The Anger Fallacy: Uncovering the Irrationality of the Angry Mindset

Steven Laurent and Ross G Menzies

The Anger Fallacy: Uncovering the Irrationality of the Angry Mindset

A life without anger is attainable - if you understand The Anger Fallacy.

This is a book meant to challenge us. The authors have taken such an engaging and witty approach that the reader is likely to get hooked and will stop to think — to reflect. The humorous story is a device, along with creative metaphors, analogies and dialogue scripts, which the authors use to convey the compelling logic of their argument about the counter-productiveness of anger. I strongly recommend this book. If you are suffering with your anger it will give you a lift. 

— Adjunct Professor Roger Dooley, Clinical Psychologist    

Anger is everywhere - behind everything from road rage to wrap rage, domestic violence to international conflicts. People cling to their anger, as a tool of influence and a driver of revenge. But is anger really ever useful? And can we learn to overcome it?

In this entertaining and ground-breaking book, two of Australia's leading clinical psychologists take a radical approach to anger management, exploding the irrational beliefs that fuel this noxious and misunderstood emotion. Through numerous examples from popular culture and the consulting room, and with a sizable dose of humour, the authors show how to combat anger by substituting empathy and understanding for righteous angry judgments. Along the way, readers will learn a new way of viewing people and their actions that is at once powerful and serene.

Featuring the wisdom and wit of: Confucius, The Bible, Yoda, Billy Connolly, George Bernard Shaw, Jerry Seinfeld, Dale Carnegie, Ricky Gervais, Larry David, and many more.

Reader praise for The Anger Fallacy

"An excellent and most importantly contrarian view, challenging conventional views of anger. This book provides insightful angles on anger, and what lies beneath it.”

" The Anger Fallacy is one of the best treatment books that I have ever read. Uniquely, it is a tremendous resource for both patients and clinicians. It is accessible and amusing such that patients need not be overwhelmed, yet sophisticated and layered to the point that I found myself continuously harvesting pearls after multiple reads.”

"As a clinical psychologist, I can honestly say this is the finest book on anger I have ever explored.”

"Good, clear writing and a must needed message. I give this book to everyone I care about."

"I find most books written by psychologists to be overly theoretical, technical, and written solely for other academics. The beauty of the Anger Fallacy is it takes the complex concepts of anger and presents them in a way that everyone can understand."

"Excellent, informative and insightful. I unhesitatingly recommend this."

"This is more than just a book of ideas. It is a genuine therapy tool. Practical exercises are scattered throughout the book. If someone reads this book to help them deal with anger better they are likely to finish up dealing with anger better. And isn't that the whole point?"


"This is such a good book — I have started recommending it to anyone who is struggling with being angry. It is easy to read, non-judgmental, and helpful.”

ALSO AVAILABLE -- The Anger Fallacy Workbook 
35 simple, practical exercises to help rid your life of anger.


Anger makes your thinking automatic and primal

If you are extremely angry, then, as with any intense emotion, you won’t be able to think clearly because you are in a state of acute distress. Countless studies have shown that decision-making under stress is more rigid, that fewer alternatives are brain-stormed and considered, and that people fall back on previous familiar responses (e.g., smashing a tennis racket, repeating themselves, swearing, stamping their feet) regardless of more recent learning on the topic (e.g., that smashing the racket results in a penalty fine and loud booing, that stating your case softly and clearly is better than yelling the same thing over and over using expletives, etc.). So anger affects cognitive processing and interferes with the ability to solve complex problems or think on your feet (especially creatively).

This sounds technical, but really it’s common knowledge that anger impedes clear thinking, which is why anger is often used as an excuse for bad behaviour: ‘sorry, I know I shouldn’t have done that [kicked the cat, smashed the laptop, used foul language in front of the kids, etc.] — I was really pissed off’. Anger makes you rash. Anger is considered an attenuating factor in murder, the defining feature of crimes of passion, as if to say even our legal system acknowledges that none of us really acts sensibly when pissed off. It won’t have escaped you that in anger one’s vocabulary tends to shrink back to a few default expletives, shorter sentences, and a lot of repetition, lending itself to some less-than-Shakespearean monologues. Dr Laurence J. Peter famously quipped, ‘Speak when angry’, ‘and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret’.

The great cognitive psychologist Aaron T. Beck described the mental state we get into when angry as ‘primal thinking’ — a kind of low-resolution red-alert mode that occurs when we are faced with what we perceive to be an attack. We tend to form ‘always’ and ‘never’ generalisations — ‘you’re always criticising me; you never listen’; ‘you’re always throwing your stuff on the ground’; ‘all you’re ever interested in is squeezing more money out of me’. We think in terms of black and white, we lock in on the negative, we pick and choose from what we see to construct a picture of an ‘enemy’. Beck says, ‘Primal thinking is adapted for emergencies that do not allow time for reflection and fine discrimination.’

There’s no doubt it could help you move a heavy rock or bash down a door. It might enable Andy Roddick to belt out a first serve 10 miles an hour faster than usual, and it might help an unskilled fighter flail about with reckless abandon. What it won’t help you do, however, is to find alternatives to shoving the rock or bashing down the door, or tools to leverage it open, or social strategies for inciting others to help you. It won’t help Roddick hit the right shot at the right time. And it won’t help the skilled fighter fight strategically.

About the Author

Steven Laurent is a clinical psychologist with extensive experience in treating psychiatric disorders. He is a regular guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, where he has taught on Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Drug and Alcohol Disorders. At present he works in private practice in the Inner West of Sydney. Steven completed a Masters in Clinical Psychology at UNSW, where his thesis centred on emotion perception in 'psychopaths'. Laurent's interest in anger arose in the 1990s during the completion of undergraduate degrees in Philosophy and Formal Logic at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Ross G. Menzies has been providing cognitive-behaviour therapy for anxiety, depression, couples conflict and related issues for over two decades and is currently Associate Professor in Health Sciences at the University of Sydney. He is an active researcher and currently holds over $5 million in national competitive research grants. He has produced four books, over 140 international journal manuscripts and book chapters and is regularly invited to speak at conferences and leading universities and institutions around the world. He continues to attract patients from across metropolitan Sydney, rural NSW, interstate and from overseas, with many individuals and families travelling thousands of kilometres to receive treatment at his private practice. The present book is his first major work on anger.



5.0 out of 5 stars

This is such a good book, July 20, 2014

By nicdea

This is such a good book - I have started recommending it to anyone who is struggling with being angry.

It is easy to read, non-judgemental, and helpful.

It helps put a lot of difficult emotional stuff into perspective.

Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 


5.0 out of 5 stars

A great read, March 28, 2014

By Margot

As a clinical psychologist, I can honestly say this is the finest book on anger I have ever explored. Witty, fun, and filled with engaging facts about anger, this book has the potential to really change people. It challenges conventional thoughts on anger and how to deal with it. A thoroughly modern treatment on the darkest of all emotions. Highly recommended.


5.0 out of 5 stars

Everyone should read this book, March 28, 2014

By Lachlan Randall

A potentially life-changing book, reading this really challenged some ideas I had about anger, and human emotion in general. It's interesting that anger is one of the most basic and common human emotions, yet most people have never really thought or read much about it. Although I don't usually read books like this, I found The Anger Fallacy surprisingly accessible and very enjoyable - I even found myself literally laughing out loud at some points! Everyone should seriously read this book, not just the angry. Although I am thinking of buying some extra copies for certain friends who come to mind...


5.0 out of 5 stars

Highly recommend for clinicians and their patients., January 31, 2014

By JB -

I am a psychiatrist. While I trained at a highly regarded Ivy League residency program and have since kept abreast of the literature, I have always felt insufficiently prepared to assess and manage anger in my patients. Anger doesn't have a home in our current diagnostic system, yet it is so often associated with nearly every disorder that we treat and even causes significant harm in individuals who present without satisfying criteria for any diagnosis. While occasionally anger subsides in the successfully treated borderline, bipolar, depressed, anxious, or paranoid patient; even after syndromal remission it often continues to cause our patients suffering and interpersonal impairment. I have too often been at a loss at how to help these patients with their anger as well as how to help those patients presenting with a primary complaint of anger without other symptoms. We don't have a medication specific for anger and it has never been quite clear to me how to best address it with psychotherapy... until now.


The Anger Fallacy is one of the best treatment books that I have ever read. Uniquely, it is a tremendous resource for both patients and clinicians. It is accessible and amusing such that patients need not be overwhelmed, yet sophisticated and layered to the point that I have found myself continuously harvesting pearls after multiple readings. Written in elegant and sprightly prose, this book tackles anger from all sides, squeezing the life out of it with logic, appeals to pragmatics, cognitive reframing, and humor. The multidimensional approach makes it adaptable to nearly any patient and the colorful examples make each lesson easy to retain and fun to recount. Several times already, I have had success using examples from the book in my practice; then once the patient's attention was captive, I managed to persuade them without difficulty to read the book. Each time they thanked me for the recommendation.


This book could greatly benefit anyone who has struggled with anger, knows an angry person, works with angry people, or who is interested generally in transcending the negative thoughts and emotions that we all occasionally buy into to our own detriment. I congratulate the authors on a superb addition to our clinical arsenal.


5.0 out of 5 stars

Very insightful, January 30, 2014

By Andsome

I've read many books on Anger "management", this is the first which has given me many insightful thought provoking ideas and tools to assist me in the most comprehensive way to conquer anger and my general tolerance of the important people of my life.

Thank you. Mr. Laurent and Mr. Menzies.

Fantastic Read. Highly recommend it to even the most passive.


5.0 out of 5 stars

Great book!, January 30, 2014

By Lavie S.

As a avid tennis player, I find myself in situations where I may get angry and this book was quite helpful. Great read.


5.0 out of 5 stars

Best anger management book I've read, January 29, 2014

By Unraged

I've suffered from having a short temper throughout my life, and have even seen a therapist about it (which was a total waste of money and time). So I've tried a couple of these books before, but none have managed to change anything in my life. In this book they seem to have ACTUALLY understood the thoughts that cause anger and how to treat it, instead of offering nonsense advice, such as "just relax" or "get more exercise". Recommended for anyone who's been told they need anger management – and it's certainly cheaper than therapy or pills. It's also a prtetty good read, with even a few "laugh out loud" moments.

Table of Contents

  • About the authors
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Anger is everywhere
  • 2. But anger gets results ...
  • 3. But anger motivates me ...
  • 4. But anger is part of my image ...
  • 5. Shoulding: The cognitive basis of anger
  • 6. What are you really angry about?
  • 7. Anger Treatment 101: Get your facts straight
  • 8. Anger Treatment 102: The arbitrariness of 'shoulds'
  • 9. Anger Treatment 103: Seeing the machine
  • 10. Anger Treatment 104: The empathy solution
  • 11. Getting past unfairness
  • 12. Respect: A closer look
  • 13. Recap and conclusion