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25th Oct 2016

Every Feel Like Throwing An Adult Tantrum? Turns Out It’s A Type Of Therapy

We have all been that soldier.

Usually in the middle of the supermarket, usually when you are short on time, and usually when there are 75 thousand eyes boring straight into you as your 3-year-old decides to melt down because you won’t let him open the box of tampons you have hurriedly stashed under the Weetabix. Thanks, traitor.

The embarrassment, the anger, the shouting and the tears – and that is just you. This form of self-expression is typically viewed as immature and naughty. But now, it turns out, that tantrums are not just for toddlers.

Now some therapy centers in the good old USA are encouraging these show-stoppers in a bid to heal and learn techniques to self-soothe. Some believe as we get older, we unlearn the natural way of processing emotions. Time, perhaps, to get back to our emotional basics.

So strong is the demand for these show-stoppers, that Shawn Baker set up Tantrums LLC – a company that specialises in rage management last December.

Their slogan is ‘Relaxation after devastation,” which sounds like a typical evening at my house circa 8.01pm.

“Traffic, job, your boss; everybody gets annoyed. I just saw it as a way to release that. I have people who come who tell me they’re here for therapy. Some do see a psychiatrist – they’ve disclosed that to me, and they’re here for their own anger management,” Shawn says.

Speaking to the Guardian, Todd Kashdan, a clinical psychologist and author of The Upside of Your Dark Side, believes society is growing increasingly irate and yet less tolerant of such outbursts:

“A large minority of the population believes there’s never an appropriate time to express anger and it’s never healthy, and that’s an amazing belief to have for an emotion that evolved to help us in certain situations.”

Both agree that such outbursts should be seen as a short-term release to deal with old issues and move past them to a more sophisticated level of emotional pan-handling. It is only useful if it can eventually be channeled into something positive. Psychiatrist, Dr Smith focuses on personal change. He explains what goes on during a tantrum, and how some adults may have missed out key step emotionally;

“You begin learn from experience, that you can lose a battle and still be lovable. That is huge. It is what allows us to survive our failures and mistakes and to allow ourselves to admit failure and accept being forgiven. More simply, repeated many times, we learn to lose battles gracefully.”

It could also explain why less dramatic, but equally as frenzied methods like Zumba are increasingly popular especially amongst women.

I’m not sure it is the cathartic release I was counting on. But pounding my fist in the air and jumping up and down shouting for half an hour sounds might actually be nicer set to music.

I never thought I would say, this but maybe my three-year-old was right?