Call us: 469.225.9040

Do You Have An Angry Brain?


Do you find yourself at times becoming so angry that you have trouble thinking?  Maybe you act impulsively during an outburst of anger.  You may even get so mad that you find yourself feeling out of control of your actions.  In some cases, people can actually “see red.”  That’s right; even if it’s never happened to you, yet, as fits of anger and rage continue to feed and grow, there is physiological reason for the event, and you can become so mad that you can actually see red.

If you’re currently experiencing any of these events then you know the horrible impact the growing trend can have on your life, your job, and your relationships.  You see, neurobiology has shown us how over time these angry responses actually become hard-wired in our brains.  This causes us to respond angrily in situations that in other cases wouldn’t cause us to necessarily lose our composure.  What’s more is that it’s not just our relationships that are at risk.  Several clinical studies have confirmed time and again that these angry neural-pathways in the brain actually damage your health.  Other studies have shown that what you do with that anger can actually affect the health of your spouse and family.  

So what is a person to do who has developed these angry responses?  

Well the good news is that just as neurobiology taught us how these knee-jerk, angry responses become hard-wired in the brain, it has also taught us how to reverse the process.  The bad news is that that it takes work and commitment.  In fact the rule is, “Real brain change takes real effort.”  You have to be willing to make a strong commitment to the goal and be wiling to take time, put thought and emotion into it, be willing to practice, and do the homework assigned.  In other words, it has to be important to you, but the better news is that the journey is worth it, and it does work.  

Now some of you may be thinking you’ve read books or tried counseling before.  Maybe you were sent to counseling by the courts or a probation officer.  Maybe you went because your spouse told you if you didn’t they were going to leave you, or your boss said if you didn’t go he was going to fire you.  The problems with these scenarios are many, but at the forefront are two big ones.  First, it’s like quitting a compulsion.  Over the years I have used hypnotherapy to help many clients stop harmful habits.   It works very well, but only if the client wants to quit, not if he is there because someone else wants him or her to quit.  The same holds true with healing an angry brain.  You can’t just be going through the motions because a spouse or parole officer has sent you to counseling.  There has be a commitment from you; a deep desire to not be that person anymore.  The second major reason why previous counseling may not have worked is that change--real change to an angry brain takes time.  It takes more than 10 sessions to change years of hard-wired angry responses, and most anger management workshops meet for one to two hours a week for about 10-12 weeks.  How long does it take?  Well every situation is unique, but as a general rule we tend to think in terms of 3-6 months for real, positive change.

Again, the point I would like for you to take away from this is that all is not lost.  It doesn’t matter that you’ve had 4 failed marriages, that you grew up in a house with an angry parent, or that you’ve been this way since childhood.  Real, meaningful change is possible when approached from a neurobiology point of view.  

Please watch for upcoming articles in this series that will delve deeper into why the brain adopts these angry patterns and how to break out of them.  In the meantime, if you or someone you know is dealing with anger management issues and wants to change, call the office at 469-225-9040, or contact us online for a free initial consultation.


Potter-Efron, R. T. (2012). Healing the angry brain: how understanding the way your brain works can help you control anger & aggression. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

1/3 Of Divorces In 2011 Were Facebook Related

Divorce & Facebook

Back in 2012 I wrote an article about the devastating effect social media, and Facebook in particular is taking on marriages and relationships.  Since then I have often been asked for copies.  At some point I hope to take the time to repeat the research and update it for current day, but until then I'm re-posting it here. 

Sadly there isn't a week that goes by in my office that I don't hear the word Facebook when seeing couples in trauma. Research through The Gottman Institute has shown that there is a 24-Step Cascade to Betrayal or Affairs, and it starts when someone makes a comparison of their partner, to another person (either real or imaginary), and the partner loses.  Things such as, "I bet Kelly would care that I'm sick and stay home with me," or 1000 other examples.  Facebook and other social media fuels this 24-Step Cascade. 

In 2009 a study conducted by a U.K. legal services firm reported that 20% of the divorce petitions filed contained the word “Facebook.” A mere 2 years later a follow up study published in December of 2011 showed an alarming increase in the numbers indicating that one third of all divorces in 2011 were Facebook related. With numbers like that, one may ask what it is about Facebook? According to author Jason Krafsky who literally wrote the book on the subject, “Facebook and Your Marriage” it has to do with reconnecting with old flames and people from your past, as well as being able to instantly “friend” someone you just met. With this type of social medium he stated that unlike office affairs which can takes years to develop, Facebook affairs happen at lightning speed. “It puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair.” As distressing as the Facebook numbers are in and of themselves it’s even more disturbing to consider what the numbers don’t cite. While Facebook is certainly the 800 pound gorilla in the room, it’s not the only game in town. There are certainly many other sites out there that range from finding old friends, to find someone to sleep with tonight. While we don’t have numbers for the divorce percentages related to internet social sites as a whole, The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers recently stated that 80% of U.S. divorce lawyers have stated that they have seen a rise in the number of cases in which social networking were involved.

If your relationship isn't what it should be, don't wait until it's too late.  I help couples who have grown into feeling more like roommates than lovers get back on track and regain that spark.  I'd like to do the same for you.  If you'd like to talk, call me at 469-225-9040 or contact me online for a free consultation.