"I think we've tied acquiring knowledge too much to school" - Arno Penzias (Nobel Prize winner)

Keeping Feelings "Bottled-Up"

by Will

I was thinking about the concept of anger getting "bottled-up" when I was thinking about the thing I'm writing for that oblivion.net contest. I never understood the idea that anger gets accumulated instead of being released gradually and gets released at some tipping point. Here's what I think actually happens. I'll use a child and parent as an example.

Child is unhappy. Let's say he dislikes school and tells his parent why. Parent responds like one or more of these:

* Parent says child is wrong and tells child not to talk about it.
* Parent says that child is right but there's nothing that can be done about it so he has to go along with it.
* Parent avoids giving any sort of input. Parent may say that the child is just going through a phase.
* There are probably other things I could add.

Parent doesn't help. Child is frustrated.

Eventually, child is angry. Let's say he does or says mean things. Parent responds like one or more of these:

* Stop being mean because people aren't supposed to be mean. Sometimes some other stupid justification is given.
* Actually, let's punish you for being angry.
* Parent asks why child is angry but does not try hard to figure out why or makes the child feel stupid for being angry. This includes the previous two responses.

Again, parent doesn't help. Child is angry at parent and frustrated that even acting angry couldn't get the parent to care.

In summary, parent makes child unhappy and punishes child for saying that he is unhappy, which would be rude. Child acts nice in fear but eventually hates parent so much that he doesn't care about the consequences. I think people get angry and do bad stuff because they have had their feelings repressed and are trying to get back at someone or are at some level hoping to get people to notice that they are unhappy and do something about it.

Written by: Will
30 July 2007

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