Question: My son has developed over the last 12 months, an inability to control his anger, which is generally initiated by his girlfriend. He is attemping to help her by redirecting her focus away from hard drugs to her strengths and continuing her secondary education (she is 19, he 22). But the issue distressing this family, is his anger. He becomes very verbal, loses colour in his face, sweats profusely, and has reached the hyperventilation stage. He has also damaged property around the house in an attempt to diffuse the intensity. He understands the warning signs but in the heat of the moment, is unable to walk away from the origin. Today, my husband (his father) tried to hold him to control the shaking and both ended up with injuries. I am feeling extremely down and helpless as his nature has always been so easy going. He is willing to commence anger management therapy. What do you suggest?
Answer: Though this is undoubtedly a highly emotionally charged situation for your son, the extent of his reactions do not seem appropriate or in proportion to what is happening. Whatever this scenario with the girlfriend triggers within him, it is severe and you're right to be concerned. I think it might be more than an anger management problem. He needs to understand what's going on, what the situation is provoking within him and why his reactions are so extreme. When he understands the origin of these overwhelming feelings, he will then be in a better position to control and modify his own rage and behaviour. He's much too big and old to physically restrain. For everyone's sake, please help him find a competent therapist as soon as possible, before an avoidable disaster occurs.
Answer provided by David White, Psychotherapist
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