” intent?!?!

    It’s a mask. Plain and simple. One gal that is disordered had a whole pack of pets and cleaned their litter boxes, walked the dogs on schedule, fed them, watered them, and took them to the vet on an almost frantic basis. This gal had these pets because it made her appear NORMAL. Yeah, she appeared to “care,” but she only “cared” as much as it would provide her with her own cloak of respectability.

    I’ve learned that I must be cautious in every situation, regardless of what the situation might be. Where altruism goes, I’m suspicious and on the alert from the gate.

  5. I sort of wanted to revive the article topic for a few reasons, but mainly to discuss the anger that victims feel, before, during, and after they extract themselves from a sociopathic entanglement.

    ****Note: my use of CAPS is intended for emphasis, ONLY, and not to be construed or interpreted as “online yelling,” under any circumstances.****

    As I’ve been working my way along my path of recovery and healing, I’ve come to accept that I was once a very angry person and that I often expressed my anger at the most inopportune moments and inappropriate places. I finally understand WHY I did this, and how it factored into my role as a victim, and also as an abuser, as I engaged in the triangulation of dysfunction within my own life and relationships.

    I was angry at the wrong people because I believed that I was STUCK with the wrong ones. I also carried that childhood trauma around and had never processed those experiences. I learned that erroneous anger was a mask to wear over my own fears, and I’m going to hazard a guess that I wouldn’t have been able to address this as a fact, even if I had known about it before my experiences came to a final straw.

    Typically, I choked back ALL “negative” feelings because rocking the proverbial boat had been inherently viewed as “troublesome,” or coming from a “bad person.” Only “bad people” expressed anger – EVEN righteous anger – and only “good people” took whatever was dished out to them on their chins, turned their cheeks, and waited for the follow-up blow. I had NO IDEA that there was not only a healthy and safe way to express anger, but that I was actually “allowed” to FEEL angry when someone did something that hurt my feelings.

    For me, my emotions were always ramped up, but they weren’t healthy emotions and they weren’t based upon truth, reality, or anything concrete. I finally learned how I got to the point that I did to cause me to attack the second exspath in a fit of rage – something that I had NEVER done in my lifetime, and I’ll never do, again. But, I got to that breaking point and I took responsibility for my own actions and sought immediate intensive counseling therapy. Whether he backed me into a corner, or not, isn’t the issue. LOL!!! Bottom line is that, had I been emotionally healthy at the outset, I never would have remained married to the first abusive exspath for as long as I did, and I certainly wouldn’t have gotten involved with a con-man for a second and more ruinous marriage, afterwards.

    This has been an amazing journey, so far, and I have to type that I am truly grateful that I am where I am, finally. And, I’m not as fearful of the remaining journey as I once was. I never want to be “That Person,” again.

    Let the abusers and spaths blow an artery in their fits of anger. Me? I’m living in a completely different universe, and I am SO grateful that I am. 🙂

  6. Truthy,
    The truth IS an amazing journey. It’s amazing how we kept ourselves in the dark for so long because our emotions were more than we could bear.

    Anger is a way to bypass the shame and humiliation we feel. Sometimes it’s shame over our helplessness, other times it’s fear. I think anger can be useful when it helps us overcome depression and inaction. We just need to make sure that our intellect is making the decisions, and not the anger itself.

  7. Sky and Truthy, when we have been “injured” or “unjustly treated” the normal, natural response is ANGER. It is when we get CAUGHT in that anger and unpack our suitcase and LIVE THERE that it becomes very problematic. In many ways, the stress that is caused by the anger response hurts us mentally and physically.

    I too was angry for a long time. AFter the neighbor whose land my husband’s plane crashed sued me for $50,000 because it “upset him” and he needed MONEY to make him feel better. I was actually homicidal I was so angry. Fortunately my conscience wouldn’t let me ACT on that impulse, but I sure WANTED to. LOL I don’t ever want to be that angry again or stay angry for months like I did with that man.

    Anger is also a normal part of the grieving process, it isn’t “rational” to be mad at someone we love who has died, but we will go through that in the NORMAL course of grieving. Also when we have been betrayed, used or abused, we grieve for the loss of the relationship we THOUGHT we had.

    I’m starting to feel come compassion now for both my mother and for Patrick even. Trust? NO!!! Want a relationship? Double NO!!! But you know it really is SAD that anyone has the kind of dysfunctional thinking and the emptiness a psychopath does. And they don’t even know what they are missing by not being capable of a really loving and intimate relationship with anyone.Those people lilke my mother who dwell in denial, well, they are destined to also be totally “alone” because there is no way the psychopath they are trying to “protect” is going to love or care about them.

    I used to think if I was nice enough to others that they would care about me back and be nice to me, but you know, if you pick up a snake and love it, feed it and pet it it is NOT GOING TO GROW FUR AND BECOME A PUPPY AND LOVE YOU BACK…it is what it IS no matter how much you desire it to be different.

  8. Truthspeak

    OxD, you wrote, “I used to think if I was nice enough to others that they would care about me back and be nice to me…” and I completely identify with this flawed belief! That was MY JOB in my previous life!!! Seriously, it was MY JOB to make everyone on the planet “like me” by caring about them to the point where it became a complete pathology.

    I utterly “get it” when you also wrote that you’ve begun to develop a sense of compassion for your mother, and for Patrick. I get that, I really do. It’s not so much pity, but it’s an understanding that their lives must be just horrid, at their cores. I cannot imagine how painful both of those people’s lives truly are, but I can remember how painful my own life was BEFORE I went through all of those grieving processes, myself, to release my past experiences and develop a more emotionally healthy Self.

    Absolutely, we do NOT want to befriend, reclaim, or rekindle relationships with dangerous and toxic people, but feeling a sense of compassion is HUGE, OxD…….it’s really, really huge. What a tremendous milestone, I must say.

    With regard to anger and the expression OF anger, I believe that most anger is fear-based with the exception of “righteous” anger. I’ve finally learned the difference between rampant generalized anger, and righteous anger, and the two are NOT alike in any sense other than the energy they both use up. Even righteous anger can develop into deep-seated malice if it’s not expressed or processed, properly.

    I think………for me, at any rate……….that “acceptance” has played a very large part in my personal recovery, healing, and growth processes. I can’t change a snake into a fuzzy kitten, and I don’t have to “like” that fact, at all! But, I have to accept it to avoid being bitten when I’m trying to wish that snake into something different.

  9. Truthy, I think that ACCEPTANCE is VERY important to our healing, and compassion, but not PITY is also important, and that without acceptance of what IS (rather than grief over what we wish WAS) is what allows us to heal.

    I know the steps in grieving, 1. denial, 2. bargaining, 3. sadness, 4, anger, and the last, acceptance. However, even when we first reach acceptance, we go back to the other 4, over and over again, until eventually, we reach it and it finally “sticks” and we are then able to move on to some compassion for these folks, but no desire to rekindle any relationshit with them.

    The opposite of love is not hate, it is truly indifference, not caring any longer what they think. I don’t think having compassion for these souls is a bad thing, I think it is a good thing actually. But it sure doesn’t mean I want anything else to do with them.

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