Dealing with Anger

Barry Hart

Eastern Mennonite University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Yeah. Anger Release. There is some theory that when we are traumatized there are blockages of energy and sometimes that blockage comes out in the form of anger. Then again, anger is normal. How can people have a safe environment with trusted people? Hopefully their community and political will for healing take place so that they can release some of this energy and in the process of releasing it integrate what is actually happened to them. Why. and what they want to do with it.

Anger is normal. All these responses we have when were traumatized whether it's going inside of ourselves, unable to focus, raised blood pressure, were wired in really incredible ways. How we react is based on who we are but there are some similar reactions that people have to a lot of things. Identifying and helping people recognize that their anger is normal and even that their desire for revenge is normal. What has happened identity wise, is that identity has been highly threatened. Life is no longer predictable. I no longer have my other identities needs met of being recognized as a equal partner in this relationship or in this community. I no longer have my human rights and my dignity of my humanity understood or recognized. So how is it that we can help people acknowledge what has happened to them? Appreciate their response in ways even though they don't feel good in the moment? Understand that there are ways of releasing this energy through arts, through crying, through drama, writing, whatever it might be to help them?

Often because of the relational aspect that exists in our reality just to connect with them deeply and being present with them and listening deeply, listen into their pain. Caregivers in these situations are people that really indeed do care, but in the process they too absorb some of the trauma from the other person, so they need to know how to take care of themselves. But all of that needs to be part of an educational process and again it's not just education. I'll tell you about education in the broadest sense that can incorporate the knowledge that something has happened to me, not only psychologically but potentially spiritually. So that knowledge itself that I glean from and educational approach can help me then deal through the ceremonies and rituals in my religion for example, potentially in more creative ways. It's all of this mix and we try then to see the whole picture. It's not just our trauma, justice, and peace-building picture. It's also development and civil society and economics and politics and how then we interface with others that have this particular set of skills and expertise.