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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Literature Review on Women's Anger and Other Emotions


A comprehensive search of the literature, primarily North American, on women's anger and other emotions has been undertaken in the disciplines of psychology, psychiatry, sociology, criminology, social work and education. Several themes have emerged from this search, not least of which is an understanding of the complexity of this human emotion. Many factors influence the causes, presentation and effects of women's anger. There exist numerous myths, culturally sanctioned and perpetuated in popular literature, with few empirical studies conducted to support these views. Research on anger has largely been conducted by men on male populations with women receiving only cursory attention. Studies have predominately been undertaken in clinical settings with clients who have had serious problems expressing anger appropriately or in university environments with students receiving academic credit for their participation (Schill & Wang, 1990; O'Laughlin & Schill, 1994). Psychologist Harriet Goldhor Lerner, psychiatrist Teresa Bernardez-Bonesatti, and psychologist Carol Tavris were among the first to specifically examine women's anger in the 1970's and early 1980's. The first large scale descriptive study of women's anger conducted with women in their natural settings as they enact social roles was conducted by Thomas et al. in 1993.