Let's Talk About Bruno's Anger Issues On 'Real World: Skeletons'

We spoke with Dr. Schwartz from the Jed Foundation.

More strong emotions came out during tonight’s new episode of “Real World: Skeletons.” Bruno has been dealing with anger issues, and with his brother Briah in the house, he finds himself in an awkward situation. The brothers haven’t spoken for years, and Briah has said he doesn’t think people know how "severe his [Bruno’s] temper is."

Bruno and Briah start to talk it over and rebuild their relationship, but things come to a head on Violetta’s birthday, not long after Bruno learned his grandfather had passed. The housemates are in a van when Bruno makes some off-color jokes and Sylvia, who got into a physical fight with Madison before, swats him several times. Bruno blows up about being treated this way, yelling in her face, calling her names, slamming around and then getting out of the vehicle.

Afterward, Bruno says that Sylvia putting her hands on him really pissed him off. Swatting another person is not a form of communication and not a way to treat another person. Meanwhile, the way Bruno exploded really scares the others. Bruno says he more or less “blacked out” on his anger.

A producer asks where all this anger comes from. “My father growing up, he was tough on me," Bruno says. "He showed me tough love.”

After Bruno seems to have calmed down, he meets up with Violetta and Briah. Briah says some of the things Tony said about Bruno after he left. Bruno gets angry again and confronts Tony, only to be pulled away by Briah and Nicole when things begin to get nasty.

Since anger is a normal human emotion, we all have to find ways to deal with it and make sure it’s not destructive. But when anger makes you “black out” and feel uncontrollable, that’s a different issue and may need professional help. To learn more about anger management issues, MTV spoke with Dr. Victor Schwartz of the Jed Foundation.

“Bruno’s giving us a clue in his comments,” Dr. Schwartz said. “This is the way his father is or was or at least the way Bruno perceived him to be. And that being tough was associated with being strong. And so he recognizes on some level that this may cause him some difficulties; on the other hand, it seems he sees it as a powerful attribute or powerful characteristic.”

Asked about Bruno’s response in the van, Dr. Schwartz made mention of how (at least eventually) Bruno got out. “In a certain sense, he showed good judgment [when he left],” he said. “He was losing his temper and he had enough sense to get out of the situation. One of the challenges of these people living in close quarters is that it replays the early patterns of early life. So somebody who lived in an easy-to-anger home who’s then put with a bunch of people, some of those same buttons will inevitably get pushed. Having his brother come back into the mix adds to that sense of regressing.”

And what steps ought to be taken for someone having difficulty with anger management issues? In a past interview with MTV, Dr. Schwartz laid it out, saying, “Seeing a counselor or a therapist can help you understand how you may be contributing to difficulties. Sometimes people see things from one particular perspective from their life experiences and tend to assume that people are always dumping on them or making fun of them, when we know that almost any interaction can be understood in a lot of different ways. Sometimes we make assumptions or misconstrue what’s going on, and that leads to particular kinds of conflict. If you’re getting into repeated and persistent difficulties that seem to be the same story playing over and over again, that may be a strong indication you’re playing out your own problems in your relationships with other people.”

He also had suggestions on how to see a therapist. “If you’re in school, the school might be able to help you find a counselor. Your primary care physician might be able to make a recommendation. If you’re part of a religious community, a clergy person might be able to help with these things. The federal government has a therapist finder on their website. Local mental health associations can also help people find treatment in their community.”

Speaking about Bruno, Dr. Schwartz found it important to discuss triggers for anger. “I think he really needs to understand his triggers. He’s obviously thought a little bit about it. So what circumstances, social settings and interpersonal exchanges will be likely to make him get angry? Really try to anticipate what you know are the likely triggers, try to anticipate when those triggers might come up, and teach yourself simple tricks, like counting to ten. People joke about it, but doing really simple things can help. Walking away from the situation before it gets out of hand.”

After Bruno gets out of the vehicle, Nicole goes after him to try to cool him down. Dr. Schwartz says this may or may not be recommended, depending on the person and the situation. “You shouldn’t put yourself in a position where you might be endangering your safety. It really depends on how well you know the people involved. If you see somebody acting in a way that seems violent or threatening to another person, you should get help as soon as you can. [If it’s not dangerous] try to get the person to count to ten, get away from the immediate inciting situation, and speak quietly and calmly. Think of a parent speaking to a kid who’s having a temper tantrum, of trying to contain the situation, get them away from the situation that’s making them get upset, and speaking quietly and calmly. See if you can calm them down that way. If it’s not working, get away and let them sort it out. Get other people to help if it’s really concerning.”

Sometimes a person might also need their space. When Violetta tries to talk to him, Bruno repeatedly says he wants to be left alone.

Anger issues not are solved overnight, but acknowledging and understanding the issue, and seeking help (sometimes through professionals) can make a difference. Anger can be dangerous and is not something to be ignored. “Bruno’s taken the first step,” Dr. Schwartz said, referencing the talk about Bruno’s father. “But think through the consequences of expressing the anger. If a person can spend some time trying to understand the price they’re paying, that it probably interferes with their relationships, that it might interfere with work or school. Understanding the price you pay can help with the motivation for avoiding and managing those problems.”