Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.
- Benjamin Franklin
A CEO of a Multinational Conglomerate Who Presented with Anger Control Problems
"In these stories, the identities and locations have been changed to ensure client confidentiality.”
A 52 year old CEO of a multinational company with many divisions presented because of escalating problems with anger outbursts at home and at work, to the point where his wife was considering divorce, and his children were scared of him. While he was excited about his recent promotion to CEO and the financial benefits it brought to him and the family, he was feeling extremely stressed, and doubted his capabilities to perform his new job.
He entered psychotherapy which at times took place in the office, and at times by telephone, given his travel schedule. What emerged was that he and his family had recently moved here from the Great Britain, where his wife’s family still lived, and she was homesick and lonely, missing them for their companionship as well as the assistance they provided with her children. She had developed depression and anxiety attacks. A recommendation was made that she enter therapy with a woman therapist in the practice and she agreed. At times the CEO would join these sessions to work on conflicts in the marriage.
The CEO began to explore in therapy the sources of his anger, which related to his wife’s depression, which reminded him of his mother’s depression as a boy. His own father had responded angrily to his mother’s depression, which had frightened the boy, yet he was nonetheless re-enacting this with his own wife and children. Despite his success at work, he had longstanding low feelings of self-esteem due to a childhood history of ADHD, and feelings that he had never pleased his father. His problems with organization stemming from his ADHD had worsened given the greatly increased scope of responsibility in his new executive position. This was also causing problems at work with his Board. He was placed on medication for adult ADHD, and referred to an executive coach for assistance in growing into his new role as CEO.
As his wife improved through the course of her own therapy, she began to form friendships in the area and felt less lonely, and was better able to tolerate her husband’s travels. He, in turn, felt more satisfied in the marriage and became less angry. The couple planned together the purchase of a vacation home, which, although trying in the execution, brought them closer together and they derived great pleasure when it was acquired and the family was able to enjoy it.
Through a combination of personal psychotherapy, medication for his ADHD, and executive coaching the CEO was able to give up his anger, function more effectively, and enjoy the challenges of his new position. His wife, through her own therapy and couple’s therapy, felt more settled in the area and happier in her marriage.