BOOK EXCERPT

Why anger is (almost) as important as love in the relationship between parents and children

A new book looks at the inner worlds of children through the eyes of a psychotherapist.

Anger: The demon in each one of us. We despise it, apparently. Yet we are drawn to its power.

Aggression is a necessary part of living. It is “the innate urge of the child to use force in order to control, to dominate, to overcome, to master, to influence something in the outside world. Aggressiveness is necessary in order for man to establish contact with an external object, to maintain this contact and to control objects in his environment.” The roots of our aggression are the roots of our life force. The pleasure we experience in movement, even if it hurts at times, the rage we experience at frustration, have the same roots.

The demon of anger is in us all. It is us. It makes us; it makes us different, it makes us stand out, stand up and move ahead. For it is the same energy that powers a tantrum or a rage that also powers our capacity to assert ourselves, have an opinion, to be heard, to place a boundary or go beyond one. Our aggression is what helps us differentiate self from other.

This demon is constantly repelled in order to prove our piety, goodness and uni-dimensional nature, usually the feeling of love. But it is a precarious state, often a front, or a false self, like the little girl who keeps a smile on her face even when she is nervous.

Yet, like the inevitable age-old relationship between the devas and the asuras in Hindu creation myths, this demon is near. Always near. And like the asuras who are honest about their quest for amrit, anger is honest. About want, greed, desire, about being self-serving, perhaps to the point of destruction of what we also hold as good and valuable. Acknowledged openly.

Repelled but present, whether as envy, greed or jealousy, whether unconscious, repressed or displaced, controlled or sublimated, this demon is always present. And when we deny its existence, we miss the point it is trying to make and perhaps miss out on an important part of the truth; our truth.

  • We are never in 100% attunement with our loved ones.
  • An absence of conflict is not what we need.
  • What we need is repeated experiences that misalignments will be repaired, that conflicts will be resolved, that love will be greater than anger. That is what builds a stronger relationship, not the avoidance of conflict.”

My five-year-old daughter, when really annoyed with me would say “Mumma, you are such a zebra!”

One time, when I was urging/forcing/cajoling her to take some medicine (for her own good) she frowned, screwed up her eyes, curled her little hand into a fist and air-punched me, one inch away from my face. I was taken aback but returned the air-punch to her fist and it turned into a game. She had rebelled, got her point across, no one got hurt, there was no retaliation and I did manage to get the medicine in as well.

As a six-year-old, my daughter could verbalise “Sometimes I think you are a monster”; she said it with some trepidation, lest the monster-mumma emerged at that moment. A year later she would wonder out loud “DO you still love me? Then why do you shout at me?” And she could ask “How can it be that you still love me when you are shouting at me?”

At other times it did not go so well. She would walk into our bedroom in the middle of the night plagued by “bad thoughts” or nightmares in which she was being attacked or I was being killed. I found myself trying various things as panacea – “it’s nothing, go back to sleep” or “it’s only a dream, it’s not real, go back to sleep” or just “it is the middle of the night, GO BACK TO SLEEP!”

Eventually I decided I may try some of my psychoanalytically informed theories, that in fact her “bad thoughts” were fuelled by her unacknowledged anger that she was projecting outward. In other words, “she was angry with me, in real life and instead of being able to talk about that, she was covering it up but the cover was flimsy and was not working; that it would just be simpler if she would be mad at me when she was mad at me”, or words to that effect.

It worked.

By the time she was eight years old I began to get written notes telling me off for some omission or oversight, telling me I had lost points and was now scraping the bottom of the barrel and needed to pull up my socks if I wanted my status to improve. She could say “I hate you right now” and more complex ideas such as “I love you but I don’t like you”.

The “bad thoughts” stopped. By nine, I was “the best mumma in the world”.

Let’s see how long this lasts before rage returns.

“We do much more violence to babies and young people by neglecting their emotional realities and moving them further away from an honest relationship with their internal worlds. Living with a theory of ‘bacche to aise hi pal jaate hain’, we abandon children and let emotional poverty and hunger continue, and it returns to us all. One of the jobs of a parent is to be a kind of emotion coach, and certainly to help children regulate their emotional states. Children cannot do this for themselves.”

I love you. I hate you.

Cinderella and Snow White solved this problem by splitting their hatred and anger, into the step-mother they were persecuted by. That way the love for their adored but dead mother could be preserved. And this is true, that is how it happens, a love that is preserved is in fact dead because it is unreal. Our real selves are far more complex and that complexity is painful but it is not uni-dimensional. Because we are dynamic, and we have our opposites right there next to us, like our shadows, which can only be seen by us depending on how the light falls.

All of our emotions are painful when experienced intensely but none so painful as anger toward someone we love. For it is only those whom we love and depend on who cause us frustration and pain. Because “Anger is the loudest of all the emotions”; it can effectively work to cover many of the other feelings that may live alongside it – sadness, disappointment, guilt or the search for parental love.

Anger can be used as a defence to hide our other feelings behind, or it can be honest. Either way it predisposes us to violence, in action and inaction, in words, in fantasy, both conscious and unconscious, and also through neglect and abandonment. We neglect our own feelings and those of our children when we judge and condemn angry outbursts; we fail to let them experience their angry parts and eventually deprive them of a nuanced, unbiased view of their inner lives. This is an uncomfortable, daily, ordinary occurrence in every family, between every parent-child pair.

Excerpted with permission from Love and Rage: The Inner Worlds of Children, Nupur D Paiva, Yoda Press.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.

Play

So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.