Sue Parker Hall has developed her particular approach to working with anger and rage over the last decade, and presents her thinking and experience, including her own model of working, in a lively and rigorously argued book. She is adamant about the differences between anger and rage and makes every effort to keep the two apart: while anger is considered a “pure emotion” originating in the “separation and individuation” developmental phase, rage is conceptualized as “the inability to process life’s experiences due to the operation of an early psychological defence mechanism that is mustered in response to an archaic or recent traumatic experience of the environment failing.”

Rage’s roots are understood to be pre-verbal and pre-cognition, and develop as either “hot” (aggressive and potentially manipulative) or “cold” (engendering indifference and withdrawal). It is seen as endemic in Britain and America today, with plenty of sadly vivid examples. However, Parker Hall has higher regard for anger – with some interesting views as to its “multiplicity of essential functions”– including confronting challenging situations and even keeping us in good physical health. Rage too may become useful, if successfully transformed into “adult rage” which can be put to useful social activism that serves others (Michael Moore being one example of an expert here).

So what’s the best way to transform anger and rage positively? Not, apparently, by familiar interventions including cognitive behavioural programmes and the Duluth model. These are roundly criticized in favour of an “Empathic Anger Management” process (EAM), which is founded on an empirically supported, and humanistic, “relational approach” that calls upon different aspects of the therapeutic relationship in the process. In essence, the empathic environment (and method) Parker Hall outlines enables clients to connect with their inherent capacity to process life experience.

Plenty of case examples are woven into the text, alongside research, and Parker Hall is refreshingly honest in bringing the use of her self into the work and text too. Particular attention is given to working with borderline and narcissistic personalities, as well as couples.

Anger, Rage and Relationship ISBN 978-0-415-51348-0 Routledge £18.99