What's eating Naomi?

Last week she lost her temper in public... again. But exploders like her are in less danger than those who bottle it up, learns Sarah Harris (an inveterate imploder)
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The Independent Online

Naomi Campbell's anger steals so many headlines it should probably get its own agent. Last week it landed her in trouble yet again when police questioned her for allegedly assaulting her counsellor and leaving the woman with claw marks across her face. It's not the first time the authorities have questioned the supermodel over alleged assault charges. In fact, it's the eighth time. She is also awaiting trial in New York over claims she threw a jewel-encrusted BlackBerry at her personal assistant.

I may not be rich or famous, but I do know how to keep my personal organiser in my Gucci handbag. Naomi has forged a glittering career as an haute couture clothes horse and grand dame of the huge outburst. I, however, have always prided myself on my pathological aversion to making a scene.

But after a lengthy session with Mike Fisher, founder of the British Association of Anger Management, I find I may have more in common with Campbell than I thought.

I never lose my temper, I tell Mike as I settle down on to his leather sofa for my anger management session. He smiles and explains that this is probably because I suffer from "implosive" as opposed to "explosive" anger. Apparently we "imploders" are prone to swallow our anger because we lack self-esteem and fear rejection, and this can cause indigestion, jaw problems, skin irritation, migraines and even cancer. I'm gutted. I've always felt vaguely heroic about my ability to contain myself, whereas exploders are prone to violent, irrational outbursts, creating chaos for those around them.

"Naomi is a hothead who suffers from high-chair tyrant tactics," explains Mike, "Every time someone doesn't do what she asks, she just throws a wobbly."

He says that anger is a healthy feeling until you cross the line and you think that you're omnipotent - and that's when it often becomes violent.

However, Campbell is in the minority. Around 45 per cent of Mike's clients are women and he believes that women are taught from a very young age that anger is a dangerous emotion.

"Turning our anger in on ourselves may appear to cause us little harm," says Mike, "but an imploder is a walking time bomb. The longer their anger is held in, the more damage it does them, both physically and emotionally." Which is why, he argues, you get higher numbers of female smokers and more women being medicated for depression.

Anger is everywhere: on sweaty trains, lurking behind your desk or even sitting next to you on a plane. A recent survey revealed that 45 per cent of us lose our tempers at work, 71 per cent of internet users have admitted to net fury, and 50 per cent have reacted to computer glitches by hitting their PC.

The key to all anger management, explains Mike, is communication. He gives me a few tips. Imagine a crowded, hot, rush-hour Tube carriage. Your face is buried in someone's armpit, and there is a man behind you whose briefcase keeps banging against your leg. Mike suggests that you "back off, stop, think and take a look at the bigger picture". Count backwards from 21 to one, breathe in for seven seconds and out for 11, and this will create time for you to feel your feelings, forgive yourself and the other person and prevent you doing something which you might later regret. Many people find yoga, meditation, gardening, punch bags or shouting into a pillow therapeutic.

The next step is dealing with confrontation, which Mike calls "the clearing process". That is expressing anger in a way that is "clean, healing and empowering". You should ask the other person whether they have 15 minutes to "clear the issue up", and ask them to listen while you explain your feelings, needs and wants, and offer them the chance to respond. The prospect of requesting 15 minutes with the object of my wrath makes me want to run for the nearest hill.

"You avoid confrontation because you don't believe that you have a right to be angry. Don't take things so seriously," he says.

Going down to the Tube, with Mike's words buzzing in my head, a man shoves past me, as if on cue. I smile sweetly, mutter an apology and hope I've made a good impression. But if anyone else does it, I'm going to punch their lights out.

The British Association of Anger Management: 0845-1300 286