am 25. Januar 2012
The author has addressed an issue that is rarely dealt with: the feelings and the behaviour of the violent-tempered. For psychologist, sociologist and psychotherapist Theodor Itten there are many ways of approaching this common, yet up to now scientifically sparsely explored, problem. He interviewed 600 people, some by phone, others on the street, on all possible aspects of rage, placing importance on the perspective of the aggressor as well as of the victim. The author has done research in the history of civilization and points out how rage has manifested itself throughout the ages. In addition ' thinking in terms of depth psychology ' he explains the predicament of patients and comments on the results of studies in neuroscience.
Itten outlines four basic hypotheses that describe rage in its function. According to these, rage has to do with exercising power, with the issue of diffuse psychosocial identity and the search for stability, with feelings of inferiority, and with the need for catharsis because feelings cannot be adequately expressed.
Based on these hypotheses, the author describes various scenarios involving rage. The deceptive idea on the part of affected persons that they could 'express' feelings through an outburst of rage dominates over and over again in the scenarios, whereas, according to Itten, feelings are basically just being disguised. One source of information to illustrate this is Temple Grandin's, the famous autistic's, self-characterization. Since Grandin was not aware of her feelings and could not express them, she reacted to every experience of frustration with an outburst of rage. It was not until she discovered that she could cry instead that she started being aware of feelings of sadness. From that moment on her attacks of rage disappeared.
The chapter on the 'psychotherapy' of rage shows, however, that focusing on just one emotion (combined with a 'typical' behaviour pattern) has its limits ' namely then, when one tries to wrench this emotion or the behaviour out of the context of a network of personality-environmental variables. When the author describes therapeutic approaches, then psychotic individuals, borderline disorders, character pathologies and neurotic problems come under fire. Subsequently, his four basic hypotheses become blurred because, evidently, different functions prevail in each type of pathology.
All the same, Itten's book is very interesting reading. It is written in a lively style and replete with information about people known to us from literature and the history of civilization.