My song today is, ‘Take These Chains from My Heart’. This song was sung by Hank Williams. It was written by Fred Rose and Hy Heath and was recorded at Williams' final recording session on September 23, 1952, in Nashville. The song has been widely praised and Williams' biographer, Colin Escott, deems it "perhaps the best song [Rose] ever presented to Hank”.
In the wake of Hank Williams' passing on New Year’s Day of 1953, the song shot to Number 1 and was his final chart-topping hit for ‘MGM Records’. Like his hit, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, the song's theme of despair, so vividly articulated by Williams' typically impassioned singing, reinforced the image of Hank as a tortured, mythic figure.
Other artists to cover this hit song of Hank’s included: George Jones (1962): Ray Charles (1962): Al Martino (1963): Dean Martin( 1965): Marty Robbins with Chet Atkins (1968): Jerry Lee Lewis (1970) : Don Gibson (1971): Glen Campbell (1973) : Charlie Rich (1974) : Dolly Parton (1976) : Merle Haggard (2001): Daniel O’Donnell (2015) among many others; too many to mention.
I was ten years old when Hank Williams released this song and can remember hearing it on the wireless (that’s the radio for all you who are younger than 65 years). I was one year away from incurring a life-threatening and life-changing traffic accident which was to immobilise me for three years. I was unable to walk until my 14th year of life, having been told by the hospital medics that my damaged spine would render me a cripple for the rest of my life.
This accident was to shape my life and mould my character and attitudes and beliefs thereafter. It paradoxically was to lead me twenty years later (while working as a Probation Officer in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire) to find a method of working with aggressive people called ‘Anger Management’. Within two years of establishing a systematised approach of how best to change aggressive behaviour in people’s response patterns which led to unhealthy and illegal aggressive acts (and to maintain and reinforce such positive change), the method mushroomed across the English speaking world and was soon to become common practice.
By the age of 32/33 years, I founded a method of systematised working that could be copied by other workers across the world to improve and change the unacceptable and unhealthy behaviour of hundreds of thousands/ millions of angry people. If I never achieved anything else in my life thereafter, I knew that I had significantly achieved something of significant value.
Unlike many pioneers before me who was to spend half a lifetime of dedicated and painstaking research before coming up with the truth of their discovery, I was to stumble across mine like a man in the dark.
The behavioural aspects which led to the foundation of more effective ‘Anger Management’ courses across the globe were to be found in my past. In fact, it could be truthfully said that the ‘secret’ was to be found by me in the aftermath of my past traffic accident at the age of 11 years. My accident crippled me and wound me in an angry ball of barb-wire resentment before binding me tightly by a chain of fear which inevitably led to the loss of love for myself and others.
Prior to my traffic accident, I was an 11-year-old highly talented footballer who played in a senior school football team with 14 and 15-year-old teammates. My dream was to one day play national football for the Ireland First Squad like my father had in his early twenties. Being unable to walk, with the medical prognosis that I never would again, effectively robbed me of my boyhood dream.
Having had my boyhood dream stolen from me through my inability to walk again left me very angry. I was angry with the person who had knocked me down in their wagon and had run over me! I was angry with the fact that my football career had ended before it ever began. I was fearful of living my future life as a cripple watching others play, run and dance from the seat of a wheelchair, knowing that I’d never walk again! Finally, I stopped loving others around me until eventually, I stopped loving myself.
Without explaining to you in detail all the ingredients involved in the ‘Anger Management’ process of work, all I need to tell you in order to help you understand better are the following details. I later discovered when researching how our behaviour is made up to form our response patterns, that three primary emotions govern their composition; fear, anger and the inability to express love for self and others (more commonly referred to a having low self-esteem).
These three emotions are the very same three emotions that ruled my unhealthy mind and body after my life-threatening and life-changing traffic accident as an 11-year-old boy, and it was how I successfully dealt with them over the next decade which led me to repeat that very same formula with others who displayed the very same emotional and behavioural problems as I did immediately after my boyhood accident.
It is no surprise that today that I no longer believe in accidents of life. I do believe in fate and destiny. I do believe that each one of us has their fate mapped out the day we are born. I also believe that the symbolic bullet which ends all our lives has a date inscribed upon it when it will be fired in our direction with deadly effect!
What my research into human behaviour led me to learn was the ‘sequencing’ of which emotion to work with first, which second and which third, in order to make any successful change in a person’s unhealthy behaviour achieved, 'stay unchanged'. I knew that many of my colleagues had often helped clients to change some of their unhelpful behaviours, but after a period of time (like an abandoned diet that significantly reduces the dieter’s weight) the old problematic behaviour always returned, making the dieter pile back on more weight than they had carried initially.
My research essentially told me that whatever problem behaviour a person has, any unhealthy levels of the three emotions of fear, anger and self-image will govern the nature and degree of their problematic response. If a person’s problematic behaviour pattern TO BE CHANGED FOR MORE APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR, AND TO STAY CHANGED IN THE LONG TERM than the worker must first address the problem of reducing their ‘Fear levels’, followed next by working to reduce their ‘Anger levels’ before finally working on improving their self-image in order that they can learn to love themselves; after which will automatically follow the love of others.
ONLY BY WORKING ON DEALING WITH THE PROBLEM AREA OF BEHAVIOURS IN THIS ORDER CAN ANY BEHAVIOURAL BENEFITS ACHIEVED BE REINFORCED AND MAINTAINED LONG-TERM.
It is identifying this 'sequencing' and its 'effect' in successful work programmes with aggressive behaviour that I will hopefully be remembered for.
Thousands of people have worked with angry people for thousands of years in helping them to manage their anger. What I founded during the early 1970s was the following four things:
(1) I founded the term ‘Anger Management’
(2) I identified the (theorised) three emotional components which make up a person’s problematic response pattern as being Fear, Anger and Poor Self-Image.
(3) I established the sequence of which emotional component to work with first, second and third, in order to reinforce and strengthen any behaviour and response patterns changed for the better, to remain changed in the long term and not revert to former problematic behaviour patterns of response in certain situations.
(4) I discovered that the enabling discipline that was required to make all the above three changes possible was teaching them ‘Relaxation Methods, Visual Imagery and Self-Hypnosis’. Without using these methods in tandem while working with the reduction of their fear, anger and poor self-image levels, these three emotional levels could not be positively changed for the long term.
(5) That is my accomplishment in the process of ‘Anger Management.’
It was only after I found out how to help myself at the age of 11 years by removing the chains of Fear, Anger and a Poor Self-Image that bound me, how to remove similar chains from others in later life whose emotions of inappropriate levels of Fear, Anger and a Poor Self-Image was keeping them imprisoned in their own problematic response patterns also.
Love and peace Bill xxx