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Other Emotional Issues

Anger Management

Anger case--the urge to explode

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Hi Everyone,

Lori Lorenz gives us an in depth look at an extreme anger case wherein her client was given to "explosions." During stressful situations he was afraid he would "rip his shirt or clothing off in a rage or start throwing things and scream uncontrollably."

This message is particularly valuable because Lori displays her wording and other details of the process. You will also note her advanced use of creative Setup phrasing (demonstrated in detail in our advanced tapes--Steps toward becoming The Ultimate Therapist).

Also, please note that the entire session was done over the phone.

Hugs, Gary

By Lori Lorenz

Dear Gary and List Members,

I was recently referred a client ("Tim") for a phone session who had been unable to work for the past 5 years due to extreme panic attacks (though probably more accurately they were anger attacks). Innumerable sessions with therapists of various persuasions, including some meridian/energy type therapies, had not budged his problem.

Now in his early 40's, Tim had had a blooming career cut short by the fear that he would "explode" either when left alone or out in public. The company of a friend or his partner was all that kept him calm. Tim was terrified that during stressful situations, he would rip his shirt or clothing off in a rage or start throwing things and scream uncontrollably. As insurance, he always carried spare clothing. It was a question for him as to whether it was the rage itself or the fear of making a fool of himself which kept him always in the company of his partner or with a "babysitter" friend for security.

We had one session two months earlier when we worked on EFT coping strategies for his beginning a new job. With those working well, Tim now felt ready to tackle the underlying issues in his continuing urge to explode. In our talking together, Tim realized that in his "explosions" he was acting the way his raging, unpredictable, abusive mother had acted only now it was his own behavior which he could neither predict nor control. In one session, Tim was able to work through (1) his fear and rage at his mother, (2) the horror of watching his father beat his mother to ostensibly stop her screaming and (3) finally laugh with relief at what had formerly been so traumatic.

The following is the essence of our work with the wording for the setup phrasing as close as possible to what we covered. Sometimes this phrasing ran very quick and free, changing with each line, which made it lively and also very triggering to get at the aspects quickly. We generally did full single rounds including the liver point at the bottom front of the rib cage but with no 9-gamut.

LORI: Try picturing your mother and see what you feel.

TIM: I feel the pit of my stomach - a pressure, an anger.

EFT: Even though I have this mother anger in my stomach... (tap: this mother anger)

LORI: What do you feel now?

TIM: I feel sorrow for me because I had to watch all this... and sorrow for her. I have forgiven her before, why do I still have this feeling in my stomach?

LORI: I don't know, but let's try a round.

EFT: Even though I've forgiven her, I can still have this anger that needs to be looked at... (tapping on "this mother anger").

TIM: The feeling in the pit of my stomach is gone. But I feel it now just below my throat - there's still some anger.

(I remembered now to pick up some SUDs intensity readings (0-10 scale) and asked Tim how strong the anger had been at the start vs. now. He's started at a 7 or 8 in the stomach which was now gone. Now it was a 5 at the throat. We repeated the same phrasing for another round and the throat anger was gone.

TIM: I still feel the anger but now it's in my head - in front of my forehead - like my head wants to burst, to get rid of this negativity. I want to take it out on whoever is around me. I could scream. I feel a pressure inside, an anger.

LORI: ...all these years of stuffing this mother anger? Is it like it wants to explode just like hers did?

TIM: Yes!

EFT: Even though I feel this anger pressure in my head...

Even though I've stuffed this anger and it wants to explode...

Even though I could scream...

All these phrases were used during the one setup tapping the karate chop point.

TIM: I guess I feel more relaxed - and also uptight for bringing up the past. I haven't done this for a long time. It bothers me in a sad way. If we weren't brought up this way, I'd be a different person. I feel sorry for her and mostly for me - I've lost 5 years of my life.

EFT: Even though I'm grieving for the loss of this time and the loss of my childhood to my mother's illness and rage...

TIM: I feel lighter. The pressure in the head is gone. There's no pressure anywhere.

LORI: OK. Let's test our work. Picture her pulling your hair, her verbal put downs, her telling you she hoped you'd be hit by a car or choke on your food.

TIM: I feel this hatred when I remember how she did those things. (It was difficult for Tim to feel these feelings before - they appeared to be judged out of awareness. Now it was possible to access them and so clear them.)

EFT: Even though I feel this hatred when I remember how she... (We went through the list during the setup and tapped on "this mother hatred".)

TIM: Tears are rolling down my cheeks - such sorrow - we all went through this including my grandmother. It was a tragedy. Everyone suffered a living hell. Dad hit mom with his fists, bruising her. She'd go to the floor still foaming at the mouth, still screaming - nothing made her stop. We kids would shout "Please, mom, shut up! Shut up!" There were 18 years of this.

LORI: (Very gently said) OK, Tim, just picture the beating, the foaming, the bruising.

TIM: I want to scream - like I did then.

EFT: Even though all we could do was scream "shut up, mom", and dad would hit her, and she'd foam and bruise, and we'd cry and feel angry both... (tapping with "shut up, mom, shut up").

There was noticeable calming even during the setup and then progressively through the round. It seemed that finally speaking the unspeakable was a tremendous relief and it seemed important to speak all of it while tapping.

TIM: I'm happy it's over and I will never, ever have to listen to that again. The memories are there, but I'll never have to live through it again. There's a sense of relief... and I'm a little nervous. I just brought this up and I'm relieved that I did - and it didn't have much impact on me now as it would have in the past.

LORI: What has you nervous?

TIM: I'm a little scared because I brought it up.

LORI: Is it like you're betraying the family secret? Like you might be punished for that?

TIM: Yeah.

EFT: Even though I might be punished for betraying the family secrets - how crazy mom was...

Even though I'm telling all the family secrets... (tap: I'm telling all the secrets.)

TIM: I feel very relaxed! (laughter, sigh) It feels like all this negative stuff is dissolving.

LORI: Take a couple of deep breaths and enjoy the relaxation.

TIM: I feel drowsy, comfortable, floating if I close my eyes, drifting. Feels great!

We discuss continuing to check our work or stopping here. Tim wants to continue.

LORI: So picture mom again. Let's check our work. See her throwing things.

TIM: I had an 8-track stereo/turntable on my dresser and I loved to play 70's music. I'd earned the money for it and I loved my music - it calmed me. She would come into my room and bounce it on the table until it began to come apart. Then she'd turn it off and order me to do tasks. She'd destroy my pleasure, something of mine.

LORI: How do you feel now thinking of this?

TIM: It bothers me just a little - she's ruining something of mine. I feel it in my chest and arms - the muscles used to destroy things, to rip shirts and throw things.

LORI: The same muscles she used to ruin your things?

TIM: Yeah.

EFT: Even though she broke my things and I feel this pressure in my muscles to do the same thing... (tap with "break things just like she did")

LORI: So picture this incident again.

TIM: It bothers me just in the sense she's ruining something of mine. I worked hard to buy that stereo.

LORI: What do you feel now?

TIM: Anger and frustration - I wanted to bounce HER head on the table. I had to stuff it. I loved that stereo.

EFT: Even though I feel anger and frustration that she bounced my stereo and I just wanted to bounce her head instead - I loved that stereo... (tap: she bounced my stereo)

TIM: It doesn't bother me to think about it. There are no physical sensations. It feels good to have said these words.

LORI: So try picturing dad hitting mom.

TIM: It doesn't bother me. There are no physical signals from my body except what one might expect.

LORI: What is that?

TIM: Well, when I picture dad hitting her, she's on the kitchen floor and foaming, well, there's really no reaction.

LORI: What would you give it on a scale of 0 to 10?

TIM: A zero.

We ran through a number of other violent or abusive memories from Tim's childhood and each was coming up with a SUDs of zero, much to Tim's surprise. One in which mom had hit the kids with a wooden spoon when they couldn't quote the Bible perfectly actually looked hilarious in its hypocrisy. He could finally laugh at it.

LORI: So let's do a little more checking here. Think of tearing your shirt off.

TIM: It's so easy to do. I'm afraid I will, I can.

LORI: Try picturing mom with the stereo.

TIM: I feel a slight urge to do it too.

LORI: What's the SUDS?

TIM: 3 or 4.

EFT: Even though she got to do it, my muscles want to bounce on something too - she got away with it, my muscles want to... (tap: my muscles)

TIM: There's still some tendency to DESTROY things.

EFT: Even though I feel an urge to destroy things to discharge this anger pressure that builds up in me... (tap: destroy things)

TIM: (Laughter) Damn, that's good! I can laugh at it. I can look around the room and it doesnt' bother me! It's gone! Wow, that's amazing! This is the same reaction people get on the EFT tapes! With the laughter it clicked! I feel so good!

This is what I love about this work!

By the way, I just followed up with Tim (two weeks later) and discovered that he did not have any of his former explosion reactions. However, he did have some concern over having those reactions again and he wanted another appointment. This suggests that either there is more work to do on the original problem OR his concern is simply a fear of the fear returning. In either case, it is likely a tappable issue.

Love to you all,

Lori Lorenz, MA


Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.