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Dr. Weisinger's Anger Workout Book: Step-by-Step Methods for Great Productivity, Better Relationships, Healthier Life by Hendrie Weisinger (Quill: paperback, $10.95)

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February 13, 1986|ROSELLE M. LEWIS

Anger is not all bad. On occasion, history has seen thinkers and leaders venting this primitive emotion to society's betterment. But in its mundane expressions--engaging in acrimonious interpersonal relationships, flying off the handle, "seeing red" or frequently resorting to verbal or physical abuse--anger can be the most counterproductive emotion in the human breast.

If anger is seldom bridled, says Weisinger, who has a Ph.D. in psychology, it can be the primary factor in obesity, sexual dysfunction, migraine headaches and ulcers. Angry people tend to lose their jobs and friends, are prone to disease and suicide and a whole lot more.

Weisinger's general approach is "cognitive appraisal." That is, how we interpret our environment at any given moment becomes the critical element in emotional response. As usual, the Greeks, in this case Epictetus, put it better: "Men are not troubled by things in themselves but by our thoughts about them."

But just intellectualizing about anger won't do. With enthusiastic pragmatism, Weisinger has devised 22 exercises that can be performed in any order to "create change." Graphs, notes and fill-in charts are provided but not a large red crayon. By the time we've covered the "time out" routines, the physical relaxation exercises, been reminded that a proper diet and physical exercise tend to make for a sound mind in a sound body--and re-encounter Norman Cousins on the healing value of laughter--we've reached the heart of darkest \o7 deja vu.\f7

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