When I get really annoyed about something, people really should run for cover. I'm a venter. Big time. Mr. Practical is a 'hold it in and suppress it' type of guy. I always believed getting it out there straight away was better than sitting on frustrations and letting them build up until you flip your top like a mini Mount St. Helens.
Apparently venting is not always so good.
University of Arkansas psychologist Jeffrey M. Lohr says that venting anger is at best ineffective and in some cases may even even harmful. Reviewing the research in anger expression, Lohr and his colleagues concluded that the continued use of venting techniques that lack scientific support challenges the integrity of mental health practice.
"If venting really does get anger 'out of your system,' then venting
should result in a reduction of both anger and aggression.
Unfortunately for catharsis theory, the results showed precisely
the opposite effect."
In the studies reviewed, Lohr found that individuals who vented ended up more hostile and aggressive than those who didn't. Lohr suggests that anger would have dissipated quicker if the individuals had attempted to control their anger instead, citing studies which have shown that anger dissipates faster when people take deep breaths, relax or take a time out. Any action that makes it impossible to sustain the angry state helps to defuse anger.
A good point but, for me, I'd still want to talk about what exactly had bugged me. The chief benefit of taking such alternative actions is that by defusing any anger first, any message will come across not only clearer but also as more reasonable. Consequently, it's likely to get a better reception.
The theory is good, the practice, well, takes practice.
*Off to read up on anger management tips.*
Olatunji, B. O., Lohr, J. M., & Bushman, B. J. (2007). The pseudo-psychology of venting in interventions for anger and related conditions: Implications for mental health practice. In T. A. Cavell & K. T. Malcolm (Eds.). Anger, Aggression and Interventions for Interpersonal Violence. Lawrence-Erlbaum Associates. [book details]