Friday, January 17, 2014

Power of prayer

Driving on the turnpike, behind a novice driver, he couldn't control his temper. The car ahead of him was going so slow it prevented him, and the drivers behind him, from traveling the posted speed limit. Overcome with anger, he started to harass the slow-moving driver by repeatedly honking his horn. His wife tried to dissuade him from his revenge-type  driving, but the anger was not easily resolved. Looking back on the incident, he realized the stupidity of his act and the possible danger to his wife and child. In English, we would say he was overcome by "road rage."

An article in the Catholic Times discusses the problems of an "anger disorder" within society. We tend, it says, to be overly sensitive to our surroundings and, when they are not ideal, we often find ourselves unable to control our emotional reactions. It is not formally  considered a mental disease, but  some specialists see it as symptomatic of  more serious mental problems in the future. Over half of those who go to the psychiatric departments of hospitals, we are told, are there because of anger management issues.

In the past, Koreans were known to exhibit a particular disposition called "han," a feeling of regret and sorrow, together with a feeling of having been wronged. Many words would be necessary to fully express what is meant by the Korean word, but the article mentions that many who have this pent-up feeling are now expressing it verbally and sometimes violently.

A  doctor at a psychiatric hospital said uncontrolled anger is a sign of a societal and cultural trend that nurtures stress and unfulfilled desires. The extreme lifestyle differences in society, specifically the income inequality, have been cited as reasons for some of the anger. Also cited has been the increase of those living alone, causing  stress and a decrease in the consolations that came from family relationships.

There are many incidents in society that have caused great harm and arise from anger. There has been an increase of people having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, who have difficulty controlling  their actions. There is an increase of crimes that are considered accidents but are possibly prompted by an anger management issue, starting out as individual acts and developing into a collective anger.

The efforts to control anger are not just individual matters, but society also has to take an interest, by finding its causative factors and learning how to manage the anger. The article lists a number of possible approaches:  society has to give first place to attaining a  society that is mature; have counseling specialists work with stress and anger management programs in schools, which will focus on character-building; convince industry to be more concerned about the stress levels of their personnel; provide programs that will assure a safety net for those who are having financial problems; and find ways of strengthening the bonds with  those living in the local area.

The article ends by urging the Church to take a more active role in this area of anger management. The value of prayer, says an authority in the field of mental health, shows that with prayer and reflection on our actions, the brain is changed, allowing us to concentrate and to have better control of our actions. The ample spiritual resources of Catholicism, which are always open and easily available to all, would be a welcome addition to other efforts now being made in controlling this escalating problem in society.

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