Overcoming Anger and Irritability


Dr William Davies

Dr William Davies, a practising chartered clinical psychologist and a one-time prison psychologist, is the Academic Director of APT, the Association for Psychological Therapies, and a consultant psychologist at the BUPA Hospital, Leicester. He is the author of the Overcoming Anger and Irritability self-help guide.

  Overcoming Anger and Irritability is a self-help book that can help you learn how to manage the way you respond to provocation so that the impulse to react aggressively is diminished or controlled.

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This useful self-help book is written in two parts.

Part One helps you to understand the causes of anger, and what sorts of things can act as triggers. These are described as irritants, costs and transgressions.

  • Irritants: these are things that get on our nerves, for example because they are repetitive or intrusive, such as constant loud music coming from the flat downstairs.
  • Costs: these may be financial costs, when someone steals or breaks something that belongs to us; they may be convenience costs, such as being delayed in traffic; or they may be perceived costs, such as loss of face or being the object of disrespect.
  • Transgressions: these occur when someone breaks a rule that we expect them to abide by – for example, being contradicted by one’s partner in public, or having a confidence betrayed.

Part One then looks at the restraints, those things that prevent us from always being angry.

  • Inhibitions: these are at the root of our in-built self-control mechanisms. They act to hold us back when our emotions would otherwise lead us to act unreasonably, and may perhaps take the form of tolerance (“They’re only children kicking a ball around – they need to let off steam somewhere”) or of an awareness of consequences (“If I try to overtake this traffic jam on the wrong side of the road, they might not let me back in if a bus comes the other way”).
  • Moods: sometimes a particular situation might drive us to distraction; at other times we don’t even notice it. This may well be down to our “mood” at the time. When we’re in a good mood, irritants are often too trivial to break through the overall sense of pleasure we feel; when we’re in a bad mood, our defences are down and it may not take much to make us feel even worse than we already do. Bad moods can be the result of a range of factors, such as illness, tiredness, medication, or social factors such as bereavement or the breakdown of a marriage.

In Part Two of Overcoming Anger and Irritability, and based on clinically proven techniques of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, you will learn how to recognize and deal with the triggers, and how to take advantage of the restraints. Part Two uses examples, exercises and projects to help you take a positive approach whose ultimate goal is lasting “good temper”, and helps you learn how you can successfully handle the most provocative situations. For example:

  • Keep an anger diary: every time you get angry or irritable, fill in a page of your diary, noting both the trigger and your response. Later you can use the entries to help you analyse the pattern of your anger, and this will help you to address the problem.
  • Appraisal: learn how to make a fair and reasonable appraisal of the situation that provokes your anger, rather than one that is selective, say, or an over-generalization. Often you’ll be able to re-frame your initial appraisal by searching for the good aspects in the situation, or by viewing it from a different perspective. This strategy soon becomes habitual and is very effective in diverting anger and irritability.

See sample pages from the book

Once you become familiar with these techniques, you will be able to put together your own tailor-made action plan that will keep you – and those around you – in a much happier frame of mind; and, equally important, you will be able to maintain this manifest improvement to your life.  

Buy now from Amazon (RRP £10.99)

Cognitive behavioural techniques are, in my opinion, the most effective form of psychological therapy for emotional disorders.

Dr James Le Fanu, GP

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