“ HURT sat like a giant boulder on his chest…the PAIN was sharp…he saw only BLACK, nothing but black space, then it shifted and there were spikes of RED, transforming in to molten lava, spreading through him. Spewing VENOM and rage, the molten lava he saw became a boiling cauldron of FURY… he saw himself standing on top of a mountain and screaming……”I’m ROARING WITH RAGE; I’m a supernova!“
Those powerful words are paraphrased from the book Grief Works..Stories of Life, Death and Survival by the grief psychotherapist Julia Samuel.
It sums up the pure energy and passion that surrounds the innate feeling of anger that most of us, at some time in our lives, can experience. In this particular case it is a young man trying to connect to the pain he is experiencing at the loss of his brother from suicide.
Over the past year we have all been living in a climate of extreme emotional states. Fear came to the top of the list for most , but looking a little further we start to see much more… Anxiety, intense grief, depression and as time goes on, disappointment and frustration leading to anger. A huge sense of loss is also running deep, fuelled by the divisions created within our society and the further restriction of our freedom.
Lockdown has caused us to stagnate, to stand still, to feel restricted in our natural expression. Reacting initially to the moment when the pandemic hit we all happily took some time out, and blessed with the best of British sunshine, took advantage of a break in routine. But as the winter months approached it hasn’t been as easy…
When thinking about this situation, it became clear that recognition of anger is my legacy from this…lt has been a default position for me, which l have to admit throughout my own life, still reigns supreme when the chips are down.
Therefore coming to this stage of my development as a Homeopath it seemed an entirely appropriate point at which to start a journey into trying to understand what anger is all about. By helping not only myself but others who may be suffering the consequences of what is often accepted as a normal emotion.
● So, What is Anger?
The Buddhists tell us that anger is a delusion, countered by patience brought about by the letting go of attachments and an acceptance of karma and reincarnation. This may well be the case, but tell that to a young child who’s screaming and throwing a seemingly irrational temper tantrum while cutting the points of a large molar through new skin, and you may see a different view! That expression of anger from intolerable pain is an innate response and perfectly natural.
Anger is a normal healthy response in humans, serving us as part of our survival. It can be a reaction to being attacked, deceived, or unjustly treated and if handled appropriately can help us identify problems or prevent harm, as well as motivate and create positive change to achieve our goals.
Fundamentally it helps us stay safe and defend ourselves by activating the innate fight or flight fear response when faced with dangerous situations.
It can be an alarm, something to flag up an issue that needs addressing and if you connect to it, recognize what it is and allow it to move and flow freely it can be a very powerful force for good. Taking possession and owning one’s anger is a practice to be learnt and can have a positive impact on our lives.
● When is Anger a problem?
Although anger needs an expression, it should not be harmful or destructive to yourself or others. As a default response it can block our ability to feel other emotions and have a negative effect on mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Not developing a healthy way to deal with anger can wreck havoc on our lives and of those around us… Anger, like all emotions must flow.
● Expressions of Anger.
Everyone expresses anger differently but on a basic level it tends to be aggression directed in three ways…
- OUTWARD aggression… can lead to violent, or threatening behaviour, shouting, swearing, hitting, throwing things and physical or verbal abuse directed at others. Here the underlying issue tends to be one of feeling out of control and blaming others for those feelings.
- INWARD aggression…where feelings of hatred and anger start to be directed at self. It can manifest in eating disorders, or a denial of social contact, leading to actual physical actions of harm to the body. A deep sensation of mental and emotional pain coupled with a need to regain control often fuels this behaviour.
- PASSIVE aggression…where anger becomes suppressed in a non violent but destructive nature without explicit anger or aggression e.g. ignoring or refusing to speak to someone, being sarcastic or sulky, not conforming to others plans, missing deadlines, or deliberately performing poorly. This creates a sense of disempowerment, and the inability to process these feelings can underline this type of reaction.
Where does Anger come from..
Anger is fuelled by many more things than just those mentioned above. The fear people have experienced recently is one of the biggest motivations. When people feel fearful and threatened they can lash out as an automatic response.
Also very closely linked to the emotions of intense grief, playing a role in coping with the sensation of loss that is experienced at that time. It is acknowledged that anger is just one of several stages the bereaved passes through and can revisit at any time on the journey to acceptance.
The quote… ”I sat with my anger long enough that she told me her name was grief” …clearly demonstrates the link between the two emotions.
The Foundations of Anger..
As well as the natural responses to our safety, other factors can affect us as we grow up. How we react can depend a lot on the experiences we encounter in childhood…
Growing up in an aggressive household a child may learn that is ok to express anger to get what they want, regardless of its consequences, as they know no different. This behaviour then goes on to cause major problems in their life.
Children may be punished for expressing their natural anger response and learn to suppress the emotion and hide their feelings, although as a consequence reacting inappropriately in other situations. This may then cause them to unconsciously turn the anger on themselves in a self harm way.
Witnessing anger between parents and family members can be terrifying for a child and, in order to cope, they can learn to cut off, or disconnect with their feelings, causing great anxiety as the emotions have nowhere to go.
Any of these, and many other past experiences, can colour our view of the world and affect our reactions in the future making it uncomfortable and difficult to cope with emotions generally.
What does Anger feel like?
ACUTE reactions are linked to the endocrine system releasing hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream..you may feel hot, sweaty, with an increase in heartbeat and a full, pounding sensation in the head. Muscles may become tense, clenching fists and shaking, trembling or dizziness may occur. You may “see red”, feel a rising in the throat and want to scream or roar to release the inner feelings. A desire to hit out or run away, or a complete blackout can occur from a sense of overwhelm.
CHRONIC anger that doesn’t leave you can be like white hot coals on a barbeque which although look benign, like an exposed nerve, if touched can cause real pain. Where the acute chemical reaction remains in the body and does not rebalance, it can cause chronic inflammation in the system resulting in disease.
How does Anger affect us?
When anger becomes blocked in our bodies it can begin to show in symptoms of illness on all levels..
• Headaches, migraines, hypertension, cardiac problems and stroke are linked to tension and the heart, blood circulation and kidney function.
• Digestive complaints.. indigestion can literally be the inability to digest our feelings. Inflammatory conditions like ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis and irritable bowel are more often than not attributed to stress.
• Throat symptoms can manifest where feelings cannot be voiced and have to be “swallowed.” Thyroid disease can result from a lack of emotional expression.
• Skin issues like eczema and psoriasis are often triggered by anger and stress.
• Liver diseases and gallstones can have their cause linked to anger that has become stagnant over long periods of time.
• Anxiety, stress and depression then leads to more serious mental health issues.
• Sleep paralysis and insomnia, adds even more tension and irritability.
• Eating disorders, alcohol or drug abuse are used as an escape mechanism.
• The immune system becomes seriously compromised where chronic levels of stress occur from unresolved anger and aggression.
The HOLISTIC view of Anger…
The liver and gall bladder are recognized as the organs connected to anger and indecision, with the eyes being the sensory paired organs, and as such help us “see the way” forward. “Venting one’s spleen” is an expression used to describe an anger response and the spleen is another organ in this area which has a direct link to the immune system.
The adrenal glands are situated above the kidneys and fear is the emotion here, with the ear being the linked sensory organ.
Anger, coupled again with fear, is closely related in the vital organs of the body. We see, hear, feel and act according to our unique interpretation of a situation and then manifest our own particular group of symptoms depending on our individual susceptibility.
Can HOMEOPATHY help Anger?
By treating the person, not the ailment, we use our remedies to stimulate the body’s natural healing process on all levels. Consequently, in relation to anger and its related emotions, Homeopathy has a lot to offer..
Let’s start by looking at the Repertory..our Dictionary of Symptoms..
Under the rubric ANGER we find over 260 remedies, of which more than 80 are in bold type. These are high grade remedies with an action over a wide range of symptom expressions.
There are then 121 sub rubrics, covering every combination of anger response experienced by the human race, from anxiety through to violence and weakness.
With such a huge number of remedies to choose from the Practitioner will spend time with the patient listening to their story and start to see the underlying causes of their discomfort. Anger is often a secondary emotion and in many cases, like an onion, layers will need to be gently peeled off before it comes to the fore. Having an insight into family background also helps give a better view on the patient response and symptom picture.
Through treatment with the appropriate homeopathic remedies physical symptoms can begin to settle and, accompanied by an increase in awareness, the ability to process the anger and move on becomes easier for the patient.
CHAMOMILLA: remembering our distraught teething infant earlier, here is the number one remedy for pain in dentition where anger becomes the outlet. This is anger from intolerable pain and can be seen in adults as well as children. It is the “toys out of the pram” scenario. With complaints from anger and vexation, we see temperamental, over sensitive individuals demanding immediate relief from the pain. Anger is their natural weapon and the aggression of Chamomilla can be very effective and powerful. Abdominal symptoms of colic from anger, congestive headaches, painful menstrual cramps feature among many other symptoms. This is an anger that is definitely not suppressed.
BRYONIA: The “ bear with the sore head”. They want to be left alone, dislike being touched, with a tendency to great irritability, grumpiness and bad temper. Physical symptoms are better for not moving and for pressure, so a cough is much better for holding the chest. There is dryness in the character and in their physical symptoms. With a real fear of poverty, they worry and talk about their business when ill….The fear and uncertainty over the economy, coupled with upper respiratory illness means Bryonia has also been one of the main remedies indicated in treatment of pneumonia during the recent coronavirus pandemic.
NUX VOMICA: Road rage is the expression of explosive anger…visualise the angry businessman, up against deadlines and targets striving in a world of fierce competition, feeling inefficient and somewhat inadequate, running late and getting caught in traffic. He survives on a diet of coffee, alcohol and junk food until the liver and digestive tract say no…then comes the dyspepsia followed by spasmodic pains of irritable bowel and ulcerative colitis, with insomnia and bursting headaches. The liver detoxifies the blood but becomes congested from abuse, resulting in the symptoms seen here. Although thought of as a male remedy, the “lioness with cubs” scenario can be seen in the female Nux when family members are threatened or in danger..in this case an entirely appropriate survival response.
● THE LIVER: Whena vital organ like the liver becomes directly compromised or blocked, symptoms, as the language of the body, will gradually appear.. starting with a hungover feeling, dry mouth on waking, a furred yellow coating on the tongue, deranged digestion and poor assimilation of nutrients resulting in dry skin, hair and nails. Constipation, haemorrhoids, right sided varicose veins, and broken “spider” veins are also part of the picture. There can be an aching pain in the region of the liver, and in the case of the gall bladder, stones or blocked ducts causing nausea, vomiting, jaundice and fever. More serious diseases like hepatitis and cirrhosis can also occur.
ORGAN SUPPORT REMEDIES:
Carduus Mariannus, Chelidonium and Chelone Glabra all have a characteristic drainage action on the liver. Given daily in herbal tincture or low potency, they help to tonify the liver and gall bladder, and alongside Berberis the gall bladder and kidney, and Ceanothus the spleen. Working by stimulating the body’s natural processes to keep the vital energy flowing and ensure efficient elimination of toxins from the system.
CHELIDONIUM in particular has a great affinity to the liver and is complementary to the deep acting polycrest Lycopodium, which is also often prescribed for liver problems. The Chelidonium patient cannot integrate their anger and aggression, it builds up inside and they are unable to release it, manifesting in problems with the liver and gallbladder coupled with eye symptoms. It can bring a better perspective by literally “opening the eyes” to help people express their thoughts and see things more realistically.
STAPHYSAGRIA: the Queen of suppressed anger. Made from the seeds of the beautiful Larkspur, is described as being “too dignified to fight.” Quietly striving to be respected they often feel their unhappiness is the fault of others. Being unable to speak out since childhood, for fear of being shamed and humiliated, a strong sense of indignation and mortification is the underlying feeling and they have a tendency to take everything personally. Although aware of their anger, it becomes passive in expression..she is extremely good at sarcasm and when at last that volcanic anger is released… things get thrown, usually at the perpetrator! With an affinity to the bladder and sexual organs Staphysagria is very effective at treating urinary tract infections, as well as the common post-birth feelings of disappointment, and where feelings of violation or invasion occur from medical intervention and examinations. The link between the liver, anger and the eyes is very clear here with symptoms of recurrent styes, cysts of the meibomian glands, blepharitis and hardening of fibrous tissue of the eyelid. It is also a most efficient wound healer where incisions are made by sharp instruments and, as such, particularly useful after surgical procedures.
MIASMATIC expressions of anger…Miasms are inherited traits from the chronic disease suppression of previous generations. We all have layers of miasmatic influence and each one has its own particular experience of anger.
CARCINOSIN: this miasmatic remedy is a combination of all the other miasms, as well as reflecting many other polycrests. The patient has a long history of suppression and domination that results in a disconnection with their own needs. They become the doormat..where duty always comes first and a loss of identity of self is the norm, smiling sweetly while being taken advantage of. Chronic fatigue, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive behaviour, nail biting and other forms of passive self harm coming from an unfelt, UNRECOGNIZED feeling of anger and chaos that, as such, has nowhere to go but into itself. As a mixture of so many remedy pictures we see all the fears and anxieties, allergies, a sense of wanting to escape but being unable, skin problems and growths, then the destructive diseases like autoimmune disorders and ultimately, in some cases, cancer.
Giving Carcinosin as an intercurrent remedy can gently reconnect the patient with their emotions and bring other remedy pictures to the fore, starting the process of moving forward. With Carcinosin removing the maintaining cause, Staphysagria often appears as the anger surfaces and is then employed to disperse the feelings, clearing the way for more healing to take place.
Connection to our anger, as an emotion, is essential for good health. Whatever techniques work to bring that connection about are beneficial. Homeopathy combined with physical movement or sound can really help to get the emotions flowing comfortably, building strength and resilience to cope with what the feelings are and to recognise when they occur and how to deal with them.
We all have that inner volcano, and from time to time in life we may need it to erupt. But, unlike a supernova, after the luminous explosion it must not leave a burnt out core of darkness in us. Being aware of the triggers that ignite the spark, enables us to connect with that stage, while disconnecting with the story that fuels it, allowing a continual development of strategies to improve our wellbeing and achieve better outcomes in our life.
In essence..HOMEOPATHY can help you find your mountain, release that power, and bring you back into balance…to calmly face another day.
References and Bibliography:
Samuel, Julia: Grief Works, Stories of Life ,Death and Surviving. When a sibling dies..pg 117. Penguin Life Random House UK 2018.
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso: Introduction to Buddhism, an explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life. Part 3 The Perfection of Patience. pg 84. Tharpa Publications UK 2001
Gascoigne Dr.S. The Clinical Medicine Guide A Holistic Perspective. Chapter 14, Central nervous system, Holistic energetic view of the Liver pg 266. Jigme Press UK. 2001
Tabrett D: Burnett Rediscovered, Section 1 Organopathy , List of organ remedies, Materia Medica of leading organ remedies, synorganopathy. Narayana Verlag: DE.2017
Kubler-Ross Elizabeth M.D: On Death and Dying. IV second stage: Anger pg 44. Tavistock Publications UK.1978
Miles, Martin: Homeopathy and Human Evolution. Chapter 6 The Liver and Spleen. Winter Press UK. 1992
Miller Alice: For Your Own Good, The Roots of Violence in Child-rearing. Virago Press. U.K. 1992
Repertory and Materia Medica:
Murphy Robin N.D: Homeopathic Clinical Repertory 3rd edition A Modern Alphabetical and Practical Repertory. MIND, Anger pg 1509-1512. Lotus Health Institute U.S.A: 2005
Kent J.T: Materia Medica of Homeopathic Remedies pg 414 Chamomilla. Homeopathic Book Service.UK: 1989
Murphy Robin N.D: Nature’s Materia Medica 3rd edition 1,400 Homeopathic and Herbal Remedies. Lotus Health Institute. U.S.A: 2006
Mangiolavori, Massimo: Homeopathy for Anger and Mortification. Important remedies for Anger and Mortification..Chelidonium and Staphysagria. Narayana Verlag: DE. 2008
Bailey, Philip: Homeopathic Psychology, Personality Profiles of the Major Constitutional Remedies. North Atlantic Books. U.S.1995.
Pitt, Richard: Comparative Materia Medica, Integrating New and Old Remedies. Lalibela Publishing. US.2015
Souter Dr.K: Homeopathy: Heart and Soul, Treatment for Emotional Problems. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. Delhi. 1996
Understanding Anger by Dave McKeown Counselling Services, Helston Cornwall. Autumn 2017.