Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Conversation with Dr. Pamela Brewer, host of MyNDTALK, about how I came to be The Anger Guy.

Hear me interviewed by Dr. Pamela Brewer, host of MyNDTalk radio about how I came to be The Anger Guy; sharing my personal story growing up w/an angry father; eventually becoming a catalyst to his death.
Check Out Psychology Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with MyNDTALK with Dr Pamela Brewer on BlogTalkRadio

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Feature Article by Bajeerao Patil, MSW

An associate of mine recently asked that I review an article written by an author she was working with.  It was so relevant and to the point that I decided to post it.   The reality is that more than half my clients, all of whom come to me with anger, have problems with addiction or addictive tendencies.  If you see yourself or someone you know in this well-worded article, I strongly suggest checking out his book as well.

How Anger Can Lead to Drinking or Using Drugs

by Bajeerao Patil, MSW
 Author of Lifelong Sobriety: How to Stop Drinking And/Or Using Drugs

Anger is a powerful emotion, extensively experienced but quite inadequately handled.  Do you know anger has caused more damage in the world than any other single emotion?  Of course, anger is a self-destructive emotion, but it has a tremendous potential to harm others as well.  Some of the most serious crimes such as aggravated assaults, murders, riots and wars are a direct result of anger that is not handled well.

Lack of control on angry thoughts and inability to handle anger appropriately has destroyed many individuals, families, communities, and even nations.  Additionally, anytime you don’t handle your anger well it causes you heartache, headache, stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and relationship issues.  One of the leading causes of relationship issues is also anger.  Several divorces are taking place daily because couples aren’t able to handle their anger appropriately.

Many end up in jail because of their inability to handle their anger well.  Also, countless individuals end up drinking or using drugs when they are angry.  In the course of my work, as a drug and alcohol counselor over 25 years, I have come across several individuals who relapsed because they weren’t able to handle their anger well.

Brian’s Story:
Recently, I had Brian in my office, who was in treatment last time about a year ago.

“What brought you here?” I asked
“I relapsed,” he responded guiltily.
“What happened?”
“I was doing well.  I was clean for seven months.  But one day I had an argument with my girlfriend, Brianna, do you remember her?”
“Yes!  She attended a family session when you were here the last time, right”
“Correct,” he said enthusiastically.
“After the argument what happened,” I enquired.
“I got real mad, left the house and smoked crack.”
“So, what’s going to be different this time?” I asked.
“I will not act out the way I did the last time. I will not fight with my peers either.”
“Do you remember what you did when you were here the last time?”
“I’m sorry for punching holes in your wall. I remember you telling me that if I didn’t handle my anger well I would relapse.”
“So at least this time you should focus on learning some techniques to deal with your anger differently.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.  Can I go to smoke?” And out the door he went.

A couple of days later, while at the nursing station, he got into an argument with his roommate and when the nurse intervened he cursed her out using racial slurs and left the treatment.  Two days later we got the call from the crisis center that Brian wanted to come back, but we had to turn him down for our beds were full.

Time and again, I come across individuals who use drugs or alcohol because they aren’t able to manage their anger appropriately.

Dan’s Story:
Dan, my ex-patient has relapsed several times because of his inability or rather refusal to handle his anger properly.  He was always angry and complained about his peers in general and female peers in particular.  One day, early morning he barged into my office fuming.  He was so angry that words were frozen in his mouth.  After taking a deep breath, he began bad mouthing his peers.   When I asked him why he was angry.  He complained that a couple of female peers were touching him inappropriately and that he wasn’t there for rehab romance and that he was a married man.  But he wouldn’t reveal the names of his peers who were touching him inappropriately because he wasn’t a snitch.

“When did it happen?” I asked.
“A few days ago.”
“Then why are you complaining now?”
“Because I’m angry.”
“Angry after so many days?”

He didn’t say anything.  He was looking for an excuse to leave but also wanted to be able to justify his action to his wife and others.  Later, he spat out all his medication because he thought the nurse gave him the wrong pills.  I spent a considerable amount of time explaining how his anger was causing him unnecessary stress and aggravation and what he should do to manage his anger.

Several days later, he found another reason to be angry about.  He claimed that his leftover food went missing from the patients’ refrigerator.  Interestingly, he knew who stole it but wouldn’t give away person’s name.  Finally, he left and got high.  The same day his wife brought him back to treatment, and he was readmitted.  He promised her that he would learn to deal with his anger appropriately and that he wouldn’t use drugs again.

Many use drugs to pacify their anger, but it doesn’t help the situation.  Actually, it complicates the situation further.  It clouds their thoughts and impairs their judgment.  It doesn’t allow anyone to experience peace of mind.  Walking away from anger producing situation, meditation, exercising, reading positive literature, listening to soothing music does help in managing anger well.  But the proper solution is understanding.  Understanding anger and its futility will help you refrain from entertaining angry thoughts and acting without considering the consequences of your action.  Slowly but surely it will allow you to combat anger with love which is the most effective way to deal with anger. Think about it.
About Bajeerao Patil
Bajeerao Patil has been treating addictions as a drug and alcohol counselor for over 25 years. He has Masters Degrees in Social Work and Human Resources. He is an avid teacher of addiction and recovery.  He is affiliated with the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association.  Bajeerao Patil is an author of Insanity Beyond Understanding and Lifelong Sobriety. To learn more about Bajeerao Patil and his work, visit and

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


My view?  This is not about Senator  Deeds. This tragedy is about the sad state of mental health services for people who really need it. This would have never happened if the son’s mental health had been taken for what it was…a danger to self and others.  But they let him go because “no bed was available??  Give me a break!
It’s a big deal now because it was a public figure that was “attacked.”  The truth is this happens much more often; my educated guess is at the very least, once a week. Had the State of Virginia had any understanding of the cost of ignoring mental illness, they might (note: might) have strengthened laws and provided funding for young adults like Gus Deeds.
It appears that the psychiatric hospital where he was evaluated released the kid because there wasn’t a bed available and the law didn’t give them the power to keep him; otherwise they would have kept them.
A source told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the emergency custody order, or ECO, allowed Gus Deeds to be held as long as four hours to determine whether he should be held longer, up to 72 hours, under a temporary detention order.
The son was evaluated Monday by the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board in Lexington. An emergency custody order can be issued by any magistrate.
A source said no psychiatric bed was available, which is why Gus Deeds was released.
It’s a tragedy that the Senator has been wounded (and the family has lost their son and brother).   Fortunately his prognosis is good. But the Senator is not the primary victim.  His son is dead because the State of Virginia did not (and does not)  have laws in place or appropriate funding to protect the “Gus’s” of that State from harming themselves or others.   And what’s even worse is that this is the norm throughout the country. This tragedy is but one example of many.  The culture of our country, not just Virginia’s, continues to perceive mental illness as less serious and less a priority than physical illness.  How many tragedies do we have to endure?
Until we as a society change, this is the price that will continue to be paid.  Until our politicians start walking the talk instead of only talking the walk, nothing will change.    Maybe they should all be required to take Psychology 101.
Ultimately it is society’s fault.  We vote our policy makers in and out.   If mental health and mental illness was a priority for the American people,  we wouldn’t see a pervasive pattern of neglect for those who need it the most.
This is how I see it.  Everything we read will be about the Senator as the victim.  His son will be seen as the villain.  What a shame that nothing will change…the country still isn’t ready to own the truth.  And now the real victim is dead.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them

Dear Anger Guy,

My husband is almost always angry about something. He often yells but says he isn't yelling.  He tries to convince me that I'm too sensitive. How do I know if he is overreacting or if he is right...that I am being too sensitive?

~ Confused

Dear Confused,

It sounds like your husband uses anger to get his way.  He’s learned that his anger and controlling behavior gets him what he wants and that acting out his anger is a great way to make that happen. Your husband’s behavior is not appropriate or typical, and it is not okay.  You are not being too sensitive.  In fact, you're probably not being sensitive enough because you still put up with it!

My guess is that you walk on eggshells around him; worried that you will do or not do something that will set him off.  You probably focus on his needs before your own.  And no matter how hard you try it feels like whatever you do is never enough.   He probably says, "If you would just change then I wouldn't have to yell.”   What's really happening is that he needs you to change so that he doesn't have to. 

Believe it or not, his aggressive and controlling behaviors are due to underlying feelings of powerlessness and low self-esteem.  He compensates for feeling “less than” other people, namely acting the opposite (he acts powerful).  What seems like an abundance of security and self-confidence is actually a way for him to hide his fear that you will find out that he isn't the strong, confident guy he wants you to think he is.  He has no idea that he feels like's mostly unconscious.  All he knows is that you make him angry and that he feels like a jerk after taking out his anger at your expense.  And he does it over and over and over, right?

So are you oversensitive?  I don’t think so.  You are probably reacting to him the way most people would.  Your instincts are telling you this is wrong.  And although what is happening to you is not right nor just, the reality is that it is your responsibility to deal with it.  And until you decide that you do not deserve to be treated this way nothing will change. You will stay focused on the problem and not be able to see the solution.  

Once your mindset changes and you draw a line in the sand, he will protest but will likely begin to change; reaching out for help if you demand it.   Regardless of what he says and how he acts, the last thing he wants is to lose you. To him, you are all he has.  Nevertheless, remember that this is his problem, not yours...and like you, only he can decide to change.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why won't my 14 year old son share his feelings with me?

My 14 year old is obviously unhappy, yet he won't talk about it.  His older sister talks with me about everything, so I don't think it is me.  Why won’t he tell me what is wrong?

The reason that teens often will not talk about their feelings is because they are afraid, desperately afraid, that they will not be accepted if they are honest about difficult feelings, even to their parents. They are feeling so low about themselves, or they are so angry at themselves for not being perfect, or they have come to believe that if they are not perfect they should be embarrassed and ashamed, that they will not talk about it. They do not realize that stuffing the feelings by not talking about them eventually comes out anyhow, in negative ways that spill out all over the place. We see those behaviors leaking out like a bucket with holes. A rule of thumb that we can use in terms of understanding our children is: If they do not talk it out, they are going to act it out.

For young women (in this country), it is culturally more acceptable for them to share their feelings.  She might say: I want to have friends, I want to be close to people, I want to be with someone. But for young men to communicate the same thing is culturally unacceptable. A young man is trying to get what he needs without asking for it, so he turns to autonomy or an "I can do it myself" mentality in order to feel a sense of value or self-worth.