Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Anger is an emotion too

A (rare) comment on one of my posts made me think. Yes, I know - Stan thinking is almost as rare as a comment on one of Stan's posts, but that's one of the great things about blogging. You post something which someone comments on and you suddenly get a new thought.

In particular it made me think about how people seem much more angry these days. Whether it is "road rage", "air rage" or some other kind of rage - people are so quick to get angry. We see it on the football pitches from highly paid and very privileged footballers, in the streets outside the pubs and clubs at closing time from young men and women, we see it on the buses and the trains over something as silly as "being looked at the wrong way" - anger is prevalent in our society like never before.

But people have always got angry - and the British no less than anyone else. British soldiers in WW2 had as much right to be angry with the German people as anyone, but were much less likely as individuals to exact revenge either on enemy soldiers or civilians than their allies - particularly the Soviets who were responsible for raping some 2 million German women (many of them repeatedly) in the battle for Berlin.

The reason for this was the famous "reserve" which Britain was renowned for. The simple fact is that British people did not let their emotions take control of their actions. It was British to contol one's feelings.

This all changed in the sixties when the famous British reserve was declared a negative thing by the liberal left. It was wrong to suppress your emotions - let it out - do what you feel - and so on. Ever since then the British people have been encouraged to give in to their emotions and from a very young age. Teachers, counsellors, sociologists and other practitioners of the quack sciences told our kids to let their emotions show.

The stiff upper lip for which the British were famous for was derided and those who demonstrated it referred to as "uptight" or "anally retentive". Holding in your emotions is bad - letting them out is good.

But it isn't good. For a start, letting out your emotions is the same as giving in to them. It's no coincidence, in my opinion, that the rise in depression and mental illness comes as a result of people not being able to control their feelings. Once the feelings control the person there is little they can do to get control back.

What is more, anger is an emotion too - and a very powerful one. By encouraging people to show their emotions we have encouraged them to be demonstrably angry when they are angry - and they do. The result is young kids murdered in shops, young men butchered on Oxford Street, fathers kicked to death in front of their children.

So what we need, in my opinion, are fewer counsellors, fewer sociologists, less quackery and more British reserve. Control your emotions and your emotions will not control you.

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