Scientific American Mind Vol.16, No. 4, 2005
"Control Your Anger!"
Anger: Should We try to Control it? How?
Psychologists and sociologist agree that we do control our anger because we know that anger canlead to depression and/or violence.James Gross, Ph.D., of Stanford University investigated his student's reactions to stressful situations in his lab. One half of his students were told to "suppress" their emotions by holding a stone expression while watching something violent occur on a screen. Gross did not advise the other students.Both student groups experienced sadness and nausea; only the stone faced students experienced very strong autonomic nervous systems reactions. It is gathered from this study that suppressing your emotions can be bad for your health.
In 2003 Gross and Oliver John of he University of California did a study on how suppression of one's emotions effected one's everyday life.The students who expressed their emotions openly were put into one group and those who suppressed them were put into another group.They found that the group of students who swallowed their irritations were mostly less confident, more tending to be depressed and more pessimistic than those who expressed their emotions openly.
Then , A researcher named Johan Denollet in Belgium began a study of patients who had suffered heart attacks. He interviewed them; asking them if when they had had bad moods or anger, regret or anguish over something, did they contact other people about these concerns or not? Denollet then waited 10 years and contacted the same group; only to find that 5 percent of the total had passed away. But he noted that among the people who had tended to repress their emotions a whopping 25 percent were dead.
Researchers are now studying what can happen if people can learn to see events in their life a different way. This "different point of view" could influence our overall feelings positively.
Psychologists in 2002 under Dr. Oschner at Columbia UNiversity found that when people were asked to imagine that suffering people in a movie got better their pre frontal cortex activity part of the brain, involved in deciding, planning and working on things, registered more active. Psychologists think that when this pre frontal cortex is more active the amygdala, or older brain having to do with negative emotions , can be less active by firing less neurons. Can you see why this would help? Can you think of situations in which you were able to distance yourself a little from a situation and therefore make abetter decision on how to help?
Please write down your thoughts about this. The next entry will be about how the monks of Tibet work to control their emotions.