ANGER: The Struggle for Emotional Control in America's History by Carol Zisowitz & Peter N. Stearns Stearns

ANGER: The Struggle for Emotional Control in America's History

Email this review


A social history of anger and its control in American history and in the everyday experiences in the family and on the job. Carol Stearns (Psychiatry/Pittsburgh School of Medicine) and Peter Steams (History/Carnegie Mellon) seek to be the vanguard in a new field of study they term ""emotionology,"" which would explore the role of emotions in history, religion, and culture, in general. The crux of their theory is that in several distinct stages, ""Americans moved from relative unconcern with anger, per se, to an increasing insistence that the emotion be denoted and reproved."" The latter stage can be represented by Carole Tavris' 1982 work, Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion, which argued that the attitude that letting one's anger out is healthy was erroneous. The Sternses are opposed to this theory, and their entire work can be analysed as a rebuttal to Tavris. ""Here we meet as psychiatrist and historian,' they write, ""in the common belief that understanding the person and his past can enhance freedom."" And that freedom, they imply, is enhanced by recognizing anger as a normal response to external stimulus, rather than as an internal problem driving one to the analyst's couch. A good balance to Tavris and sure to create lively discussion in the field.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
ISBN: 0226771520
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago Press