The Link between 9/11 and Rising Referrals to Anger Management Facilitators

by Carlos Todd - Date: 2007-10-12 - Word Count: 666 Share This!

Something happened after 9/11 that has not been talked about much. Those of us who are specifically trained and run exclusive anger management practices experienced a rise in anger management referrals. The responsible anger management facilitator should ask the question "why?" The answers may give us clues to the origins of anger and the possible triggers.

Let me be honest, I am an immigrant to the United States and would be the first to admit that I have a magical view of the United States. It is the only place on earth where the dreams to be self-actualized is valued. It is an open society where dreams are made real for almost anyone. To inspire this kind of optimism requires an emotionally intelligent nation that sees the value of human endeavor and creates a safe and structured environment to facilitate the development of its human capital. Large portions of its citizens must have the need for food, shelter and security met. The nation must also be heavily defended so that the citizens feel they are free to roam without fear. Finally, the nation must provide the framework where ingenuity is not only welcomed but supported and seen as a superior attribute. Although not a perfect model, these "united states" achieved many of these parameters, thus wealth and ingenuity flourished. For a long time America has not only wielded military might, but an ideology that has virtually swept across the globe. Such supremacy created the kind of security that is needed to create self-actualized citizens.

On 9/11, however, a visible war was declared not on the United States military but on the ideology of our great land. How was it possible that our once safe society now lives with the daily threat of terror? What is the impact of this ever present threat? I contend that for some, the dream that is America has been shaken. This shake has created fear, insecurity, doubt and uncertainty. Such primary emotions are a recipe for anger.

Anger is a secondary emotion. Long before an individual becomes angry they feel a cluster of primary emotions that are signals to alert that some emotional threat is looming; some need is not met. If the initial signals are ignored the result is anger that is directed at a convenient target.

The issue here is that suddenly the safety net-real or imagined-- was gone and the individual citizen now had new considerations. The meaning associated with the wife/husband, the house, picket fence and a dog was also shaken, especially as the impact of 9/11 was coupled with globalization and the reputation that the world no longer had "warm fuzzy" feelings about these "united states". If one accepts the idea that anger is associated with feelings of insecurity, such uncertainty about the future and our place in the global environment are all a source of collective anger.

Insecurity and uncertainty cause humans to hoard more, be more defensive, be more impulsive, increase hyper-vigilance, reduce trust, isolate, and in such a state, anger on the highways, in school, at work or anywhere else is not very far behind. It is not so much that we fear that a terrorist is right around the corner. That would be too simplistic. The problem is that the emotional safety nets that once carried this society into great feats are gone. There is a period of change and as with any change there is a period of uncertainty. This uncertainty hit home to every American who still wants that piece of the American pie. Nevertheless, the stressors of living in a society that has become vulnerable since 9/11, in my mind, is one reason that anger management facilitators have seen an increase in the numbers of those referred to anger management. The anger is a small symptom of the loss of meaning that was associated with attacks of 9/11.

Carlos Todd, LPC, NCC, CAMF
President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers
Anger Management/Executive Coaching of Charlotte, North Carolina

Related Tags: anger management, anger, anger seminars, anger training, anger help, anger management classes, couples anger, anger tools, anger services, nc anger ma

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