Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Anger under Siege

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Anger under Siege

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE: "Anger Management, American-Style: A Work in Progress" by Peter N. Stearns, in The Hedgehog Review, Spring 2010.

IN THE 19TH CENTURY, ANGER was a minor but indispensable attribute of the ideal American man. He could hold his temper like a gentleman during petty disputes "out [was] implacable when legitimately roused," writes Peter N. Stearns, a historian at George Mason University.

By the 1920s, though, corporate capitalists had linked anger with inefficiency, and the emotion lost its luster. Anger was found to lead to labor disruptions, frazzled coworkers, and weakened sales in the service and retail industries. A spate of anger restrictions was imposed on the country's workers. The preference for restraint soon extended to social interactions of all kinds. Boxing fell out of favor among the middle class, and trendy "fair fighting" handbooks counseled frustrated spouses to scream their displeasure into an empty closet, rather than at each other. A United Auto Workers pamphlet from the 1940s admonished union activists that a "lost temper means a lost argument. …

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