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Anger and Anxiety

Be in Charge of Your Emotions and Control Phobias

Anger and Anxiety by Dr Bob Rich
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It's much cheaper than therapy, and is free of the side-effects of medications. But beware: Bob Rich's writing can become addictive, and he is the author of thirteen books.

???A master therapist as well as a multiple award-winning writer, Bob presents well-researched cognitive-behavioral tools for fighting unwanted emotions in a way that will be readily understood and easy to apply. The book is full of real-life illustrations, avoids mystification and jargon, and has already helped many people.

???Mary Ellen Popkin is a long term anxiety sufferer. She is the author of the 'Anxiety Disorder Workbook'. She wrote: 'As someone who has suffered from anxiety disorder for 19 years, I found this book a must read. Dr. Rich's easy to read insights on the mind makes this a book for the lay person as well as the professional. He intertwines his professional knowledge with clear cut examples for change and recovery.'

???British therapist Kate Anthony ( teaches counseling over the internet. Her assessment of 'Anger and Anxiety' is: 'Bob Rich's work on Anger and Anxiety demonstrates very effective strategies for coping with these emotions. This is a serious look at a serious problem, delivered in a manner which is both coherent and enjoyable. He presents Cognitive solutions to the problems, illustrated by case examples at every turn, resulting in a book alive with hope for any reader suffering themselves or through knowledge of a person with Anger and Anxiety problems.'

Anina's Book Company; January 2002
68 pages; ISBN 9781877053023
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: Anger and Anxiety
Author: Dr Bob Rich

Part I: Anger & Anxiety: What?s happening and why

1. Why You Need an Anti-stress Switch.

Believe it or not, originally ?stress? was an engineering term. It refers to the effects an external force has on a body -- for example, the effects of wind forces on a bridge.

It makes sense to apply the same idea to people and the effects which their surroundings have on them. Every day, we face a number of situations which are annoying, frightening, worrying or infuriating. What we feel in response to these attacks on our peace of mind is ?stress?. I?ll give a few examples.


All mammals, from minuscule mice to weighty whales (with us somewhere in the middle) are built similarly. In particular, we all have much the same means for coping with life-threatening emergencies.

There was a sudden roar ahead, and Hurd shouting, "Bear!"

They snatched at spears. Hurd appeared from among the trees, sprinting for his life. The bear was on all fours, ten steps behind him and rapidly gaining. With great discipline, Hurd held his line until the beast was within range of their spears, and almost upon him; then he suddenly jinked to his right.

Ralosh and Tacinda threw their spears, hitting the bear?s two shoulders. Ralosh immediately ran diagonally forward towards Hurd, who had stopped himself against the trunk of a fir and was ready with a spear. Tacinda ran to the side to give Gitugel a clear throw if the animal decided to follow her.

However, young Gitugel wasn?t waiting. He took a couple of skipping steps forward. As the roaring bear started to rise on to its hind legs, he threw his spear with all the force he could muster.

The spear entered the bear?s gaping mouth, angling up towards the top of its skull. The beast reared up to its full height, took three more steps, then collapsed.

Panting, the four came together over the still twitching body. Tacinda said, "Gitugel, what a wonderful throw! Right in her mouth and through the brain!"

Adapted from The Mother?s Sword, part 2 of the First Story of the Ehvelen by Dr Bob Rich

Our not-so-distant ancestors were hunter-gatherers. In many ways, their lives were a lot more free of stress than ours. But they certainly were equipped to deal with dangerous situations which needed maximum response, like suddenly meeting a savage animal.

And so are we. In terms of the way our bodies are built, we are no different from our ancestors. Like them, we have special equipment for dealing with ?fight or flight? reactions.

Most people have a fair idea of what this equipment is. We all know about ?butterflies in the stomach?, the sweating brow in response to fear, the thumping heart and all the rest of it. Probably everybody knows that when you are angry or scared, your body produces adrenaline, which has widespread effects inside you. I?ll describe all these reactions in the next chapter.

I am driving in my car, happily minding my own business, when a P-plate driver suddenly comes out of a side street, goes through a Stop sign and swings in front of me. Action is quicker than thought --I manage to avoid a crash. We both stop. The young person is shaken, and apologises profusely. Frankly, I am shaken too. I have just narrowly avoided death --or, at least, serious injury.

I get back in my car and drive off. Unfortunately, there is a change. My previously smooth, automatic performance as a driver is replaced by a more dangerous style. I find myself driving too fast, following other cars too closely. When I catch myself doing this I slow down, but too much, and become an obstacle to other drivers. My attention is concentrated on fewer things, with the result that I miss important information. My steering and acceleration are jerkier than usual. I react too fast --for example, starting forward at traffic lights before the green comes on. At the same time, I still feel shaky and exhausted. All I want to do is to pull over to the side of the road and have a rest. I can?t --the unscheduled stop has made me late.

In this story, I am now an accident looking for somewhere to happen.

I desperately need a switch to turn off the ?fight or flight? reaction.

Different people react differently to such a situation. Some ?freeze? and are unable to do anything. But for everybody, driving after a near miss is a dangerous activity.


When I was a teenager, I joined a boxing club for a while. The coach was a cluey little man. One of his bits of advice has stayed with me for life: ?Hop in there and keep your cool. Get him angry, and you?ve won.?

How many times have you lost an argument because your anger got the better of you? Have you ever said (or worse, done) things in the heat of the moment that you regretted later? Wouldn?t it be better if you were in control of your anger, rather than the anger being in control of you?

Madge was going to leave Tim: she was no longer willing to put up with his physical violence. He insisted that he loved her dearly, but when he lost his temper, he went berserk. And no one could make him lose his temper as quickly as Madge.

When she gave him her ultimatum, Tim decided to seek help. He attended a group for violent men. The group meetings helped him a lot, and promised to give a long-term solution to his difficulty. But, in the meantime, the immediate problem remained. Only two weeks after the start of the group, Madge happened to say something that set Tim off. He saw red, raised his fist --then, at the last instant, punched the wall instead of his wife.

Well, this was an advance. A hole in the plaster is more quickly fixable than a broken jaw. Madge, however, didn?t see it quite this way. She took the kids and moved out.

Wouldn?t it have been good if Tim had had a switch that allowed him to gain control of himself, at least for an instant? If he?d just had a second?s respite from his anger, he could have used some of the techniques he was being taught in the group, like walking out of the room and examining the thoughts behind his emotions.


Worry is probably the most self-damaging activity you can engage in. It is the ?fight or flight? reaction in slow motion, over a long time.

When you worry, you think certain thoughts, which involve anticipation of trouble. This is the ?what if? syndrome. The adrenaline starts pumping, causing a whole string of changes, which will be with you for as long as you worry.

Over time, your body can get used to being this way, and you can suffer the physical effects of worry even when you are not aware of thinking about your problems. The next chapter describes the changes worry causes in your body. You will then understand why chronic worriers are likely to suffer from various ?stress-related diseases?: heart attack, strokes, stomach ulcers, diverticulitis, haemorrhoids, varicose veins, asthma and several others.

Worry has lots of other effects. Many people try to escape the distressing thought patterns by using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, by taking sedatives, or through participating in self-defeating activities like gambling.

So now you have one more thing to worry about: what worry is doing to you!

If only you had some control over worry...

Situational stress

There are about three hundred people in the hall, all professionals. I walk out on to the stage. The chairman introduces me. There is the microphone. I know my stuff; all I have to do is to deliver my well-prepared talk.

Only trouble is, I can?t get the first word out. My mouth is too dry; there is sweat on my forehead; my hands are shaking. The ?fight or flight? reaction is in full force, but completely inappropriate in this situation. If only I could switch it off for long enough to get out the first sentence, I?d be all right.

Jim is a policeman. He is driving along one day, when he notices three or four young men making a nuisance of themselves. Jim is alone. He is not that keen on getting into a physical tussle against overwhelming odds. What is he to do?

He gets out of the car, walks slowly over, then tells them off with quiet but firm authority. They give him some backchat and show resentment, but do as they are told.

But what if Jim had felt afraid? This would have affected the way he walked, his facial expression, the tone of his voice, the size of the pupil in his eye, even his body smell. People pick up these subtle cues, and react to them without realising it. Jim had to be genuinely unafraid in order to handle the situation. He felt some fear before he got out of the car. How did he switch it off?

Teachers are in a similar position. How come some teachers can keep discipline effortlessly, while others have constant trouble? The little monsters will find every chink in a teacher?s armour. The secret is to feel fully in control --then you will be!