Contrary to Popular Wisdom, Expressing Anger Is Not Healthy

New Book by NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Psychologist Helps Those with Short Tempers Control Their Anger

Mar 9, 2006


Contrary to popular myth, expressing anger in the moment is not healthy. According to a new book, Getting Control of Your Anger: A Clinically Proven, Three-Step Plan for Getting to the Root of the Problem and Resolving It (McGraw-Hill, 2006) by Dr. Robert Allan, a noted clinical psychologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, for most people and in most circumstances, directly expressed anger will only make a bad situation worse.

The book outlines ways to stop alienating loved ones, live a happier healthier life, and reduce the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.

"Often anger runs in families, passed down from father to son, and mother to daughter. There are several proven strategies and tools that help people break this destructive cycle and get control of their anger," says Dr. Allan, clinical assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and assistant attending psychologist at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell.

Dr. Allan, who has studied anger for nearly three decades, helps anger-prone people to discover the reasons for their anger. Reasons for anger are often tied to fundamental needs, some of which we are only dimly aware, such as respect and territory. By dealing with these needs directly, one will be better able to manage anger.

Identify "the hook." A powerful metaphor to diffuse situations by recognizing the good reasons we get angry (injustice and incompetence) as "tasty looking bait" for the fish hook of anger. Dr. Allan's method helps people to "swim on by," that is, not get "hooked" by their own anger.

"The hook" was rated the single most important tool by the participants of the Recurrent Coronary Prevention Project, a large clinical trial for treating type-A behavior that reduced second heart attack rates by 44 percent.

Dr. Robert Allan

Dr. Robert Allan is a leading expert in the field of anger management and a specialist in coronary risk reduction. He is the recipient of the 2002 Timothy A. Jeffrey Award for "outstanding contributions to clinical health psychology" from the American Psychological Association, which published his first book, Heart and Mind: The Practice of Cardiac Psychology. Dr. Allan received a Ph.D. from New York University.

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John Rodgers