Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Anger

I was asked to be interviewed by Heather Van Epps for an article on anger when dealing with cancer diagnosis in CURE magazine. She is the author of the linked article on another "good cancer". She is obviously a sharp and sensitive writer and I am sorry our schedules prevented us from connecting. I would have liked to have been part of her research.

Oh, well.

Here is what I would have said if asked:

Anger is an appropriate and often helpful tool if it motivates you to push for answers. It means that you care, that you are involved, that you don't just blindly accept the standard options. It quickly becomes destructive if it drains your energy, diverts your purpose, or alienates your care team.

This is what I posted in August 2010. Most of it from the words of the great medieval physician, philosopher, rationalist, and theologian, Moses Maimonides.

The Rambam said
He should not let loose the reins of anger nor let passion gain mastery over him, for all passions are evil; but, on the contrary, he should guard against them as far as this lies within the capacity of man. Sometimes, with regard to some people, he should be merciful and gracious, not out of mere compassion and pity, but in accordance with what is fitting.

In the treatise on Character Traits, he admits that there may be times when it is necessary for a person to show anger, but insists that inwardly she should remain completely tranquil.

What happened to balance and the idea of mental health? The answer is that while they are still valuable, they are not ends in themselves. Throughout his rabbinic and philosophic works, Maimonides insists (MT 1, Character Traits, 3.1) that it is impossible to love God and achieve the highest levels of concentration if one is sick, undisciplined, or living in fear of bodily harm. But in the end, moral perfection is only a necessary condition for intellectual perfection.

Stolen from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/maimonides/

Anger is nowhere. I need to meditate more and stay calmer and stronger, even when confronting the negative and even the evil.

And I will.

Why did I change? Maybe it's just me trying to be contrarian and give some breathing room to the imperfections in the readers and in myself.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved reading that post! Alison.

March 1, 2012 at 8:20 PM  

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