Adolescent Boys and Anger

Doing therapy with adolescents is difficult. This is an understatement. With most boys, it's even tougher. If they get poor role models, then it's even more difficult. If, on the other hand, they have fathers, uncles, grandfathers or other men in the community--coaches, clergy, etc. that praise them and give them blessings, we see boys that can express anger appropriately and the concomitant sadness or grief which usually underlies the anger.

William Pollack, Ph.D, who has worked with boys and men at Harvard for over 25 years wrote a wonderful book called The Boys Code and this spells out all the dangers that families and societies need to be aware of to help them. He talks about the codes of: 1. big boys don't cry; 2. big boys need to be weaned away from their mothers at tender ages--5-6; 3. boys need to learn how to fight well and early,etc. Of course, he is saying that society needs to do the opposite in order for boys to develop emotionally and psychologically in their own ways. He feels that attachment to mother should not be severed at an early age; that this leads to fear of intimacy later in life. I highly recommend reading this book if you are raising boys or have adolescent boy relatives or work with boys.

More to my point about boys and anger now: if boys are sad and stuff their feelings with no skills on how to express their sadness and grief, they will have temper tantrums or rage for no apparent reason. Often they cannot express sadness and grief and there are no real opportunities to express these emotions publicly let alone privately. Grown men and society ought to support boys in expressing these deep emotions so that they do not need to resort to violence as adults. There ought to be classes in every school or house of worship to encourage expression of grief along with tears, etc. This can be done ritualistically, as it is done in many other so called "third world/developing nations and cultures". As industrialized nations, we have much to learn from other "primitive" cultures. In my judgment, they are far ahead of us in many emotional arenas; we can learn from them.

The good news is that more Psychologists and learning experts are discovering ways that we can improve our lives and that of our children; thereby, improving all of humanity. Let's continue to develop as a species and raise our consciousness--the planet depends on it.

©2009, Michael Shaffran

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Mike Shaffran is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist with over 30 years experience in the mental health profession. He's worked most of his time in outpatient Psychiatric clinics where he has provided individual, couples/marital, family and group therapy. He is trained in multiple therapies, including: Psycho-dynamic, Gestalt,Structural-Strategic Family, Solution focused, Brief Therapy, and other methods. He is trained in EMDR ( a type of therapy for PTSD), hypnosis, meditation and guided imagery also. Mike is committed to ongoing seminars, workshops and trainings to keep current with the latest therapy to provide the best services possible to his clients. www.sanluisobispotherapy.com or E-Mail

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