BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 21 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1593
  1. Simon Chapman, associate professor of public health and community medicinea
  1. a Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia

    Wrath has had a shocking press since the Old Testament. The writer of Ecclesiastes, a neglected epidemiologist, apparently had unpublished data showing that “envy and wrath shorten the life.”1 As many found out, God was just fulleth of it, promising to delivereth it by the chariot load for the slighteth misdemeanour (“Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience”2).

    Today wrath sits alone in the back row in the den of sins, spurned and feared by all the others as they indulge their pleasures and neuroses. The greedy might be contemptible, the gluttonous unsightly, the envious tedious, and the lustful, well…envied. But the wrathful are simply terrifying and reviled. I mean, who would you rather have to your party? Eros, Bacchus …

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