Aggressive feelings are part of our human experience, and they are called into play whenever we feel frustrated or threatened. Early experiences, of course, will powerfully influence exactly what is felt. Even the "flight" part of the fight/flight response can become quite complicated, emerging more as a flight of mind that leaves the body frozen and quite vulnerable. For many, anger has become disconnected from data, such that the intensity of the response does not match the actual level of threat. Thus the conscious awareness and communication of aggressive feelings can contain elements of dissociated lack of awareness, anxious denial, fearful withdrawal, paralyzed inaction, various forms of modulated expression, as well as explosive activation accompanied by powerful impulses to act out.

Of course, individuals unable to manage feelings who are likely to explode require specific groups focused on self-control and should be carefully evaluated before being included in a therapy group with more diverse goals (Brabender, 2002). But because questions regarding appropriateness for group can be difficult to determine with any certainty, and because therapists are often loathe to reject a potential member without offering some opportunity to see if there might be a beneficial fit (Fehr, 2003), members with circumscribed concerns that could elicit such an outburst are often invited to participate.

Therapists are, of course, typically more comfortable with patients likely to exhibit too much self-control rather than too little. So it is es sential to have some way to think about the more distressing situation in which a group member erupts, threatening another member or the group as a whole. Many therapists include a an agreement to "put feelings into words rather than actions" in their group contract (Rutan & Stone, 2001), so even though the threat may be explicitly not one of physical harm, the intensity of the expressed emotion may still be difficult to mange.


A (co-led) group for adults had been meeting for many years with a fairly stable membership. One of the two female leaders had left to have a baby, and a new therapist (myself) had recently come in to fill her role. Shortly thereafter, a new member was introduced into the group. This was Sara, a single woman, aged twenty-five with a drug and alcohol history whose mother had somewhat reluctantly agreed to help her daughter pay the group fee. Her first session was uneventful. At the second meeting, Francis, the longer-standing therapist, was absent and I conducted the group myself. The issue of disappointment in various caregivers arose, with the overt content centered on the ways members had been shortchanged by disinterested or self-absorbed parents. Sara remarked that she didn't think of her mother that way at all. In fact, she felt more the opposite: that her mother tended to be intrusive and overly concerned about her. Several members laughed at how they wished their parents had been that involved. Sara seemed to darken as though feeling unheard, and reiterated how her mother's oversight of her life was a burden. At this point, Jane, a longstanding member, became irritated and began needling Sara for being unappreciative of her mother's efforts on her behalf. Phrases like "What do you have to complain about?" and "You have it so easy!" were delivered with an increasingly forceful and demeaning tone of voice. Feebly, Sarah tried to defend herself and her feelings, while the other group members seemed to retreat into the background.

Feeling protective of a new member finding herself badgered by a more senior one who was also a generation older, I began to note Jane's seeming lack of self-observation and the probability that something was arising out of her internal world rather than anything actually about Sara. But, after just a few words from me, Jane turned toward Sara and exploded, furiously accusing her of being ungrateful, selfish, and self-centered. The group seemed shocked into frozen isolation, and Jane's disregard for my effort left me feeling momentarily irrelevant and impotent. After a breath, Jane continued to harangue Sara, whom I rapidly became concerned would be driven from the group.

Power Of Positive Thoughts In The Post Modern Age

Power Of Positive Thoughts In The Post Modern Age

The Power Of Positive Thinking In The Post Modern Age Manifest Positive Thoughts In This Fast Pace Age. Positive thinking is an attitude that admits into the brain thoughts, words and pictures that are conductive to development, expansion and success.

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