When I was a kid, I had a bad temper. If things weren’t going the way I wanted them to, I would react by yelling and throwing things. Although I don’t yell and throw things much anymore, anger is still part of my life in more subtle ways when I see people acting unjustly or when I feel I have been personally wronged. I tend to be a rule follower, and it frequently bothers me when I see someone breaking (what I regard to be) “the rules” and not being held accountable.
In The Anger Workbook, Drs. Les Carter and Frank Minirth have written a helpful guide for people who struggle to manage their anger. It is, as the title indicates, a workbook, which means it invites an active participation from the reader. On nearly every page, the authors ask questions and provide space for readers to write their responses. It comes in four parts: The first part is about identifying anger. In it, Carter and Minirth define anger as an intent to preserve personal worth, essential needs, or basic convictions (10). They make the case that anger has many manifestations. In other words, it isn’t just people who yell and throw things who might have a problem with anger. They argue that there are five ways to handle anger: Suppression, Open Aggression, Passive Aggression, Assertiveness, or Dropping It (26). They encourage their readers to avoid the first three, and choose which of the last two is most appropriate in the circumstances. In the second part, they argue that anger thrives on unmet needs. People tend to respond in anger, for example, when they feel unloved or controlled. In the third part, they explore how other emotions cause anger. The other emotions they look at are pride, fear, loneliness, and feelings of inferiority. They wrap up the book in the fourth part with three chapters: one for parents on dealing with anger in their children, one arguing that anger tends to linger when we rationalize it, and one encouraging readers to be accountable to others in their process of anger management.
This is a helpful book for those who experience anger in any of its various manifestations, which is really all of us. Some people’s anger causes more problems than others, but I would go so far as to say that none of us is completely healthy in all the ways we express anger. We could all stand to grow in this area. One important thing to point out about this book is that Carter and Minirth write from a Christian perspective. Thus, this book will be most helpful to those readers who are Christians, or who are open to allowing the God Christians worship to help them express their anger appropriately and productively.
Note: Thanks to Thomas Nelson for a review copy of this book.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Reading Length: 248 pages
Rating: 4 stars