The following is from a 1998 interview with Buddhist psychiatrist Dr Mark Epstein. Seem like a long time ago? Well, anger hasn’t gone anywhere in the last eleven years.
How does the view of anger differ between Western psychotherapy and Buddhism? The Buddhist teachings suggest countering hatred with love. This takes anger pretty much at face value – as an unwholesome mental state, a kind of noxious emotion, like poison. That notion of anger is exemplified by one of the Buddha’s first disciples, Angulimala, who murdered victim after victim. Run-of-the-mill late-twentieth-century anger is positioned a little differently. It’s a little more perverted. In psychotherapy, it’s the disguised message of anger that is looked for – the attachment or love that’s underneath the anger, or anger as a perverted form of aggression in psychotherapy. Aggression is seen as a good thing necessary to break through an obstacle. Frustrated aggression is a problem, but aggression itself is not a bad thing.
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