March 23, 2011— -- After attempting to mend a tarnished public image for two years, Chris Brown made headlines on Tuesday morning after he stormed off the "Good Morning America" stage, apparently left a smashed window in his dressing room and ripped off his shirt before leaving the building.
Brown was a guest on "Good Morning America" to promote his new album, "F.A.M.E." At one point, co-anchor Robin Roberts asked him about the recently-relaxed restraining order that was placed on Brown after his 2009 physical altercation with his then-girlfriend, the pop singer Rihanna.
Brown became increasingly agitated after Roberts asked him about the 2009 incident two more times.
After the interview, he performed one song, "Yeah 3x." When the song ended, Brown went backstage, where ABC staff members said they called security after they heard loud noises coming from his dressing room.
"For a celebrity of his stature, no [this does not surprise me]," said Dr. Harold Koenig, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center. "With fame and fortune comes a sense of invulnerability, which can seriously interfere with the motivation necessary to change an entrenched behavior pattern."
After the Good Morning America incident, TMZ reported that Brown tweeted, "I'm so over people bringing this past s**t up!!! Yet we praise Charlie sheen and other celebs for there [sic] bulls**t." The tweet was reportedly deleted within 10 minutes of its posting.
In February 2009, Chris Brown pleaded guilty to assault on then-girlfriend Rihanna. After the incident, she was left with bruises and cuts on her cheeks, lips and forehead.
ABC News released a statement following the incident: "As always, we ask questions that are relevant and newsworthy, and that's what we did in this interview with Mr. Brown."
While Brown reportedly attended anger management classes and worked to publicly to clean up his image, Koenig said that it is not uncommon for any person who has gone through an anger management program to fall back into patterns of angry and abusive behavior. A person must stay highly motivated and pay considerable attention to their responses until a new behavior pattern is established.
Controlling Anger: A Long and Constant Road Ahead
"[This] could take months or even years," said Koenig. "That person may remain, for life, susceptible to losing control, and like an alcoholic, needs to be constantly vigilant for this."
Anger can be caused by two different things, said Dr. Ken Robbins, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin and director of psychiatry at Stoughton Hospital nearby. In his view, people may get angry because they feel they need more control of a certain situation, or they may become angry because someone has gotten too close, and they want to push that other person away.
"Of course, neither case is a conscious process," said Robbins. "A lot of people who have trouble with anger don't realize that they're angry until it reaches the point that they're ready to explode."
Anger is an emotional state that can vary from irritation to intense rage. While anger is a natural and healthy sentiment when expressed properly, erratic behavior, physical violence and trouble with the law are all signs that a person may need help in controlling anger. Several studies have even shown that explosive people who often lash out have an increased risk of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart attack, anxiety and depression.
Robbins said it's important to note that alcohol and drugs greatly affect anger issues. Irritability is also a manifestation of depression and anxiety. Medical conditions can also come into anger problems.
Anger management counseling attempts to keep track of a person's emotions and catch the anger before it takes over and one is unable to deal with emotions rationally, said Robbins. Classes can be conducted in a one-on-one or group setting.
"People learn how to address the problem sooner and more straightforward," said Robbins. "The thing is, it might be a very legitimate trigger and reason to be angry, but if you blow it by exploding, then the trigger seems small in comparison."
Anger Management Requires Constant Vigilance
Robbins said that it's important to monitor your emotions constantly, pay attention to how you feel and keep looking for signs that you are becoming angry.
"In psychology and psychiatry, we say it's having an observing ego," said Robbins. "You have to be like a scientist and watch how different things affect you."
But often, people attend anger management because someone told them they had to go -- whether it is a court system, a parent or significant other. In those cases, the person attending the class may not believe there is a problem.
"That's a really bad reason to start any sort of therapy," said Robbins. "A person has to believe they have a problem to be successful. In order to make significant changes in the way you behave, you have to have a certain amount of anxiety about it.
"You have to feel badly about the way you behave and recognize that you really have to make a change," said Robbins.
Overall, doctors said dealing with an anger problem can be a long process.
"It's about a whole change in attitude," said Koenig. "[It is] recognition of vulnerability and absolutely relentless efforts to address it."