chapter  4
27 Pages

Emotion regulation: Aggression, ADHD and violence in families

In this chapter we want to look at how people manage their strong negative feelings and anxieties. Many serious problems are seen to be associated with difficulties relating to the regulation of emotions, for example, various forms of anxiety and fear including specific forms of phobia, depression and problems in managing anger and aggression – the so-called ‘conduct disorders’ – and problems of family violence. It is also possible that one of the most widely diagnosed problems of childhood – attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) – may also predominantly be a problem that is related to the regulation of emotions. Since attachment theory is primarily concerned with how children learn, with the assistance of their parents, to manage their feelings and calm themselves down when unhelpfully aroused, it is helpful to consider in more detail how it may illuminate our understanding of the above problems. In fact, from an attachment theory perspective, many forms of interpersonal problems can be seen in terms of issues of emotion regulation. We will, however, restrict our focus in this chapter to work with problems where the emotional regulatory process seems to be clearly central to the problems, namely aggression and violence, mood disorders and hyperactive conditions.