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Angry nation

As always, Hollywood is setting the trend for the rest of the entertainment industry to follow.

James Cameron’s Titanic? A three hour film followed by three months of television shows on the disaster, with lengthy expert debates on whether the ship broke in half before it sank, or split on the way down.

The Perfect Storm? One killer wave spawned hundreds of programs on tidal waves, storms at sea, and the construction of boats.

Even fictional movies send television producers scrambling to come up with shows to leech off their box office popularity. Rain Man? I now know more about autism than I do about cancer. The Matrix? How many shows do we need on special effects and the status quo of artificial intelligence?

The newest flavour of the day is rage, sparked by the imminent release of the new Adam Sandler movie, Anger Management. It’s a comedy, but it’s based on a true phenomena.

Now anger stories are appearing on the front pages of major newspapers.

In a recent London Times, a British doctor named Theodore Dalrymple hypothesizes that the growing number of people in anger management reflects our growing Therapeutic State – which basically means that rage is in the process of being accepted and tolerated as a mainstream illness. People will be allowed to claim that their anger is not their fault, that it’s genetic, or the result of a bad upbringing. They will be medicated, placated, found not guilty of anger-related crimes, and treated with the same reverence we now treat depressed, impotent, hyperactive and overweight people.

Angry people will demand patience and understanding. Any suggestion that someone diagnosed with a rage disorder should calm the *$%# down will be met with cries of bigotry, and probably more rage.

If it sounds implausible, Anne Kingston outlined a number of cases in a recent column in the National Post, ‘Anger management makes me furious’.

For example, take the recent air rage case against a 46-year-old man who lost his temper at 30,000 feet and had to be forcibly restrained by eight male passengers. A psychiatrist testified that the man suffered from a rare condition called automatism, which leads to erratic behaviour when the afflicted goes through metabolic changes or is sleep deprived. The guy was found not guilty, and freed to take the chip on his shoulder elsewhere.

One psychologist is promoting an idea that people who are quick to anger likely inherited the trait – "the family transmission of psycho-social and emotional distress, and specifically anger in males." It seems we’re not responsible for anything we do anymore, even our bad behaviour.

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