Anger Management Class Can Help Any Man – Even Jeff Spicoli

Anger Management Class Can Help Any Man – Even Jeff Spicoli


By Dr. Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC

Who would have thought that Jeff Spicoli, the stoned surfer from the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, would ever have to go to anger management class? But his real-life persona, actor Sean Penn now does.

Penn was sentenced last month to anger management classes for his assault of a photographer in October of 2009. Video of the event shows the photographer filming Penn when Penn approaches and proceeds to kick him, break his camera, and threaten to kill him. The photographer needed surgery after the altercation.

It’s been well documented that Penn has anger problems. Here are some of his repeated anger problems from a People Magazine article written back in 1987 when his marriage to Madonna was ending:

  • June 1985: While in Nashville, he hurls a rock at a photographer, camera-whips him, then punches out a reporter.
  • April 1986: In an L.A. nightclub, Penn sees songwriter David Wolinski bussing Madonna, an old acquaintance, and savagely attacks with fists, feet and a chair. He’s fined $1,000 and gets a year’s probation.
  • August 1986: Sean and Madonna are accosted by paparazzi outside their Central Park West apartment. Penn baptizes one photographer, Anthony Savignano, with saliva. Savignano shoves him. Penn socks him and a fellow photographer, Vinnie Zuffante.
  • Penn had displayed a strong possessive streak even before Madonna. “I saw him on the set of Racing With the Moon,” says one source, of the 1984 film Sean made with then-girlfriend.
  • Elizabeth McGovern. “A male reporter was sitting with McGovern in her trailer. When Penn found out about it, he threw a tantrum. He went over to the trailer and started rocking it. I don’t think it was because he was afraid of McGovern saying anything about him. I think he was upset because there was a man in her trailer.”
  • Marriage did nothing to change Penn. The David Wolinski incident bears this out. So does the Nick Kamen episode. A singer-model, Kamen was recording “Each Time You Break My Heart” with Madonna, and the fact that they were working together, says one source, made Sean wildly jealous.” Despite some vigorous protests to the contrary from Madonna, Penn refused to believe that she and Kamen weren’t having an affair“Sean caused a lot of problems in the studio,” says the source.

Can you see yourself, or a man you know, in some of these descriptions? Penn’s struggle to manage his anger is not unique. Many men I’ve worked with in anger management classes have similar stories of their own anger problems. The good news is that the men I’ve worked with, unlike Penn, have learned in anger management class how to successfully stop their anger problems and have changed their lives.


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