Dear Abby: Student needs instruction on dealing with her anger

DEAR ABBY: I am 21 and I have an anger problem. Sometimes when my friends, roommates or my boyfriend do something that annoys me, I feel so mad that I can't concentrate on anything I have to get done.

I'm having that problem right now, because one of my roommates was mean to me tonight. I think I'm owed an apology, but I know I won't be getting one.

Is it normal to get this mad? How can I control my anger better? Taking a deep breath and counting to 10 just makes me feel angrier. I'd feel better if I punched the wall, but the last time I did that, I bruised my fist. Do you have any guidelines?

- Consumed by Anger in Virginia

DEAR CONSUMED BY ANGER: Anger is a normal emotion. Everybody has experienced it at one time or another.

If it is channeled in the right direction, anger can be a positive emotion. Uncontrolled, or suppressed, it can be extremely harmful and even a killer. The challenge that everyone faces is how not to deny the feeling but to express the anger - or defuse it - in ways that are productive.

In a situation like yours, saying out loud in a controlled manner that something has made you angry can be like releasing steam from a pressure cooker.

Step one in managing your anger is to recognize that the emotion is building before you lose control or become so angry that you can't concentrate on what is most important right now.

DEAR ABBY: If a couple has been dating for a long time and are sexually active, do you think he has a right to have sex with her while she's sleeping? My sister and I disagree: I feel it's abuse, but my sister isn't sure.

- Cathy in Kingston, N.Y.

DEAR CATHY: If someone has sex with you without your consent, it isn't abuse. It's rape. P.S. If the boyfriend in question is so inept at lovemaking that his partner snores right through it, then it seems to me that only the boyfriend is sexually "active."