Many violent crimes have one common variable: anger. As a criminal defense attorney in Orange County, I have witnessed the role anger plays in violent crimes from domestic abuse to assault to murder. While most people are able to control their feelings of anger to some degree or another, those who commit violent crimes often do so because they do not have the ability to control their anger. While there is certainly a multitude of variables that plays into any violent crime, anger is almost always one of them. And according to an analysis conducted by psychiatrists at Oxford and Maastricht Universities, when anger is combined with impulsiveness, there is a substantially increased risk of a violent outcome. But we don’t need studies to tell us what we already know: many who commit violent crimes have a problem with uncontrolled anger.
That is where anger management comes in. One of the most common exhibitions of uncontrolled anger that ends in arrest is domestic violence and child abuse. A person convicted of either one of these offenses in Orange County will surely be required to attend anger management as a part of the sentence. The defendant so ordered would be wise to take these classes very seriously. Why? A felony domestic violence conviction is the single greatest predictor of a future violent crime. Domestic abusers, if they cannot get their anger under control, will often abuse again…. or worse.
Most anger management courses not only seek to uncover the source of the anger but also provide the necessary skills to control the anger. Let’s review these two components:
In anger management, it is often said that “mad hides sad.” Behind the anger may be feelings of past hurt or shame. It is not uncommon that a person with uncontrolled anger was abused or neglected as a child. Anger may actually play a protective role in the person who has a repressed sense of being vulnerable or who suffers with pain or shame. Anger management helps the individual uncover the feelings that anger masks, without blame or judgment. If you think about it, uncontrolled anger is more often than not a product of childhood experiences. As adults, we carry those experiences into our adult life as the hurt child. There is no blame or shame in that; there is only the permission to recognize the child still living within and to heal. If this sounds too “touchy-feely”, you should know that it is scientifically sound.
It is usually not enough to discover and even heal the underlying reasons for uncontrolled anger; practical skills must be learned to replace the anger behavior that may have become a habit. Anger management helps the participant identify the anger triggers and to respond with alternatives to getting angry. Another skill taught in anger management is identifying thoughts and reactions. Often angry thoughts are not particularly logical or rational. Anger management helps the participant understand why these thoughts lack reasonableness, thus helping the participant change the way he or she thinks when angry thoughts come to mind. Another skill that many anger management participants learn is relaxation. Rather than feeling stress and the “fight or flight” reaction when something triggers anger, the participant is taught skills to relax and stay calm when that feeling of anger threatens to overwhelm.
Some people who struggle with uncontrolled anger use anger as a mechanism to overcome their feelings of helplessness or inability to communicate their needs. Anger management can help these individuals learn to constructively assert themselves thus learning to gain a sense of being in control of their own lives and the circumstances life presents.
Anger management courses vary but most teach these skills and more. If you have been sentenced to an anger management course or even if you think you need it before a judge tells you that you do, there are some excellent resources here in Orange County:
Attorney William Weinberg offers a fee-free confidential consultation If you are need an experienced and effective Orange County criminal defense attorney, contact Mr. Weinberg at 949-474-8008 or by email at email@example.com.