This post is a follow on from the one I shared earlier.. It concerns infantile suppressed anger and its relationship to grief of loss of self in childhood. It is taken from Chapter 3 of John Lee’s book Facing the Fire : Experiencing and Expressing Anger Appropriately.
. what (we) learned in infancy and early childhood was that (we) were not accepted, cherished or loved for who (we) are. (We) learned not only that the world wasn’t made for (us), which we all have to learn or be psychotic – constantly out of touch with reality. (We) learned that (as we were), (we) were insufficient, defective, no good, or never good enough. (We) learned that if (we) behaved as (our) being told us to, people would reject (us), punish (us), humiliate, ignore, abandon or leave (us.)
As I have said no infant or child can allow himself to be abandoned, because he knows he cannot survive by himself. What does the child do when he finds people don’t accept him as he is?
The child changes. He tries different behaviors until he finds some that the world accepts. … the child adopts a false self because his parents want him to be that way. He suppresses his real self and pretends to be someone else.
I have said that the fundamental cause of anger is that the world isn’t made to our desire. This fact brings with it a cruel corollary; Because the world is as it is, most of us are forced into not being our real selves.
“Someone else is living my life!” That’s the cry of amazement and disgust at the heart of most anger.
“What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?” That is how Thoreau put it.
The fundamental causes of anger are also the fundamental causes of grief, sadness mourning, lamentation. We are not gods.. The world is imperfect. Much as we love it, the world is not made for our delight, and much of what we love best in it perishes, including ourselves. Separation and loss, then, are the root of human existence. And our worst loss, in many ways, is the loss of what we truly are.
Like an infant in the night who wails to be fed and isn’t , these things make us angry, and then they make us sad.
A lot of sadness is connected to deep anger. This is one of the most frightening things about it.
I once worked with a man, Larry, whose wife had just left him. He was so mad, he was ready to tear the building down. I was having him express his anger by twisting a towel – one of the ways of releasing anger I’ll describe later – when he collapsed in gut wrenching sobs. He shrieked and sobbed for forty minutes.
It was the primal scream, Arthur Janov talks about.. Larry had a hole in him that went right down to the bottom. Most of us have a similar hole in us. At the bottom of the hole is the realization that life is not fair, that we do not wholly belong in the world, that we are separated from our parents, our bliss, each other, and God. Throughout our lives countless things reawaken this feeling of abandonment and loss. And like Larry, we rage and weep.
Beneath the bitterest anger, we feel sadness. Beneath sadness, we feel more anger. At the deepest levels, the two are like heads and tails of a coin – you don’t have one without the other.
The force of anger (that triggers old repressed or infantile anger suggests the existence of just that, we recognize it when our rage seems out of all proportion to the present triggering event it triggers).. (this rage) suggests that (we) experienced infantile helplessness and abandonment in ways that profoundly marked (us). (the pain and events triggered may be better or worse than other experienced, but never the less they still affect us deeply.)
Feelings are not objective. What matters is how it felt (for us) And the strength of the anger expressed suggests what (lies underneath)… an anger of great force. And it will burst out when triggered by a present event.
(and that anger will be felt in the body and must be released from the body). The body feels before the mind understands. When it comes to emotions, the mind is a secondary organ interpreting information bought to it by the body.
Not only does the body feel before the mind understands, it also feels after. The mind may understand the reason for the anger, but as I’ve said that understanding does not get rid of the anger. The anger is in the body – and understanding why it is there doesn’t make it go away.
Until you get the emotional charge (of anger) out of your body, you are going to be subject to your anger (and it will cloud your ability to make healthy choices). .. and when we know the anger and find ways to express it appropriately we will know, only then will the pent up vibrational charge no longer be present beyond any shadow of a doubt..