The angry young man has made a comeback in a new avatar as movies like Agneepath are creating waves at the box office. It's brought back the adage that anger is good, if channelised well. The best part it can help at work too
The year of the dragon began with two major headline grabbers the return of the angry young man with the success of Agneepath and the drama over actor Shah Rukh Khan allegedly slapping director Shirish Kunder even as they later declared a truce after some heart-to-heart talks.
So can anger, once considered as one among the seven cardinal sins, be actually good for you? Says Varkha Chulani, Clinical Psychologist at Lilavati Hospital, "Anger, by itself, destroys rather than motivates.
But dissatisfaction, annoyance and irritation, which are lesser intensive forms of anger can motivate you to do better as they help you objectively assess yourself, talk about the issue and make the changes required that will propel you to do better. But self-flagellation and self-hatred has to be avoided," she says.
Active and passive venting
Chulani, who has conducted anger management workshops for corporates, adds that while men are prone to physical expressions of anger, women often opt for passive aggression such as sulking or denial to avoid directly tackling the issue.
Talking about how to cope with anger, Chulani admits that it's all about a change in attitude. "The trick lies in how quickly you recover from anger so that you do not prolong the rage and fury. Do not condemn yourself but analyze the situation and how you can deal with it.
Realise that we are all imperfect human beings and you can't always have your way. Be tolerant to other people's shortcomings. Also, factors such as fatigue and hunger go a long way in making you short-tempered," she adds.
According to Dr Yusuf Matcheswalla, Professor of Psychiatry at Grant Medical College, anger is a very natural emotion as long as one does not harm oneself.
"Nowadays, assertive anger where people deal with issues by use of violence is on the decline but anger has spilled on to social networking forums instead. The emphasis is now on negotiation and communication.
So, in times of outrage, such as when Salman Rushdie wasn't allowed to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival, people vented their anger on Twitter and Facebook, which can be a good way to make yourself heard and change the status quo effectively but without the use of physical force," he says.
In times of pressure cooker-like angst, Dr Matcheswalla advocates measures such as going for a walk, doing breathing exercises or yoga as a method to deal with the
Sarika Gupta, Reiki master at Cosmic Rhythm in Belapur, which offers supportive therapy for people suffering from anger-related issues advises that the practice of Reiki can be helpful in channeling anger into a positive energy.
"Manage anger and be conscious when you are angry so that you do not go overboard. The amount of energy dissipated from four minutes of anger is equivalent to the energy consumed by walking several miles," she states.
Rage on screen, literally
Agneepath: The revenge saga speaks of Vijay Deenanath Chauhan's battle against Kaancha Cheena, to avenge his father's death.
Khoon Bhari Maang: The plot revolves around a woman who takes revenge on her husband for trying to kill her.
Kill Bill: In the series, the Bride embarks on a mission to take revenge on the assassination team she was once a part of that tried to kill her.
Analyze This: The hilarious comedy centres around a psychiatrist whose patient is an insecure mob boss.
Anger: Good vs Bad
A 2007 research done by the University of California that was published in the American Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin observed that anger can prompt more careful and rational analysis of another person's reasoning.
They concluded that angry people can and do process information analytically but are often influenced by more mental shortcuts.
A 2008 study by Stanford University published in Psychological Science magazine shows that participants preferred activities that were likely to make them angry (e.g. listening to anger-inducing music, recalling past events in which they were angry) when they were expected to perform a confrontational task. Angry participants performed better than others in the confrontational activities, the researchers found.
A 2009 study conducted by Yale University found a strong link between intense anger and sudden death among heart patients due to arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
Effects of anger on the body
Some of the effects of anger on the human body include: Dr Ajit Menon, Cardiologist at Lilavati Hospital, says that anger can increase blood pressure and the rate of heart beats, especially if the person has a Type A personality.
Anger can increase blood pressure and heart rate
"Go-getters often have a short temper and if there is also an unhealthy lifestyle in the bargain, it can even lead to heart attacks. My advice to such people is that instead of being angry they should try to change the situation," he says.
How anger works for you
Corporate trainer Anita Shantaram feels that anger can be a powerful motivator. "Anger provides the energy to do something and prove others wrong. When provoked, a person can contribute more than when they are calm and composed. True leadership shines in moments of conflict," she says. Shantaram also believes that people do not take kindly to criticism and hence the anger that gets generated can actually be a powerful medium to help focus and offer clarity. "When you are angry, the key is to express yourself concisely but assertively. If you are excessively angry, shift your focus by speaking to a friend or playing a game or reading some jokes," she advises.