1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

Conscious rage/anger

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Chris GR, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. Chris GR

    Chris GR New Member

    Hi guys:

    I'm in the middle of the education program and loving it so far, but I'm stuck on the concept of anger.

    I understand that TMS is a result of repressed/unconscious rage, and acts as a distraction in the form of physical pain, so that the rage does not surface to my consciousness, but what about perceived rage/anger? Can perceived anger cause TMS symptoms? And if so, if I express that anger towards the individual I am angry with, will that help my TMS? What about simply journaling about the perceived anger?

    Finally, can I have anger/rage about something that resides in both the conscious and unconscious at the same time? I'm probably intellectualizing the heck out of this question, sorry for that!

  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Chris,

    I think there is a "yes" to all your suppositions/questions. Perceived anger may point at deep rage. Knowing you are angry and acknowledging this to yourself, and to the other, helps reduce inner tension. Working with your self judgement and self rejection also helps with TMS. The more conscious, and mindful "allowing" --both internal and external, the more aligned we are, and the less conflicted. We want to be ourselves, and anger has a powerful function. Being ourselves means less tension, less suppression, and over time less repression perhaps, or more awareness. Awareness gives you the connection to the actual cause of TMS, in its specificity.

    On the other hand, just imagining your anger, or how your Inner Child might be enraged about something --conscious or not, this can be a basic go-to for thinking psychologically.

    Also, acting out anger, identifying oneself as "openly angry" does not necessarily mean there is no deeper rage, activated and busy, as Dr. Sarno has told us in a case study or two.

    Great questions you ask, and I think the main practice here is to increase awareness, and allowing, and "think psychological" without worrying too much that you need to find your rage, or other perfect causes. It is the process of asking, of inquiry which itself is the "answer."

    Andy B
    birdsetfree likes this.
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Chris -
    I have to laugh at this - yes, we see us perfectionist types trying to intellectualize the heck out of TMS theory, all the time. It can go too far (at which point it's often not recognized as such by the participants) which is when I lose interest and move on to interact with folks who want to work on their recovery.

    So watch out for that - but that being said, this question about overt anger vs. repressed rage is very common from early TMSers.

    The way I see overt anger (often called rage) is that it is a shallow expression of much deeper, much more personal, rage and fear. If you get angry when your boss or significant other treats you with disrespect, or an aggressive driver cuts you off or takes the parking spot you had your eye on, it is because your primitive brain interprets these actions as threats to your survival - not physical threats that would cause you to flee, but, let's say, territorial threats that might (in a primitive setting) require you to fight back.

    Everyone gets angry - we've all been told that expressing anger is healthy as long as it's done respectfully toward one's self and others. But if overt, frequent, and violent anger is a problem (and now I'm speaking to anyone who might read this) it could actually be a manifestation of TMS - it's really just another distraction from going deep.

    If that's the case, the question that someone might want to ask and examine is: "Why do these particular actions cause this particular reaction?" The answer is often related to childhood family dynamics, and might have something to do with freedom, control, shame, guilt, etc.

    Good luck, keep posting and keep asking!

    birdsetfree likes this.
  4. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think this is a most fundamental, and great inquiry, Jan.
  5. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    In a forum stated to be "in honor of Dr. John Sarno," I want to begin with a couple things he wrote:

    The Mindbody Prescription pp. 165-66: "[T]he anger you know about and express is not the anger causing your pain. . . . [W]e repress anger that violates our image of ourselves. . . . [A]nger you are aware of may be what is known as displaced anger. That is, you become overtly angry at something relatively unimportant, like a traffic tie-up or poor service in a restaurant, instead of at your spouse or a parent, because the latter is simply not allowed by your psyche. This is very common among my patients."

    The Divided Mind p. 141: "I . . . tell my patients that their rage will not come out as it did in Helen's case, for the provocation in her case was exceptional [childhood sexual abuse by her father]. . . . The rule: your rage will not come out. The exception: it may if the provocation is great enough."

    In the context of TMS, I think conscious anger generally is underlain either by anger at a current attachment figure that our psyche does not allow us to experience or by an event that triggers anger at someone who is not a current attachment figure but the event resembles something emotionally painful from our childhood. An example of the latter might be the inattentiveness of a waiter that angers us because it resembles (in our unconscious mind) the inattentiveness of a parent during childhood that was emotionally painful.

    One more possibility, inspired by ISTDP therapist Jon Frederickson, comes to mind that does not involve a current attachment figure or or a current event that resembles childhood emotional trauma. A woman who was raped by a stranger is consciously angry at him. But she is not consciously aware of just how intense that anger is. In fact, she harbors intense murderous rage toward him that is unconscious because her psyche (supergo) has learned “thou shalt not kill, regardless of the provocation.” Her unconscious murderous rage can produce TMS.

    I wonder if this last possibility might extend to anger at an attachment figure. Suppose I am aware of being annoyed at, i.e., somewhat angry at, my spouse, but my psyche makes it taboo for me to be aware of just how intense my anger is. I would hope that (1) my awareness of being annoyed at my spouse and (2) my understanding of what Sarno teaches about how narcissistic and dastardly the id actually is would be enough for me to avoid or avert a TMS episode.
    birdsetfree likes this.
  6. Chris GR

    Chris GR New Member

    Thanks Andy/Jan/Duggit! So much information to absorb, but I'm reading your posts over and over again until the messages really sink in.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  7. Sonic

    Sonic Peer Supporter

    Conscious Anger held for along time can cause symptoms IMO. Anger is a painful emotion to carry.
  8. Chris GR

    Chris GR New Member

    O boy, if that's the case Sonic, can I express that anger in a meaningful way through journaling?
  9. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Brilliant explorations, explanations Duggit!
  10. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    Thanks Andy. I appreciate it. In my perfectionism, however, I am compelled to add that I could have done better.

    Yes, I should not have left out that possibility in what I said above. Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux says memory of a past trauma can activate the autonomic nervous system just as the original event did. I think that is why some people report that journaling makes their TMS pain worse. This can happen if one remembers past relationship trauma in a way that relives it and retriggers unconscious anger at the the person responsible.

    I think the problem can be resolved by forgiveness of the people who have caused us emotional pain in the past. As Steve Ozanich says, life is about relationships. In Chapter 26 of his The Great Pain Deception, titled "Holding Onto Anger," he makes the observation that for people who are extremely angry at life (which I interpret to mean angry about relationships in their life), "TMS then serves as a tool for self-punishment for things they unconsciously think that they have done wrong." This comports with ISTDP, the therapy model used by psychologists who worked with some of Sarno's patients. ISTDP teaches that anger at loved ones triggers guilt, that guilt is the most painful of all emotions so we repress it, and that unconscious guilt triggers self-punishment in one form or another. Chapter 26 contains some wisdom by Steve about how to stop holding onto anger. I think that when a person says, "but I cannot forgive," that translates to "I am not going to get better." Maybe this is a big part of what Steve means when he says you will heal when you are ready.

    There is a video interview with ISTDP therapist Dr. Allan Abbass somewhere on this TMS wiki site in which he says (according to my best effort at transcription): "Emotions that can be helpful are self-acceptance, positive regard for oneself and other people, and forgiveness for oneself and other people. So it involves getting back to basic love and attachment for others. That is difficult to do if a person has a lot of rage toward someone else and guilt about the rage. To remove the old rage and guilt about the past, we [ISTDP therapists] focus on the feelings triggered when the therapist tries to attach to the patient therapeutically, which stirs up all those attachment emotions and provides patients with a moment to feel the emotions, understand themselves, forgive themselves, accept themselves, and understand and accept other people."
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  11. Sonic

    Sonic Peer Supporter

    I would try and let it out somehow. I carried anger for around a year and it made me ill in the end.

    I could feel the emotion almost constantly in the chest. Should have talked to Someone about it but you live and learn. I've learnt to be more open and kind to myself now.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  12. Chris GR

    Chris GR New Member

    Thanks Sonic!
    Sonic likes this.

Share This Page