Shame Based Anger
by Marty Brenner
Anger, in its purest form, is an explosive and temporary reaction to a life-threatening situation. Nature endowed caveman with anger to give him the emotional and physical power to defend himself against a large, scary predator and turn it into dinner roasting over a campfire. As man’s world grew more complex, so did his enemies. Modern man battles different predators today, including bosses who insult the quality of your craftsmanship or your husband who makes you ashamed of your cooking skills night after night. Anger is a protective tool, designed to keep you from feeling pain, even the pain of shame and embarrassment. Shame based anger is when you exhibit angry behavior towards those people you feel have already shamed you or plan to do so in the future.
There are plenty of opportunities to feel shame today and it is all too easy to tell another person that they “ought to be ashamed of themselves.” We add shame to punishments as a way to extract emotional justice from the small child or violent criminal in addition to punishing them for inappropriate behavior. For example, you might spank your son as punishment for biting his sister and then add shame into the equation by making your son confess to his father. You add more shame when you retell the story to his grandparents, teachers or friends.
Shame is an intensely personal and painful feeling. Shame inflicts emotional damage so, logically, anyone who tries to shame you is trying to harm you. This assault on your personal safety angers you. You now feel under attack, and your brain calls up the protective emotion of anger. You lash out at the person trying to inflict this painful shame as a way of protecting and preserving the integrity of your innermost feelings.
Shame based anger is volatile, unpredictable and often violent. Because the violent outbursts are based on the deeply-hidden secrets of personal shame, it is impossible to know what may trigger the shame based anger in another person. For example, a groom honestly finds his wife’s abundant curves attractive and tries out the new nickname “plumpernickel,” unaware that his mother-in-law used to tell her child that being plump was ugly and that an obese woman should be ashamed of herself. His new bride instantly becomes enraged at the innocent nickname, much to the confusion of the loving husband, because she feels childhood shame rekindled in her adult relationship.
It is taboo to express feelings of shame in most cultures, forcing most of us to bottle up this powerful emotion. As with most emotions, shame accumulates inside of you. When you encounter a new shameful event, you re-open old wounds, add in the new transgressions against you and feel a renewed sense of pain.
Shame based anger is often at the core of domestic abuse cases. For example, a man with six kids gets fired from his job of twenty years. He is deeply hurt and ashamed that he ruined a career he loved, and has now put his entire family in jeopardy. When he tells his wife the terrible news, she worries aloud how they will feed their children. Her innocent and reasonable reaction renewed the pain and shame he felt the moment he was fired, and he strikes out at her physically.
Shame and anger are closely related emotions, designed to protect your innermost thoughts and feelings. When they become intertwined, these two emotions can bring some unintentional and violent results.
Marty has been providing guidance and counseling for the last 20 years to a wide and diverse range of people.
Individuals challenged with various addictions including but not limited to – substance abuse, alcohol, and anger.
Marty is a certified chemical dependency counselor and anger management facilitator.
Affectionately known as “Marty”, he has positively influenced and helped reshape the lives of many people in recovery, ranging from ex-cons to his high profile clients in the Delray Beach, Florida.
Marty is an excellent resource with in-depth knowledge of all of the current trends in the substance abuse and mental health treatment fields, as well as individual options for successful recovery outcomes.
Today, residential facilities simply aren’t an option for many clients with busy work schedules and travel conflicts, which is why Marty tailors programs to meet the needs of these clients, whether it be in his office or a location of their choosing.
His approach is casual and non-threatening. Marty is very kind and caring.
As you know, it is difficult to convince clients that anger management or substance abuse treatment is critical. Career commitments, privacy, reputation and other concerns may conflict in making treatment the priority it should be.
It is Marty’s primary goal to help people rebuild lives using tried and true techniques.
- Anger and Relationships General Overview and Differences
- Anger Complications
- Anger in the Workplace
- Anger Styles