Monday, October 06, 2008

Rage - Part 2

The second part of Griff Rhys Jones’s programmes ‘Losing it ‘was devoted to solutions and pearls of wisdom such as ‘the flip side of anger is comedy.’ It got off to a riveting start with Griff beside himself with rage making a programme about New York, where he was about to abseil down a sky scraper – admittedly a situation conducive to giving rein to one’s emotions.
‘Don’t f-----g direct me just f-----g film it!’ or words to that effect - he screamed at the director. It was early morning; he was very tired and using anger as a communication.
The question was asked if there was a solution - does the angry person really want one.

He blames stress, pressure and sheer self indulgence but after seeing the first programme when his PA said his rage was such a burden, he realised it was time to do something about it. He rang Rory McGrath to ask what had changed his rage and was told it took too much energy away and also that it gave the other person too much power. He asked Rory what he thought about Griff’s rage and Rory said he thought rage was a sign of low self esteem and with all that Griff had accomplished he couldn’t understand why he would fly off the handle.

Griff says his rage is moralistic; there is a right way of doing things, a faster way and things should be done properly. What do you do when you are right and the others are wrong? You fly into a rage.

Muriel Gray said she had treatment for anger after a tragedy caused her to take it out on other people. She started therapy but it was the realisation of what she was doing that helped her. ‘You have to tell yourself that you can’t control everything. Change the things you can change and be mellow about the things you can’t.’ She told Griff he couldn’t be angry with people because they weren’t as clever as he is. That would be like Daley Thompson being cross with people who can’t run as fast as he can.
‘Reboot your love of fellow men ‘she advised. Griff was not convinced.

The signs of his anger are getting hot or cold, blood pressure rising and to calm down one should drop shoulders – take a deep breath and walk away in to another room. Don’t let the voice in your head wind you up further; listen to positive talk.

Griff admits he’s not so good at staying calm and wonders if 8 espressos before lunch is a good idea. He decides to get some diet advice and meets Gudrun who earths him to a machine with negative ions which pull down through the lymphatic glands and gets rid of lactic acid. He was told he should hear a little zz-ing noise and smell the. sea. There was a red lamp shining on his chest. A few days later he received a package from Gudrun with a calming diet and soothing medicaments – Artemisia I think –to be taken 5 or 6 times a day. As Griff pointed out one of them looked like the contents of a hamster tray. Apparently he already has a wheat free diet but at this stage I didn’t feel Griff was taking this particular solution totally seriously.

Griff wonders if the passion can be harnessed and talks to young Ross who used to have a high flash point but has been a professional boxer for two years so he can’t get angry. Now if he’s provoked he laughs it off and lets off steam in the gym. Griff asks what gave him the ability and Ross says it’s the knowledge of what he could do to the provoker and the conviction of his own self control. There is a sequence with Griff in a ridiculous helmet, boxing in a ring to the tune of ‘Rocky’ being adjured to: ‘Grit your teeth and punch!’ which sounded exactly like ‘Cream tea and punch!’
He realised that after a bout one was too exhausted to lose one’s temper. He was told you can’t lose your temper in a fight and he should become aware of arousal points that can boil over.

Talking to a gentle man – Peter Kay – he told of a letter he had from some vicar in Norfolk asking him to open a fete and, before writing a letter to say he can’t, has the most violent temper tantrum as he regards it as a threat to managing his life. Peter tells him he should get boundaries established and that he is angry with himself. Not really listening Griff recalls an incident on breakfast TV when he was there to promote something. He was told to be there at crack of dawn and then was told he would be interviewed after Ben Fogle – after the news. Griff flew in to a rage shouting ‘F--- Ben Fogle. F--- You!’ Ben Fogle walked in the room and Griff meekly said ‘Hello Ben.’
He told Peter he had been brought up to behave and Peter asked him what was the risk of addressing the problem. Griff avoided the question and was told he was slippery; that he wouldn’t answer a direct question; there was a fear of finding out the truth.

Heston Blumenthal said that it was to do with overly worrying what people think of you; that one wanted to be thought perfect and couldn’t take rejection. It was’ love me or fight me.’ One has to accept that every body can‘t like everybody.

As an escape from intractable problems Griff visits a monastery in the Tibetan tradition of approaching the world with mindfulness and compassion. A calm lady tells him to let go of anger through relaxation and meditation; to take time every day to have a rest and be aware of thoughts coming and going and get one’s mind to rest and to build on this. She said life gets better and better as the former chaos disappears. The best time was the morning and he should wash his face first.
Griff wasn’t sure if he can take Buddhism into his daily life but he talks his way out of doing it and goes to Los Angeles instead.

Here he sees a psycho-therapist – George Anderson and one couldn’t help wondering if he had considered seeing his old friend Pamela Stephenson instead – now a psycho- therapist in LA. First he had to fill in a form with 200 questions about personal skills which made him irritable and he clearly resented the whole system and the cost of it, but when he was interviewed by George he realised he couldn’t slip out of the questions. He was given a log book with more questions and with hoots of laughter is derisive when told he should find the value of anger rather than the cure; that he may talk himself out of creating.

He talks to street fighters who have learned to channel their anger and attends a session of George’s with people who have been ordered to attend by the County Court. This took the form of: ‘My name is Rex and I’m …’sort of thing. Griff found them witty and articulate – acknowledging what they had done and learning about self control. Griff told the group about the time he was in a play which was failing and he got in a rage at the director’s incompetence. Not At Him - he added. Later he realised that he had used this opportunity to brag; what an excellent farceur he was and also realised he couldn’t take criticism.
He learned that one should recognise there is a problem – if not to oneself – to others. He decided that the solution lies in subtly changing his behaviour; whether he had the patience or the will he says he will have to find out in the future.

I found this an absorbing and, at times hilarious documentary but I’m not convinced that the main aim was to find a solution to his rages rather than make a good programme. For instance I think diet and therapy are valuable tools but Gudrun and one of the earlier psycho-therapists came over as slightly nutty. And Griff himself as very clever person has a problem with allowing himself to be helped by anyone not as brilliant as he is. That’s his loss I fear.


OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I must say Pat, I agree with you from just reading all that you told us about this man...It definitely sounds like there was more of an effort to make an amusing and interesting documentary as oppossed to really finding any real solutions to his problems with rage.

PI said...

Naomi: My great difficulty is trying to decipher my scrawl and make sense of it. I hope anyone who watched it doesn't find too many errors. But I hope I was true to the spirit of it.

Mei Del said...

thank you for describing th programme because i missed it. i grew up where there was a lot of anger and people not shy of venting their anger either. one of my brothers is now an anger management counsellor and we've both learned to control our negative emotions with time and coming to our senses and accepting that we haven't been too clever letting fly. i'm now 42 and he's 54 i think ... so yeah a lot of time!

R. Sherman said...

I've always thought that anger was a particularly useless emotion. Letting it "out," that is directing it at others generally accomplishes nothing, and one is still left with that which caused the anger in the first instance. Consequently, I find it's better to concentrate on eliminating the cause of my ill feelings than raging against them.


R. Sherman said...


Forget to say, "Welcome Back. I'm glad you're home safe."


scarlet-blue said...

I missed part 2 of this documentary, so many thanks for filling me in. I agree that diet is important . . . upping carb intake and cutting out coffee would probably ease his rage. I can't believe his caffeine intake . . . he would be edgy all the time and his sleep quality would be poor.
Thank you for this post.

kenju said...

It sounds fascinating.

PI said...

mei del: I'm in my seventies - and still learning:)

Randall: I think it would be helpful to enlarge on that maxim. How about it in a post? Griff might have though eliminating the cause meant doing away with the director and I'm sure you don't mean that. Or do you:)
I'm also glad we're home safe - thank you.

PI said...

Scarlet: I hope I wasn't too uncharitable to him. This business of being too clever for one's own good is something I know well and have little sympathy with.

problemchildbride said...

Yep, I guess if he's cured in the first 20 minutes, there's not much of a show.

Anger is usually useless I agree with Rand', but for many people such a rational approach is just beyond their reach, i reckon. Their anger is so strong they simply can't control it.

Angry people are always disappointed people, it seems to me. But anger can be so very destructive, it's too bad Griff rejected out of hand some of the techniques that could help. I guess being an angry person might tend to preclude you from being humble enough to accept that.

I think you started your post with a very good point - does he really want to be cured?

Kim Ayres said...

I think you're right in that in the end he wasn't looking for a cure for his anger. He owns it, it's a part of him, he feels it gives him a sense of power or defence. He doesn't actually want to let it go.

I do think anger almost always comes from a frustrated sense of being right and no one else agreeing with you or listening to you. "Anger" always feels like "Righteous Anger". Of course to anyone else you just look like an out of control (and probably dangerous) fool.

Anonymous said...

A Corsican proverb "Un capi ne zè ne zò " In other words ;
Do not understand nor zè! nor zò! (By speaking about a limited person "bornée").

That I make when I am right and the others are wrong?

I joke! for example ironic way " Be you expert in the martial arts? "
Either I smile and compliment my interlocutor the flattery eases the customs" that you are pretty that you to seem to me beautiful without lying ... "

So after two or three attempts at dialogue the understanding is not established , I turn the heels without regrets !

We re-know the bird about the singing and the intelligence in the said things !

PI said...

Sam: by the end I felt he really couldn't be arsed. His TV programmes mean he's away from home a lot and it must be a relief for his wife to get a break and know he's doing what he enjoys.
I got a comment from you asking if I was back but it took 2 days for it to open and it refuses to be published. Goodness knows why; this got through OK. Maybe they have sorted the problem.

PI said...

Kim: what I find difficult: over the years I have learned to temper and address anger but it's the (rare - thank goodness) sudden flashes of rage, that catch one unawares. At least it is an honest feeling not like cold, considered nastiness and cruelty. But still something that needs control.

Crabtree: I think I understand what you mean. Sometimes I feel as if I am trying to catch a sunbeam:)

Anonymous said...

To have the knack of, poetically, it is exactly that !
I should perhaps make shorter ?

savannah said...

we have a saying in house: get mad, get glad! somehow it works for us, far!
glad you're back! ;) xoxo

PI said...

Crabtree: shorter or longer it is always a pleasure to receive your comments.

Savannah: now how does that work I wonder?

sablonneuse said...

Hello Pat and welcome back. Thank you for giving such a thorough synopsis of the programme. I wasn't able to see it but I wonder if it might just have had some impact on Bear if he had watched it. However, I don't think he would recognise his own problems.Perhaps I should persuade him to take up boxing!?

PI said...

Sandy: I don't see him doing the meditation bit somehow.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Hi Pat, glad you had a good time away, and thanks for blogging this in so much detail for us. I suspect the 'entertainer' side of Griff couldn't resist coming out to play now and again, and I expect you're right that he ducked the option of finding a real solution - but it seems to make some fascinating points, nonetheless.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Wow, what an interesting programme. It makes me itch to go back into television and make programmes like this. Only problem, to find people willing to talk openly on the media. Here, people go on tv to hurl blame at politicians.

As for anger management, that's a concept that would baffle lots of folks here.

PI said...

Zinnia: funny - I look at him in a different way now and chose to watch Paul Merton In India last night rather than Griff in New York. I did record it however.

GG: the more I learn about the subject the less I know. It's so easy to see how other folk should tackle it but a whole new ball game when applied to oneself.