The Roots of Rage

This summer in America has erupted in racially charged protests about the verdict on the killing of Trayvon Martin. Yesterday I posted this video of an atheist who went berserk with rage. I’ve commented earlier about the irrational rage which seems to be simmering just below the surface in our country, and wrote here about my own feelings of trepidation in the face of this irrational rage.

What is the root of this rage?

Some would say it the roots are in historic and present day racial tension. An underclass harbors resentment because of prejudice and racism. Surely that is a contributing factor, but there are plenty of members of racial minorities who do not harbor such rage. Others might argue that the rage stems from sexual discrimination or economic inequality. Again, these are probably factors, but that can’t be the only answer because there are plenty of women and homosexuals who do not harbor the rage, and plenty of poor people who are not brimming with fury.

I believe there are other, deeper factors at play. In my book Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing I explore the roots of our emotions and suggest that our adult emotions are rooted in the earliest experiences of our lives. Here’s an example: I was once asked to help a fifteen year old boy who had suddenly become irrationally angry and rebellious. He had been a sweet looking kid, sang in the church choir and had been delightful. At fifteen he became a “Goth”. Black hair, black leathers, eye make up…the works. He also started stealing cars. We asked him why he did so. He didn’t know. We asked if he knew that he would go to jail. He did, but didn’t care. He was in a tailspin, and there was no rational explanation. He said he was mad at his Mom and Dad and found external reasons, but they were all groundless.

In an attempt to discover the roots of his rage we asked him mother about his early years. She said he was adopted, and that he was conceived in the back seat of a car when his mother was fifteen. She carried him for nine months in an attitude of rage, frustration, rebellion and hatred. The other priest I was working with realized that in some strange way the boy was acting out not just his own rage, but the rage and rebellion of his mother. He was working through and acting out (according to the priest’s theory) the disturbing circumstances that lay at the very foundation of his personality.Read More.

 

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