Health & Fitness

Taming anger is a complex subject


“What is the best strategy for anger management because society today is witnessing a lot of death and bloodshed through domestic quarrels”.

Most teachers will tell you to carefully read the question before making any attempt at answering it. What some tutors tell their students is that sometimes, what seems to be one question turns out to be several in one. In your case, a number of questions and assumptions are hidden together, in what on the surface is one question.

First of all, you seek to find the best strategy for anger management. Then you go to confidently state that society is witnessing a lot of death and bloodshed, presumably because people are no longer able to control their anger. Finally, and without any evidence from you, blame is laid at the doorstep of the orphan child called “domestic violence”.

Any one of the subjects you now wish us to address can be a full Masters or PhD thesis, and so any attempt to link them together today is bound to be unsatisfactory. So, let us divert our attention from the academics of your question and see if a story will do for today.

At a local hospital, we were asked to see a man who had suffered severe burns to his abdomen and private parts. The story he told was that he came home one night “slightly drunk” and as his wife opened the door to let him in, she poured boiling water on his genitals to give him a final warning on his wayward ways. Fortunately, the man made a full recovery and his genitals were saved and were functional.


The lawyers then took an interest in the case, when divorce matters came to court. A question very similar to yours took centre stage. The woman argued that her action (not disputed) was the result of extreme provocation, and she was unable to control her anger when a friend sent her a WhatsApp message of her husband kissing a girl in a bar that night.

When he arrived at 2am she was sure he had been sleeping with the same girl and hence in anger decided to teach him a lesson.

The other side in the case was able to demonstrate that the picture of the man seemed to suggest that he was kissing the girl, but that was six hours before he got home and was burnt! They argued, therefore, that six hours was enough time for the woman to have cooled down.

It was in their view, not a case of provocation but rather a matter she had premeditated on, as evidenced by the fact that she had boiled the water and kept it hot until the man came home. An academic question on strategies for anger management ensued and although it brought about much heat between the parties, very little light was shed!

The truth of the matter is that there is no one single cause of anger, and therefore the strategies for its manifestation must take account of the totality of the circumstances in which it occurs.

For example, who is the aggrieved party; how are they related to the culprit; is it the first time or is it a common repeated offence; what is the mental and physical state of the angry person; is he perhaps tired, unwell and have they taken drugs or alcohol.

What is their personality in general; are they quick or slow to anger. One could go on and on to illustrate that human beings become angry under many different circumstances and no single “academic” solution will suffice in this space.

Considering anger management as a tool that would stop death and bloodshed is rather dramatic at its best! If on the other hand you address specific demographics such as young men aged 18-24, and add the effects of anger, alcohol and drugs, then you would be on the right track. This is a group in which anger management skills could save lives.

Domestic issues are many, topical and a dangerous subject for a column such as this one. Most experts have their own views as to what causes the quarrels and hence what the solution might be. Not all would agree that a strategy on anger management would be the most ideal solution to stop death and bloodshed at home.