‘Releasing Anger’ | All Sober Book Club

Four decades ago, an anonymous man in recovery sketched out some humble truths in 15 pages and discovered "anger is a friend," in some ways

December 20, 2023
Cover of the book Releasing Anger, by Richard S.

Releasing Anger by Richard S. | 24 pp. | Hazelden Publishing | 1985. (Also available to borrow, free, from the Internet Archive.)

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The terminology, treatments and understanding of addiction psychology have evolved over the years, but the hardest feelings of addiction and early recovery sure seem to sting the same for every generation. Shame. Loneliness. Frustration. Apathy. Fear. Anger.

Yet despite its familiarity, the last of these, “a normal feeling that every human being on this earth has,” proved particularly bedeviling for people in recovery, noticed an Alcoholics Anonymous member whose only known credentials are his first name and last initial — Richard S.

“Releasing Anger,” Richard’s 15-page meditation on anger and recovery, is not groundbreaking. It is explicitly remedial, an introduction to a basic universal emotion that many newly sober people forgot, or never learned, how to process without substances. After a brief foray through what causes anger, what it feels like, and whose issue it is to deal with (yours), Richard pinpoints some unhealthy approaches to anger (denial and “cold anger”; aggression and blame), where they may lead (“suppressed anger = pity = resentment = DRINK”), and how one might best recognize, work through and express anger.

This isn’t meant to be complicated stuff. The idea is that you can flip through and mark up the pamphlet in half an hour — and then remember to grab it again later, when you’re seething. Stick around for Richard’s pensées on anger and what we today call mental well-being. “We are striving for wholeness, and wholeness is neither right nor wrong,” he concludes. “Wholeness doesn’t exclude anger or fear any more than it excludes happiness or sadness. … The more we accept and are aware of anger, the more loving and caring our own lives become.”

Cover image: Copyright © 1985, Hazelden Publishing

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