Episode 84 – Anger

Nov 7, 2019


Anger is a core human emotion. Newborns express instinctual cries of protest, and many a mythological god has wreaked archetypal havoc. Cultural norms around anger range from keeping a stiff upper lip to highly extraverted forms of expression. There are overall differences in how men and women tend to express anger; differences in temperament as well as situational stressors contribute to the intensity and frequency of angry feelings. Anger, like other emotions, is a source of information: it tells us when we feel violated in some way, and is linked to self-preservation. If fiery feelings can be understood first as a call to containment and self-reflection rather than reaction, it can fuel strategic thinking, emotional maturation and productive action.


“I was in a national forest alone, wandering around. I spotted a giant bird lying face down in a clearing. It had dark purple feathers on its back, and I knew I should try to collect some, since that is what my sister would do. I reached over and quickly pulled a handful out. I got three purple feathers. The bird turned out to actually be alive. It jumped up and I jumped back in fear, dropping the feathers on the ground. There were three people in the distance, that I couldn’t visually see but I understood them to be my classmates. They exclaimed, “she is so crazy to do that.” I wanted to get the feathers back, but I was too afraid and ashamed to get them.” 


Lerner, Harriet. The Dance of Anger (Amazon). 

Winnicott, Donald Hate in the Counter-Transference.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov ‘ pmc ‘ articles ‘ PMC3330380

#ThisJungianLife #AnalyticalPsychology #JungianAnalysis #Archetype

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  1. Nicholas B

    Found the constant references to gender in this episode both insightful and irritating. Particularly insightful was the point made that women have a fantasy of the “ease” of male anger which is really about boys and not men. Irritating that the two female presenters laughed off the serious point made that female anger can cause real harm to men – they continued to disown responsibility for anger in women (“its not easy for us as we feel guilty about it”). Here they seemed to embody the very stereotype of female manipulation around anger whilst missing the opportunity to confront it. That said some key points particularly about channelling the anger energy and ‘containing’ rather than ‘becoming’ the emotion.

    • Lara A

      Based on Nicholas’s comment above, and on Joseph’s observation about women’s anger, I am trying to understand if men feel that every single time women get angry that means men are seriously hurt or threatened, OR if men feel that there is a particular kind of anger, which women sometimes express, that hurts men. The fact that many men fail to differentiate between the these two things can leave many women frustrated (and perhaps dismissive) because it just seems like no matter what women do, they can never ever be angry, in any capacity, around men without “eviscerating” the latter. Indeed, if men feel this way about women, it should come as no surprise that many women really do feel that they don’t have the right to be angry, and that when anger comes up they feel guilty about it.

      • Joseph Lee

        Hi Lara,
        This is a very nuanced question, which I appreciate. I think it deserves a much fuller treatment but in short I would say – Anger that is directed toward anyone with the intent to harm them in any way is problematic and needs to be questioned and confronted. Anger that is a declaration of one’s inner experience, owned with full responsibility and communicated as an expression of self can actually be healing and deeply intimate.
        ~ Joseph

        • Lara A

          Thank you, Joseph! That is a helpful distinction and leaves me hopeful that I can own my anger or aggression while also being able to not hurt others unnecessarily.

  2. Betsy Andrews

    I have to disagree about the difference between the culture of boys and the culture of men that Joseph is claiming. We are having a HUGE reckoning around male aggression in the workplace, and I don’t understand why you aren’t acknowledging that. It’s very possible men just don’t recognize other men’s anger and aggression because they’re living inside of it. But women DO see it, and we are aggressively put in our place by it. And in so far as girls’ aggression and boys’ aggression, it is important to understand that girls, as very much oppressed in the patriarchy, turn on each other as an outlet. And my final point in contrast with Joseph’s analysis is that “other women are resilient to a woman’s anger,” you have obviously never been a woman with a frightening, angry mother, and even moreso, a woman in an intimate relationship with another woman who is angry. I encourage you to think beyond your heteronormativity.

  3. David Koskela

    I believe that the subject of gender is richly nuanced from a sexual, historical, cultural and spiritual perspectives. All of these are so complex and intertwined into the psyche of each of us. Alice Miller in Though Shalt Not Be Aware, The Drama of the Gifted Child and The Untouched Key, consistently shows how childhood trauma, physical and psychological, can and does adversely shape each of us, regardless of gender itself. There is much to be said, from my own experience in analysis and as a therapist working with others, that supports the the notion of the connections we all have in common around this subject that is not exclusively gender specific.
    In my experience; most people who are willing to look into the abyss and integrate their psychic injury into living out the truth of who they are seem to do significantly better in categorically living out their relationships with others. Anyone who is or has seriously engaged in analysis can attest to how difficult, complex and uncomfortable this process can be. The paradox is that this work is precisely where the truth of who we are lies. I dare say the collective response to our psychic injuries is reflected in our angry responses towards one another and our projections. Sometime it feels as if it is getting worse especially in political, societal and other world crises like the war in Ukraine.
    I wonder what the next incarnation of humankind will be like? I wonder if we will be better or worse off? If the transformation I have experienced in my life and in others is any indication; I am hopeful!


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