Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Anger Management and Asperger’s, Part II: The Feeling of Anger

Anger management skills are important for everyone, not just those with Asperger’s and autism. But for those on the spectrum, managing anger may be especially difficult. In my post of 10/1/09, I discussed understanding anger. In today’s post, I’ll be discussing the actual physical sensation of anger.

Like all emotions, anger comes with a physical feeling. And that’s important, because often that physical feeling is the first subtle clue that the emotion is present. Many individuals experience anger as a tightness in the hands, arms, and jaw. Some people may get a stomachache or a headache. What’s of interest is how you specifically experience anger.
For many of my clients on the autism spectrum, they are more comfortable with reason and intellect, and may be less attuned to the sensations in their bodies. For those with sensory issues, the physical sensations in their bodies may be so overwhelming that they try to tune them out. Whatever the reason, disconnecting from the physical may mean that subtle, early signs of anger are not recognized.
It’s possible to re-experience all the feelings of anger just by remembering an upsetting event. This may be the perfect opportunity to tune in to your experience, without feeling as overwhelmed as when you’re actually in an angry situation. The next time you’re remembering something that made you angry, close your eyes and scan your body. Note what feels different. This is how your body reacts to anger.

Recognizing anger is an important step in managing it. Look for upcoming posts for further info on this topic.

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