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Call 1-800-SHORT-FUSE

By Jonathan J. Ariel - posted Monday, 21 July 2008

If only controlling her anger was as easy as dialling a pizza.

Although she had an unsavoury altercation outside her electorate office on Wednesday, July 2, with reporter Mr Ben Fordham of TCN-9’s A Current Affair, she is best remembered for her alleged outrageous behaviour on June 6 at Iguana’s Waterfront Bar, on the Central Coast, north of Sydney.

She, of course is, Federal backbencher Ms Belinda Neal (ALP - Robertson, New South Wales), and she is barely hanging on to her plush $119,000 per annum (plus allowances) seat on the Kevin ’07 Express.


According to media reports, Ms Neal has had all manner of trouble reining in her rage over many, many years. For instance: it is whispered that she keeps photographs and written names of her political enemies in her freezer; neighbours say that the police have attended to her home following episodes of loud swearing; and she was suspended for kicking 20-year-old Ms Amy Parslow, a rival soccer player, while the latter was on the ground.

News of her now infamous behaviour at Iguana’s made it onto Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s agenda while he recently toured Japan. It saw him break his program to find the time to frogmarch the member for Robertson to the nearest anger management class, as a means of dealing with her volcanic temper.

So what is anger? What exactly is anger management? And what good can come from such instruction?

Anger is a reaction built into the nervous system. Nobody chooses to be angry. It is said that mothers recognise anger in newborns. Does that imply that it’s never too early to start anger management?

Anger, like unrequited love, says more about you - how you view the world, your temperament and how balanced or unbalanced your life is - than it says about others. You can choose to be (or not to be) a hostage to your rants and rages by deciding how you respond, when the world doesn’t treat you, as you’d hope. Just like you choose what size Big Mac meal you order at your local Mickey Dee’s, it is you who decides just how much of yesterday’s anger you carry with you today, and how much of today’s anger you lug around with you tomorrow.

Anger is not something that can be cured, but it can be managed. And manage it you must, if you want to rule it, rather than have it rule you.


Lynchburg, Virginia based clinical psychologist and the founding editor of the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, W. Doyle Gentry, in Anger Management for Dummies defines anger as a very complex emotion. Understanding all that anger says about you is the crux of anger management. He notes that anger can and does adversely affect one’s life, if it happens too often and is too intense and, he intones, anger can be managed without resorting to professional help, if one is committed, that is.

Anger is part of the survival mechanism. When faced with a threat, all animals, politicians included, either run away or attack. Anger energises the attack.

Before one can begin to manage anger, one needs to know what anger is, and what it is not. Gentry dispels a host of myths, some of which are that:

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Anger Management for Dummies is published by Wiley $27.95 (published 2007).

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About the Author

Jonathan J. Ariel is an economist and financial analyst. He holds a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management. He can be contacted at

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