Fall 2022

On Anger

How and why have medicine and psychiatry been complicit in pathologizing anger? How is the discourse on “civility” leveraged to silence anger and protest? How can Black feminist perspectives rehabilitate anger? An oft-maligned emotion (is it an emotion?), we will explore these questions as well as perspectives on the nature and uses of Anger, particularly when expressed by historically oppressed groups.

All sessions this semester will be hybrid. We will meet in person at the Wilson Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library at 303 Washington Avenue (about 3 blocks from the medical school). From the main entrance, take the elevator or stairs down to the lower level. The Wilson Library's policy is mask optional. We encourage you to wear masks during the session while not eating or drinking. If you can't make it in person, please join us over Zoom using the link below.

Or join by Zoom ID: 940 5021 7277

Password: hhh

What is Anger? Who Can Be Angry?

Tuesday, September 27th, 6:30-7:30 PM

In our first reading, “The Aptness of Anger,” Amia Srinivasan lays bare how the critique of anger as “counterproductive,” casts oppression as “reality” and forces the oppressed to choose between expressing their justified anger and preserving their wellbeing. She also challenges the alleged dichotomy between anger and reason and examines the political reasons why this dichotomy continues to be upheld. The second reading, “The Fruits of Anger” by Brian Wong, surveys other thinkers and activists whose lives and work intersect with Srinivasan’s arguments. Lastly, "What if white men, not black women, were caricatured as angry?" by Melissa Harris-Perry offers a brief reflection on the impact of persistent stereotyping of Black women, which also serves to obscure and naturalize the anger of people in power, especially white men.

Communicating Anger

Tuesday, October 11th, 6:30-7:30 PM

Our readings this week apply a clinical-professional lens to reexamine enactments of anger on collective and individual scales during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the authors argue, these expressions of anger are not unique to the past two years, but the extreme sense of loss, isolation, and precarity of the pandemic brings them into sharp focus.
In our first reading “Black Rage: the Psychic Adaptation to the Trauma of Oppression,” Beverly J. Stoute urges readers to take seriously Black Rage as a mental construct necessary for Black people to survive in a fundamentally, persistent white supremacist society. Content warning: the first figure (p.6) is an image of a text message which includes the use of a racial epithet to harass a Black woman and the second figure (p.8) is a still image taken from the video of George Floyd’s murder by Derek Chauvin. The third figure is an aerial photograph of 16th street in Washington, D.C. with “BLACK LIVES MATTER” painted in bright yellow letters leading up to the White House.
Our second reading, “Malingering as a Maladaptive Pattern of Survival During the Pandemic,” presents three case studies which demonstrate the ways that anger and frustration manifest on both sides of the clinical encounter, narrated through the lens of psychiatric training.

Managing Anger

Tuesday, November 1st, 6:30-7:30 PM

This week, we’ll look at two different texts that offer tools and strategies for navigating the experience of anger. Countering approaches to Black rage that direct people to suppress anger, in Love and Rage, Lama Rod Owens offers guidance on how to face rage and harness it as a “vehicle for radical social change and enduring spiritual transformation.” The selections for this session introduce the philosophy behind his embodied practice aimed at working with and through anger.
The second reading is a manual developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, originally published in 2002 and updated in 2019. It is a widely circulated clinical guide on anger management for group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), particularly for patients with substance use. Feel free to look through the entire manual but pay particular attention to pages 9-13 and 28-30.

The Uses of Anger

Tuesday, November 29th, 6:30-7:30 PM

Our foundational text for discussion will be Audre Lorde’s “The Uses of Anger,” first delivered as a keynote at the 1981 National Women’s Studies Association meeting. Lorde reflects on anger as a motivating and clarifying force, as well as the difference between Black women’s anger against racism and forms of anger that destroy and dehumanize.
We will pair Lorde’s work with the prologue to Carol Anderson’s recent book, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide. Anderson’s work takes an long view of white supremacist policymaking since the Civil War, rooting the denial of Black citizenship in a long-entrenched white rage. While both authors point to the dangers of leaving anger “unspoken,” the forms of anger they describe have radically different motivations and consequences.