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Relax, Don't Do It!

Relax, Don't Do It!

By Faith Smith

We all need to let off a little steam now and again, whether it's kicking a door with all our might or beating up a pillow. A bit of the old violence towards inanimate objects can prevent us from going through the roof. But a psychologist from the University of Arkansas says that venting anger doesn't work and instead we should take a long, deep breath.

Jeffrey M. Lohr has spent a lot of his time investigating the effects of venting anger but has repeatedly come to the conclusion: that it is at best ineffective, and in some cases harmful.

Lohr, with the help of fellow researchers Timothy Cavell and Kenya Malcolm, studied the theory of catharsis - emotional release from negative feelings - which Aristotle and Sigmund Freud were both strong supporters of. But the psychologists have found the theory doesn't hold up under scientific examination.

"If venting really does get anger 'out of your system', then venting should result in a reduction of both anger and aggression. Unfortunately for catharsis theory, the results showed precisely the opposite effect", Lohr and colleagues wrote.

Getting angry and violent doesn't help.  Take a deep breath and count to ten.  Don't kick a kitten,

Lohr and his colleagues found in all their studies that subjects who vented their anger, whether it was verbally or physically (against inanimate objects), showed more resentment than those who had not vented.

The reason we shouldn't vent our anger, as Lohr notes, is that after time anger dissipates. Furthermore, it dissipates faster when people take deep breaths or relax.

So next time I'm ready to explode I'll hug that pillow instead of beating the living daylights out of it.

Hulk courtesy of Bryan Hitch/Marvel Comics
Angry folk thanks to: Thom W, Jyn Meyer,
Andy Heyward,
Crystal Fithen & Bob Smith

Your Say

If at first you don't succeed, it was never meant to be.
Ritchie B.

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25 May 2010
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