Couples therapy can help you improve your relationship by teaching you how to effectively communicate, solve problems together, understand what your shared values and interests are and how to accept and make room for differences. Using scientifically supported techniques you can decrease conflict, resentment, and loneliness, while also cultivating intimacy, pleasure, excitement, and stability in your relationship. Improving your relationship satisfaction is something that takes work, but can often be done.
Veterans risk their physical safety, and that is only the beginning. Many veterans exposed to combat suffer with behavioral health issues as a result of their service. The suffering can be intense. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may impact as many as 20% of Iraqi war veterans. While it may not seem possible, there is help. PTSD is one of the most intense and debilitating issues one can have, but there is very effective treatment that works very quickly and the results last.
I am Ryan Fuller. I am a clinical psychologist. I have done anger research and I treat a lot of angry clients in New York City. I’ll talk to you a little bit about the top causes of anger. So oftentimes when we’re talking about the causes of anger, we refer to them as anger triggers. And frequently, triggers are the external events, usually other people that, in fact, precede an anger episode.
Frequently, when we talk about anger, we’re really talking about the emotional experience of an anger phenomenon. But with that, there are also certain action tendencies and behaviors that go along with it.
So there are a number of different anger theorists who have talked about different kinds of anger styles. But the one I’ll mention breaks anger styles into three forms of expression. So there is “anger out”; and “anger out” typically looks like the kinds of behavior we see with someone that we consider to have a temper. So they become very angry and then they are going to be doing things like yelling, they may be using profanity, they may smash cell phones or pound their fist on a desk, or something along those lines, destroy property.
What is anger?
Anger is a negative feeling and when it comes in frequencies and intensities and durations that are in the normal range, it can be quite healthy. Unfortunately, when it becomes really intense or really frequent and it is paired with behaviors that are problematic that are aggressive or uncooperative, it can cause big problems and people can run into anger management issues.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy: REBT, The Elegant Solution
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a term bandied around a lot in news stories or any conversation about therapy. There is a lot of scientific support for its efficacy in treating issues such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), unipolar depression, anger, and bulimia. But there is still not perfect consensus among researchers, theorists, and clinicians about what exactly CBT is and what it isn’t. While some disagreements are about whether or not cognitive changes or learning principles (behavioral) are responsible for someone with depression feeling less depressed, some of the confusion is simply due to the variety of cognitive behavioral treatments.
Anger and Aggression in the Harsh Winter
Anger management is important year round. I haven’t seen evidence that there has been more aggression or anger outbursts this year because of a harsh winter. But there are good reasons to suspect that could be the case as our nerves become frayed.
Hot temperatures are frequently thought of as putting us at risk for violence. But there is a great deal of scientific evidence that any environmental factor that makes us uncomfortable can lead to aggression. Certainly bitter cold temperatures can do just that.
Anger is often thought to precede aggression, and many times it does. But most of us do not realize that other emotions put us at risk for aggression too. There is ample scientific evidence that any negative emotion, e.g., anxiety, guilt, loneliness, etc. make the likelihood of aggression more likely. So a difficult winter that may lead to less social contact or make us more nervous because of driving conditions could certainly put us at risk for becoming aggressive.
Another predictor of aggression is frustration. In the social science literature frustration occurs when a goal is being blocked or a desired outcome is prevented from occurring. Big snowfalls can lead to just that. People are stuck in their homes or can’t get their cars out their driveways and are prevented from completing all kinds of goals. And it is easy to see how those situations can also lead to more and more negative emotions, putting us at greater risk of becoming aggressive.
Science of Sex
Casual sex has been on the rise for decades. This has been concerning for many reasons.
But, did you know that 75% of casual sexual encounters may lead to a relationship?
Did you know that 45% of men hoped their last casual sex partner had turned into a steady relationship?
Or what about for those suffering from depression, casual sex may improve their mood (although for those with a healthy social life, they may feel worse)?
Ok- these are the positives, and there are clearly some negatives. Regret and shame are two emotional possibilities, and unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases are also serious risks.
But, this article by Pere Estupinyà sheds light on a side of casual sex that may have been overlooked. This is by no means an endorsement, only an example of how science can uncover aspects of a behavior we may not have previously understood.
In this case, more casual sex may not be a good thing. But it does seem evident the studies (and interview) he references indicate a few things in need of further investigation.
To start, it does sound as though many people are looking for steady relationships, even though they may engage in a “casual” encounter without that in mind.
Is this the healthiest and most effective strategy for initiating a long-term relationship? I believe most of us would assume the answer is no, but it is an empirical question. Perhaps it saves time.
Or perhaps there is a breakdown in our current socialization for us to understand what we really desire, e.g., a long-term relationship, and/or we don’t know how to communicate about that, so instead we end up in casual encounters. Perhaps developing greater self-awareness and effective communication skills could reduce casual encounters, while increasing the number of healthy long-term relationships if that is the goal.
In any event, we have a lot to learn (and I hope we do it quickly) about how changes in the media are impacting our sexual and relationship behaviors.
Positive thinking is typical in our New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions aren’t the only reason to change habits, but if they motivate you, great. The Scientific American magazine article (link below) is a short four paragraph summary of a study published a few years ago that might be relevant. The Northwestern University study demonstrated that a certain kind of belief (cognition), restraint bias, may put those with bad habits or addiction at risk.
The study may also have raised the possibility that it is fairly easy to influence this belief in research participants.
Smokers were randomly assigned to two groups, both of which took a self-control test. But one half was randomly told they had low self-control and the other half was told they had high self-control. Therefore, some of these individuals would have unrealistic positive thinking, i.e., his/her self-control is really low, but he/she was told it was high.
Then they watched a movie that included smoking. They were offered a choice to be paid to resist smoking during the film by keeping an unlit cigarette in their mouths, their hands, or on a desk in another room. The cash rewards were higher for the greater level of temptation.
Those smokers told they had high self-control were much more likely to take higher levels of temptation. But they ended up being more likely to light up and smoke during the film.
It appears that overestimating one’s level of self-control could lead to putting oneself at greater risk of temptation only to end up giving in to a habit one may be trying to resist. Having accurate beliefs about our capacities can be really important in behavior change. In this case, even positive thoughts, which are inaccurate or irrational, can be harmful. So telling ourselves positive things is not always good advice.
#habits #positivethinking #smoking
Passive Anger and Aggressive Anger
What are Passive and Aggressive Anger?
Frequently, when we talk about anger, we’re really talking about the emotional experience of an anger phenomenon. But with that, there are also certain action tendencies and behaviors that go along with it. The most obvious, of course, are sorts of aggressive anger. And really aggression is the behavior that frequently accompanies anger. And it usually has an intention to harm another individual. So this could be very direct, in the form of physical assault, it could be in the form of property damage or something like that. There are also forms that are even more direct and might even be relational. Sometimes people talk about passive anger or passive aggression and things of that nature, where I might be spreading rumors about someone at work, or simply saying negative things about them behind their back. Again, I might expect that that’s going to eventually do them harm but it’s more passive or indirect and it’s not a specific physical threat.
Anger Management – How to Control Anger with Deep Breathing
I am Dr. Ryan Fuller and I am going to talk to you a little bit about how to control anger with deep breathing. So anger is an emotion that has high levels of arousal associated with it. In fact, anger is one of two emotions that really go along with the fight or flight stress response. So in the case of a crisis or a danger, our sympathetic nervous system, that is part of our autonomic nervous system, goes into motion increasing respiration, increasing heart rate, driving up blood pressure, releasing glucose into the limbs so there is energy. All these things are really about speeding things up, so that the organism, or the human in this case, is prepared for fighting or fleeing. Now, with that said, when we’re really angry or when we’re aroused in those ways, one good way to modulate or change the anger experiences, is, in fact, to change the physiology. There are different ways to go about that, so in using relaxation techniques, one form is progressive muscle relaxation. And that doesn’t have to do with breathing techniques. But we’re going to talk today about breathing, as a form of relaxation, which makes sense in the case of anger management, because as I just said, anger has high levels of arousal in terms of physiological activation. And the research in anger management techniques has shown that relaxation skills alone are highly effective in helping people to manage their anger. So one of the skills that I like using with breathwork is very simple and easy to remember and there is scientific research to show that it really does a good job of helping to temp down the sympathetic nervous system activity. And so it’s really slowing respiration and it’s looking at a 4-7-8 ratio. What that means is we’re going to have clients inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7, and then exhale for a count of 8. Now, what’s important to know is 1, anytime you’re trying a technique like this, you do want to make sure you have spoken to your physician and to make sure there is no contraindications based on any health risk factors you have, or asthma, or heart condition. But typically, what I find is after my clients have spoken to the physician, most physicians are highly encouraging of this kind of relaxation activity. The other important thing to keep in mind is, it’s the ratio that matters the most. We don’t want people to think they have to count for 4 seconds, 7 seconds, and 8 seconds where they get a very long count and they end up passing out or straining themselves. You really want to just find the amount of time that works for you but to try to keep the ratio close to 4, 7, and 8. The main thing is that the exhale becomes much longer than the inhale. So, I will give a quick demonstration. It’s not perfectly necessary that you have to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, but that’s generally the way I teach it. So the client is going to inhale to the count of about 4, hold for the count of about 7, and then exhale from the mouth to the count of about 8. So it looks like this, inhale, hold, and then exhale. And sometimes I have them exhale from a pursed lips. So even though it is a very simple, easy-to-use breathing exercise, if you do that a number of times, say you do 5-10 rounds, you’ll likely experience a relaxation response. And oftentimes, especially if I have clients who are somewhat skeptical, I’ll ask them to take their pulse beforehand especially if they are kind of worked up, to practice the response, and then take their pulse again. Again, you want to speak to your healthcare provider, your physician or otherwise, and you don’t want to do it if you are driving or something like that. But if you practice it first with a professional, and then on your own, it is something that might help you reduce intense physiological arousal, especially if it’s an anger response.