The problem with too much anger

Nancy Nyquist Potter

in Mapping the Edges and the In-between

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780198530213
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754388 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

The problem with too much anger

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Anger has a present as well as a past. To understand it and assess its appropriateness, clinicians need to contextualize patients’ anger in relation not only to the patient's past injuries but in relation to possible present ones. I have argued that clinicians need to give uptake to the anger of BPD patients and to consider it as possibly warranted in real-time as well as doubled. Giving uptake should include considering the beliefs and injury behind the anger. Clinicians will do best to acknowledge occasions when their attitudes and assumptions may, in fact, be slighting or injuring their BPD patients. Giving uptake to real-time anger as prima facie distinct from past wounds defuses it and opens up a space to talk about past wounds, and ways in which a present time injury is an echo of the patient's past.

Anger has a present and a past, but it also has a future because anger implies hope (Sharpe 2003, p. 35).1 Anger says, ‘I still believe in myself; I am self-respecting; I believe in a future in which the injuries I sustain are not all-encompassing, and the hope I bear is that my anger gets taken seriously by you.’

Chapter.  5335 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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