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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

We’re not encouraging bad behaviour, but if you’ve been suffering from anger management issues, this is something that may be able to help you out. Pooja Salvi & Jagruti Verma tell you what you need to know about destruction therapy

Have you ever been so angry that you just want to hurl whatever is in your hand at the moment (remotes, coffee cups and plates seem to have suffered the worst fate here) across the room? While that’s tempting, we suggest holding on a little harder, for a little longer. After all, it’s not the sort of behaviour that you should resort to every time you have a bad day. Anger is a common emotion, which you probably experience at some point during the day — whether it’s because your boss isn’t treating you well, you’re preoccupied with work, you’re going through a bout of anxiety or you’re simply having a bad day. But, some people can deal with their emotions better than others. Whatever your reason for being angry is, an outburst won’t be appreciated by the people around you, and isn’t the healthiest way to deal with it either. Read on to find out more about a unique form of therapy that is helping people to deal with their emotions, and see whether you should buy into it.

Destruction therapy
When you’re really angry, your first impulse is to throw or break something. Destruction therapy believes in letting you follow this impulse — in the right manner, of course. Destruction has been used as a therapy to relieve stress for quite a while now. It’s quite simple — you break items in order to reduce your stress levels. 

Destruction therapy is based on the idea that human beings find violent activities therapeutic — Fight Club, anyone? It often uses physical force to help you to get rid of frustration. Although many therapists argue that using violence to get rid of anger is counterproductive to managing it, this is a form of therapy that has been popular across the world for a long time. When it comes to using it, remember that the anger should only be directed towards inanimate objects — always your own.

How does this work?
The very first time you try to break something, it may feel like a fun activity — an exercise where you get to destroy things when you’re frustrated. But, even if you don’t have an exhilarating first time, it will relieve you to a certain extent, because the hormones that are released here are the same as those released when you exercise. Destruction therapy is intense and releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and endorphins. You’ll feel even better if you push yourself to exhaustion — your brain will start producing nitric oxide, which works as an effective anti-depressant.

Breaking an inanimate object isn’t going to do you much good. If you really want anger therapy to work in your favour and you want to address deeper issues, therapists suggest delving into your past and bringing up memories of an event that once made you extremely angry. This will help your body to produce more chemicals, including fight-or-flight hormones, adrenaline and the stress hormone called cortisol. Addressing your anger issues with violence may not seem like a good thing — and many doubt that this is healthy in the long run.

Is this the right way?
“Destruction therapy helps you to release pent up negative emotions by damaging property and objects, and feeling a sense of wellness after you do. It can be cathartic, but its permanence is doubtful. The real management of anger involves the cognitive restructuring and reappraising of situations so that anger does not re-occur or is better managed,” says Dr. Shefali Batra, psychiatrist, cognitive therapist and co-founder of InnerHour.

When we asked Dr. Kashish A Chhabria, a counselling psychologist and psychotherapist, about the therapy, she told us, “There is a certain amount of adrenaline that rushes into people who resort to destruction therapy — they seem to calm down after the therapy and also find it fun. However, one must not forget that this is quite different from punching a pillow to vent your frustration — the pillow doesn’t get destroyed. Here, an object is hit with the intention of it being destroyed, like using a hammer to destroy a car.”

Don’t use it as a long-term solution
“If someone has had anger issues for a while or has been diagnosed with an anger issue, destruction therapy can help them to vent their anger to a certain extent,” Dr. Ashish Gambre, a psychiatrist at SRV Hospital tells us. However, he warns that the therapy won’t work in the long run. “We need to find the reason behind his anger in order to rule out other psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder and a history of substance abuse. The person may also require counselling or medication, depending on his anger issues,” he tells us.

Dr. Shefali also thinks this therapy is not a good long term solution. “In the long run, cognitive and emotive approaches are more important because they help you to eliminate the root cause of the anger you are feeling. Destructive therapy is a method of displaced anger. Real management entails facing the situation using psychological techniques,” she says.

“Although the psychological value of this therapy is debatable, people often try it because it helps them release their pent up anger in a way that does not hurt anyone. However, there is no assurance against the buildup of further aggression. The benefits of this therapy may be limited to people who are unable to control their aggression in a particular situation and may project the same on to people or animals,” Dr. Kashish explains.

Other options
“I usually advise simple techniques such as extreme weight lifting, using a punching bag, screaming out loud or a pillow wrestle. I haven’t advised anyone to use a sledgehammer to break car windshields yet, because I believe that violence isn’t the solution to your problems. In order to help people deal with differences in a more responsible manner, they need to build assertiveness in self-expression and control their anger,” says Dr. Shefali.

“Destructotherapy has become popular in some countries such as China and Spain in spite of the mounting proof against it. In my professional experience, so far, I have found no scientifically published research proving its significance, nor do any psychological associations in India, or for that matter globally, advocate its effectiveness. Still, several reasons have led to its growing popularity,” says Swati Sharma, Ph.D. research scholar at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Delhi. She adds, “Personally, my area of research comprises of positive psychology and Indian psychology, both of which in no way support destructotherapy. I think that long-term anger management solutions lie in attaining peace and resolving the issues within oneself.”

What people think?

We asked a few people what they think about destruction therapy. Here’s what they had to say.

It works
“I think that it’s a good method for people who have extreme mood swings. It can help them to release all their anger and negative energy. Of course, you should make sure that the destruction is restricted to non-living things. I think that it can help when nothing else does. Sometimes, it helps me. People around me get scared though, so, I make sure that I do it in my own space. I usually break glasses and ceramics. It’s better than hurting yourself or others. The therapy works, but it should be studied and scrutinised when practiced. People can’t use it as an excuse for extremely aggressive behaviour.”
— Jeet Dalvi, advertising professional

Better than breaking bones!
“It sounds like a good, safe way to get rid of any pent up aggression that you have. In today’s world, stress plays an important role in an individual’s life, both physically and mentally. Sometimes, your stress levels rise to an extreme and in such cases, I think that this would be beneficial, since it may help to prevent the use of stress in a negative manner. I guess that breaking things is better than breaking bones!”
— Wafa Bhombal, marketing executive

Flush out stress
“According to me, destruction therapy is a good way to release tension, but it has a negative side to it as well. I think that it can be used as a good alternative to flush out stress instead of bottling it up. However, it should be used as a last resort. If I was given an option, I would definitely want to try destruction therapy.”
– Jyostsna Rochani, student


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