A Discussion with Thomas J. Harbin, Ph.D., author of Beyond Anger

We will be talking to Dr. Thomas Harbin about his speciality, male anger. You can get more information regarding his new book, Beyond Anger, on the Book: Beyond Anger page.

Although the book is titled as a book for men, it is also useful and informative for women with angry men in their lives.

Q: Why are so many men so angry?

Dr. Harbin: There are many reasons. There may be a genetic predisposition to anger, just as there is for many other behavioral traits and problems. Many depressed men express their depression with an increase in irritability. Many men are the sons of angry parents and they learn how to interact with the world by observing their parents and other adults. Finally, many men did not receive much guidance from their fathers. This has led many of them to be resentful. This lack of guidance from their fathers has also left the angry man with few tools for dealing with life’s frustrations and setbacks.

Q: Is anger bad?

Dr. Harbin: Anger is not bad or good. It is an emotion just like any other emotion. What is good or bad is how often a man becomes angry, how angry he gets, what it takes to make him angry, and most importantly, how he deals with his anger.

Q: Why is a man’s anger any different than a woman’s anger?

Dr. Harbin: There are many similarities between a man’s and a woman’s anger. After all, many of the things that make men angry (e.g., getting cut off in traffic) also happen to women. But men live in a different world than women. Many of the things that are important in a man’s life are not as prominent in a woman’s life. To the extent that men and women have different biologies and grow up with different experiences and face different challenges, the expression of their anger will be different. Men are more likely to react to issues of power and competition than women. Men have historically faced different challenges than women. For example, for many men their masculinity is defined by how much money they earn and how well their families live. Men tend to express their anger more violently than women.

Q: What can men do to deal more effectively with their anger?

Dr. Harbin: There are many things that angry men can do to reduce the level of their anger and defuse themselves once they become angry. Many angry men distort the meaning of events around them. For example, they will write off the whole day as a bad day because one little thing went wrong. Men can avoid much of their anger by taking a more realistic view of the world and the people in it. Men are less likely to get overly angry if they are physically healthy. Regular exercise helps many angry men stay in control.

Q: Are most angry men physically abusive?

Dr. Harbin: No. Only a small percentage of angry men ever express their anger by damaging property or hurting people.

Q: What role does male anger play in society at large?

Dr. Harbin: The overwhelming majority of violent crime is committed by young men. In addition to this, angry men make those around them unhappy. So, for every man with an anger problem, you can probably assume that at least one other person is also miserable. Angry men are also more likely to have serious medical problems.

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