Mad As Hell: Anger and the Economy



There is so much to be mad about these days. People are enraged by corporate greed, lost jobs, ineffective government, Bernie Madoff. And that's just the tip of the ice berg.

The worst thing about being angry about anything associated with the economy is how little we feel we can do about it. It's a weird feeling. All that anger and no where to go.

That's what's so dangerous and frightening. That kind of anger can either go nuclear or into the deep freeze. Both are bad, very bad.

Anger expressed badly is toxic. It can:

  • Get out of control really easily
  • Unintentionally hurt those we love the most
  • Isolate us from our loved ones
  • Make us literally sick
  • Drive us to alcohol and drugs
  • Prevent us from effectively problem solving
  • Make us lose our sense of perspective
  • Turn us into bitter, passive-aggressive, sarcastic jerks
  • And cause us to lose our sense of humor

And it gets worse the more chronic the poorly expressed the anger is and if there's a family history of poor anger management.

Controlling Anger — Before It Controls You, by the American Psychological Association, points out that anger is a perfectly healthy emotion that we experience when we're under threat of harm. "Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive–not aggressive–manner is the healthiest way to express anger." Yes, but that's tricky when the person you are angry at is your ex-boss who gets a bigger bonus depending on the number of people he fires. That makes finding assertive, healthy expression of anger a challenge, but not impossible.

I'd like to hear from you. What are you angry about? How do you cope with your anger? What kind of help could you use?

Me? I cope by imaging Bernie Madoff naked in Times Square in a good old fashioned pillory. Yeah. That makes me feel better.

One comment


  • SD

    Dr Aletta,
    I may not be able to express my anger very well but your last sentence certainly made me laugh. What a picture.

    2009/02/25

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