Raging Indignation  

Being of Italian decent I can make a claim to this character flaw.
Speaking for the Italians of the world, we love to be passionate. In
fact it is considered normal to be passionately indignant. My friend
Turlough who hails from Ireland would disagree and tell me that the
Irish have a lock on this flaw. Passion, however is not what this flaw
is about. Raging indignation is anger gone out of control. It is
Donald Duck with a blend of Nikita Kruschev. Raging indignation is
having a short fuse that isn't under your control, but automatic.
People who are possessed by Raging indignation are the poor unfortunates
who can't control their reactions to other people and events. They fly
into a rage and lose control of themselves. Afterward they complain
that they overreacted. They pretend that the overreaction is unusual,
but if you watch them for a long enough period of time you will see that
the over reaction, the Raging Indignation, is usual and automatic.
Many of these individuals love to be enraged because it is their way of
controlling the situation and you . It is their way of intimidating
others to behave the way they want.
proverbs 14:29 He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding;
but he that is hasty of spirit exalts folly.
But does being enraged really imply control or does it mean a lack of
control? After years of working with a variety of interesting humans in
my practice I can unequivocally assure you that raging indignation comes
from a lack of control. There is a sometimes not too subtle lack of
self esteem and lack of self worth that are in operation here too.
Raging indignation like all character flaws is a reaction, not a
response. Sometimes a person will respond with rage. It can be
calculated and directed, but raging indignation is really not
directable. Individuals who are possessed by the flaw often lament that
they have become violently "upset" again. They didn't want to but did.
That a hallmark of the flaw.
Let's take a look at that word "upset." When I practiced in Brooklyn
and Staten Island upset was a code word for an umbrella emotion. Often
a patient would come in who was angry and say he was upset. Sometimes a
woman who felt rejected would use the word upset. I had a patient who
was a bouncer at a famous Manhattan disco and when he would throw people
out he would occasionally say that "they made me upset." You understand
what I mean. Upset meant anything they wanted it to mean, from mild
irritability to violent rage.
Getting bent out of shape especially when you don't want to is what
makes Raging Indignation such a problem. It feels like a solution to
most people. It feels like a way to be safe, empowered and a way to
force others to accept you. Thank God it doesn't work, because there
would be no end to the wars if it did. As it is rage is one of the more
common ways of settling scores.
Of course there are those people who love to get others enraged. I call
these people the stokers. They are like the crew of men in the bowels
of the Titanic, stoking the boilers with coal so that the ship had
enough energy to plow incessantly forward on the high seas. Stokers
love to see the raw power of rage unleashed. They are titillated by the
violent outburst and often falsely believe that they can control or
direct someone else's rage. They are often sadly mistaken.
What a stoker is certain about is that they are somehow morally superior
to the Raging Indignant. They say with great self righteousness, "We
control ourselves." Meanwhile they help pull the trigger on someone
else's rage. Personally, I never got too many thrills from seeing
someone else get enraged. I'm Italian. I like to give ulcers not get
Is Raging Indignation a fuse problem?
Like the car rental add says, "not exactly." We all have fuses. Some
are longer than others. The real trick is learning how to make a short
fuse longer when it is useful to have a longer fuse. Ah ha! you say.
Maybe there are times when a short fuse is necessary. Surely that's
true, but it is not nearly as often as the need to make a short fuse
long. Anger usually doesn't solve problems and in the words of the
great philosopher Seneca, "The greatest remedy for anger is delay. "
In my book Flawless! Your top ten character flaws and what to do about
them, I discuss the great secrets that the Raging Indignant carry
around. They really are quite simple to understand.
They know that they are unbalanced.
When a person flies into frequent rages he doesn't have to be a rocket
scientist to figure out that he has a problem. There is a certain level
of unbalance, if you will pardon the pun.
A button has been pushed and they hurt.
One of my supervisors at Kings County Hospital used to tell me that a
person doesn't react in an abnormal way unless a button has been
pushed. It would be nice if they disconnected their buttons, but often
it has taken years of abuse to hard wire these people.
They feel weak.
A person in an episode of rage may feel powerful while raging, but
before and after they feel weak. It's a cover up for inadequacy.
Old issues or patterns aren't dead.
These reactive episodes often fit a pattern that repeats itself. Old
issues that trigger raging indignation live on in the psyche of the
individual. Even if they tell you things don't bother them anymore,
they do.
They feel as ugly as they are acting.
You're only pretty as you feel, the old song said. Think about how ugly
a person with raging indignation really feels.
They fear that you might be better than them.
In some societies control is a much coveted emotional state. People who
lose it often feel they are not as good as others. This is true for
most of the United States and other places where the British influence
has gone. When I lived in Italy, a person who didn't lose it was looked
upon as defective. O well.
My last bit of advice before I sign off is to suggest to you that it
could be dangerous and not very productive to read this article and then
run off to tell someone who has this flaw that their rage means that
they are defective. Be careful, they might want to take your head off.




Thirsting for God

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