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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings


So-called “dumpster defenders”

Since 2018, I’ve paid attention to the case concerning Johnnie Miller of Abilene who was recently convicted of murder involving a dispute over a mattress. Noteworthy, Michael Miller, Johnnie’s son, was found not guilty related to the fatal shooting incident.

For those unfamiliar with the so-called “dumpster defenders” case, Johnnie and Michael were said to have been involved in a dispute with another man over placement of a mattress adjacent a dumpster. What began as a verbal discussion wound up in the end of a man’s life.

As the conflict escalated, video evidence revealed Johnnie allegedly stating to the other man, “If you come closer to me, I’m gon’ kill you,” and, “Take yer’ swing,” as well as multiple advisements of, “Back off,” and, “If you come within three-foot of me, I’m gon’ kill you,” or words to that effect.

While I am in no position to state whether or not the outcome of the event was good, bad, right, wrong, righteous, evil, or otherwise, I do think about the matter from a legal and psychotherapeutic perspective. In particular, I contemplate whether or not the situation could have been avoided in the first place.


It’s stated that hindsight is 20/20, alluding to the ease with which we evaluate events after they occur, rather than when we’re faced with situations in the moment. Who hasn’t engaged in deciding what a person should, must, or ought to have done following a controversial event?

Though it isn’t my intention to dissect the Miller case, I find utility in examining the matter through the lens of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Rather than remarking about what should have occurred, I can assess other possibilities by exploring what could have been different.

In this way, I’m not issuing a rigid demand of the world. Rather, I’m inquiring about what self-disturbing beliefs may drive behavior in a similar situation. This is precisely the sort of topic I address when addressing management of aggression, rage, and hostility—often called “anger management.”

Using the ABC Model, I assist clients with disputation of unhelpful and unhealthy beliefs which influence behavior. As well, I work with people so that they may practice unconditional self-, other-, and life-acceptance.

Therefore, rather than suggesting what ought to have been done by anyone involved in the Miller incident, I aim to delve into how I’d address this matter with a fictional character, Jethro. Hopefully, the reader will benefit from this exploration. If not, I accept that.


For those uninterested in the law, and who are solely here for the mental health perspective I have to offer, you may want to skip to the section of this entry entitled Provocation in hip hop.

Before addressing how I’d work with Jethro in a similar case, it may be worth examining the legal definition of provocation. After all, knowing what is legal or illegal is a rational approach to this matter.

Those who know me likely understand that I fully support an unimpeded Second Amendment and the right to self-defense, while also understanding I don’t typically advocate provoking speech and gestures. Nonetheless, I make no claim to be a lawyer or an attorney.

As well, I have no intention of casting aspersions towards anyone involved in the Miller case. This is why the current blog entry and my use of REBT herein involve an unrelated and imaginary character.

Additionally, each of the following sources is current as of the time this blogpost is written, as they are subject to change in the future. Consult proper legal counsel rather than depending on the information listed herein.

As I understand it, according to United States law, one source states:

“Provocation” is that which causes, at the time of the act, reason be disturbed or obscured by passion to an extent which might render ordinary persons, of average disposition, liable to act rashly or without due deliberation or reflection, and from passion, rather than judgment. In other words, provocation is something which causes a reasonable person to lose control.

When determining a case of provoking the difficulty, or provocation, another source opines:

The State is not entitled to a jury charge on provocation precluding the assertion of self-defense unless there is sufficient evidence that:

1) the defendant did some act or used some words that provoked the attack on him;

2) such act or words were reasonably calculated to provoke the attack; and

3) the act was done or words were used for the purpose of and with the intent that the defendant would have a pretext for inflicting harm upon the other.

An instruction on provocation should be given only when there is evidence from which a rational jury could find all three of the provocation elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

More specifically, regarding Texas Penal Code - Penal § 9.31. Self-Defense, one source reports:

(b) The use of force against another is not justified:

(1) in response to verbal provocation alone;

(2) to resist an arrest or search that the actor knows is being made by a peace officer, or by a person acting in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction, even though the arrest or search is unlawful, unless the resistance is justified under Subsection (c);

(3) if the actor consented to the exact force used or attempted by the other;

(4) if the actor provoked the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force, unless:

(A) the actor abandons the encounter, or clearly communicates to the other his intent to do so reasonably believing he cannot safely abandon the encounter;  and

(B) the other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful force against the actor;  or

(5) if the actor sought an explanation from or discussion with the other person concerning the actor’s differences with the other person while the actor was:

(A) carrying a weapon in violation of Section 46.02 ;  or

(B) possessing or transporting a weapon in violation of Section 46.05.

For the reader who has managed to make it this far, enduring legalese, I applaud your inquisitive mind. Now, onward with how a layperson may understand provocation.

Provocation in hip hop

I could cite a seemingly exhaustless litany of examples related to provocation content within rap. Still, as not to overwhelm the reader, I’ve selected a finite number of illustrations from Memphis, Tennessee rappers.

On the 1997 album Chapter 2: World Domination, concerning Three Six Mafia’s song “Hit a Muthafucka,” nearly the entire track could represent provoking the difficulty. I recall dancing in clubs when the album was released as some DJs refused to play the song, presumably to prevent violence from occurring.

The hook states:

I bet you won’t hit a motherfucka’, hit a motherfucka’ (bitch)! Hit a motherfucka’, hit a motherfucka’! I bet you won’t push a motherfucka’, push a motherfucka’ (ho)! Push a motherfucka’, push a motherfucka’! I bet you won’t.

The song could be interpreted as provoking people to commit violence by encouraging the striking or pushing of another person. The added bonus is a dare (“I bet you won’t”), which some may perceive as a provocative challenge.

In 2004, 8Ball & MJG dropped an album entitled Living Legends which featured a song called “Don’t Make.” Rather than possibly viewed as a tune in which one is directly provoking another to commit assault, this song expresses the result of unchecked provocation.

The hook expresses:

Don’t make (don’t make) me kill (me kill) no muthafuckin’ body in here (in here). I’ma shoot (I’ma shoot) three shots (three shots). Somebody done made me hot (me hot).

Incitement to violence is more subtle in this song, because the message seems to portray the idea that person A’s expression or behavior could cause person B to commit homicide. Without challenge to person’s B provocative warning, detrimental results occur within the song.

In 2022, NLE Choppa released a mixtape entitled Me vs. Me that featured a song called “Me vs. Me.” See if you can spot the two statements seemingly linked to provocation.

The song states:

Ayy, smilin’ on my mugshot, ‘cause I know my bond money good (my bond money good). I ain’t missed a heartbeat, I’m out the next day; it’s understood (bitch, it’s understood). To the Broward County Police, lick my nuts and suck my wood (tell ‘em suck my dick). First day, tray and nigga you start mugging, wish a nigga would (wish a nigga would).

The first provocative account relates to advisement for police to perform oral sex on the rapper. For the record, I recognize the statement as an insult rather than an offer.

Though not overtly illegal, and possibly protected under the auspices of the First Amendment, one may interpret the declaration under the fighting words doctrine. These are utterances which tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.

The second pronouncement is demonstrated by the rapper saying, “Wish a nigga would.” This is an oft used expression of hope for another person to do thing A that will lead to thing B. For example, “I wish you would say something so I could punch you in the face.”

The final song relates to experience with which I was familiar during adolescence, regarding some knuckleheads I knew. Duke Deuce’s 2022 song “Buck the System,” from the album Memphis Massacre III, describes how perceived disrespect could be interpreted as provocation.

The song expresses:

G, I live. G, I die. Ain’t shit gon’ change. You know me, ho. Nigga thought he was gon’ diss my street, I walked outside, beat his ass to the floor. Good with my hands and I’m good with my fingers, so either way I cannot go like a ho. The buckiest of buckiest, the crunkiest of crunkiest, to keep it one-hundred; don’t play with me, ho (what the fuck)!

Similar to 8Ball & MJG’s advisement not to make one rise to the level of violence, Duke Deuce’s song warns, “Don’t play with me.” Honor culture associated with gang-related activity rigidly demands respect with swift punishment for perceived dishonor.

Disrespecting a person’s “street” or set may be interpreted as automatic provocation. In turn, one imagines an issued warning not to “play” with such matters could be used as a provocative statement during a trial.

It may worth noting that I’m a fan of each of the rappers and groups referenced herein. I can enjoy their music while also refraining from living by their message, because “rap made me do it” isn’t a valid excuse for poor behavior.

Putting out Jethro’s dumpster fire of irrational beliefs

Suppose that before coming to session my hypothetical Texas client Jethro is unable to detangle perceived threats from actual dangerous situations. He hopes to challenge irrational beliefs if presented with an opportunity to deescalate conflict before it rises to a use of force event:

· only use the minimum amount of force necessary for self-defense,

· he reasonably believes that force is necessary to stop someone else’s use of unlawful force,

· Jethro does not provoke the attack, and

· he is not engaged in a crime

Here is how I may work with Jethro to extinguish the dumpster fire of irrational beliefs he maintains:

Jethro: Sometimes, I get so worked up that I can’t bring myself down. It’s like once I’m in go-mode, there’s no turnin’ back, you know? I don’t wanna’ be like this.

Me: To better understand what occurs during a violent outburst, if you’re ok with that term, will you tell me a bit more about what happens in your mind, how you feel emotionally, where you feel it in your body, and what you do during outbursts?

Jethro: Yeah, I’m fine with callin’ it that, because that’s what it is. Well, I’ve not given it much thought about where I “feel it,” as you say. Can you clarify for me?

Me: Sure, not a problem. We’ll cover the four areas one-by-one. Let’s start with probably the easiest to identify. Using an actual example, either the most recent or maybe the most significant violent outburst that comes to mind, what behavior occurred—what do you do?

Jethro: Oh, that’s easy. Just the other day, a week ago, when I was at PartitionMart, I flat out punched a dude in the fuckin’ face—dropped his ass to the floor.

Me: That’s what, in REBT, is referred to as a consequence. It’s the consequence not of an action or event, though of your belief about what the other person did. We’ll get to the belief in a bit. For now, let us take a step back so I can walk us through the consequence of your belief. What was the activating event—the thing that happened with this dude?

Jethro: Well, when he saw my girl, Cheryl, and I’m guessin’ he didn’t think she was with me, I heard him come on to her. She pointed at me and said, “I’m with him.” Do you know what that motherfucker did then?

Me: I can only imagine. What?

Jethro: This sonofabitch had the damned nerve to look me up and down and say to Cheryl, “You’re with this beta male? No problem, he can watch.” Can you believe that shit!?

Me: It sounds like an insult. What happened then?

Jethro: Well, I got up in his face and said, “Say that shit again, asshole! I dare you!”

Me: What then?

Jethro: This cum stain actually started to call me a beta again. But, before he could even get out, “Beta…” I busted him right in the jaw. He falls down and starts convulsin’, raisin’ his arms while knocked the fuck out!

Me: What you’re describing sounds like post-traumatic tremors and a fencing response.

Jethro: I guess. All I know is me and Cheryl got the fuck up outta’ there in an instant.

Me: I don’t want to presume, so what emotion would you say you felt at that time?

Jethro: I was heated as fuck.

Me: Ok. You were angry and you punched someone. The punch represents your behavior and the anger is your mood, emotion, or how you felt. Now, also a type of feeling—though more related to a bodily sensation rather than an emotion—is what you felt in your body at the time. People sometimes struggle to recall this. Do you remember what it felt like in your body when you were angry?

Jethro: Whew, that is hard. Hmm, lemme’ see. I guess I never really think about how my body feels.

Me: Not a problem. I had to learn how to develop this skill, too. It doesn’t come natural to many of us. When you’re usually heated, mad enough to hit someone, I’m wondering where that sensation occurs in your body. For instance, if I’m angry I may tighten my fists, feel heat in my head, my shoulders may tighten, or my legs may go numb. That’s me though. Where do you usually feel emotion in the form of a sensation within your body?

Jethro: Oh, now I see. Yeah, I can relate to the head thing. It’s like my whole head is engulfed in fire. It’s tight, too. You know, like it’s about to explode. Also, now that I think about it, my chest pounds and my palms get sweaty.

Me: You’re doing great! Anything else happen within your body?

Jethro: Yes, I get energized. Like, I could run through a wall or somethin’. I guess it wasn’t so hard to identify the body thing after all.

Me: Well done. You’re able to identify your behavior, emotion, and bodily sensation. Now, for the one item some people say is most difficult to recall. Do you remember what you thought when at the store before you punched the dude?

Jethro: Well, let me think. I can’t really remember. I guess when I’m that worked up, I’m not really thinkin’.

Me: Sometimes people can remember, sometimes not. Usually, when talking about thoughts, I’m paying attention for beliefs. The way I frame this is that a thought isn’t necessarily the same as a belief. For instance, I notice you’re wearing a plaid shirt and I think, “That shirt looks warm.” That thought doesn’t have any emotional significance to me. It’s like a cloud passing in the sky, a leaf floating along a stream, or…

Jethro: A fart ejected from my ass?

Me: Exactly! Originating inside, we can simply let that gas pass. We aren’t necessarily driven by insignificant thoughts as much as beliefs. In this way, a belief typically has a moral imperative. I think of morals as good, bad, right, wrong, and so forth. These judgements are what we use with ourselves, others, and the world at large. Does the way I’m framing thoughts and beliefs make sense to you?

Jethro: Yeah, it does. I know it’s unpopular to say this these days, but I believe there’s a higher power out there. I don’t know who or what it is, but when I think of it I wanna’ be a better person. It’s not like thinkin’ about a tube of tri-colored toothpaste and how none of the colors run together. Toothpaste don’t guide my life.

Me: Sounds like you get it. Now, if you can’t recall what you thought when at PartitionMart before you punched a man when feeling angry while experiencing a hot and tight head, a beating chest, sweaty palms, and energy all over your body—what did you believe about him calling you a beta and suggesting that Cheryl could watch you with him?

Jethro: Nobody—and I mean no…body—better disrespect me like that!

Me: Now we’re getting somewhere. When we say things like people better not disrespect us, they have to respect us, or they gotta’ keep their fucking thoughts to themselves, these are forms of should, must, and ought statements. It’s our way of irrationally and often rigidly demanding—in this case—that the guy at PartitionMart has to do as we command. What do you think of beliefs when described this way?

Jethro: It makes sense. I mean, if I talk about toothpaste, I don’t feel anything. Talkin’ about a higher power or about some dude disrepectin’ me, now that triggers me. I feel something. So, I don’t enjoy actin’ like I did at the store. Cheryl was cryin’ in the car and all this week, I’ve been expectin’ the police to show up at my house. What can I do about this?

Me: Jethro, the hopeful news is that violent outbursts can be addressed using REBT. Also, we’ve already begun the process of the ABC Model. Let me know what you think about what we have so far.

The (A), or Activating event, was that when at PartitionMart, a man made an advance towards Cheryl and when she informed him that you’re with her, he said, “You’re with this beta male? No problem, he can watch.”

The (B), or Belief about the event, was, “Nobody—and I mean no…body—better disrespect me like that!”

The (C), or Consequence of your belief, was the emotion of anger. You also experienced a hot and tight head, beating chest, sweaty palms, and energy all over your body. In addition, which is a statement of provocation, you said to the guy, “Say that shit again, asshole! I dare you!” And then you punched him in the face.

Before we continue, does all of this sound correct?

Jethro: Yeah, that’s spot-on.

Me: Using REBT, the ABCs are incomplete as is. To resolve your issue, let’s finish the ABC formula. To do this, we Dispute the unhelpful or unhealthy belief in order to arrive at a more Effective new belief. Keep in mind that we’re not disputing the action or consequence. We aren’t time travelers who are capable of undoing past events. Likewise, we aren’t in the business of denial. So, we’re not pretending as though the consequence didn’t occur or that it somehow wasn’t real.

Jethro: Ok, so we’re only disputin’ what I told myself that ultimately led to me punchin’ ol’ boy in the face? Got it.

Me: Let us use what’s known as an inference chain. The guy at PartitionMart insults you, basically stating that he’s more of a man than you and can participate in cuckoldry while he has sex with Cheryl. You tell yourself—that is, you fundamentally believe—that not a single person should ever disrespect you in such a manner. That much seems evident. Still, I wonder about what else may be indicated in your belief. You see, simply saying to yourself, “People must respect me,” isn’t likely to result in a violent outburst. By issuing a statement of provocation to the guy, I wonder what else you believed. So, what else might you have told yourself or believed about the guy’s message?

Jethro: Well, that dude probably thought I was a bitch. I ain’t the one and we ain’t the two! He can try that bullshit with someone else, but I bet he’d never again think of doin’ it with me. Even if he dreams of disrespectin’ me, he better wake up and apologize.

Me: If I’m hearing you right, are you saying it was your duty to teach this person not to violate your moral code?

Jethro: I mean, I haven’t thought of it like that. I guess so. Yeah.

Me: Rather than disputing the notion that you’ve assigned yourself as the professor of society—distributing cosmic justice—and that people finna catch these hands when violating your principles, let us instead explore what is inferred in your belief. It sounds like you’re telling yourself, “People must respect me and if they don’t, I must punish them.” Thoughts?

Jethro: I mean, yeah. Ol’ boy learned a lesson at the store, because he disrespected me.

Me: Ok, he disrespected you and you truly believed that it was your place to hold him accountable for his behavior. Then what?

Jethro: Well, I think that’s obvious. I, as you put it, distributed cosmic justice on his ass!

Me: And then?

Jethro: Me and Cheryl dipped.

Me: Alright, and then?

Jethro: I’ve laid low since.

Me: Then?

Jethro: What do you mean? I came to therapy.

Me: For what purpose?

Jethro: Because after the dust settled, Cheryl convinced me that cameras probably recorded the outburst. Also, she was pretty freaked out by my response. I could lose my job or get arrested for assault. It’s probably like that bitch-ass dude to press charges.

Me: Wait. I’m confused. You’re the moral arbiter of the galaxy, tasked with teaching people lessons encased in your own mind. You followed through with your method by punishing the guy at PartitionMart for violating your demands. Am I missing something?

Jethro: That’s what happened, though when you put it that way it sounds worse than how I think of it.

Me: Enlighten me. How do you think of it?

Jethro: Ok, are you familiar with the street code?

Me: If you’re referring to the code that varies by set, hood, county, city, state, or country; yes. And if so, you may be referring to unwritten standards by which people live and die through rigid enforcement of unwavering demands. Yes, I know a little something about that.

Jethro: Good. I haven’t heard it explained that way, though that’s it. Well, the street code requires street justice. Ol’ boy violated the code and I administered justice. It’s like you say, A-B-C.

Me: Ahh, I see. I’m glad you brought it back to REBT. The (A) is what the guy said, though you’re drawing a direct line from (A) to (C). However, (C) is actually the consequence of (B)—what you believed about what was said. In this case, there isn’t an A-C connection. They guy apparently disrespecting you didn’t lead to your response. Rather, there is a B-C connection. It’s what you believed that led to the punch.

Jethro: Are you saying that if a motherfucker violates the code I’m supposed to just stand there and take it?

Me: I don’t give advice. As an REBT therapist, I don’t tell my clients what they should, must, or ought to do. Instead of giving you rules by which you live your life, let’s continue the inference chain and maybe you’ll figure out a more helpful or healthy option than to lay someone out in a store. Understanding that it’s your belief about what was said and not the guy’s statement that upset you, how might you have handled the situation in a different way?

Jethro: Changed my belief?

Me: Are you asking or telling me?

Jethro: I guess telling. I could’ve just let it slide when ol’ boy disrespected me.

Me: And then what do you imagine would’ve happened?

Jethro: I’d probably have to explain to Cheryl why I didn’t defend myself.

Me: And then?

Jethro: She’d probably appreciate not having to hide out for a week.

Me: Then?

Jethro: Maybe you would have less money in your pocket, because I wouldn’t be meeting with you today.

Me: Working myself out of a job is almost a goal at this point. Ok, we have two chains with different outcomes. Chain 1 is the violent outburst chain. It leads to physical battery, potentially ducking law enforcement, and seeking behavioral health treatment. Chain 2 is the healthy outcome chain. It may require a brief explanation to Cheryl about your behavior though it doesn’t involve inflicting head trauma, police involvement, or enriching Deric. I don’t want to presume anything, so which chain do you prefer—chain 1 or 2?

Jethro: Oh shit, “2 Chainz!” Obviously, chain 2.

Me: I’ll see your 2 Chainz and raise you a “Riverdale Rd,” “They asking, ‘What’s the plan, B?’ I don’t have a plan B. I told ‘em this shit got to work; it’s just like candy to me. I mean it’s hard, but it’s sweet.” With chain 2, what I’m offering isn’t easy. Though, it sure can be sweet like candy when opting for plan B instead of choosing a violent outburst. So, Jethro, do you believe plan B—chain 2—is truly desirable, more helpful, or healthier than what you did at PartitionMart?

Jethro: Yes. I like that you admit it’s not easy. In theory, it sounds obvious. Walkin’ away is better for me than droppin’ dude. I just don’t know that I can actually do it, you know? Like, in the future, will I be able to just walk away?

Me: I get this sort of response quite often. Think about that toothpaste versus a higher power. One represents a thought and the other a belief. Belief takes conviction. I can understand how you’d be doubtful, given you have a lifetime of adherence to a street code and resulting street justice if or when violated. What I’m promoting with REBT takes practice. It isn’t simply as though you understand it today and it’s forever more with you. Think of it like this, suppose I told you that after this session you could walk outside, furiously flap your arms, and take flight. Would you try it?

Jethro: Hell nah, I wouldn’t try that shit!

Me: Why not?

Jethro: Ain’t no way you gon’ have me out here lookin’ like a goofy ass! This ain’t Space Jam and I don’t believe I can fly!

Me: Jethro, coming in with a spicyR. Kelly reference. I see you. You wouldn’t practice arm-flapping, because you don’t believe in the outcome. Similarly, if you don’t believe chain 2 will actually lead in a favorable direction, you likely won’t practice it. What do you think?

Jethro: Makes sense. I do believe it would be better if I used chain 2.

Me: Let’s take a moment to reflect on what brought you to therapy with me. You initially stated, “Sometimes, I get so worked up that I can’t bring myself down. It’s like once I’m in go-mode, there’s no turnin’ back,” and, “I don’t wanna’ be like this.” Because you truly want to change, you already have an incentive to alter your behavior. Your buy-in is that even if your self-disturbing beliefs are strong, you have the ability to choose a more helpful belief. And that healthier belief is what?

Jethro: I wish people wouldn’t disrespect me.

Me: And if they do?

Jethro: I’m not gon’ give someone power over my actions.

Me: Because?

Jethro: Because, I know I’m mentally stronger than I give myself credit for.

Me: Based on?

Jethro: Well, there’ve been other times when I’m decided not to react. I can prevent go-mode.

Me: How’s this for an effective new belief? “I wish people wouldn’t disrespect me, and if they do, I’m not going to give them power over my actions, because I know I’m mentally stronger than I give myself credit for.”

Jethro: Perfect!

Me: What consequences do you think, feel—emotionally and in your body—and how do you imagine you’d behave with this more helpful new belief?

Jethro: I’m not angry, I can tell you that. I guess I’d feel calm. I’d probably be a little irritated. I’m not gon’ lie. I’ll take calmly irritated over angry and puttin’ ol’ boy in a horizontal position.

Me: And what do you imagine you’d feel in your body?

Jethro: Hmm, I think when I’m irritated it’s just a slower heart rate than when I’m angry. It’s still a little faster than normal, but not much. I don’t think I’d have a hot and tight head, sweaty palms, or energy all over your body though.

Me: Any thoughts come to mind, other than the effective new belief?

Jethro: If I’m bein’ one hunnid, I’d still think ol’ boy was a bitch-ass dude.

Me: Ok; and how might you behave?

Jethro: Just walk away with Cheryl and go somewhere else.

Me: Now, let’s plug that effective new belief into the ABC Model and use the consequence you just described. I’ll reference it in the present-tense, since we’re imagining this as though it’s taking place right now. Let’s see if provoking others to conflict and knocking them out is less or more helpful than chain 2. This is our scientific approach to your issue.

The (A), or Activating event, is that when at PartitionMart, a man makes an advance towards Cheryl and when she informs him that you’re with her, he says, “You’re with this beta male? No problem, he can watch.”

The (B), or Belief that is now new and effective is, “I wish people wouldn’t disrespect me, and if they do I’m not going to give them power over my actions, because I know I’m mentally stronger than I give myself credit for.”

The (C), or Consequence of your more helpful belief is calm irritation, a slightly elevated heart rate, thinking that this “bitch-ass dude” isn’t worth your time, and leaving the store.

What do you think?

Jethro: That sounds great! I really do believe it would—no, will be better when I put it into practice.

Me: Wonderful! I sometimes like to leave clients with a parting metaphor so that they have a mental image upon which to reflect in the future. Thinking of your irrational beliefs as a dumpster fire and your second chain as a way to extinguish the flames may benefit you.

Jethro: That sounds great! I’m tellin’ you, violent outbursts over a damned dumpster just ain’t worth it.

Me: Word!


Though Michael Miller was found not guilty of homicide, the Miller’s tale serves as an important case to consider when examining provoking speech and gestures. Use of REBT may be an effective strategy to deescalate violent outbursts, in alignment with applicable legal standards.

Herein, I’ve highlighted hip hop cultural references which may constitute provocative speech. As well, using the example of a fictional client, I’ve demonstrated how I may approach the disputation of irrational beliefs associated with provocation.

Ultimately, it is up to the individual whether or not a healthier, more helpful belief system will be substituted for a maladaptive and inflexible belief that could lead to dire consequences. So, what will it be, dear reader—control your own behavior, allow others to control you, or perhaps something else?

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, and hip hop head from the old school, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

Photo credit, fair use, photo unrelated directly to the Miller case


2 Chainz. (2018, July 23). Riverdale Rd [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

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