Health Care Dialogue
Health & Lifestyle
Kim S. Hwang, PsyD
June 11, 2012
Do Asians Feel Anger?
Dear Dr. Hwang, “Why is it when I show anger, most people are shocked? Sometimes I feel as though I am denied anger because of the social more to be pleasant, happy and passive.”
Dear Asian Human: Interestingly enough, I recently had a similar conversation with someone about why being Asian determines what kind of a reaction a White people may or may not expect. In the United States, I often wonder if I am Asian first and Human second, or the other way around?
Whether Asians like it or not, our exterior determines much of how humans choose to relate to us and what behaviors others may expect from us based on our racial make up. Social interactions, while conscious and unconscious, create insidious expectations that are internalized by the time we are two years old.
Just as people respond differently to females versus males, so do people when it comes to responding to Asians. Stereotypes can box Asians into dangerous fixed ideas that have unhealthy ramifications. This places pressure on Asians to repress, contain and even ignore what are misjudged as “negative” feelings.
Truth be told, all feelings are normal and experiences of a wide range of feelings are important. Feelings help to inform us about ways in which we need to care for ourselves. Socialization through the media has led people to hold out some expectations that Asians must behave in specific ways that ignore feelings, which manifest into real physiological and physical illnesses.
Many articles and books are written about the emotion identified as anger. Some imply that anger kills, cathartic anger is healthy or that intense anger, unexpressed could be fatal. Most psychologists recognize that anger is a normal human emotion that is likely experienced daily and is experienced on a continuum.
It isn’t shocking that you experience anger or that you express it. What’s shocking is that in this day of information overload, people continue to impose onto you a stereotype that perpetuates a lack of social support where non-Asians may obtain automatically.