Toward a Civil Society: Anger Management Using GS and the Techniques of the Professional Actor (Excerpt)

Article excerpt

How do actors learn to manage and control their emotions on stage at a drop of the hat? This workshop employs general semantics formulations and the traditional rational-emotive behavior modification techniques first set forth by Dr. Albert Ellis (and later espoused by health gurus such as Andrew Weil, Tony Robbins, and Depak Chopra). The workshop demonstrates the ways professional actors actually use the same basic techniques and formulations to control their emotions on stage. Through a series of group activities, individual exercises, and role-plays, this workshop offers participants concrete methods to use to more effectively and constructively manage and control their anger in "real life." If we are to manage the conflicts of nations, first we must be able to better manage how we act in the world as individuals.

Rationale: Dr. Jerry Wilde emphatically states in his book Anger Management in Schools: Alternatives of Student Violence, that it is very difficult, if not impossible for children or adults to focus or learn at all without first having a sense of both physical and emotional safety or security. To support his claims, Dr. Wilde turns to psychologist Abraham Maslow, founder of humanistic psychology. Maslow first became known through his description of "the hierarchy of basic needs," which drives all human motivation. At the bottom rung of Maslow's hierarchy of basic needs are the "survival needs"--the physiological needs for air, water, and food. Second on Maslow's hierarchy is the need safety and security. Similar to Korzybski's structural differential and the scientific method of reasoning or abstracting, the lower level needs and specifics on Maslow's hierarchy must be addressed first before one can move on to the higher order concerns or the needs of love, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Therefore, Wilde suggests that we need to address the lower order need for anger management--not simply for our physical safety and welfare, but for our very growth and development as human beings.

One of the challenges in both teaching and attempting to practice anger management is the fear that if we work to manage our anger--we risk being taken advantage of by others--we risk becoming someone else's "door mat. …