by - Dr. T V Sairam

What is Anger?
Anger is an avoidable evil that could be commonly noticed not only in the animal world, but also in the ‘civilized human society! It is an emotion. It happens when an individual's emotional equilibrium is disturbed. The reason for this could either be internal or an external factor. It can even be triggered by factors which are related to one's past experience in life. The trigger factors could even be trivial and nonsense, like some one breaking the queue or overtaking a vehicle or talking loudly. it is also widely known that predisposing factors make a person vulnerable to anger even at the slightest provocation.

Anger: The Cause
Anger is also caused by expectations. Expectation for a good life and happiness is also one of the causes for anger, which aggravates the very path to happiness! Disenchantment with the systems which leads people to agitate against the governmental policies, against inequities and injustice are the other causes for anger. Victimization, partiality, bullying, lack of confiding relationship, depression, poor coping skills, poor self esteem, exposure to violence in films and television shows are the other causes that induce anger in people. Non-acceptance of the people and the world around, in short, is the main reason for anyone becoming angry!

There are alo reports indicating that recurrent incidents of anger lead to so many unfortunate consequences in life, which are never intended when one thinks retrospectively. Divorce, separation, loss of friendship or companionship, adverse reaction by others, loss of golden opportunities are some of the many adverse consequences an angry person faces in the society. The most important of all these consequences lies in the major role played by anger in one’s health profile. Several illnesses such as hypertension, heart ailments, mental instability etc are attributed to those who fall an easy prey for angry bouts. Anger is also not socially accepted as it leads to several crimes including homicide and whatnot, disturbing the peace and tranquillity of social life.

Anger Prevention Possibilities through Music
One who is determined to prevent anger needs more contemplation and meditation on its futility. One has to re-orient oneself by adopting a “new attitude”- an attitude that perceives the positive side of the world and the people around. It is similar to the incidence that describes Nero playing fiddle, when the entire Rome was burning! By playing fiddle and getting involved to the ‘musical logic’, Nero had fortified himself with coping skills. Yes, it is the music here with its own logic has provided solace to those who have to accept the world and its people.

Nada Centre for Music Therapy and its volunteers have experimented with both Indian (folk, film, semi-classical etc) and Western (pop, rock, blues and classical) music to test their impact on those who tend to be short-tempered. It was noticed that by consciously and repeatedly adopting to the rajasic (active) music of their choice which contains lots of drumming in a fairly fast tempo, the frequencies of angry bouts have fallen down considerably. The experiments of the Centre on these lines with anger-prone mentally retarded children were also fruitful especially with proto-ragas and drums which came handy to re-enact their anger through music. This was supplemented with body movements such as for example, Tiger Dance which was experimented at Lebenshilfe, Visakhapatnam which house over 400 mentally retarded children. Here the children were given clothes and masks of a tiger and made to dance to heavy drum beating with shouts and noises. The overactive children coud thus tire themselves with an aesthetic performance!

Conflict resolution skills through Musical Experience
Conflicts can be resolved by negotiation and mediation. These skills can be taught by the inherent features in music. For instance Indian music is made of two aspects: raga or resonance and tala or beats. The Indian traditions in music train the musicians to use both these aspects simultaneously. This would mean that the emotion clothed in raga is expressed simultaneously- at the very fraction of the second- with the calculation involved in the timing of the beats. Thus, by balancing these two aspects, one is trained to balance one’s emotion with his or her thinking. This balancing helps in resolving the conflicts one faces in life.

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Dr T V Sairam is from F/48B, Hari Nagar,New Delhi 110064. For any doubts you can contact him at -