That's the question now facing one Julius Malema, chairman of the African National Congress Youth League and the "most divisive" public figure in South Africa, who this week was sentenced by members of his own party to anger management classes after a string of high-profile controversies.
He's been compared (unflatteringly) to several American politicians -- most notably Sarah Palin, for the ability to inspire equal amounts of devotion and wrath; to espouse populism while fattening one's coffers; and to make uncompromising, outrageous, eminently quotably statements. On the other hand, Time magazine has pegged Malema as a South African Joe Biden "if, instead of innocuous, silly slipups, Biden delivered violent, racist, misogynist rants."
Though part of his signature style, Malema's politically incorrect rants have recently landed the "future leader" of South Africa in trouble with party elders, including his mentor and the country's sitting president, Jacob Zuma.
"Certainly there must be consequences for such behavior," Zuma said in a statement, referring to three regrettable incidents on a single trip to neighboring Zimbabwe, which Malema had undertaken to ease racial and social tensions in the region.
Malema was subsequently ordered to apologize and appear before a disciplinary hearing on charges of misconduct. Confessing guilt in a plea bargain, he received the relatively light punishment of a $1,300 fine, probation and mandatory anger management classes.
But could sending this volatile pol into therapy really have any effect? To find out, AOL News asked some of America's leading anger management specialists to weigh in on some of Malema's recent controversies:
1) Problem Behavior: Malema pledged his unbridled support and admiration of the autocratic Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe while denouncing the country's opposition parties as "popcorn."
Solution: Improve intra- and interpersonal communications, advises Dr. Lyle Becourtney, a New York state-licensed psychologist who specializes in anger management: "One of the most successful anger management techniques focuses on increasing one's awareness of his or her inner thoughts and learning to change the conversation one has with himself or herself. ... Techniques that are extremely beneficial include adjusting one's expectations to more reasonable levels and learning how to effectively communicate one's feelings without offending or putting others on the defensive."
2) Problem Behavior: Malema led some of Mugabe's party supporters in a chorus of "Shoot the Boer," an apartheid-era song he had just been banned by court order from singing, since it calls for black Africans to rise up against the white South Africans descended from Dutch settlers. Malema has previously said he would rather go to jail than stop singing the song, claiming that apartheid "still persists" and needs to be fought.
Solution: Walk a mile in another person's shoes, suggests Brenda Shoshanna, psychologist and author of "Fearless: The 7 Principles of Peace of Mind." "A wonderful technique for handling this is ... called the Turnaround Procedure. A role-play is set up and Mr. Malena would take the part of his opponent, and another individual would play his part. In this way he would get a broader understanding of all parts of the conflict, and perhaps develop some empathy for the other side."
3) Problem Behavior: During a news conference, Malema verbally assaulted a white journalist, making racially disparaging remarks, swearing and expelling him from the room. "Here you behave or else you jump," Malema told BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher, who had interrupted Malema's speech to ask him a question. "Don't come here with that white tendency, go out bastard, bloody agent." (The latter quote was made into an underground dance mix by a Johannesburg DJ.)
Solution: Learn how to listen respectfully to others, writes D. Lani McElgun, a Hofstra University administrator and family therapist who conducts court-approved anger management workshops. "[This incident] may indicate that [Malena] could benefit from communication/listening skills, especially when others' belief systems are being voiced that are different than his own. Entire sessions are spent on how we develop belief systems and why it is essential to our relationships to be able to listen to opposing perspectives."