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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Anger Management Issues

07/10/2006

Question:

I think my dad has an anger problem. Every few weeks, something will make him mad. He`ll make it known that he`s mad, and then he`ll "pout" for sometimes weeks, letting anything else that`s bothering him just build up inside him. Then sometimes he snaps out of it, or blows up again. Either way, in a few more weeks, he`s bound to do it again. My poor mother does everything she can to make him feel better, but he just ignores her or makes her feel bad. I can`t take it any more. Sometimes I just have to leave the house because I can`t stand the tension. What do you think is wrong with him? He won`t admit anything`s wrong, and there`s NO WAY he`d ever go to a therapist.

Answer:

Well, there is no way you can ever change another person.  They only person you have any control over is yourself.  When you are concerned about another person's behavior there are 3 questions you might ask yourself. 

Am I (or my children or others in my family) at risk of being physically or emotionally injured by this person's behavior?  If the answer is yes, and the risk especially for physical injury is great, then you need to consider leaving this person or developing a personal safety plan (who can I call, where will I go, how will I get there, how will I support myself, etc).  Your own physical and emotional safety and health must be a priority.  If the safety of children is at risk, then a phone call to your local child protective service should be made.

Do I want to stay involved in this person's life?  If you have love and affection for this person, then you likely want to stay involved with them.  If there is no affection for a person, then it may be that the best course is to sever the relationship with that person and move on.

Do I have the skills I need to cope with this person's behavior?  If the answer is no, then you should consider counseling or therapy.  While the person involved may refuse counseling, there is no reason why you or other family members should not work on developing your own coping and life skills.  You may find that as your work on changing yourself, your view of other people (and maybe even their behavior) will change.

Good luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati