We all get angry from time to time, whether resulting from a minor disagreement or from a more traumatic life event we cannot escape feelings of frustration and anger when the world doe not comport itself in accordance with our views. We also tend to think that we have anger figured out. We have been told by a wise relative or an article on the internet that we need to cathart, that is we need to blow off steam to keep from blowing up. This idea of catharsis is not new. It comes to us from the ancient Greeks who thought that purging the body of unbalanced humors was the solution to curing illness as well as undesired feelings of anger. Go yell at God or punch the heavy bag and you’ll feel better is often advice we see thrown around. The problem is the advice is unfounded. It does in fact feel good to “get it out of your system” but in the long game that expulsion of anger through all means serves to increase your overall aggressive behavior rather than dissipate it.
In addition to the stellar panel of Mica McGriggs, Jeremy Timothy, and LaShawn Williams-Shulz I have a short interview with catharsis expert Brad Bushman. Take a look at his webpage to see more articles on the subject and his other research (especially his Psychology Today articles that are very accessible, like this one on anger management) and checkout his TEDxTalk below.