Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control, and turns destructive it can lead to problems – problems at work, in personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. Anger, a major manifestation of psychological pain, features prominently in virtually all close relationships. It is often intense, repetitive and violently expressed. Furthermore, it can be combined with a high level of defensiveness, which involves unwillingness to examine one’s own behaviour. Anger is an “emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage” according to Charles Spielberger, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. For some people these surges can become addictive and destructive. There is a fine line between acknowledging anger and venting it until it is out of control. Angry behaviours include yelling, throwing things, criticising, ignoring, storming out and sometimes withdrawing and doing nothing. Anger can often lead to violence if not properly controlled and some people use anger as an excuse for being abusive towards others. Violence and abusive behaviour gives someone power and control over another person usually through creating fear. Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (Such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a cancelled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings. Anger is a basic emotion which has allowed us to survive as a species. When a baby screams because it is hungry, too hot or too cold, it is displaying its raw anger. Anger is the emotion of not having our needs met. We are programmed with the ability to express our anger from birth – and then it gets complicated. Although it is a healthy, normal emotion it is probably also the most complex. It can be a creative force for change or to right an injustice. Societies and families hold different views on how it can be used and by whom. It is often poorly managed and can be destructive when it is out of control and turns to aggression. If anger cannot be expressed it can lead to physical problems, depression and anxiety and can cause relationships to wither.
Why do we get angry?
Anger is often associated with frustration - things don't always happen the way we want and people don't always behave the way we think they should. Anger is usually linked with other negative emotions or is a response to them. You may be feeling hurt, frightened, disappointed, worried, embarrassed or frustrated, but may express these sorts of feelings as anger. Anger can also result from misunderstandings or poor communication between people. Men and women often, but not always, manage and express anger in different ways. With men, anger may be the primary emotion, as many men believe that anger is a more legitimate emotion to express in a situation. Often men find it harder to express the feelings underneath the anger, like hurt, sadness or grief. For women the reverse may often be true - the anger gets buried under tears. There are many reasons why people are unable to control their anger; often it is a family or cultural pattern that has never been questioned. In some families women are not allowed to express anger; in others being angry is unacceptable...
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