Anger Management and Health

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Anger Management And Health

by, Danita C. McCoy
Anger Management and Conflict
Dr. Daube, Instructor

November 6, 1996

Everybody feels anger from time to time. People have been documented feeling anger since biblical times when God was considered angry. Babies even exhibit signs that are interpreted as anger, such as crying or screaming. Anger is not in any way unique to people. Animals also have the ability to feel and express anger.

In our personal lives we get angry over at least one thing on almost a daily basis, whether it be on the job, with a spouse or loved one, or perhaps with a figure of authority. Many psychologists have written about anger, discussing the relationship between anger and fear. Each of the individuals that comprise humanity possesses at least one phobia, in the same way that each is capable of possessing anger. The negativity that is associated with phobias often spills over into our feelings about anger. We begin to think negatively about anger since we associate it with fear.

Plato was the first to suggest that anger was a disbalance. According to Dr. Willard Gaylin, a prominent psychologist, anger is still seen as a disbalance by many of today's psychologists. Since Plato, anger has suffered a bad reputation. We only have to imagine a domestic abuse scene to immediately condemn anger in all of its manifestations.

There is a reason why anger is viewed in a negative light. Nobody likes it when someone is angry with them. We tend to avoid the wrath of those around us. This is one reason we see anger as negative. Another reason may lie closer to Plato's concept of imbalance. The negative perception of anger is evident in the American Heritage Dictionary's definitions of the word anger (1): 1. A feeling of extreme displeasure, hostility, indignation, or someone or something; rage; wrath; ire. 2. (Obsolete) Trouble; pain; affliction.

To say, "I'm getting angry", is to invoke fear in another, usually, that fear originates from a perception that the utterer of the phrase is about to take some sort of dramatic action. Dr. Gaylin speaks for these emotions, rage is a response to a perceived assault that effects the body in interesting ways. Skeletal muscles are tensed; the autonomic system moves to increase the supply of adrenaline and redistribute the blood flow of the body; certain muscles are contracted and opposing ones relaxed. (2)

Apparently, anger is viewed negatively for a reason that is closer to Plato's concept of imbalance. It is also closer to the American Heritage's definition of being sick. The authors of When Anger Hurts: Anger in Modern Life explain the complications that chronic anger can create. Doctors have long suspected that anger increases the blood rate. Many scientists now point out that norepinepherine, the drug that is secreted during anger, increases blood pressure as well. Anger and abnormally high blood pressure are correlated; and high blood pressure leads to many forms of heart disease. In a recent study 1,623 patients were interviewed an average of four days after they had suffered a heart attack following an outburst of anger. The study showed that the risk of suffering a heart attack is doubled after an outburst of anger. (3) The psychologist Franz Alexander's hypothesized in 1839 that hypertesnisves lack basic assertive skills. Psychological studies have repeatedly backed Alexander's assertion theory ever since. (4)

High blood pressure is said to be caused by uncontrolled anger, which in turn is caused by a lack of assertion. If we bottle up our anger now, then we will feel it later. Eventually our arteries will grow weak and we will remain tense, living daily with treacherous moods and health. The alternative is to shout out our anger at the world and let it manifest itself any way that it pleases. Of course, taking our anger out at the world can have even more deleterious effects....
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