Notes on Therapeutic Angerwork
Linda L. Moody, LMSW
Therapeutic Angerwork is a moving thru process and is a necessary part of reparative griefwork. All significant losses need to be grieved in order to restore trust and wholeness, to move toward forgiveness, and to move beyond to integration/liberation and the reestablishment of resilience and creativity.
Therapeutic Angerwork has a specific direction and set of purposes. Angerwork is directed toward moving from aggression or aggressive impulses to compassionate assertiveness.
It can energize determination for:
- protection of self or others;
- addressing or preventing injustices.
It can energize movement:
- from blaming, shaming or fault-finding to compassionate, responsible assertion of needs, rights or wants;
- from physical release to emotional expression to cognitive/emotional pursuit of needs, rights or wants;
- from bravado or grandiosity to grief;
- from harming others to caring for self;
- from striking out to an expression of loss from within;
- from rage to anger to pain;
- from defense against to acknowledgement of vulnerability;
- from isolation to connection.
Some hypotheses/possible assumptions re: anger and rage
- Anger at its healthiest is a protective emotion motivating us to prevent injustice.
- The energy of anger can be:
- melted and converted in to the grief that is underneath it;
- redirected to energize all of one's strength toward healing;
- harnessed toward energizing determination for self-care, self-expression or self-assertion.
- Rage is anger that has been so squashed and compressed that it wants to throw rationality to the wind and its main intent has become hurt/harm.
- The energy of rage, at best needs to be discharged, defused, and its intent reframed and redirected. At worst it needs to be contained and channeled into productive action.
- For the purposes of the false self anger/rage is often a front for shame, hurt, fear or guilt to protect (false) strength as a defense against vulnerability.
- The deeper feeling which makes healing possible is pain. Though it may be that pain without anger, where profound wounding has occurred, may impede healing.
The content of therapeutic angerwork
Giving direct voice to the true self to express what was previously unspeakable, whatever the violation, loss or offense by whomever.