Thursday, September 29, 2011

Negative Energy: Rage (3 of 3)

Rage comes when we neglect any of these steps.  Not feeling or acknowledging it allows us to continue to be violated, and turn our anger inward.  Inappropriate expressions such as beating someone who called us a name or even pounding pillows only keeps us in arousal mode.  If we do not release the anger, we nurse grudges and make our lives miserable.

After my former boss left, I focused on my life.  I found my voice at work, and became an advocate for myself and others in my position.  Then 9/11 (2001) happened.  I was a witness to the plane that flew into the Pentagon.  The next day I returned back to work in Washington D.C.  While at work, someone came in and told us that our former boss had survived the attack on the World Trade Center.  He had escaped from the second tower before it fell.  To my surprise, I was glad that he lived.  My anger had been released years before, and I no longer wished him ill.

Using my anger at my former associate for stiffing me, I went to a lawyer to find out what legal recourse I had.  Using his advice, I took my former associate to Small Claims Court.  I won my case, and collected my debt.  Instead of feeling angry and nursing a grudge, I expressed my anger by suing her.  I used my anger in a lawful manner to right a wrong that was done to me.

My anger towards Gov. Perry is triggered by reading articles about him.  Many of these essays stress his character defects.  I can choose not read about him since I overreact to what he says.  Because of my brain injury, I cannot discern what is fact and opinion in political writing or presentations such as TV talk shows.  Since I cannot differentiate between him and my prior experiences, I see the governor as a trigger to rage.  Therefore, I usually avoid stories about him.

Since a lot of my rage can be caused by inadequate care of my body, I need to pay attention to my needs.  To that end, I take regular meals, eat healthy food, and drink a lot of water.  I also take my medications daily, and walk for an hour each day.  This helps to relax me, and enables me to sleep well at night.  Also, I make sure I have a regular bedtime and rising time.

For my mental health, I learned not to read things that would bother me.  I keep a regular routine as much as possible.  This cuts down on outside stimulation for me.  For example, I only use the computer two hours a day.  I only watch children’s shows, and limit my total TV viewing to three hours a day.  These actions prevent me from overacting to any triggers.

Rage is an instrument that can be used for good or ill.  For good, it drives people to right the wrongs of social injustice.  For bad, it drives people to battle over a parking space.  Rage needs to be channeled in order for it to be used constructively.  Acknowledge the feeling, express it appropriately, and then release it.  That is what works for me.

Works Used
“Intermittent Explosive Disorder”, The Mayo Clinic, 2010,
---, “The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus”, Merriam-Webster: Springfield (MA), 1989.
Sotkin, Joan, Prosperity (dollar sign for the “s”) Quick Tips,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Negative Energy: Rage (2 of 3)

Seals fighting
Because of my brain injury, I have little memory of things in my life that caused a deep rage.  However, I was able to reconstruct one incident from my past.  As I recalled the incident, I could feel the bile rise up in me.

Years ago, I had a poor manager for a boss.  He was one of those stubborn gifted people who unconsciously caused pain to those working under him.  As one of the lower level employees, I had little recourse against his management practices.

Everything came to a head, when I experienced extreme family stresses.  My father-in-law was dying from cancer.  Meanwhile, I had an out-of-control child who required medical intervention.  The final straw came when my boss gave my job to someone else, then required me to work twenty to thirty hours weekly in overtime.  His response to my objections was to offer me a parking pass to the garage.  However, I did not drive, and instead took two buses and walked to work. 

My reaction is his thoughtlessness was to want him dead.  I really wanted this boss dead.  I wanted his family dead.  I wanted his dog dead.  Going back and forth to work, I indulged in revenge fantasies, plotting to kill him, his family, and his dog.  After he was replaced, I still harbored a deep resentment for my former boss for some time.

Once, I loaned a former business associate four thousand dollars.  We signed a contract, and at first, she paid me on time.  Then she started to avoid me, not answering my phone calls or e-mails.  I resorted to driving sixty miles to her store to collect the debt.  This was successful some of the time.  Then, she got into the habit of closing her store, three or four times a week, unannounced.  I got madder and madder with this untenable situation, since my money was at stake.

In meeting with her, I managed to control my temper.  However, I ranted and raved coming and going there, and sped up and down dangerous country roads.  The final straw after three years of excuses was how she regarded my brain injury.  She acted as if I was well, and that I should feel sorrier for her for yet another fake crisis in her life.  Finally, she closed her store and moved out of her home without a forwarding address.  I was furious at being stiffed.

Because of my brain injury, I cannot feel rage directly.  I usually short circuit and pass out.  However, there are times when I feel like turning my skin inside out - edgy, and jumpy.  When I feel like that, I want to hurt people.  This feeling of edginess usually occur when I become over-stimulated by severe weather, a change in routine, or flashing lights, or a combination of these stressors.

Every so often, genuine rage will briefly peek through.  For example when I hear about Governor Rick Perry (R. – Texas), I feel the bile rising in my throat, and this blinding red rage comes over me.  My rage occurs for several reasons.  First, the governor reminds me of my old boss.  Second his emphasis on Christianity reminds me of the sad times in my childhood.  Coming from an atheist family, I was bullied for not being Christian.  

In her “Prosperity (dollar sign for s) Quick Tips”, Joan Sotkin writes that if anger is not acknowledged, felt, expressed, and released, it will come out sideways.  She cites the examples of overspending, going into debt, late-bill paying and general self-sabotage in achieving your aims.  But if you do these four steps, you can achieve financial prosperity.  However, you do need to all these steps and in order.

Rage starts when our core values are violated.  If we do not acknowledge this anger, we negate the wrong done to us.  Feeling it allows us to understand how much we were harmed.  Expressing the rage in an appropriate way, we learn to protect ourselves.  Releasing it allows us not to continue to live in the moment of the harm.  We can move past the hurt, and “put a period at the end of it.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

Negative Energy: Rage (1 of 3)

Road rage
This is another entry in the Negative Energy series.  There are many aspects to nature, some nice, some not-so-nice. But they are what makes nature tick.

People often see rage as a negative emotion because they usually experienced it done recklessly.  For example, the news often report about people battling over a perceived “stealing” of a parking space.  In fact, the expression “road rage” comes from other people’s bad behavior whilst driving.  The rage that frightens people is the raging prairie fire consuming everything in its wake destroying lives.

Some synonyms of rage are “acrimony, frenzy, fury, hysteria, indignation, and mania.”  In addition, crossword puzzles provide “anger, ire, irksome, and mad” as clues for rage.  To that list, I would add “vengeance and revenge”.  For me, the full range of emotion of rage ranges from irksome to hysteria to holding a grudge.

I see rage in three ways.  The first is that rage or anger is a secondary emotion that is rooted in fear.  I view anger as fear expressed outwards.  Fear masked as anger causes people to act out in outrageous ways.  Often, they act on fear and strike out at others.

The second is the positive emotion that is harnessed for good. Anger at injustice gives people the courage to act and to achieve justice.  The third is that anger is the expression of a harm done to the self.  This could manifest itself in overcoming injustice or correcting the harm.  However, the protection of the self often gets people into trouble when they define harm to include the taking of a parking spot.

Anger has been a friend to me.  It is the fuel that helped me to recover from my major illness of depression.  My rage has propelled me through various roadblocks to recovery.  Properly channeled, I see anger to be used to accomplish great things.

In many dictionaries, rage is defined as “emotional excitement induced by intense displeasure.”  This speaks to the physical arousal that occurs when this emotion overtakes you.  Therefore, if you have not taken care of your body or have ingested certain chemicals, your propensity for rage increases.

One type of rage comes from the malfunctioning of the brain. This is called intermittent explosive disorder (IED).  People with IED have a violent reaction to an event that may be benign.  It is considered impulsive aggression which offers relief after an outburst.  However IED points to the physical aspects of rage: the tension in the body, the act, and then the relief that comes.  IED is often controlled through medication. 

Rage that is felt in the body is something which needs to be considered.  Is the action a result of how we feel physically?  Do we seek a release through our actions?  Pounding pillows may not offer the relief desired but may continue to keep the body physically aroused.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dinosaurs: Review: "Walking with Dinosaurs" BBC

Walking with Dinosaurs”, BBC, 1999

Walking with Dinosaurs” (BBC, 1999) is a six part documentary on the Time of the Dinosaurs, the Mesozoic Era.  The first episode features the beginnings of the dinosaurs amongst the therapsids (mammal-reptiles) in the Triassic Period.  The next one focuses on the charismatic dinosaurs of the Jurassic.  Two episodes feature the flying and marine reptiles of the Mesozoic Era.  One episode depicts the lives of the relative unknown polar dinosaurs.  Finally, the series concludes with the Cretaceous period and the meteor strike that spelled the end of the dinosaurs.

Walking with Dinosaurs” uses computer generated imagery and animatronics to recreate the Mesozoic Era.  Adding to the realism of the series, the producers filmed landscapes that resembled various periods and habitats during the time of the dinosaurs.  In keeping with the natural effect, the “Walking with Dinosaurs” provides the sounds of Mesozoic Era – animals call, bellow, snort, and make all sorts of noises in general.  The producers took great care to show a realistic portrayal of prehistoric life.  Along with the dinosaurs are the other animals that live with them, each in its natural habitat.

This series sought to engage viewers by showing nature stories about the lives of the featured animals.  Because little is known about the actual lives of dinosaurs, the series offers plausible speculations.  Some of the ideas are a bit farfetched whilst others have been confirmed by science.  However, In some cases, some of the dinosaurs are either in the wrong period or location.

The first episode, “New Blood” presents the Triassic Period during the recovery from the Great Dying of the Permian Period.  One of the first dinosaurs, the Coelophysis is shown trying to survive the long dry season.  In her coping until the rains come, the Coelophysis attacks a Placerias (a theraspid (mammal-reptile)), eats a Thrinaxodon pup (an ancestor of the mammals), and later eats a dead Postosuchus (a top theraspid predator).  Finally in desperation, the Coelophysis eats her young and other adults.  However, it was later disproved that these dinosaurs were cannibals.

The second episode, “Time of Titans”, focused on the life of a young Diplodocus, a huge sauropod.  She and her fellow sauropodlets must endure the gauntlet of egg eaters, other predators, and forest fires to achieve adulthood.  As the young Diplodocus grows, she encounters an Allosaurus (a raptor), Brachiosaurus (a large sauropod), and Stegosaurus.  Finally joining her herd, she is saved from an Allosaurus attack by an older Diplodocus who defeats him with her whiptail.  The series posits that the Diplodocus communicated with each other with their tails, which is still under review.  Also scientists are unsure if the Diplodocus housed a small ecosystem of insects and small pterosaurs.

Episode Three, “The Cruel Sea” investigates the lives of marine animals.  The only dinosaur featured is the Eustreptospondylus (a medium-sized carnivore) swimming from island to island looking for food.  Meanwhile Episode Four, “The Giant of the Skies”, which focuses on flying reptiles, follows a journey of a giant Ornithocheirus (pterosaur) to his breeding grounds.  This episode has Utahraptors attacking Iguanodon.  A dinosaur swimming from place to place is not something people think of these animals doing.  However, the Utahraptor is misplaced in Europe, since these raptors lived in Mongolia and North America.

The most speculative episode, “Spirits of the Ice Forest” presents the dinosaurs of the South Pole.  A clan of Leaellynasaura (small bi-pedal herbivores) forages in the endless days of summer, and survives the dark and cool days of winter.  In the spring, a herd of Muttaburrasaurus migrate south for the summer to where the Leaellynasaura live, and returns north when autumn comes.  Meanwhile, the little Leaellynasaura raise their young, suffer the loss of the matriarch, and finally settle in with a new breeding pair in the spring.  The speculation in this episode ranges from the family life of these little dinosaurs to how they survived the winter.  The Leaellynasaura are shown moving to the center of the forest where it is warmer.  Later they huddle together to conserve body heat, and then go into a brief torpor.

The last episode, “Death of a Dynasty” emphasizes the polluted environment of the late Cretaceous Period.  Volcanoes frequently erupted poisoning the environment of the dinosaurs.  The mother Tyrannosaurus rex lost her brood to the pollution.  Later she raises another brood until she is killed by an Ankylosaurus.  As her chicks wait by her body, a giant asteroid slams into the earth.  The blowback from the meteorite kills them.  The series ends with the dinosaurs becoming birds.  The speculation in this episode is whether extensive volcanism with the meteor strike killed the dinosaurs.

Watching the series brings the world of the Mesozoic Era to life.  Entertaining though “Walking with Dinosaurs” may be the viewer must understand that many of the things presented about prehistory are speculative.  The series does introduce little known dinosaurs such as the Leaellynasaura, sparking more interest in them.  It is an enjoyable series to spend an afternoon in the Age of the Dinosaurs.

Works Used
Haines, Tim and Paul Chambers, “The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life”, Firefly: Ontario, 2006.

----, “Somewhere A Palaeontologist Is Crying”, TV Tropes,,

Strauss, Bob, “Dinosaurs at”,, 2011,,

Various, “Prehistoric Life”, Dorling Kindersley: New York, 2009.