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Is Anger Normal or is it Total Insanity?

Have you noticed how almost any anger management book or therapist will open up a conversation with “Anger is a normal and healthy emotion?”  Seriously, almost anything you read starts with this phrase and then a minute later they start telling you how unhealthy it actually is.  So which is it? Is normal or not normal? What about other things… Is violence normal? Is greed normal? Is cancer normal? After all, if it’s a common occurrence then it must be normal, isn’t it?

So like good and prudent “scholars” that you and I are, let’s look up Uncle Webster’s definition to see if it can give us some more clarity on the issue. No, not anger, the normal part. What does it mean anyways?

Webster’s definition of normal:

1. According with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle; conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.

2. Occurring naturally.

3. Relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development; free from mental disorder; sane.

So simply put, according to this, “Anger is a regularly occurring pattern of behavior for sane people with average intelligence who are free from mental disorders.” There you go, we have our definition, spread the word, it’s all good, anger is normal, shut down the website, we’re done here.

Come to think of it, we can clearly see that almost none of it is true. We all know a simple fact of life – just because most people “do it” that doesn’t make it “normal.” Anger is certainly not reserved for sane people with average intelligence.

This word “normal” is often used by therapists or simply the ignorant types to pacify you when you start learning about anger. They are basically saying, “It’s OK honey, what you’re are feeling is completely normal.” They are telling you what you want to hear – that YOU are normal but what they are really trying to say is that “don’t worry so much because other people feel this too.”

Perhapsnormal” should be the standard in life for happiness, wisdom, joyful effort, contribution, meaningful existence, however you want to define it. But how would you name a thief who robs you of all that? When health is hijacked by cancer we call it “disease” but what do you call an emotion that hijacks your happiness? I say – insanity.

This (fortunately – temporary) insanity is simply mind’s inability to cope with challenges of life in a cool and lucid way. Excuse me for getting a tad poetical but it is like a cloud that obscures the sun by casting an ugly shadow and making all colors look faded.

Anger and happiness are inherently incompatible.

The problem with accepting anger as “normal” is that one has no chance of breaking out of the habit. If all is well then why do anything about it, right? It’s what psychologists call – a subconscious sabotage.

Bottom line is that just because we follow a habitual pattern of destructive behavior it can not be branded as “normal.” Here is something every reasonable person out there will agree with – labeling things for what they are is a healthy start to deal with the problem.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Rianna March 31, 2012, 2:43 pm

    Anger is a feeling. The dictionary says it is a verb and a noun. So one person can cause another to become angry. They anger the other person. When my son was shot last year I was heartbroken and angry. Anger becomes wrong when you act on it. One shouldn’t be motivated to action by anger.

    • AM Tadas March 31, 2012, 7:06 pm

      Hello Rianna, wow so sorry to hear about your son. Did he survive? You know this is a totally different level of anger you talk about. Mother’s love for a child and the protectiove instinct the nature provides with it is beyond the daily anger I talk about here on the blog. How did you cope with such a tragedy?

  • Ken May 28, 2013, 6:42 pm

    I don’t think you really understand what the word normal means. The word you are looking for is healthy. Normal is as the definition states not deviating from the norm. But still I say that you are wrong. It is not anger that is unhealthy is how that anger is managed that is unhealthy.

    I used to be out of control until I accepted my anger and learned to manage it in a healthy way. Now I feel a level of serenity that I never felt before and no longer feel the need to “control” my anger. I no longer act out angrily is hurtful or unhealthy ways.

    It seems to me that you are good at manipulating the usage and definition of words either because you do not understand them or you so that you can appear “wise” with you “straight talk” which is not straight talk at all.

    • AM Tadas May 28, 2013, 7:29 pm

      Hi Ken, thank you for a sincere comment and a compliment. This is from American Psychological Association page: “Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion.” And yes I do like the straight talk, and yes I can sound like a wise “arse” but I do my research and its all for good fun. I am very happy for you and your progress, please do share more of your transformation story if you can. Take care.

  • John Doe December 9, 2016, 9:41 am

    This article has clearly been written by someone with an intellectual disability. Normality is a measure of how common something is.

    • AM Tadas December 9, 2016, 10:57 am

      You don’t understand who you’re trying to insult here, Mr. I actually takes this as a compliment. 🙂 Intellect is highly overrated. Just take a look at your own mind – it sees a hundred things that are wrong about this article and not one that could be of use. Is this “normal”? 🙂

  • Jeff November 24, 2017, 5:21 am

    Wow, there is so much here that is wrong I am not sure where to start. Let’s see. You are conflating the definition of normal, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Those are 3 different definitions of the same word, but you cannot combine them in the same sentence and claim they mean all the different definitions at a time. Writing and language is literally my discipline, and your entire premiss is flawed.

    Secondly, you also conflate the positions of medical professionals. By the bye, you are not a medical professional, especially not a doctor, so how do you even presume to have the authority and expertise to rebut all the experts who actually went to medical school? (rhetorical, you don’t)
    This is most likely why you conflate the position of medical professionals, who plainly state that anger is a normal, yes as in most people do it, as that is the definition of normal. It’s healthy because it is a natural human emotion that is part of the survival mechanism. Anger spurs people into action and motivates them to remedy the situation. Anger was developed literally as part of the evolutionary process in order to keep humans alive. What you are saying makes absolutely no sense and is contradicted by science.

    What is UNHEALTHY is letting that anger be expressed in harmful ways to that do not serve you and inhibit your ability to deal with the situation rationally. Just because you are angry doesn’t mean you are going to hurt someone or rob them of anything, that’s a false conclusion to your false and conflated premise.

    Then you make an argument for changing the definition of normal, all again, because you do not understand the definition of normal.

    You then present another false premise and conclusion that because a person gets angry they will never be able to control it, and that it will sabotage their life. Again, you falsely assume that anytime a person gets angry they are going to harm themselves or someone else. This is known in logic as a false dichotomy, where you claim the only outcome possible is a choice between these two things.

    And the reason you wrote this article is because you were ANGRY. You were angry that people are using the wrong words to describe this behavior and you wanted to tell them they are wrong. That is called expressing your anger in a healthy way, and oddly enough you didn’t murder anyone, right?
    You also got angry at some of the comments criticizing your work, and let a few passive aggressive comments fly in retort.

    In summary, the entire premise of this paper is wrong; the definitions used in the paper are conflated and incorrect; its supporting claims are assumptions; and the conclusions illogical. The advice is unhealthy, incorrect, and is explicitly contradicted by science. It is also proffered by someone without the proper qualifications to assert any claims, and who has no supporting evidence or data to back up his claims.

    Seriously, there is a lot wrong here.

    • Anon February 7, 2018, 4:04 pm

      Wow, you really like the word ‘conflate’. Did you just learn it?

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