I learned more about human nature from my studies @ the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, than from Columbia grad school; but I have learned the most from my horses, cats and dogs. The subtitle of this collection of essays could be “Our Pets, Ourselves,” because the human brain shares a limbic system in common with other  mammals.

Here’s the basic premise. Anger Management seminars always start with the notion that “anger is a secondary emotion: a response to a primary emotional experience, usually fear or humiliation.” As a Cockney would put it, something you do “gets right up my nose,” and anger is the sneeze that results. My group for Angry Young Men at a certain military clinic offered two additional anger-provoking “allergens”: intrusion and (the tort lawyers’ bread & butter) pain & suffering. By making like Sherlock Holmes [or Miss Marple] and sniffing out which (combination) of these 4 irritants is “getting right up your nose” as you feel your hackles rise (and your “inner wolf” tune up to howl), you can often (sometimes?) avoid a full-blown, land-you-in-jail, unleashing of your anger. My everyday animal metaphor for this process was Lili, my long-haired German Shepherd, who is pictured at the top of this collection, and frequently therein. She was succeeded by Emmy, but that is getting ahead of our story…

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