Psychotherapy is played for laughs in the Adam Sandler comedy ”Anger Management,” but some celebrities (like ”Management” costar Jack Nicholson, who settled a civil suit for bludgeoning another driver’s car with a golf club in a 1994 road rage incident) may want to take notes. ”Show business is a high stress job, and that greatly reduces a person’s ability to manage small irritations,” says psychotherapist George Anderson, whose anger coping exercises were used in ”Management.” EW.com talked to Anderson and psychologist Dr. Lynne Namka, author of ”How to Let Go of Your Mad Baggage,” about what can make good people turn mad. (Although neither of them has worked with the stars discussed below, they say their tips are applicable to anyone experiencing these situations.)
WHO 50 Cent
WHAT The onetime crack dealer (born Curtis Jackson), who was arrested earlier this year on gun possession charges, has been fuming at longtime rival Ja Rule for years. Not only did the pair reportedly get into a scuffle at an Atlanta party, 50’s hit ”Wanksta” is one long Rule putdown.
WHY? If you grew up the way 50 did, you’d be cranky, too. His mother was murdered when he was 8, and he started dealing crack at age 12. ”Many times anger begins as a result of a childhood loss,” says Namka. ”And most people learn negative ways of coping from their environment.” Fifty, who claims Rule is a clean-living fraud, may see his rival’s supposed lack of street cred as an attack on his own gangsta values. ”Even though most threats are against our value system, we get just as angry as if they were physical threats,” says Namka. In other words, that sticks and stones sass ain’t no cure for a G thing.
NEXT TIME With his bad boy raps going platinum, 50 may never want to lighten up. But given that anger and stress can lead to premature heart disease and strokes, he should at least stay out of da club and hit the treadmill. ”A physically fit body withstands more stress, so that’s part of any anger management program,” says Anderson.
WHO Courtney Love
WHAT The rock star was arrested in February for verbally abusing a crew member on a flight from Los Angeles to London. After being sent on her way with a warning, Love replied, ”My daughter always said I had a potty mouth.”
WHY? Love acts like a rock star, but inside she might be breaking like a little girl. ”What looks like high self-esteem is often low self-esteem covered up with a mask,” says Namka. ”When you say, ?Treat me special or else I’m entitled to be angry,’ that’s a defense mechanism.”
NEXT TIME She may want to try some method acting, but not to improve her theatrical chops. ”One exercise we do is show people a five minute vignette with the sound muted, and ask them to read the body language of the actors,” says Anderson. Observing other people makes rage-aholics aware of their own emotions — plus, it teaches them empathy for the poor, beleaguered bystanders who have to put up with their tantrums.
WHO Michael Moore
WHAT Moore got as many boos as kudos for his angry Oscar speech, in which he slammed President Bush as a ”fictional” leader.
WHY? Like a lot of other people, Moore appears to be taking his politics personally. ”There’s so much anger about the war right now, because both sides feel threatened by the other,” says Namka. ”One side is saying, ?You should be peace loving’ and the other is saying, ?You should be patriotic,’ and those are critical value judgements.”
NEXT TIME Moore, who said he didn’t have a speech prepared because he didn’t expect to win, may want to take a moment to reflect before his next public speaking gig. ”Any strong emotion, whether it’s depression or anxiety or something else, can lead you to overreact,” says Anderson. ”Counting to 10 allows you to retreat from the source of stress and lets the brain resume its normal functioning.” And loosening that tux bow tie always helps.