Anger… Normally anger is a healthy emotion. However, when it gets out of control and becomes destructive it turns into a problem. Blood pressure and heart rhythm increase, adrenaline and noradrenaline levels rise.

It directly damages health. Outside factors, or factors in memories that come alive can trigger anger. The most primitive way of expressing anger is violence, a manifestation of aggression, which is one of the basic instincts. The purpose is to destroy those factors that prevent the fulfilment of demands perceived by the person to be of vital importance, and to continue living. But the law, social norms and conscience stand in the way of violence as obstacles. Three ways of dealing with the situation remain: direct expression without hurting anyone, repression, or problem solving using ways to relax, like humour, breathing techniques or change of environment. Some people harbour more anger than others. This can be due to physical reasons (their brain may be oversensitive, there may be a physical handicap which reduces their tolerance towards being prevented from something), psychological reasons (personality disorders like psychopathy, narcissism etc, traumatic life history) or sociological reasons. At this point I would like to share a few stories with you that I have experienced myself. It was during the time when I was in compulsory service in the province of Ağrı. I was on night duty in the state hospital. The Chief Physician had restricted visiting hours and did not permit anyone into the ward during night hours. Whilst an ordinary night duty continued in the quietude of the night, I suddenly heard a loud noise. The staff were stopping a man from going upstairs to the ward, the man was insisting… The brawl continued for a long time. Suddenly the man kicked my door open and entered. I was gripped by anger. The man himself was already fuming. The first move came from him: “Apparently it is you who will give permission for me to go upstairs!” he said. At the time I was a young man of 24-25 years of age. My cultural background absolutely prevented my tolerating behaviour like that. With the same speed I made the second move: “You don’t even know how to talk to a doctor”, I said. “Why, what have I said?” he asked. All over sudden I did not know what to say. “You are addressing me as “you” (in Turkish the polite way of addressing a stranger is by using the plural form of “you” which is “Siz” instead of the singular form of you which is “sen”). What should I have said“ he asked. “You should have said “Siz” I curtly replied. I was still angry. His anger had already given way to justification. He paused and said: “But then it is plural?…” I burst out laughing. His confused stare did not last long either and he too started laughing. Eventually I asked him “Tell me, why don’t you adhere with the rules?” “Because of the street lamps” he said. . We laughed twice as much. Everyone who was passing there could be seen by the patient’s relatives. If the passer-by did not stop to visit they became resentful thinking “he passed right by us and didn’t even visit”. We were confronted with a social reality of the Ağrı province. I said “ok, you can go up. But don’t stay long”. I have drawn many lessons from this incident. The lesson could be that before you judge people and get angry, you should try to understand their behaviour. You can directly voice the problem and seek your rights, you can make a joke… in this or similar ways you can swallow your anger. My second memory is of a patient who had a manic attack and told me off because I addressed him as “sen”. I should have used the word “Siz”. Because he was a very important person. There was no need to be impertinent. And the only patient of mine who turned his anger into aggression was a psychopath. He wanted to have tea on the ward and tried to achieve this through the services of the Chief Doctor. When I told the psychopath to “get his tea himself” I received a heavy slap in the face… In conclusion, anger does exist and it requires an effort to deal with it. When I think about it, in order to deal with anger and swallow it you need first and foremost love and tolerance towards human beings. You need to understand. Even if we don’t understand, we need to try to understand…

Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan