Anger, Depression, & False Accusations
Anger and depression are frequently known to be the “flip side of the same coin”. Anger is driven by feelings of injustice, false accusations, and expressions of hostility and grief. It can result in name calling, uncensored shouting, and physical attacks. Depression is anger against oneself; feelings of rejection, hopelessness and remorse, hatred against oneself, and, if feelings of rejection are strong enough, suicide.
How we come to have these feelings can be explained by beginning with childhood. Children feel helpless. Because of their lack of experience and knowledge, because they are small and unable to defend themselves from the “giants” that are their parents, they must concede to the requests and demands made of them, whether they agree or not. Little people depend upon the will of their up-bringers and bigger people in their surroundings. If their significant others are belligerent, antagonistic, and push their sense of superiority and authoritarianism upon their progeny, they will feel minimized and built up feelings of antagonism can become a part of their personality structure. If no love is given to children thus treated, they have feelings of unworthiness and self hatred/anger, and depression can be their lot. These children can take on the attributes of their parents or caregivers and become the authoritarians, always “righteous,” dictatorial adults, whose opinions and actions are the only ones that are credible and “correct”. They cannot hear another out nor care about what any one else believes or feels. They become the Stalins, the Hitlers, the dictators in their world. These people do not know what love is since they are feared, not loved. Individuals and nations do their bidding for fear of retribution that may come if they do not follow these power-hungry dictators.
The victims of these individuals either follow in goosestep, become intimidated, believe the falsehoods that are perpetrated on them, and are convinced that these power players can make or break them. They frequently build up internal antagonisms and then defend their perpetrators, even if they once knew that the directives given are untruths.
We can see the outcomes of the “powerful” in our daily lives. Children may be programmed to believe the twisted propaganda that they were taught. They may accuse an individual of something he or she said or did and will not let go until the victim of such accusations agrees or becomes openly defiant and antagonistic toward the perpetrator and falls out of his or her role. The person thus attacked will shout out some obscenities or vituperations to be heard, to be accepted, to be acknowledged and believed. The reaction of the victim becomes more painful and he/she feels great pain, remorse and hopelessness. She has now lost the “love” that she so desperately needed. The perpetrator of the accusation is always right and cannot be questioned.
In our daily lives, we can see the outcome of folk who have struggled and suffered from what they have experienced. The individual thus injured feels unloved, unworthy and unlovable. We can see this in a large way when we look at the fate of the Jewish people. In Nazi Germany the Jewish individuals began to believe the edicts of their killers. Being called vermin, the garlic eaters, the Shylocks, the perpetrators of all the evil in the world and much more, they became self haters. These intrinsic evils are also the lot of the aging person. The old are rejected and qualities that are observed in a few are often attributed to all folks of advancing years. Thus they are universally called senile, incapable of clear thinking, forgetful, useless, gullible, and worthless. They cannot drive, regardless of the actuality, they are boring, do nothing but babble and reminisce, are useless eaters, and should best be staying out of the way. They are expected to be the gentle giving, silent bystanders who give unrealistic compliments, services and gifts to those who treat them with benign acts or verbalizations.
There are the folk who have been so besmirched, minimized and unloved that they turn to alcohol to minimize their feelings of rejection and antagonism. They use drinks as anesthetics to feel worthy of being human. They cannot feel the pain while under the influence of their chosen narcotic.
As Jews and as humans, let us minimize others' flaws as well as our own, let us forgive ourselves if we have failed sometimes in words and deeds, let us stand up for what we feel is healthy with a clear vision, let us fight for the rights of others and defend those who cannot or will not defend themselves. Let us forgive those who have been hurtful and let us remember the positives in our lives.
Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.