Advanced Therapy Partnership




Anger . 

Every day, we experience a whole range of emotions, and we can all remember times when we have been annoyed, irritated, angry or downright enraged! 

The biological basis for anger can be found in the well known ‘fight or flight’ response, and a common trigger for anger is feeling endangered.  This danger does not need to be physical – the threat may well be to our dignity, belief system or self esteem, but the end product is the same. 

It used to be thought that venting our anger on an inanimate object was an acceptable way of dealing with it, but while that may be cathartic, and give a temporary sense of satisfaction, it can also lead to broken windows, holes in walls and other unwanted problems!  More importantly, it does not help the individual to manage anger effectively in the future. 

Anger produces considerable physiological change – our heart rate and blood pressure increase, and there is a sudden release of hormones, particularly adrenaline and noradrenaline.    Triggers for anger can be internal or external – remembering a missed appointment, getting stuck in a traffic jam or a tradesman not turning up.   

While anger is our natural response to threat, it in turn triggers very powerful emotions and often, aggressive feelings and behaviour.  Anger is to some degree necessary for our survival, but inappropriate or excessive anger can be literally life-threatening, either our own or someone else’s. 

Social convention (and indeed the law) usually inhibits us from lashing out at the person or object that enrages us, but sadly, this is not always the case. Some of us are more prone to anger than others.  The more obvious ones may scream and shout, but I’m sure we all know others that are chronically grumpy, irritable, withdrawn and sulky. 

People who are easily angered often have a low tolerance of frustration of any type.  They often feel that they should never be inconvenienced or subjected to experiences that annoy them, and are often incapable of seeing at situation from another viewpoint.  There is evidence that some children are born with a low frustration tolerance, so some of us may have a genetic tendency towards anger. 

Often children are often taught not to express their anger, and this can become an ingrained habit, with unwanted consequences.  When emotions are simply suppressed, we do not learn to deal with them or channel them in a constructive way. 

Even something as apparently negative as anger can be put to good use, or at least, managed safely. The goals of anger management are learning to control our reactions to situations and events, to recognize our own particular anger triggers at an early stage and in the end, to minimize the negative emotional responses and physiological arousal that anger engenders.