Each later figured it was actually fear that caused the anger. That was a hard call because anger takes center stage and covers up much else that is going on at the time. Each just wanted to burn with (inward self-justified) rage at the professors, the dissertation tasks or the time it took to do the tasks.
There is a feeling of power and justification that comes with anger. It all seems so right to you at the time. This is all an illusion and it could cost you your future if you do not control it. Not everyone rages on the outside. Most of the anger from what I have heard takes place inside of your head and your body.
In my case a lot of it came out of my mouth with a bit of swearing and ranting at home whenever things did not go my way, the task was too hard or I was tired. I was surprised to find out after graduating that my family felt like they were walking on eggshells whenever I was around. That had not been the case before the doctoral degree years and I have finally built back the bridges I burned during my degree years. The class taking years were not that bad, most of it was the dissertation time. Other doc students who graduated have mentioned this also.
You can pull up all sorts of data on anger and how it screws up your body, destroys your hormone balance (over time) and leads to all sorts of negative things. Those people in anger now will deny all of this and talk about how it motivates them and makes their thinking sharper. They cling to the thing harming them and their family relationships like a life preserver after a shipwreck at night. This is all an illusion and it could cost you your future if you do not control it.
Sometimes the anger comes out overtly and other times it comes out in a passive aggressive way. The passive aggressive person always thinks they are being clever and no one else can pick up on their behavior and feelings. Other people are smart and perceptive and that defines most doctoral committee members so it does get noticed and it can drive a wedge between you and the very people you need to graduate. Anger also makes you think you are smarter than others so you do things like post bad comments on Facebook or other media thinking the targeted person will never see it. But someone always wants to stir things up and will send the negative comments to the person you are belittling.
You really do not want to publicly make fun of the Dean, Department Head, doctoral committee members, department secretary or other professors. When angry it seems so right to do it because you are so much in the right (or so you think). Most of these maligned folks will never talk to you about this since that is not the college way. They just step back a bit and help a lot less. Maybe they will add all sorts of extra work to your dissertation and then drop the extra material later. What can be better than 50 extra hours of useless research caused by the joy of running off your angry mouth?
Most of this post is to make you more aware of what may be driving you. Just that awareness may cool you down a bit or maybe even get you to see how angry you may actually be. When you get angry then figure out first why you are mad. Go deeper than simply saying that Professor such and such is an a**hole. That really does not help the situation. Worse your anger will show up in your voice tone, emails and body language. Remember most doctoral students are extra work for the professor so do not drive off the people who can help you.
When you get angry figure out where you are, who you are with or what memories you are replaying in your mind. Work on these variables and figure out what is setting you off. Do you get angry when other folks disagree with you? Does this professor remind you of another teacher or adult who wronged you in the past? Figure out who and what is affecting you and work to change the stimuli into something non-threatening. Look up behavioral desensitization procedures to make stressful things stop being stressful. Have a friend or family member read your email to this person before you send it etc. You are smart so have fun with this and solve it.
The same procedures will work with difficult bosses later on. Later we will look at specific procedures to help you with anger but awareness is the first step. Admit if you are angry and become aware of it and all of angers tricks. Realize your strength does not come from the anger. It comes from your motivation and your intellect. The anger is simply a big sugar rush reaction that can play over and over in your mind. Do not let it run your life.
Mind your goals,
Dr. Randy Parker
National Doctoral Students Association