Angle Management

In among the tributes for the centenary of the Titanic, there’s one little-known incident which didn’t get mentioned. I shall now remedy that:

On the deck of the Titanic, all the lifeboats had gone. A group of terrified children huddled together as the ship began to tilt and the stern slowly rose out of the water. Suddenly, the captain walked over to them.

The captain said, “I’ve been asked to have a word with you about your angle problem.”

“Our angle problem?” The children were confused. “Do you mean the fact the angle of the deck is starting to tilt?”

“Yes, that’s right, your angle problem. You have a problem with angle control. Your parents and teachers have gone to the lifeboats, but they feel you need some angle management.”

“Angle management? Isn’t there something wrong with the ship? We saw an iceberg earlier.”

“Never mind that. You need to understand and accept that you have an angle problem, and you need to engage with the angle management programme that your parents and teachers agree that you should undertake.”

“What are they doing in the lifeboats? Surely they can’t just leave us here!”

“Now, now, they don’t have an angle problem, but you do, and it’s your responsibility to sort it out not theirs. Anyway, let’s get to work on the angle management. We’re going to start with some preliminary sessions on how to use spirit levels, so that you can recognise when your angle is getting out of control. Then, we’ll work on some cognitive-behavioural strategies that you can use to regulate your angle.”

The children then complete the angle management work with the captain, who uses a morse lamp to signal the parents and teachers in the lifeboat, informing them that the kids have had their angle management as requested. The deck then finally floods and the children all drown.

A slightly silly tale, but is it any sillier than the constant requests I get from people who want an abused, traumatised child, often living in dysfunctional circumstances, to undergo anger management? Why do these otherwise-intelligent people believe that this will have the slightest benefit to the child or anyone else?

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32 Comments to “Angle Management”

  1. Because either they’re ignorant, stupid, or more likely are just ticking a box. Box ticking goes beyond ticking boxes – In tests, 90% of a professional’s verbal output is stereotyped garbage…

  2. Box Ticking is a worthwhile occupation – keeps people employed!!!! ;-) (tongue firmly in cheek)

  3. One of the more interesting Titanic stories. If they’d bothered to report this on local news, I might have been less inclined to fly into a rage every time the name of that bloody ship was mentioned.

    Seriously, though, Z, good analogy. This whole anger management bullshit, especially for children, is (as Socrates notes) a load of box-ticking, patronising nonsense.

    • Exactly so. I’m sure the authorities would prefer a good, quiet, easily-managed, unempathic person with their soul amputated. That’s their angle, anyway. Oh hang on, wasn’t that the purpose of lobotomy?

      You haven’t been approached by a Mrs Coulter looking for stray children to experiment on, have you? A virtual packet of Sainsbury apple turnovers to the first person to recognise the reference..

      Hi Pan, Socrates!

    • And of course that Prophet of our Age said Anger is an Energy.

      • Thank you for that reminder of my late 70s undergraduate days at Sussex. You win a safety pin to go through your cheek or nose. ;)

  4. I am reminded of a case where an immigrant family being accommodated and supported by social services in an old, damp house complained that the fixed £5 per week budget to heat it was insufficient – and were sent on money management classes…

    • Likewise, I remember a consultant psychiatrist who complained that half her CMHT were either on long-term sick, maternity leave or with the posts lying vacant, with the result that cover was badly overstretched.

      She was instructed to attend supervision with another consultant on how to manage caseloads effectively.

  5. Heh. Good post.

    Box-ticking is certainly the issue here, but I think beneath that lies the real problem which is the assumption that all psychiatric/psychological problems are superficial, with no depth to them.

    i.e. if someone is angry, then they have an ‘anger problem’. If someone’s depressed then they have ‘depression’.

    Of course sometimes this is all true. Some people really do need anger management or depression treatment, but the point is, it’s not straightforward to tell, in any given person, whether or not that’s the case. That takes skill.

    But skill doesn’t factor into a box-ticking exercise so what happens is that the box-tickers default assumption is that if you tick the “angry” box, you need anger management.

    • Have been seeing box-tickers – sorry – professional mental health staff for too long.I now have a diagnosis. I’ve lately realised I’m an awkward cuss and I need to come to terms with my awkward cussedness.

      Any there other people affected? Can we form a support group? Set up a charity? Interest leading researchers? Arrange conferences – preferably in foreign countries? What about developing good practice in the management of awkward cussedness? The charity would, of course, need a patron plus sympathisers in Whitehall and Westminster. Some of them might be closet awkward cusses. There must be a lot of them in government circles.

      Early intervention may curb such persistent and vexatious tendencies but some, sadly, continue to question the authority of wise and venerable mental health staff for the rest of their lives. Today there is no known cure for such mistaken beliefs but why not leave a legacy in your will to the Awkward Cuss Charity? You know we’re a good cause.

  6. Oh God, I was drunk last night. Was it here I threw-up? Sorry.

    • You need vomit management classes.

      • Fortunately Nursey had his bucket and mop handy but did wake me up in the morning to remind me of my failings. I blame giving up wacky-backy and switching to Vodka. I only ever used to get sued when I mixed Lorazepam and Skunk. Never sick. But it got to the point where one of the dogs started talking to me, in a northern accent. Way, way too much…

      • @Socrates

        You didn’t actually leave any comments that were embarrassing or offensive. I just slung it into moderation as it made mention of legal issues about you-know-who, and I was erring on the side of caution about whether these things are allowed to be discussed.

  7. Faced with a child like mine professionals have tried every anger management course going.. now they dont bother. They finally have realised that he is not able to use their tactics when he is in meltdown. Much bigger issue going on psychologically I think but that costs far too much to address,

  8. @ Rebekah: apple turnovers and toffee chews and virtual dentistry. Who’s a lucky girl, then?

    • PS. Just been reading your blog. What’s a nice girl like you doing being a family therapist anyway?

      • “PS. Just been reading your blog. What’s a nice girl like you doing being a family therapist anyway?”

        *cautious* Okay… the last time I asked this, I ended up being basically insulted to my (virtual) face by a Brit hypno”therapist”…. But… I’ll try again:

        And what’s wrong with being a marriage and family therapist?

      • Nothing wrong with family therapists. I respect them a lot and lament the fact that their numbers are in decline in CAMHS.

      • Thank you, Zarathustra. :-)

      • @ Rebekah

        “What’s wrong with being a marriage and family therapist?”

        Nothing whatever. Did I say there was? I was joking R. I’m sorry if you were upset by my friendly flippancy. As for hypnotherapists, Brit or whatever, w-e-l-l, some have good and original ideas. Unfortunately, none of the good ideas is original and none of the original ideas is any good. There, I’ve probably started a flame war now.

        Friends?

        M:D

      • Friends. Or blog commenting friendly acquaintances, anyway. ;-)

        “Nothing whatever.”

        Okay, then. Sorry for being a bit touchy. The other person I referenced gave me a rant about “family therapists” basically being useless, even though he knew that I’m studying to be an MFT and my sister is already a licensed MFT. I suspect it’s a cultural divide between scopes of practice/competence of “family therapists” in the UK and “marriage and family therapists” in the US, but don’t know for sure; certainly our perceptions of those positions in our respective countries differed drastically.

        “As for hypnotherapists….. There, I’ve probably started a flame war now.”

        Ha! No, I don’t “do” flame wars. Waste of time. There are hypno”therapists” in any country who can do decent hypnosis but haven’t really studied psychology or therapy… On the other hand, I’m working towards becoming a licensed MFT and am also now a student affiliate member of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, hoping to be certified by them one day. ;-)

        I’ll leave that there.

      • @ R

        I didn’t mean a flame war with you but with virtual hordes of aggrieved hypnotherapists oit for my blood. Again, I was jesting (Brit humour, or in my case half-Irish humour – study Socrates, he’s a master). What does vary across the pond are perceptions of hypnotherapists, who here are rightly criticised for giving themselves professional airs with minimal training or accountability. On the other hand, there are many who don’t call themselves hypnotherapists but are competent hypnotists as part of some other professional background. ;)

      • *facepalm* I’m going to blame subtext within textual conversation not always coming across.

        “What does vary across the pond are perceptions of hypnotherapists”

        Mm, not by much. ;-) One of my own professors (in my first term of grad school) told my entire class that there was *no* therapeutic value to hypnosis. “Oh, it’s fine for relaxation,” he conceded, but I cringed inwardly, wondering what doors he’d just closed in my classmates’ thinking. This was, I might add, moments after he’d discussed (and seemed to be endorsing, though I’ll admit I wasn’t paying the strictest attention at the time, as I was stunned by this) the idea of using a date rape drug to help someone forget a trauma.

        (Fortunately, other professors have been very supportive of my ASCH aspirations. :-) )

        More recently, I recommended a hypnotherapy MP3 to someone (an American) and got asked, “I’m not going to cluck like a chicken, am I?” :-|

      • “Cluck like a chicken,,,”

        I’d have felt tempted to reply: “Not necessarily, you might quack like a duck. What do you usually do when you’re drunk? But none of that will have anything to do with hypnosis. Lay off the booze, my friend.” As I say, tempted. I’d have been far too professional (I hope) actually to do it.

        As for the arrogant fool who thinks he’s helping people by trying to force traumata deep into the Unconscious by use of a date rape drug… :( Dear me.

  9. @ Z re S v Dr Thingy

    Not that bloody woman again! I thought the first rule of Lady Voldemort baiting was not to mention Lady Voldemort. Having just watched the fourth episode of ‘Once Upon a Time’ I suggest we do a deal about her with Rumpelstiltskin. Anyway, I think she’s the (night) mayor…

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