Anger Management For Dummies
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Anger specialists have described the difference between what’s known as state and trait anger. Trait anger refers to a chronic, long-standing personality characteristic that shows up as an almost constant tendency to become angry at the slightest provocation. State anger refers to temporary, short-lasting outbursts of anger.
  • People with high trait anger have very low boiling points. People with high trait anger run into lots of interpersonal conflicts, problems at work, and health problems.

  • Episodes of state anger are considered appropriate in many situations and often call for problem solving. The appearance of occasional state anger responses is a normal part of life unless the intensity, frequency, and duration are way out of proportion to the triggering event.

The relationship of state and trait anger is much like the connection between weather and climate. Climate and trait anger both represent long-standing patterns, such as the climate in Alaska tends to be rather cold. State anger is like weather, which can change quickly from one day to another. Thus, in New Mexico, the climate is quite dry, but major thunderstorms can pop up from time to time, causing floods and mayhem. Those occasional storms don’t mean that the climate has changed in the state.

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Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D.  (Corrales, New Mexico) is a clinical psychologist and a Founding Fellow in the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. He is also a member of the faculty at Fielding Graduate University. He specializes in the treatment of adolescents and adults with obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, anger, depression, and personality disorders. He presents nationally and internationally on new developments in the assessment and therapy of emotional disorders.

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. (Corrales, New Mexico) is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of adults and children with obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as personality disorders, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and learning disorders. She is often asked to provide consultations to attorneys, school districts, and governmental agencies. She presents workshops on cognitive therapy and mental health issues to national and international audiences.

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