Select which content you would like to search on this site:

IIC 103: Your Anger, Your Body and You


In this episode, Dr. Peter reviews the limitations of current Catholic resources on anger, and then reviews secular resources, including interpersonal neurobiology and the structural theory of dissociation. We examine the role of the body in anger responses, and discuss more wholistic ways of working constructive with parts that experience anger, rather than trying to dismiss anger, suppress it or distract from it.


“I was angry with my friend; I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow”, William Blake, from ‘A Poison Tree’.
We’ve all experienced anger, we’ve all experienced angry people. We know that anger can be a serious problem. Global data suggests that it’s getting worse. A Gallup world poll from 2021–people from 140 countries were polled, asked the question, “did you experience the following feelings a lot of the day yesterday? How about anger?” 17% of US respondents agreed. 26% of women worldwide said “yes, I have experienced anger a lot of the day yesterday”. That was up from 20% ten years ago. It was 20% of men who agreed with that–and that’s flat from ten years ago.And the thing is that great harm can come from anger–not just for the people that are the focus of the anger, but also for those who are angry. Mark Twain said, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” And from ‘The Catechism of the Catholic Church’, paragraph 2302, “By recalling the commandment, ‘you shall not kill’, our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral. Anger is a desire for revenge. ‘To desire revenge in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit’, but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution ‘to correct vices and maintain justice.’ If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin.” The Lord says, “everyone who was angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.” Everyone who was angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment. And who hasn’t been angry with his brother–including Jesus himself?So we have to unpack this. There is so much misunderstanding about anger in the Catholic world. So much of the way that Catholics have approached anger has been limited, misinformed, and misguided. Furthermore, when I think about why the Catholic Church in the US, and Canada, and Europe, Australia, the entire Western world, the entire English speaking world, there are so many reasons why we are hemorrhaging members.Brandon Vogt in his article ‘New Stats on Why Young People leave the church–he was the one that wrote this book, ‘How to Draw Your Child Back to the Church’. He presented some statistics: Diocese of Springfield Exit Surveys (2014), 68% of those who left the Catholic Church said their spiritual needs were not met. 67% also indicated that they lost interest in the Church over time. I think one critical factor is that cradle Catholics, especially young Catholics, do not believe that the Church can help them with their problems. Let me say that again. I think that one critical factor for why so many Catholics leave the church, especially young Catholics, is because they do not believe that the church can help them with their problems.Only 7% of millennials raised Catholic still actively practice their faith today. And by that we mean going to weekly Mass, praying a few times each week, and assert that their faith is extremely or very important to them. Only 7% of millennials have kept the faith. And for every person that joins the Catholic Church, for every convert to the Catholic faith, we lose 6.5 Catholics. We get one coming in, we get 6.5 leaving.I think if young people–and people in general, if they believed that the Church really had the answers to the deepest questions in their heart, if they knew that the Church had the answers, they wouldn’t be leaving. But I believe that the Catholic Church doesn’t seem relevant to them because she doesn’t seem like she has the answers to the real issues they face. 10% of American adults are former Catholics. 10%–that’s one in ten of us in the US, former Catholics. And nearly half of those who fall away from the church become ‘nones’. What I mean by that is no religious affiliation. Another quarter become Evangelical Christians. 79% of former Catholics leave the church before the age of 23. 50% of millennials raised Catholic, no longer even identify as Catholic today, so only 7% are really active in their faith–weekly mass attendance, praying a few times a week, and only half of those millennials raised Catholic still identify as Catholics.Why? I think it has to do with topics like our topic today, topics like anger. I think that we are failing to do a good job in meeting the needs that Catholics have today, and especially their human formation needs.I am Dr. Peter Malinoski, a.k.a. Dr. Peter, clinical psychologist, trauma therapist, podcaster, blogger, cofounder and president of Souls and Hearts–but most of all, I am a beloved little Son of God, a passionate Catholic, and one who wants to help you to taste and see the goodness of the Lord, to taste and see the height and depth and breadth and warmth and the light of the love of God, especially the love of God, the Father, and Mary our mother, our spiritual parents, our primary parents. To really absorb–to really take in your identity as a little child of God your father and Mary your mother. I want you to enter much more deeply into an intimate, personal, loving relationship with the three persons of the Trinity and with our Lady. That is what this podcast, Interior Integration for Catholics is all about, that is what Souls and Hearts is all about–all about shoring up the natural foundation for the spiritual life of intimacy with God, all about overcoming the natural human formation deficits and obstacles to contemplative union with God, our Father. That’s what I want for you. We are on an adventure of love together. And one thing, one major, big, huge thing that gets in the way of receiving the love of God and Mary is anger. Anger. And anger is also a huge obstacle to being able to love God, to love Mary in return, and to love our neighbor, also to love ourselves. This is episode 103 of Interior Integration for Catholics, released on January 2nd, 2023. Happy New Year. As I mentioned, Interior Integration for Catholics is part of Souls and Hearts–our online outreach. Check us out at Alright, let’s get into it. Anger. Anger–one of the seven deadly sins. One of the lethal vices that can kill your soul, anger. There is so much confusion about anger. There’s an article at called ‘The Burden of Anger’. It was it was published on June 10th, 2021, and it says, “The first level of sin is simply to be ‘angry’ interiorly. The sin of anger is an interior attitude of disgust toward another. Jesus says that the consequence of having anger toward another is that you will be ‘liable to judgment.'”Alright, so here we’ve already started with the confusion–the first level of sin, according to these authors, they’re anonymous, the first level of sin is simply to be angry, interiorly, right. So that can lead to a lot of confusion about whether the emotion of anger is sinful or not. They qualify it a bit here because they say that anger is an interior attitude of disgust. So that starts to bring in the will, but you wouldn’t necessarily see that at first blush. That’s one of the reasons why we really need to unpack what’s going on here in anger–anger as a spontaneous emotion rising up outside of the direct purview of the will–that is not sinful. It’s what we do with the anger that carries the moral weight.Now, I want to say that a lot of what I’m discussing, especially when I get into my personal recommendations about how to deal with anger, I could be wrong. I want to start by simply, in humility saying I could be wrong. And if I’m saying something that seems like it contradicts what we know to be true by divine revelation–if it seems to contradict dogma or doctrine, I want you to reach out and tell me. I want you to email me at You can call me or text me on my cell, 317-567-9594. I really want to be open to correction, really want to make sure that as we deal with what’s actually not really been done before, a real integration of the best of secular psychology, trauma, energy, neuroscience, all of the fields that are now contributing to a deeper understanding of how the human person, how the human body reacts to trauma, and what kinds of physiology goes on behind the emotion of anger. As we bring all that together, there could be some things that are off. So I just want you to know that I’m really open to hearing about this.I’m going to start by reviewing the offerings from five Catholic writers on anger. The most popular book I could find was a book called ‘Overcoming Sinful Anger’ by Father T.G. Morrow. It has 303 Amazon reviews, mostly positive. It reached #16 on the list of best sellers, in Catholic Theology, was put out by Sophia Press in 2015. And I don’t think it’s very good. I hate to say that, alright, but I think we also have to be frank and honest in evaluating these things. And I’ll tell you why–it’s not just going to be some sort of blatant condemnation. And there are good things in the book as well–we’ll try to highlight those. But I can’t recommend it.First off, Father Morrow admits that he doesn’t understand why people get angry. He says on page nine, “We’ve all encountered people who explode when they feel angry. It baffles me how often the sort of anger rears its ugly head in marriages–even in allegedly Christian marriages.” The tone of some of what Father Morrow writes is pretty condemnatory, I think, and not helpful to people who are really struggling with anger. You know, ‘allegedly Christian marriages’, that lands hard with me. He also says, “I am often surprised to discover Christians who pray ardently, who received the sacraments regularly, who attend mass daily, and yet have an anger problem.” Well, that doesn’t surprise me at all. I don’t find that surprising one bit.First of all, one concern I have is that Father Morrow presumes that there’s a homogeneous, single, unified, integrated personality. If that were true, you wouldn’t have these disconnects, but because of the effects of trauma, because of the effects of how that disintegrates us inside, how that disconnects us inside, we can be operating in very different modes in different moments, even changing rapidly from moment to moment because of that lack of unity inside–because that lack of integration. It’s easy to explain why somebody who goes to Church every day to daily Mass, prays at a holy hour every day, prays the litany of humility every day, why that person could lose their composure, could explode in anger even ten minutes after getting home. Because if we understand what’s going on in terms of parts, if we understand in terms of what’s going on inside, as they’re being these these separate entities inside that have different characteristics and that have access to the different faculties, will, and memory and so forth, and that operate within us, it’s not that hard to understand.Father Morrow, when he looks at what causes anger, I think he’s pretty simplistic. He says, “Why do people explode in anger? There are many reasons, but I think the top three are power and control, a refusal to take responsibility, and habit”. That’s on page 13.I think he’s got a very simplistic view of psychology and no consideration of neurology and trauma allergy. So a lot of confusion about the causal chain in anger–where anger fits in a sequence of events. I also sense that in so many Catholic writers, including Father Morrow, there’s a lack of genuine interest in what’s actually causing the anger. It’s just assumed that it’s vice. It’s just assumed that it’s wrong. It’s just assumed that it’s irrational, and their anger is essentially just something to be gotten rid of. Not much consideration for the unconscious and for unconscious anger.Father Morrow does acknowledge that suppressing anger is problematic, but there’s still an assumption that if I’m not feeling anger, it’s not there. There’s a disconnect. He’s also very focused on the will, and will training. There’s some real naïve assumptions about how the will can overcome just about anything. “Just keep trying! Keep at it!”. And there is something to that, there is something to perseverance–no doubt about that. But there are naïve assumptions about what people can do when they are overcome and they are outside their window of tolerance in a state of sympathetic nervous system arousal.St. Paul gives us an example. He says in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate.”The other thing that I believe that that Father Morrow does, and that other writers do is called spiritual bypassing.John Welwood, who was an American clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, teacher, and author, he was known for integrating psychological and spiritual concepts. He coined the term ‘spiritual bypassing’, and it means using “spiritual ideas, words and practices to sidestep or avoid personal, emotional, ‘unfinished business’, to shore up a shaky sense of self, or to belittle basic needs, feelings, psychological wounds and developmental tasks.”Blogger Rose Hahn, she stated in her blog post, ‘Spiritual Bypassing: What It Is & How To Avoid It’, she said, “Bypassing occurs when spiritual ideals get elevated to the realm of absolute truth in such a way that our real, lived experience is somehow denied. Rather than doing the work of healing deep wounds, we may use these ideals to deny, devalue, or avoid meeting our more human needs–such as emotional bonding, love, and esteem. In other words, rather than risk opening ourselves to real human connection, and possibly get hurt, we adopt a more enlightened, spiritual way of relating to the world that doesn’t rely on human relationships.”Using spiritual words, spiritual means, spiritual concepts to alter, whitewash or to put a bandaid on significant psychological or emotional problems in the natural realm. We are talking about human formation problems here. Bypassing the natural realm, going directly to the spiritual realm–essentially saying ‘you shouldn’t feel this way’. And Father Morrow implies that several times in his book that you should not feel this way–labeling emotions as irrational.As a clinical psychologist, when I work with somebody and unpack what’s going on there, the emotions always make sense. If you get to the level of where that emotion is being generated from, it makes sense. Now, it might not always correspond to an accurate perception of reality. I suppose, in that sense, you could call it “irrational”. But parts that are struggling with these emotions are often very young–they don’t have a mature understanding because when they got locked in to carrying the the burden of anger or the burden of shame or the burden of grief or whatever, they were very, very young. Often the person had not reached the age of reason. And there’s this way that trauma freezes us in the past if it’s unresolved.Father Morrow promises, “I will offer some ideas which I consider quite novel, on how to avoid angry explosions.” He’s focused very much on angry explosions–he repeats that over and over again. I’m much more interested in not just starting at that level and avoiding some sort of behavioral manifestation of it that’s extreme. I want to go way upstream, I want to deal with this at the source, not right at the end.So he’s got a bunch of tips and some of them are really quite good, some of them are thoughtful, this book isn’t all bad, and if a book like this is helpful to you, by all means, use it. I’m not trying to take something away from anybody if it’s helpful to them. So if you’ve read the book, you found it really helpful, great. But some of the things that he also recommends I just don’t think are going to cut it.For example, ‘if you struggle with an anger problem, write on an index card all the negatives of continuing your anger and read that list several times a day’. Most of the time when people are exploding with anger, they’re disconnected from their from their frontal cortex. They do not have the capacity to be able to engage their rational processes very readily.What we need to do instead of using very head-based cognitive approaches, is increase a sense of safety and a sense of protection. And deal with what’s causing the anger because there’s something underneath that anger–anger so often, and I’ll talk about this more in a little bit, anger is so often a defense against overwhelming grief, it’s a defense against fear, and most of all, it’s a defense against shame.If you want to address the anger problem, you need to get to the shame–that is so common. And it’s interesting because in none of these Catholic authors that I’m going to discuss–Father Morrow never brings up shame. It’s not one of the three things that he believes really fuels anger, but I think that’s the #1 thing–that’s the father or the grandfather of anger. It could be the father of anger in the sense that the anger can defend against the direct experience of shame, or it could be the grandfather of anger because the shame might lead to this deep sense of grief. And it may be the grief that the anger is defending against. So we want to understand what the causal connections are, and there seems to be this very–I don’t know how to describe it–this great disinterest, this great lack of interest in understanding what’s really going on, phenomenologically, what’s really happening within a person. It’s just like, ‘stop the anger’–working very much at the surface.So, Father Morrow, “take time to calm down and figure out why you’re angry”. One of the tactics recommended is to count to ten before deciding what to do, he recommends saying a short prayer, he recommends using humor–which is a good recommendation. He’s got this offering your angry feeling as a sacrifice is not suppressing it, but it is doing something with it. Yeah, it could be spiritually bypassing with it that offer it up stuff when it comes to anger is often spiritual bypassing. Not always, but usually what’s going on is that some part that’s got a legitimate concern that’s got something that it really needs to be resolved, that needs attention, that needs love within us, is just getting steamrolled by Catholic moral parts that want it to shut up and stop causing problems inside. There’s this sort of power spirituality that just sort of grinds these parts up and try to get them to be silent–imprison them within, and their needs never get addressed. And then there’s not a sense of peace. There’s not a sense of well-being. There might be a white-knuckling it, and being able to contain the anger or the grief or whatever the intensity is, the anxiety, for a while. But there isn’t a sense of really being grounded with it.So Father Morrow brings in some of the things–“thanking God, praising God”–in chapter seven, talks about “considering your future”. He says “one key way to change your behaviors is to work out in your mind what your life will be if you don’t change your angry behavior”. Well, this can just increase anxiety, because if a person was able to figure it out with that kind of advice, he would have done it already. Most people who have a lot of anger understand, at least at some level–they might not have a full appreciation of it, but they understand at some level that it’s harmful.So I don’t think there’s a lot new here. Let’s go to Father Joseph Esper. He wrote this book, ‘Saintly Solutions to Life’s Common Problems’. It’s got 99 reviews on Amazon, it’s a number 138 in Roman Catholic books. The first chapter in it is on anger. And he quotes St. Thomas of Villanova says, “Dismiss all anger and look into yourself a little.” Again, this is just this lack of curiosity. “Just dismiss the anger. Just banish the anger.” You sometimes hear this still in some sectors of the Church, right. “Cast out the spirit of anger!” Again, very little depth here, very little appreciation or understanding of what the underlying causes of anger are. The quotes from the saints don’t seem to be particularly helpful to me. He does have some advice, like ‘rehearse possible responses and evaluate which ones might help you’. So there’s some a few good things in here at a really behavioral level, though.And if there’s going to be deep change, it’s not going to be because these different practices were just put into place without there being some sort of structural shift inside. I’d like to be much more deliberate about that.Tommy Tighe wrote a book called ‘St. Dymphna’s Playbook: A Catholic Guide to Finding Mental and Emotional Well-Being’. It was in 2021, it hit number 57 in Christian Pastoral Counseling, it’s got 66 reviews on Amazon, mostly positive. And he doesn’t ever discuss anger in the book at all. Book on finding mental and emotional well-being doesn’t really discuss anger.He discusses irritability, but he sees irritability as a symptom of depression. He discusses resentment, but he discusses that as a problem in relationships. And again, no discussion of shame at all, which is, again, I think, so critical–I spent episodes 37-49, 13 episodes addressing shame. I think it’s 11 or 12 hours that I spend on the importance of the centrality of shame as generating so many of the things that we call ‘psychological disorders’, what we call psychological disorders–so often that is just the symptom clusters of underlying deeper problems, especially about shame.So he sees depression as the primary problem and the depression fueling irritability. But I mean, a lot of times it goes the other way around. You know, for example, anger turned inward can lead to depression. So there’s a lot of other ways that depression and anger can be related–that grief and anger can be related other than what Tommy Tighe offers us. And he’s got some, you know, he’s got some good recommendations. He talks about going for a walk, taking time to meditate, watching or reading something that lightens the mood. There’s a lot of distraction recommendations that are in these Catholic, that are in these Catholic sources, you know, ‘get your mind on something else’. Well, again, that may help in the short term to not lose your emotional containment and lash out at people, but that’s not going to get to the deep underlying causes of whatever that anger is for you.He does have some exercises that are kind of neat about drawing out your emotions on paper, examining what was really behind your emotional response, things like that, but he assumes that depression causes anxiety. He says, “then, after a really brief introspective process, we can catch that the real reason for our irritability is our depressed mood, and we can interject coping skills for depression to stave off irritability.” Okay, so I got problems with this, right.First of all, I don’t agree that–as I said before, I don’t agree that the causal chain has to be depression first and irritation second. It can go a lot of different ways. And in fact, I see depression and anger as both being caused by shame. So we’re missing the main point here, I think. And then there’s again, this idea that we just want to stave off the irritability. Can’t we get curious about that? Can’t we have an understanding of why that’s there? Like what might be the injustice or the perceived injustice that generates the anger? Can we be willing to go into ourselves? Can we care about ourselves? Can we love ourselves enough to listen to ourselves about that? You don’t see that in these Catholic authors.They do ask the question, you know, “Okay, what’s really going on?” But the way they guide you doesn’t seem to me to get to the deepest levels. He’s got some steps in a process–he talks about visualizing yourself from the perspective of a compassionate observer, which I think is a really good suggestion–I like that one a lot. And it goes a little bit beyond some of the other authors that we’re talking about. He talks about noticing from the outside which feelings are upsetting you and how they’re reflected in you. He does try to get at a kind of self-relating when he talks about trying to let the warm feeling of compassion and desire to help arise within you, for you to help yourself. And he does say that you can say to yourself, ‘It’s understandable that you feel this way. You’re experiencing a natural reaction to depressing thoughts’. I wouldn’t…I don’t like that because, again, he presumes that depression is what’s causing the irritability.Now, that was his experience; he talks about his experience, but his experience isn’t the same as everybody else’s. And he talks about active listening. And he says, “to fend off resentment, we have to communicate what things are important to us and why”. And again, you can spend your life fending off resentment if you’re dealing with it only late in the causal chain, but if you go way upstream, there is so much anger that can be resolved, so much rage that can be resolved so that it doesn’t trouble you all the time like that. So there we have Tommy Tighe’s ‘St. Dymphna’s Playbook: A Catholic Guide to Finding Mental and Emotional wellbeing.Rhonda Chevrin, she is the author of over 60 books concerning Catholic thought, practice and spirituality–she’s Catholic, author, international speaker, professor of philosophy, EWTN, she’s a media personality, gets on the air quite a bit. She wrote a book called ‘Taming the Lion Within: 5 Steps from Anger to Peace’. And again, it’s the same kind of thing as these other books. She does make some recommendations: to move your muscles to exercise, humor is your best friend, avoid exceptionality–she means by that not having to be exceptional; accept that you can be average in some things, put your own mental health first, recognizing that other people are not doing it to you–they may just be doing it. For example, if somebody cuts you off on the freeway, not to take it personally, things like that. Emphasis on forgiveness, really standard Catholic stuff. It’s just another repetition of all these other things. There’s nothing in there about shame, nothing about the causal chain, nothing about neurology, nothing about trauma allergy. It’s actually not that well-informed.Father Spitzer, the Jesuit, who I have a lot of respect for, brilliant mind–he didn’t write a book on this, but he did a brief interview called ‘Angry with God? Here’s Father Spitzer’s Advice on How to Overcome Anger’. And he says that God understands your anger, but don’t dwell on it. He says, ‘Don’t go there. Don’t go to your anger at God. Don’t dwell on your anger at God’. He has this three step process that he recommends in this YouTube clip, ‘Angry with God’, he says, “Stop comparing yourself to the way you once were, stop comparing yourself to others, and stop having expectations for your suffering’. And he says, “offer it up and kind of stop the questioning”.I’m like, “No! No!”. As much as I appreciate so much of the brilliance of Father Spitzer in some of his other things, again, he’s drawing heavily on his own experience of blindness and progressive blindness. But I think a lot of that is really problematic advice, especially for people who have experienced trauma. It’s very invalidating. It’s not at all interested in the suffering that one is experiencing. And I agree, we don’t want to wallow in self-pity, but that’s not what I’m going to be recommending.And then a variety of different writers will give examples from the Saints. Meg Hunter-Kilmer. She published in Aleteia on September 28, 2017, ‘What We Probably Don’t Know About St. Jerome is Just What We Need to Know’. And she said, for example, St. Jerome was known to carry about a stone that he would hit himself with, every time he lost his temper.And I’m just like, ‘when writers put this sort of stuff in, are they thinking that we should do this? Are they thinking that that’s like a good idea?’ It’s just because a lot of times what gets quoted about the saints with anger, with other things, are these really idiosyncratic things that I’m not sure are that advisable.So I want to say that again, if these kinds of Catholic resources are helpful to you, I don’t want to put up roadblocks. They might be helpful to many people–lots of positive amazon reviews for many of these books, for example. But I think there’s a very simplistic view of psychology, no consideration of neurology, trauma, allergy, all these other fields that I want to bring in. There’s confusion about the causal chain of anger, where anger fits in a causal chain in a sequence of events–its a relationship to shame, especially. There seems to be little genuine interest in the anger, in the experience of anger, in the phenomenology of anger. Anger is seen instead as something essentially to be gotten rid of because it’s dangerous, because it’s bad. Even though they might say that there is such a thing as a just anger–because there is. St. Thomas Aquinas addresses this. And what they really don’t understand, not one of them is that anger has a protective function, that it protects us. It protects us against shame, it protects us against grief. Not one of those sources connects anger to shame. And that’s the primary connection we need to understand if we want to resolve anger and not just try to shoo it away, just try to dispense with it. Just try to get it to try to deflect it or whatever.Alright, well, let’s get into some definitions of anger. Let’s get into some definitions on anger. Now, it’s interesting because if you go all the way back to the earliest discussions in the western world about anger, you’re going to go back to Aristotle in his book ‘Rhetoric’, where he defined anger as, “a belief that we or our friends have been unfairly slighted, which causes in us both painful feelings and a desire or impulse for revenge.” And the theme of a revenge in anger was picked up in the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia, which defined anger as “the desire of vengeance”. The desire of vengeance. And then it gets into the moral quality of that vengeance. It says its ethical rating depends on the quality of the vengeance and the quantity of the passion. When these are in conformity with the prescriptions of balanced reason, anger is not a sin. It is rather a praiseworthy thing and justifiable with a proper zeal.Anger becomes sinful when it is sought to wreak vengeance upon one who has not deserved it, or to a greater extent than it has been deserved, or in conflict with the dispositions of the law or from an improper motive. So again, they’re looking–both Aristotle and the Catholic Encyclopedia from 1907, are looking at anger as more than an emotion. They’re looking at it as an impulse, as a desire, as as more than just a spontaneous emotion. The ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’, paragraph 2302 says, “By recalling the commandment, ‘You shall not kill’, the Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral. Anger is a desire for revenge.” Alright, so that’s really critical. That when the Church looks at anger as a capital sin–as one of the seven deadly sins, it’s not just the spontaneous emotion of anger. It’s this nurturing of anger. It’s this harboring of anger. It’s this feeding of our anger in terms of what’s happening inside of us, in terms of our thoughts, our fantasies, things like that–what we’re going with, how we’re letting that passion of anger drive our will. The will has to be involved for there to be objective moral guilt.However, there does not need to be this correlation between the emotion of anger and a desire for vengeance. Aggression or vengeance and anger–they don’t have to go together. There’s been a lot of research in psychology to tease out anger and aggression and those differences. And this is acknowledged even in Scripture, right? St. Paul, Ephesians 4:26 he says, “Be angry, but do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Be angry, but do not sin. So there doesn’t have to be sin going along with the experience of anger, with the emotion of anger.The APA, the American Psychological Dictionary of Psychology, says that anger is, “an emotion characterized by tension and hostility arising from frustration, real or imagined injury by another or perceived injustice. It can manifest itself in behaviors designed to remove the object of the anger, for example, determined action or behaviors designed merely to express the emotion (e.g. swearing). Anger is distinct from, but a significant activator of aggression, which is behavior intended to harm someone or something. Despite their mutually influential relationship, anger is neither necessary nor sufficient for aggression to occur.”I want to spend a little bit more just on some of the benefits of anger. In a chapter called ‘The Neurobiology of RAGE and Anger & Psychiatric Implications with a Focus on Depression’, by Daniel Guerral, Valentina Colonnello and Jack Panksepp, they write, “As a basic emotion, anger emerges early in life and has a unique adaptive function in motivating, organizing, and regulating behavior. No other emotion can match the consistency and vigor of anger in mobilizing high-level energy and sustaining goal-directed activity. Anger serves a variety of regulatory functions in physiological and psychological processes related to self-defense, as well as to interpersonal and societal behaviors. Through socialization processes, it plays an important role in the development of personality and individual differences in responding to environmental challenges, which can be more or less adaptive.” So let’s go back and break this down a little bit. ‘Anger emerges early in life and has a unique adaptive function in motivating, organizing and regulating behavior.’ Anger fuels right action if it’s ordered within a person. When our Lord cleansed the temple from the money changers, his anger fueled that action. It didn’t control him, but it provided him that high level energy that Guerral, Colonnello and Panksepp were talking about. And that’s why we don’t want to just shoo our anger away. That’s why we don’t want to just stave it off (as Tommy Tigue was talking about), or get rid of it. We want that to be integrated into us. That’s why we call this podcast ‘Interior Integration for Catholics’. We do not want to lose our anger. We do not want to somehow excise that from who we are. We need our anger to be fully human, but we need it to be ordered.The difficulty I have with the five Catholic sources I cited is that there’s not a lot of interest in integrating that anger, and understanding how it could be ordered within us. Aristotle in his Nichomachean Ethics said, “It is easy to fly into a passion–anybody can do that–but to be angry with the right person in the right context and at the right time and with the right object in the right way–that is not easy and it is not everyone who can do it.” Aristotle recognized that it’s easy for anger to become disordered. It’s much harder for anger to be ordered.The ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1767 says “In themselves passions are neither good nor evil”, and anger is a passion. Passions are morally qualified only to the extent that they effectively engage, reason and will. It belongs to the perfection of the moral or human good that the passions be governed by reason. And that’s what I want for you. That’s really what I want for you, which is why I want to engage with the anger in a way that’s really constructive, and I want to get to the roots of what it is so that it doesn’t constantly gnaw at you. Because all of this suppression and distraction and denial and staving off and all of these things do not resolve that anger–and that anger can be resolved. It’s going to have to be resolved, either here on Earth or in purgatory, because if anger is disordered, it’s not going to be able to go into heaven with you.’The Catholic-Christian Meta-Model of the Person’ which was put out by Divine Mercy University faculty Paul Vitz, William Nordlinger and Paul Craig Titus, page 294, says, “To remain in the virtuous middle ground requires being disposed to a righteous anger that will stand up to injustice, and to use a good measure of anger in ways that are corrective of the evil, preventive of further injustice, and indicative of a balance to mean between extremes.” Alright so, again, these professionals, (two of them are therapists, one is a philosopher) they’re recognizing how important it is for anger to be ordered and not just to be eliminated, right? We want that anger to be in the right middle ground. They write, “Emotions are viewed as informing people about their cares and concerns. To prepare the body for action, directing our thoughts to ways that will appropriately address the issues at hand. Emotions can signal and manipulate other people in ways that suit that person’s emotional needs. Being disconnected from emotional experience, therefore, means being cut off from adaptive information.” Some people really want an angerectomy, an angerectomy, just excising the anger–“Just take my anger away! Just take my anger away, Lord!” Asking to live without anger, but they would again not have the fullness of the human experience.Alright so I am going to get into some real secular sources here because I think there’s so much more helpful than what we’ve already covered. And the question may arise–“Dr. Peter, as you already noted, anger’s been recognized for a long time, it goes all the way back to Aristotle, way before that in sacred scripture, you emphasized that your Catholic psychologist. So why are you even looking at these secular sources like the American Psychological Association?” There’s a lot about anger in the scripture and the early church fathers, a lot in the saints about anger and the spiritual life. Well, I’ll start by quoting Discalced Carmelite Abbot Marc Foley in his excellent book, ‘The Context of Holiness: Psychological and Spiritual Reflections on the Life of St. Therese of Lisieux’, he said, “One…misconception is that the spiritual life is an encapsulated sphere, cloistered from the realities of daily living…we have only one life composed of various dimensions. Our emotional life, intellectual life, social life, work life, sex life, spiritual life are simple ways of speaking of the different facets of our one life.” We have one life. That’s what Discalced Carmelite Abbot Marc Foley is telling us. We have one life. We don’t have a spiritual life that is separate from our emotional life. We have one life. If we’re angry, that affects our whole life–all the aspects of our life.And the Church herself encourages us to look at all branches of knowledge and glean what is best from them in order to live our one life better. From the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’, paragraph 159, “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can any truth contradict truth. Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge provided is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God, in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” And from the Vatican II document the ‘Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World’, paragraph 62, it reads, “In pastoral care, sufficient use must be made not only of theological principles, but also of the findings of the secular sciences, especially of psychology and sociology, so that the faithful may be brought to a more adequate and mature life of faith.”We’re supposed to be taking advantage of what’s going on in psychology. And here’s another point: I want you to remember that we are embodied beings. We are composites of a soul and a body. We have a body. And so often writers about the internal life, Catholic writers about the internal life, the psychological life, seem to neglect the importance of the body. There’s this sort of idea that Descartes’ mind-body dualism really is for real. The idea that the mind and the body operate in these separate spheres disconnected from one another. No, we have one life.And in the last several years, we’re realizing how much of our mental experience, our psychological well-being is linked in various ways to our neurobiology–the way that our nervous system functions. And the relationship between our embodied brain and our minds and our emotional states–that’s so important. Our emotional states, our behaviors, they affect brain chemistry. It’s not just our mind, it’s not just our body, it’s not just our soul–it’s all of those.And since scripture, the early Church fathers, the Catechism and so on, they’re silent about neurobiology, neurochemistry, neurophysiology, so many areas that impact our minds and our well-being, that as a Catholic psychologist, I’m going to look wherever I can find what I need to help people. I don’t expect that bishops and priests are going to be experts on this. I don’t expect that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is going to be able to lay out all these things. No, that’s my job. And also, I’m going to argue that if you’re struggling with these things, it’s your job. It’s your job, too. That’s part of why I’m here for you, is to bring you these things.St. John of the Cross in his prologue to his book, ‘Ascent of Mt. Carmel’, said, “I will not rely on experience or science, but I will not neglect whatever possible use I can make of them.” So he’s recognizing that experience might not be a faithful guide, we can misinterpret our experience, that science can’t answer the deepest questions that are the proper realm of theology and philosophy, but he’s still going to make use of them.Father Abbot Marc Foley said in his book ‘The Context of Holiness’, “As St. Thomas wrote of St. Augustine’s use of Platonic philosophy in the Summa ‘Whenever Augustine, who was imbued with the doctrines of the Platonists, found in their teaching anything consistent with the faith, he adopted it. And those things which he found contrary to the faith he amended.'” And St. Thomas himself drew so much on Aristotle’s thought. He brought Aristotle so much into his writings, brought it into his body of work.I want to be doing the same thing for you. Drawing from the best of what’s out there in the secular world, harmonizing with what we know to be true by divine revelation. Absolutely faithful to what the Catholic Church has taught through the centuries. But bringing in these new ideas, these new concepts, these new findings to support you as you seek their deep and intimate personal relationship with God our Father, with Mary, our Mother. That’s what floats my boat.So let’s start talking about biological processes and anger. This is from an article by Heidi Crockett titled ‘Anger Management with Interpersonal Neurobiology’. I talked a lot about interpersonal neurobiology in episode 92 of this podcast, which was titled ‘Understanding and Healing Your Mind through IPNB’. “In interpersonal neurobiology, anger as an emotion is viewed from the perspective of cognitive neuroscience. And cognitive neuroscience states that cognition and emotion are dynamically combined with physical arousal. When anger is induced as an emotion in humans, it can unconsciously affect physiological and neural resources. Affective states of anger are subsequently expressed in the brain as well as the body, and these neural and physiological changes can influence the cognitive processes. Many studies and resources have been expended on studying the emotions of happiness, sadness and fear which align with psychopathological states of hypomania, depression and anxiety.” So we got to remember that this is so much about our body and so much about the electrical activity in our brain and in our nervous system.Kathy Steele, Suzette Boone, and Onno van der Hart, in their book ‘Treating Trauma-Related Dissociation: A Practical, Integrative Approach’ said, “Anger is an affect derived from the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, geared to energize the body for maximum effort to fend off perceived danger. Psychologically, anger protects from awareness of vulnerability and lack of control, and therefore from shame.” See, they get it. Steele, Boone, and van der Hart, they get how much anger is about shame. They continue, “And fight mode, we are all primed to perceive cues of danger rather than cues of safety and relational connection. In such a heightened state of arousal, it is easy to misunderstand the intentions of others.” So they are bringing in the body. Steele, Boone, van der Hart. Anger is an affect; it’s an emotion derived from the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. So they are looking at anger as an emotion that is caused by the sympathetic nervous system activation. It starts first in the body for them. It doesn’t exist in some sort of rarefied air in our mind– it starts in the body.And what is the function of the anger? Why is it perceived at some level within us as a good, as something helpful? It’s designed to protect us. And that’s what we really need to understand about anger. If you can peel back the anger of a 6’4″, 250 pound guy that’s raging, you are going to find fear or grief or shame. Those are the primary things that his anger is defending him against. And I think it’s so problematic if we don’t understand that, because then we can just collapse it into vice. We can just say, “Oh, see, he’s being evil!” We can label him, we can condemn him, we can judge his soul. Now, this is not to say that when that 6’4″, 250 pound guy is raging, that there’s no harm. Absolutely not. We do not want to deny the impact of other’s anger, especially on children. Especially on children. It can be absolutely traumatic and devastating to kids to experience their parents uncontained and uncontrolled anger–we’re going to talk about that, but I think it’s so important to understand that when somebody is in the grip of anger. That that’s a young part. I’m going to talk about that more when I get into some of their work a little bit further down. But it’s not what it looks like. And it can be so surprising, for example, for wives of an angry husband to realize how scared that husband is, or how much grief that husband has, and especially how ashamed that husband is.Well, let’s get into a little bit more of the neurobiology of this. I’m going to be drawing from an article called ‘A Critical Period for Experience-Dependent Development of the Feelings of Safety During Early Infancy: A Polyvagal Perspective on Anger and Psychometric Tools to Assess Perceived Safety’. Wow, that’s really long. That was in the Frontiers of Integrative Neuroscience in July 2022.So a brief primer here on some neurology. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it simple. But going back to high school biology, or if you had an anatomy course, we’ve got neurons–these are our brain cells, and neurons are specialized cells that communicate. They send and receive signals in the brain and the nervous system. And some of these neurons have these axons. The axons are like the wire in the neuron, right? And some of those have a membrane or a sheath around the axon, kind of like the insulation on a wire. And some of them don’t. That insulation or that sheath we call myelination. So myelinated axons are insulated and unmyelinated axons are uninsulated. Now if you’ve got a myelinated axon, it fires much more rapidly. And what we’re finding is that if there has been a lot of safety, a lot of secure attachment in the first year of life, that you are going to see a lot more myelination of axons in brain cells as an adult. So if there’s been this presence of safety in that critical first year of life, we’re going to have that ventral vagal complex able to have much greater impact on reducing the sympathetic nervous system arousal, on reducing that fight or flight response. The ventral vagal complex is able to have a much greater impact on calming you down. There’s a greater capacity for self-regulation. It goes back to that first year of life. Did you feel safe? Did you feel protected? Did you feel like things were alright? Was mom a secure base? Was dad present in a way that was loving and caring and instilled a sense of safety for you? If you didn’t, your wires are stripped. There’s not as much myelination. And that leads to a lot less cardio inhibitory activity. In other words, the ventral vagal complex cannot slow down your heart. It doesn’t have as great of an impact to help you snap out of, or help you calm down out of those fight responses, or out of those flight responses. That’s where the anger is–it’s in the fight response. This is not all under the purview of your will. There’s this fantasy in a lot of Catholic circles that we can just control all of this by the sheer power of our will–“We just have to will it!”In fact, Rhonda Chervin, who I mentioned–that book, ‘Taming the Lion Within: 5 Steps from Anger to Peace’. Her primary mentor with regard to overcoming anger was Abraham Low and the book that she recommended was published in 1950, and it was called ‘Mental Health Through Will Training’. There’s only one being who has the power to just will something and for it to be done, and that is God. I think a lot of this will training grossly overestimates what people can do, at least in the moment. There’s ways that we can, by working toward greater integration, by having a better sense of what’s going on inside of ourselves, having more collaboration and cooperation among the different parts of ourselves that we can really extend our access to our will in ways that allow us to be much more virtuous. Some of that’s happening in the natural realm, it’s not just all in the supernatural realm, but this idea that you can just will it and this will training is the way to go–that was really popular and the first part of the 20th century among Catholic clinicians, and it turned out to not actually work like that. So get a lot of concerns about that. I am far from convinced that will training is going to overcome unmyelinated axons in your neurons, for example. But you know what? There is such a thing as neuroplasticity. We can actually get some of those axons myelinated if we go back to that sense of security and protection, if we have secure attachments.When we’re compromised that way, when we have adverse childhood experiences, that dampens our ventral vagal complex activity. And so therefore, we’re not able to inhibit the sympathetic nervous system as readily. We’re not going to be able to calm down that anger as readily. And the big ACE studies, adverse childhood experience studies, young children exposed to five or more significant adverse experiences in the first three years of childhood face a 76% likelihood of having one or more delays in language, emotional or brain development. It affects brain development. These adverse childhood experiences compromise brain development. And we found that as the number of traumatic events experienced during childhood increases, the risk for health problems also increases, including uncontrollable anger. They actually assess that. An article by Donna Jackson Nakazawa at called ‘7 Ways Childhood Adversity Changes a Child’s Brain’, focused on this brain connectivity, she said, “Dr. Ryan Herringa, neuropsychiatrist and assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin, found that children and teens who’d experienced chronic childhood adversity showed weaker neural connections between the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. Girls also displayed weaker connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. The prefrontal-cortex-amygdala relationship plays an essential role in determining how emotionally reactive we’re likely to be to the things that happen to us in our day-to-day life and how likely we are to perceive these events as stressful or dangerous.” So these adverse childhood events can weaken the connection between our prefrontal cortex, which is where all that higher level cognition goes, which is where all that thinking happens–all that considering that Father Morrow was recommending. All that’s happening in the prefrontal cortex, but if you don’t have a good connection between that and your amygdala, if you don’t have a good connection between that and the limbic system of your brain, which is a more primitive area of your brain, it’s not going to help you, not in the moment.But we can rewire the brain. We can actually myelinate these axons–there’s neuroplasticity. That’s the kind of approach that I think we need to be taking. That’s much more than count to ten and all that stuff that might be helpful in the moment. I’m not diminishing the importance of that in the moment, but that’s a band-aid. That’s something to help you get through a particular moment. I want there to be real healing at depth.There was a study by Olga Klimecki, David Sander, and Patrick Vuilleumier in scientific reports in 2018 called ‘Distinct Brain Areas Involved in Anger Versus Punishment During Social Interactions’. They took 25 men, put them in an fMRI. They induced anger using an inequality game. It was designed–the game was designed to be unfair, and they were assessing what areas of the brain lit up when these men experienced anger, especially when the face of the other person, the unfair person in the game was presented to them–what lit up. What you see is that there were activations in the amygdala. That’s a part of the brain that’s so intimately connected to anger. There was also increased activation in the SDS, which is the superior temporal sulcus and the fusiform gyrus. Those are both related to facial recognition. So we would expect those to light up. But yes, the anger lit up. So we’re seeing that there are definite brain correlates for these things.There’s a lot more about the neurobiology of this that I could get into, but the big point, the reason I brought up what I did is because I want you to understand that this is not just about your will, it’s not just about your mind, it’s not about mind over matter. There is an intimate connection with the body that we need to be considering if we want to take our anger seriously. We want to go deeper than what is typically offered us in Catholic circles about how to manage anger.So let’s start talking about the ‘why’ of chronic anger. I want to get into this in a more focused way. I’m drawing heavily from the work of Kathy Steele, Suzette Boon, Onno van der Hart, their book ‘Treating Trauma-Related Dissociation: A Practical, Integrative Approach’. And again, anger is the primary emotion of the fight defense, they tell us. When parts of you become stuck in this defense, anger becomes chronic. Thus, the first intervention is safety. Really important–the first intervention is safety. When people are acting out in anger, what they’re communicating in a really paradoxical and counterproductive way is that they need safety. And what happens, of course, is that when people act out in angry ways, they don’t get safety. But that’s what actually part of them is seeking.They go on to say that there are several reasons why anger and hostility become chronic. That happens when people are severely invalidated, when they’re ignored, when they’re unheard, when they’re betrayed–that kind of thing leads to anger and hostility becoming chronic. When that happens over extended periods of time while the person is helpless to stop it, that’s enough to generate enormous rage in anyone as part of the naturally occurring fight defense.Second, as children, patients often had little to no help in learning how to regulate and appropriately express normal anger, much less how to cope with it. So often there was poor modeling. Mom and dad didn’t handle their anger very well. They write “Often it was unacceptable for many patients to express any kind of anger as children, while the adults around them were uncontained and highly destructive with their anger. Others had no limits set on their angry behavior.” I’ve seen that over and over and over again, that there was no way for a child to appropriately express anger to the parent that the parent would accept. So the child learned that the anger was bad and they stuffed it down–they suppressed it; they denied it.These parts of us that are angry are so often feared, and they’re avoided internally by other parts of us, particularly those managers that function in daily life. What’s at the bottom of this, they say, is, “Angry parts have a deep shame and are highly defended against the strong belief that they are very bad. Their defense is reinforced by the shame of patients that such parts of them even exist. These parts of the patient are terrified of attachment to the therapist and the relationship is dangerous, mainly because they are afraid that the therapist will never accept them.” That’s how central the shame is here. That’s what drives the anger.The anger doesn’t have to be a part of the fight response. It can be a secondary emotion that protects the patient from feelings of sadness, extreme powerlessness, shame, guilt, or loss. And I would also add grief to their list.So what these angry parts have done is they’ve developed strategies to try to help them get what they need. Those could be controlling punitive strategies in which they get angry with others in order to try to get what they need, or it could be controlling caregiving strategies so then they punish themselves for being angry or having needs as a way to try to have those needs met.And there’s another way that rage or anger becomes fixed within a person, especially when they’ve been a victim of abuse. And that is expressed when they write this, “Finally, the rage of the perpetrator is often an embodied experience from which patients cannot yet escape without sufficient realization and further integration. Some dissociative parts imitate perpetrators internally, repeating the family dynamics from the past with other parts and are rather literal way.” This is on page 333. So in other words, there’s a protective function to having a part take on the role of the perpetrator of abuse, because if a part of a little child takes on the role of the perpetrator of abuse, they can anticipate what that perpetrator might say or do, and that can have a protective function. But what happens is those parts that take on that role of the perpetrator of abuse, they get stuck like a fly in amber–perpetrating and perpetrating sometimes decades after the actual perpetrator is dead. We re-enact those family dynamics within. That’s why Richard Schwartz–he called his model ‘Internal Family Systems’, because we internalize these family members. Parts take on the role of significant family members in our lives. That’s what Steele, Boon, and van der Hart are also saying. They have a parts model–it’s based off the structural theory of dissociation. It’s a different than IFS, but there’s a lot of overlap and similarities, and they have done the best work on understanding anger internally in a way that can be effectively worked with, I think. That’s my opinion.They write that “getting the anger out is not really useful, as the problem is that the patient needs to learn how to effectively express anger verbally rather than physically, and in socially appropriate and contained ways, so that the patient can be heard by others. It is less the fact that patients express anger, but how they do so and whether that expression allows them to remain grounded in the present, to retain important relationships, and to avoid being self destructive.” So they make this point that expression of anger is not necessarily therapeutic in itself. It’s not this cathartic, psychodynamic approach where you just got to let it all hang out, all that primal screaming and all that stuff. No. It’s important that the patient learn to experience and express anger in appropriate ways within the window of tolerance, right. Within a way that’s safe and appropriate.So how do we work with our angry parts? Well, we want to begin to understand these parts much more deeply. It is so important for you as your innermost self to connect with your angry parts in a way that allows for secure attachment for these parts of you that carry anger, that are burdened with anger, to know that they can trust you. That they can be heard, that they can be seen, that they can be known in a way that’s safe and protected. So we need to take the time to understand the functions of anger, the roles of our angry parts. And that can be hard for our managers because those angry parts can seem like troublemakers. That’s what these authors are telling us. But we want to encourage our parts to accept and understand and listen to angry parts instead of just avoiding them, instead of just brushing them off–kind of this advice that we were hearing from some of our Catholic authors.We want to see if parts all feel the same way as the angry part. Can parts listen to and accept angry parts and their perspectives? Will the angry part be willing to listen to other perspectives from other parts? Can we invite parts to watch and listen if possible? We want parts to work collaboratively, to work cooperatively. We want there to be this integration.Now, there sometimes has to be limits set with the angry part. Hopefully the innermost self can do that. The angry part and all parts need to learn that healthy relationships do not have to include humiliation. It’s really, really important. It doesn’t have to include suppression, silencing all the kinds of things that were done to the little person, that were done to the little child by others. When you have a perpetrator imitating part inside, the function of that perpetrator part according to Steele, Boon and van der Hart is, 1) “to protect the patient against threats of the perpetrator, which continue to be experienced as real in the present”, 2) “to defend the patient against unbearable realizations of being helpless and powerless as a child”, 3) “To re-enact traumatic memories from the perspective of the perpetrator as mentalized by the child”, 4) “to serve as a defense against shame through attacking the patient and avoiding the inner experiences of shame”, and 5) “to provide an outlet for the patient’s disowned sadistic and punitive tendencies”, and 6) “to hold unbearable traumatic memories”. That’s all wrapped up in this for so many people.Boon, Steele and van der Hart say, “Dissociative parts of a person that are stuck in anger may experience the feeling of anger is vehement and overwhelming, often without words.” That’s so important. So much of this is preverbal. It was put into you, it was formed into you before you had the capacity for speech, before you could symbolize things in language, before you could symbolize your experience and language way before you had access to reason, way before the age of seven. A lot of this stuff was happening before you were one. We need to have the sense of safety to be able to begin to put these things in words, which is why all of these statements about irrational anger, and thinking about your anger, and reflecting on it all–it’s not going to work with something that you haven’t even put into words. That’s a way too heady. That’s a way to intellectual. It’s way too verbal for these parts.Boon, Steele and van der Hart say, “Dissociative parts may have irresistible urges to act aggressively and have great difficulty thinking and reflecting on their feelings before acting. Angry parts have not learned how to experience or express anger in helpful ways. There are two types of angry dissociative parts. The first are parts that are stuck in a defensive fight mode, ready to protect you. Their anger at original injustices may be legitimate and naturally accompanies a tendency to strike out and fight, which is an essential survival strategy. However, such parts have become stuck in anger, unable to experience much else. They really perceive threat and ill-will everywhere and they react with anger and aggression as their only option of response. Although these parts of you might not yet realize it, anger is often a protection against the vulnerable feelings of shame, fear, hurt, despair, powerlessness, and loss.” And then the second type of angry part is that perpetrator imitating part that I was talking about before.So their tips for coping with anger, one, to recognize how to make distinctions among the many gradations of anger. Empathize with your angry parts, recognizing they have limited coping skills, limited vision, that they’ve been shunned by other parts left alone with their fear, shame, hurt, isolation. When you begin to feel some compassion toward these parts, they can begin to have a more secure attachment with you as the innermost self. It’s going to require some unblending. We want to recognize that these angry parts also have strengths that they could use in more positive ways. We really want to be curious about what’s going on with the anger about the phenomenological experience. We want to try to be creative and have healthy, non-verbal ways of expressing anger, giving parts ways to communicate that through drawing, through through movement, through other ways. We want to be able to listen to each part of ourselves and how we might help that part with anger. These can be these conversations inside with different parts of us about anger, how to express it.We also want to be able to capitalize on the positive strength and energy of anger, right? That it can be appropriately assertive like we were talking about before, that it can help us to set clear boundaries, to confront wrongs in the world. And there are different ways that we can titrate the anger inside. We can contract with parts to share only a little bit of the anger, not to overwhelm us with anger, that kind of thing.In my parts, my feisty part is the one that has carried anger for me for decades. Part of the reason I don’t resonate with what Tommy Tighe was talking about is that I don’t experience a lot of depression. That’s not a very strong experience for me–sadness and depression–I experience a lot more anger, so it’s really hard for me to resonate with the idea that anger comes as a function of me being depressed. I don’t think that’s true for many people. But my feisty part, that part really defends against shame–the shame that my Melancholio part carries. That’s a very, very clear protective role that my feisty part has. So that’s an example of how this can work. You know, and for a long time, I was not in touch with my shame. For a long time, I was not in touch with shame–I was in touch with the anger, but not with the shame. And I did try to work with the anger. I talked about that with my spiritual director and my confessor, brought it up in therapy dealing with my anger; gotta get to the shame.Now, it could also be for you, grief. Or it could be fear. But then, if it’s grief and fear, I’d want to know what the grief is about. I’d want to know what the fear is a fear of. My feisty part–I didn’t experience a lot of anxiety either because if my feisty part got large and in charge, it could it could suppress anxiety as well. It didn’t allow my fear to be heard either.If you have to have a book to try to help you with anger, I would probably recommend the book by June Hunt, she’s a Protestant therapist. In 2017, she wrote a book called ‘Dealing with Anger’, and it’s okay. Again, I think it’s really hard to address these things in a book, because the parts of us that read books are all engaged with that prefrontal cortex, and if that’s not well connected to your amygdala, if those axons are not well myelinated, it’s going to be hard to make the connections by reading and studying your way to some sort of progress. We actually have to get into the lived experience. We have to get that felt sense of safety. We have to have that secure attachment–that has to be relational.That’s the kind of thing that we do in our experiential exercises in this podcast–so we’ve started this series of experiential exercises to help you get in touch with your own experience, to help you be in relationship with yourself. So mark your calendars. The next live experience of this Interior Integration Podcast will be on Friday, January 13, 2023, from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM EST. We’re going to do that on zoom; it’s going to be all about working with your anger. We’re going to go way beyond what books can do for you in terms of just connecting with the intellectual level. We’re going to be in inviting you into a deeper relationship with yourself about anger through a guided reflection. Click the link to register. Those have gone out in our emailed Wednesday Reflections. You can get the link on the IIC landing page as well. You can go to It also was sent out on December 28th, 2022. You can go to our archive of those weekly reflections and click on ‘From Rejecting to Embracing Aging’, it’s in that post. And also you can sign up for these weekly reflections. Go to, go to our home page, click on ‘Get the Weekly Reflection from Dr. Peter’, it’ll be in that one that comes out this Wednesday and next Wednesday as well. So you can get that link in a lot of ways. You can also reach out to me–that’s my email address. Conversation hours are every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM EST. You can reach me for a private conversation on my cell phone: 317-567-9594. We usually have 10 minutes, maybe 15 minutes, and it’s not therapy–we don’t do therapy at ‘Souls and Hearts’–I don’t do therapy in conversation hours, but we can have a conversation about what your questions are about these podcasts or the weekly reflections. Love to be able to connect with you.And then there’s the Resilient Catholics Community. That is where we bring all of this together in a much more focused way. If this stuff makes sense to you, if you want to get in touch with your parts around anger, or around grief, or loss, or sadness, or fear, this is a way that you can do it. Why? It’s not therapy, but therapy doesn’t have a monopoly on human formation. There are lots of ways that we can work to bring about that cooperation and collaboration inside, to bring about that integration. I bring the best of all those resources into the Resilient Catholics Community. Check that out, Now, we just closed the registration for the December 2022 cohort. You can get on the waiting list, though, for the June 2023 cohort will reopen in June and you can check that out, get to know your own parts, get to love your own parts. If you get on the waiting list, we sometimes do need to fast track a few people because we’re filling out the rest of the companies, and so sometimes we will get in touch to fill out some companies for the December cohort, which is going to start in March. Otherwise you can join the June 2023 cohort, which will start in September 2023 with the actual meeting.So with all of that, I want to thank you for listening to all of this. I want to thank you for entertaining these ideas. I want to thank you for going deeper, for not just staying at the surface or at the behavioral level. I really appreciate those that listened to the podcast. I pray for you. I ask you to pray for me. And with that, we will wrap it by invoking our patroness and our patron, Our Lady, Our Mother, Untier of Knots, pray for us. St. John the Baptist, pray for us.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This


Please share with others whom you think would benefit!