Tim Lott acknowledged that there are different types of anger and that there are a range of sources, but his view was the majority of the anger exhibited these days comes from a sense of “insult” or “negation”
But much anger in the modern experience is neither righteous nor artistic, nor does it arise from the threat of physical harm. The anger that occurs most commonly comes in reaction to a purely symbolic threat, in response to a sense of insult, or negation. This threads through every day, through every life.
Mr Lott basically sees the anger coming from people feeling as though their identity has been undermined or belittled, their sense of self being removed. Of course sometimes this is only in the person’s perception, rather than some overt (or actual) attempt to do this by others.
I thought this was a really interesting take on the matter and that if I were to look at those things that make me angry often I think it can be boiled down to that sense of being undermined or ignored or not seeming to be acknowledged in some way or my voice being ignored – think of that person who pushes in front of you on the tube as though you aren’t even there and the sense of anger that can swell up. Over the weekend there was another story of someone who died following a queue jumping incident. Of course, there are probably all sorts of things that we don’t know about what happened, but on the surface it looks like it fits with Tim Lott’s assessment.
So that’s the diagnosis, but it isn’t the solution, which I think is probably pretty hard to achieve. I guess the answer, at least in part, is about people trying to empathise more with others or letting it go when they are slighted or learning that what others think of us is not really all that important in many circumstance. It’s more about mutual respect than trying to make sure people show us “respect”. I think there are real things to reflect on about what Tim Lott said – around looking at situations that make us angry and asking what the source of that anger truly is. We can’t usually change other people, but we can change ourselves, and sometimes learning to deal with our own demons and sense of self in different, less destructive, ways could save many a battle.