In Defense of Yelling

Psychopaths often yell and scream in anger. They can also be gruesomely silent, and even polite. (Hannibal Lecter, anyone?)

Very decent, mature, all around good natured people can be soft spoken and calm. They can also be…

Detect a bit of a hitch there? If not, points for you. But for many people, and society in general, I think that those who yell are seen as being de facto unstable. Angry. Bitter people who cannot control their emotions. Anger is seen as an unacceptable emotion, and yelling while angry, a mortal sin.

This attitude on yelling in and of itself make me want to yell.

I have been through the fire in many ways. And have come out of it. I am a more secure person than I was ten or even five years ago. I am introspective, and am getting to know myself more and more as time goes on. I am spiritual and polite. I try to be helpful to those who need it, and I work very hard on forgiving those who have wronged me to a certain extent. I am, by most standards that matter to me, a good man.

And when I am angry, I yell. At people. At things. At myself. At nobody. I yell.

Now, I don’t yell uncontrollably all the time everywhere when something doesn’t work out. I have to be pushed to a limit. (Longer with people, shorter with inanimate objects.) That limit is much further than it was ten years ago, ergo I yell less now. But certain things will push me to the point of yelling faster than other things. Usually when it involves something or someone that is very important to me.

Each of those catalysts could be its own post, but in general I’ll yell when I feel it is the only way to get someone’s attention about a very important subject that I feel they are sidestepping. (Life, safety, and innate dignity matters, usually.) I’ll yell when I get excited or passionate about something non-personal (A football game. A news story.) And, perhaps most significantly, I will often yell when I am yelled at first.

Call me what you will, but to me, to sit back and calmly shake you head and whisper every time somebody yells at you is ceding some of your dignity. Even if it doesn’t put you in an all out rage, (and I am almost never in one of those even when yelling) you should meet bluster with bluster, at least the first time out, if that is how the other party is going to play the game. Evens the playing field.

I don’t make threats of violence. In most situations, even while yelling I avoid swear words. I do not charge closer to someone when I am yelling at them in a confrontation. (I’ll even walk away while yelling sometimes, to put a natural, unthreatening limit on it.) But the fact remains; I do yell. And I often get looked at funny for doing so.

I have never understood why people look at me that way when I do it. Probably because most of the time, I am not yelling. Some I suppose get used to a person who yells all the time, and they get away with it. But the person who doesn’t do it as often is judged more harshly, maybe. Or at least causes more confusion.

Plus, when I yell, as with everything I put that much energy into, I do it with passion. If I am going to do it, I am damn sure I am heard.

Bottom line: I think yelling can be cathartic. It can be a relief. It can be an effective tool in extinguishing the far more destructive “slow burn” of silent anger. While some argue that by default if you have reached the point of yelling, you have lost control of yourself, I maintain that yelling, like any other emotional expression can, and should be a controlled situation 98% of the time. There are times and places where it will never do, and those are the times you just leave the area. But sometime it makes a statement. It gets attention, and at least in my case, I am angry for a lot less time if I allow myself to do it, than if I bottle everything up.

So I wish more people would grow up about yelling. This idea that if I can yell in anger at a quarterback on television, I must by default be capable of beating my girlfriend, (I have gotten that complaint before!) is as unfair as it is silly. Yelling can be used in a healthy as well as an unhealthy manner, just as crying, laughing, sex, or alcohol can be used for healthy or unhealthy purposes. It is not some kind of failure, or indication of smallness of spirit. It is simply a faster and louder way of doing what everybody should do in some way or another, and that is deal with reaching one’s limit.

I don’t hide from my yelling, and I like being around other who don’t hide from it either. Speaking softly and carrying a big stick works for much of life. But once in a while, I toss the stick and just yell from a distance.

Why are so many people against any kind of yelling, regardless of the circumstances?


  1. I guess the most important thing is SELECTIVE yelling, which is what you are advocating. If someone is normally soft-spoken and then yells only on occasion, then the yelling is that much more effective.

    If someone yells all the time, however, then its effectiveness is definitely negated.

  2. Think of teachers, which was more effective usually, yelling at kids, or just standing up front being quiet. Usually the standing still would get the class quiet more quickly. But yelling is a tool for the arsenal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: