When I was in my intern year, one of my attendings named Dr. Pasture informed me that I had anger issues.
Dr. Pasture was leading a small group exercise where another intern was playing the doctor and I was playing a difficult patient. I had fun with it and tried to be a difficult patient to the best of my acting ability, laying it on as thick as I could. I was later presented with an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. (Just kidding, I only got a Golden Globe.)
I noticed that during the role-playing, the other intern started getting flustered to the point where I felt a little guilty. So after we were done, I laughingly apologized.
Later that day, I had a clinic with Dr. Pasture. While I was in his office, he said to me, "I want to talk to you about something, Fizzy."
That didn't sound good. I immediately started to panic. "What is it?"
"You know," he said, "it's okay to get angry. If you felt a need to apologize for yelling during that role playing, I suspect you never show any anger. I just wanted you to know that it's okay to get angry at people."
That was the last thing I had expected him to say. At first, I was just baffled. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was kind of right.
I do get angry, of course, but I never, ever yell. Or even snap at people. I don't even do it in my own home, because both my husband and daughter are exceedingly sensitive. As an example, a few nights ago, my daughter spilled a big cup of water everywhere after I warned her to be careful... all I did was say her name sharply, and she ran crying to the closet and hid in a suitcase. So I've kind of trained myself never to yell.
But what's so bad about that?
My husband showed me some study (I'm too lazy to find the reference) where women who didn't vent their anger at their husbands had a shorter life expectancy. I'm not entirely sure why he'd show me a study that would encourage me to yell at him more, but I guess he felt concerned that I was angry at him sometimes and just not expressing it. I'd argue that while I may not yell, I do other great wifely things, like whine, complain, and nag. I certainly don't walk around constantly feeling angry at my husband. And I vent a lot of my frustrations through writing.
Then again, I do sometimes find it hard to let go of things. Every now and then, I compose rants in my head directed at people who I feel wronged me years ago, thinking about what I wish I'd said to them. ("The jerk store called and they're running out of YOU!") Am I the only one who does that? It doesn't feel particularly healthy.
I'm not sure what to think. I don't particularly like people who yell a lot. I tend to think they have poor control over their emotions. But who's more likely to have the early coronary, me or them?