Anger management is the common name taken by a broad variety of techniques that help deal with anger. Violence, aggressiveness and rage are common traits or symptoms of today’s society. Anger is a basic emotion that triggers upon danger, either in real, physical hazards or with inner, psychological threats. And no one represents the pain of anger better than the Hulk, arguably the most most powerful Avenger.
Hulk represents our inner monster, the one who destroys everything we love. And Banner, our conscious self is always ashamed and guilty for the monster’s behaviour. Patients in anger management feel related to this figure. They too become someone else when rage takes over them. And then, there always comes the shame of having to rebuild what the Hulk has destroyed. A first step in anger management is to recognise the monster and what triggers it. Banner is a good role model for this purpose.
In a second moment, there comes the time to talk to the monster and make it your ally instead of your enemy. For this purpose, I love the first Avengers movie scene where Tony Stark (AKA the Therapist) confronts Bruce with his monster and tells him maybe the Hulk saved him from the Gamma accident. This gives the monster a reason to exist and a way to approach it as a friend instead of a foe. In therapy, the patient must explore where his monster comes from and most of the time it actually was formed to defend the self from terrible threats.
A third stage in dealing with the angry monster is to use its force to empower the self, thus to channel rage in a positive, creative way instead of it bursting out into destruction. Again, in the first Avengers movie, we see Banner transforming himself into The Hulk at will as he reveals his secret: “I’m always angry.”
Laura Elena Ferron-Martinez is a trained psychoanalyst who uses superheroes to help her patients deal with their conditions. She’s currently working on her PHD to analyse comic characters and their psychic impact.