Anger and Aggression

By: David Rosenblatt, Loma Linda University Student

What you should know about anger and aggression:

  • Anger:
    • A normal emotion that is usually experienced in reaction to an environmental stressor.
    • It is a complex physiological process that involves automatic actions from all parts of the body, including the brain, hormones, and muscles.
    • The two most common causes of anger are sadness/pain and fear.
    • A person often expresses anger by lashing out and asserting his/her dominance over his/her environment.
    • Many people lack the skills to effectively manage and communicate their anger, which is generally due to many factors that extend beyond the immediate situation.
    • Often, poor anger management and expression is learned and normalized by a person’s environment, such as the family, peer group, and social media.
    • Anger primarily involves angry or invalidating interactions at home with the primary caregiver (most frequently the mother).
    • An angry person often feels victimized by his/her family and/or environment.
    • An angry person usually does not: feel loved, like he/she belongs, have adequate self-esteem, and/or feel affection.
  • Aggression:
    • Aggression is forceful assertion of the self.
    • It is normal and necessary in many situations, such as when eating an apple or making a discussion.
    • Aggression is primarily controlled by lower-level brain structures, though a person can learn to actively control his/her aggression with appropriate examples and practice.
    • Is often confused and replaced with hostility and/or violence.

 

What you can do about anger and aggression:

  • When a person is angry or aggressive, or interacts with another person that is angry or aggressive, there are a few ways you can better manage the emotion or interaction:
    • Relaxation, such as that achieved through deep breathing, can help to calm the mind and body.
    • Acceptance, such as acknowledging that anger/aggression is present, can help make the mind and body more flexible and creative for solving the underlying problem, which usually includes many issues that extend below the surface.
    • Examining angry/aggressive thoughts can be helpful to understand and find an appropriate way to address the source of the anger, which is usually made up of many elements.
    • Supporting strengths, demonstrating empathy, and showing positive regard for yourself and/or others are the best ways to understand, quell, address, and reduce anger/aggression.

 

The bottom line with anger and aggression:

  • Recognizing when anger/aggression is present
  • Coupled with behaviors and communication that emphasizes understanding of the emotion/behavior
  • And acting like a positive role model
  • Is the best way to normalize and appropriately and effectively address anger and aggression.