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  1. #41



    This isn't meant to be an exhaustive thesis on the subject of emotions. Instead, I'm just continuing from my earlier post on the subject of anger management and what the probation officer/psychologist is trying to teach with the exercise about emotions. If you want an exhaustive list of emotions and how they function in the brain, look up "emotion" at wikipedia.



    As I said in the last message, it sounds like the probation officer has decided that you need to learn anger management tools in order to stay out of trouble in the future. If you take the training seriously and learn the tools, she'll probably figure that you're better equipped to stay out of trouble in the future and she'll give you a favorable report. If you won't learn the tools, then she'll figure there's a good likelihood that you're just going to get into the same trouble again and again in the future, so she'll give an unfavorable report.

    And if you won't learn the tools and change your behavior through anger management, then the judge will probably try to change your behavior by giving you a harsher punishment. They're determined to get through to you one way or the other; it's up to you to decide which way they end up getting to you.

    Anger management:

    If you want to play around with the anger management tools a bit, then that means you have to start paying attention to your emotions. A lot of the exercises are probably going to be geared at teaching you to examine your emotions.

    Naturally, you'll have to talk about your emotions with the anger management instructors. It's not because they want to laugh at you. They just want to follow your progress and make sure you're actually learning some new tools for handling your emotions.

    Here is what you've said about the subject of emotions in this thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by Sona View Post
    [...] I don't really have emotions. What am I supposed to write down. Am just lost here. [...]
    Quote Originally Posted by Sona View Post
    Of course I have emotions. I just don't know how to talk about them. [...]
    Quote Originally Posted by Sona View Post
    If it was easy I wouldn't be asking. I suspect everyone else also has a problem with this. Am just going to have to lie, and take a situation where I've seen someone get angry.
    Okay, so it sounds like you're aware that you have emotions, but you don't like paying attention to them or talking about them. When you describe something in your message posts, you routinely include some mention of your emotional state at the time. But you report it as just one more detail among many. You're not really attuned to what you're reporting in your messages. You report the emotional details, but you don't pay attention to them. The emotional content of your messages is just static to you, and an outside person has to point out your emotions in your own posts.

    However, the anger management people want you to become attuned to your emotions. They want you to notice your emotions at the time that they arise and pay attention to them as an important signal. If you become aware of your emotions when difficult situations arise, you'll be in a better position to control and choose your actions more responsibly.

    Strong emotions:

    Naturally, when you have strong emotions like anger, you notice the anger at the time that it arises. But you also notice that the strong emotion turns slippery and difficult to control when it's right there in front of you. Here's a description of how you handle anger:

    Quote Originally Posted by Sona View Post
    [...] The thing is when am angry am angry. I don't rember things when I'm angry. I could have a massive angry argument with say the lady at Greg's just because she said I should say "please" and I don't understand where all that angry just came from in go. And then like a few hrs later I'll completely forget what I was angry over and I'll sit there thinking why was I angry. Then what gets me more angry for being angry over stupid things. Then I tell myself now I'm being angry for being angry, maybe I shouldn't be angry but then am at a conflict with myself telling myself am so angry am calming myself down or tricking my self into calming my anger. Then I think I don't have to fear anyone I'll be angry if I want to be angry. [...]
    The sensation of anger feels so slippery and out-of-control that you end up feeling incompetent with your own emotions: You get angry at yourself for getting angry. Your own emotions become so frustrating that you try to ignore them. And that's when they get out of control and get you in trouble.

    So your anger management instructors try to teach you to practice with your emotions and become more competent at handling them. They give you practice sessions where you can look at your emotions in a safe setting and learn how to handle them. It's like a martial arts class: The instructors teach you how to handle bullies in a safe practice setting.

    The first step, of course, is simply to start noticing your emotions. You need to quit treating them like static or uncomfortable details. You have to face them straight on and learn how to handle them the same way you would face a bully straight on and handle him. You don't have to like your emotions (very often I don't like my own emotions), but you do have to be able to spot them and deal with them honestly and straightforwardly.

    In-depth (Introduction):

    I won't go very far in-depth. But I'll write up a separate post on why your anger turns so slippery and hard to manage. If you can see the mechanism making your emotions so hard to manage, maybe it will give you confidence that the emotions can be handled and controlled with a little practice.

    I'll try to keep it basic. You're a smart guy, and you can do your own research if you want more.

    But right now I'm going to take a break. I'll post the in-depth section later. If you want a preview, go to wikipedia and look up "defense mechanisms." Look up the "List of defense mechanisms" partway down the page. Here's the link:


  2. #42
    Join Date
    Jul 2007


    FineLine, thanks. I will be responding to you soon. Some really interesting things you've actually highlighted, am actually surprised.

  3. #43


    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    I'll write up a separate post on why your anger turns so slippery and hard to manage. If you can see the mechanism making your emotions so hard to manage, maybe it will give you confidence that the emotions can be handled and controlled with a little practice.

    Okay, I'll try to wrap this up pretty quick. I'm going to oversimplify my descriptions so that I can move quickly through the subject matter. If you want more detail, go to the link for defense mechanisms. Here is the link again:

    Defence mechanism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Disclaimer 1: By the way, this part about defense mechanisms is traditional Freudian psychology, which might make it controversial for some folks. But it's well within the mainstream of psychology today. Better yet, it's well within everyone's daily routine. Everyone should be able to relate to the basics on a personal level.

    Disclaimer 2: Also, I'm not a shrink. I'm just an amateur who has read up on this stuff a bit. Take it with a grain of salt and do your own reading on this stuff.

    Defense Mechanisms:

    The Wikipedia link (above) lists 21 different Defense Mechanisms ("DMs"). Furthermore, many of the DMs listed in the "List of Defense Mechanisms" are actually links and have their own separate sections with additional breakdowns. For example if you click on the "Denial" link, the separate section on "Denial" lists six different types of denial. So all in all, there are a hell of a lot of different DMs.

    Here is how they work.

    Let's set up a scenario. (Scenario A.) I'm in the city commuting to work in the morning and I'm getting off the subway to go to my office. Some other guy is trying to get on the subway too fast and he bumps into me and accidentally scuffs my shoe with his shoe. Most mornings, a bump and a scuff wouldn't be a big deal. It's crowded, shit happens, and it's usually not even worth noticing the incident or saying anything.

    But let's change up the scenario. (Scenario B.) Let's say that my workplace is undergoing a downsizing, people are being laid off, and I'm kind of worried about whether I might be laid off too. So I'm kind of stressed out when I'm going into work in the mornings. And when that guy bumps into me and scuffs my shoe, I'm instantly furious at him and would like nothing better than to cuss him out or even push him aside.

    That's a defense mechanism (DM) at work. It's called "Displacement." I have this big emotional charge of anger and frustration about my job stuck inside me, and it's looking for a way to get out. When the other guy presents a target, my anger about my job gets "displaced" into anger at the guy in the subway door and I suddenly want to make him a scapegoat for everything that's going wrong in my life.

    There are good displacements and there are bad displacements. Let's say that the frustrations keep building all day and little things keep getting on my nerves. Punching the guy on the subway, putting my fist through a wall at work, or yelling at the secretary at work would be unacceptable displacements. But punching a pillow on the couch to blow off steam, or going out for a long run at lunchtime to clear my head would be acceptable.

    As long as it doesn't get out of hand, the "Displacement" DM is a perfectly common and NORMAL way of handling emotion. But the burden is on me to choose responsibly between acceptable and unacceptable displacements.

    The "Denial" DM:

    Some people get in the habit of using the DM called "Denial." Basically, they just ignore their emotions outright. It's like when you have a small cut on your finger, but you deliberately ignore the pain until you forget about it and simply cease to notice the pain anymore.

    So here is Scenario C: When I wake up in the morning, I remember that my job is threatened by the downsizing at work and I start feeling some anxiety in the pit of my stomach. But I tell myself that fear is for wimps, and I'm not a wimp. So I drum the anxiety out of my head by simply refusing to think about my work situation. I'm serene and cool. And when the guy bumps me on the subway, I feel a moment of irritation and maybe even intense anger. But I figure it's beneath me to get angry about something so silly, so I direct my attention elsewhere and I'm instantly serene again.

    "Denial" is a pretty good DM, and people use it all the time. But it's mainly good for getting over minor or short-lasting irritations (that is, irritations that only have a very low emotional charge associated with them). It's not so good for trying to bottle up big doses of anxiety (like anxiety about my job). Big doses of anxiety have a big emotional charge attached to them, and that emotional charge wants to get out and zap something. In fact, it takes a lot of energy to bottle up that big dose of emotional energy. In effect, you're doubling the emotional charge: 1 measure of charge is attached to the anxiety, and 1 measure of charge is used to cap off the anxiety and keep it down out of sight.

    In other words, as I walk around throughout the day I'm feeling serene and calm; but there's actually a huge tug-of-war going on underneath with large expenditures of energy involved. Furthermore, the energy underneath is still trying to get out and it will try to use other DMs. So little irritations will keep pushing my buttons during the day, and I'll have to expend more and more energy trying to keep my cool and pretend everything's just fine.

    So let's say it's the end of the day, and I'm exhausted after a long day of petty irritations (although I'm also proud of myself for staying calm and serene through it all). I go to a restaurant and order supper, but the waitress is snotty and gets on my nerves. All of a sudden, I feel furious at the waitress. I manage to hold my tongue until she's gone, but then I just sit there steaming at her. And the more I try to control my anger, the more it spews forth. The emotional energy has been trying out different DM channels all day, and I've been capping those channels all day; but now I'm exhausted and vulnerable and the emotional charge has grown to huge proportions, and now the caps are blowing off all the different channels all at the same time. Even if I manage to reason that my anger is out of proportion to the waitress's snootiness, then suddenly I become angry at myself for getting angry at the waitress (that's a new DM channel called "Inversion"). The anger seems out of control, and every little further irritation just gets me even more furious.

    Hopefully you see where I'm going with this...

    The "Intellectualization" DM:

    Just for the heck of it, here is one more DM:

    NTs are sometimes prone to using the "Intellectualization" DM to deal with emotions and frustrations. It's similar to the "Denial" DM in that they bottle up the emotional charge and refuse to deal with it or even recognize that it exists. But NTs do deal with the problem at least partially by examining it intellectually.

    Basically, "Intellectualization" releases some of the anxiety. Anxiety actually has several different components, and "intellectualization" can help reduce some of the pressure of strong emotions. That way NTs can keep the remainder out of sight longer than a pure "Denier."

    Potentially NTs can get in a situation where they release half the frustration (the "intellectual" portion) and keep the other half (the purely emotional portion) bottled up indefinitely. But the danger here is that they are still using up energy to cap up the bottled portion (the purely emotional portion). All that bottling-up of even minor amounts of emotion can become draining over the long-term and leave them listless and perceiving life as draining and exhausting.

    (Or, in an alternate scenario, NTs can get in a habit of always snapping at everyone around them and "bleeding out" their pent-up emotional charge in unacceptable ways on a constant basis.)

    Anger management solutions:

    If used in moderation and in ways that are appropriate to the emotions, all the various DMs are good, common, normal ways of handling the ebb and flow of emotions during the day. For example, it would be a good mix to "Deny" petty irritations with minimal emotional charge; and then you can "Intellectualize" medium-size irritations in order to release some charge immediately while bottling up the more toxic emotions for later; and then you can "Displace" the big frustrations with a hard workout at the gym after work and blow off any residual steam that way.

    DMs all have their good points and bad points. None of them are perfect. But you can play with them and mix and match them for good emotional control.

    But that means you have to be pretty sophisticated in handling your emotions.

    First off, you have to get attuned to your emotions and recognize that they are there with you. It helps to develop some simple self-analysis techniques. For example, stop and ask yourself how your day is going. If the day isn't going well and it seems like everyone is pushing your buttons, that's often a sign that you're bottling something up. Maybe it's time to take a break and go for a walk around the block.

    Second off, you have to develop some flexibility in how you blow off steam. Most people with anger management problems have probably gotten in a rut and are only using one DM. It may work well temporarily, but all DMs have their weaknesses and breaking points. So try new things: Meditation, exercise, a walk in the open air, punching a pillow, etc.

    Third off, it would help if you can become sophisticated enough about emotions to analyze where the original emotion came from. If you can pinpoint the correct source of the emotion, you can be that much more efficient in dealing with it and discharging the emotional charge in an acceptable manner. Not all DMs work equally well for all different kinds of emotional issues.

    I'm sure your anger management course will come up with some other things that they want you to learn. But from the little I know about the subject from my amateur reading, these are the kinds of things they'll want you to learn. Emotions can be complex and there can be a lot of emotional ebb and flow during the day. So they'll probably want you to show more awareness of your emotions and also to start finding socially acceptable ways to discharge emotion before it builds up to critical mass and explodes in everyone's face.


  4. #44


    Quote Originally Posted by Sona View Post
    FineLine, thanks. I will be responding to you soon. Some really interesting things you've actually highlighted, am actually surprised.

  5. #45
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007


    I really hope that Sona learns to deal with his emotions more consciously. He really does imply a lot of things about his underlying emotional state without realizing them, some of which he doesn't even acknowledge. I think it would really be helpful for him to learn how to deal with his emotions, but I really think they should have been more sensitive to how difficult it is for him to express them as directly as they're asking him to.

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