humans learn anger management, what causes anger, and theories applied to it. What is anger? Anger is an emotion, and everyone feels it eventually in their lives. Actually, anger is not a bad emotion, it is good to release aggression and anger instead of allowing it to build up inside. However, when it gets out of control, or becomes destructive, it can be very dangerous, and it can take control of a person’s life and emotions. Anger can be physically dangerous, as well. In anger, a person can harm or kill another person, but anger also increases the heart rate and blood pressure, and it increases energy and hormones like adrenaline. Anger can be mild, but it can grow to rage and uncontrollable fury, which is when it can turn deadly. Anger management attempts to control the internal feelings that drive a person to anger, as well as the reaction to those feelings (Editors, 2008). Anger can cause misunderstandings, bad feelings, and even fear in others, and learning to control anger can help a person become more peaceful, spiritual, and kind.
What causes anger? Just about any stressful or negative situation can cause anger, and everyone feels anger throughout his or her lifetime. However, people react differently to anger, and to the situations that can make them angry, and that is often a product of people’s temperament, how they saw others deal with anger, and how they learn about anger and managing anger. Some people are just angrier than others are, and they show it in different ways. Often, it is frustration that causes anger. This is called the “frustration-aggression hypothesis” and it shows that frustration can lead to aggression and anger in most people (Levinson, 2006). Think about being stuck in rush hour on the freeway. A person feels out of control of the situation (which they are), and they feel frustration because they are going to be late, or they may run out of gas, or they are hungry or thirsty. This frustration can lead to anger at the situation and their lack of control over it. Frustration is a leading cause of anger, and so is injustice, or what might be perceived as injustice, such as a child being grounded for a minor offense, or a person being reprimanded at work for something they feel is trivial (Editors, 2008). Just about any stressful situation can lead to anger, and that is why people need to learn to manage their anger. There are so many situations that can make a person angry; they need to learn to control their reactions, so they do not remain angry for a large portion of their daily lives.
Some people internalize their anger, and it builds up over time. Often, this can eventually lead to massive releases of rage and anger when they finally do allow their anger to flow to the surface. It is also this type of explosive, long-term anger that can lead to disastrous results. Anger also results in many changes in the body, from rising blood pressure to increased stomach acid secretions. It can even harm the body’s immune system and lead to other health complications (Levinson, 2006). Obviously, anger can lead to physical and mental harm, as well. An out of control angry person can resort to violence to “solve” their problems, and severe angry outbursts can lead to heart attacks and strokes, at least in some people.
The effects of anger can harm a person physically, but in cases of extreme anger, they can harm others, too, and sometimes not in the way it might be imagined. In extreme cases, anger can drive people to hurt or maim others, such as in domestic violence cases. Often, the abusers are angry about something, real or imagined, and they take it out on others. However, it is often the case that those surrounding the abuser are affected by the abuse, and may become abusers themselves, thus perpetuating the anger and frustration that marked their early lives. In one example, a 15-year-old boy with anger issues viewed his girlfriend’s father slapping his girlfriend. The anger and frustration that he felt over the incident carried over into his behavior at school, where he lashed out at a teacher (Laursen & Lok, 2008). A counselor worked with him to manage his anger, but the situation shows that anger and aggression can affect a person long after the incident has passed, and that is why it is so important to be able to learn to manage anger and aggressive behavior.
It is quite important to remember that everyone cannot control or manage their anger effectively. Some people may have behavior disorders, such as “conduct disorders,” and they will have to learn techniques to manage their anger, which is often out of control. They may have to seek psychiatric counseling, as well, and in the cases of children, their parents may have to seek counseling as well as learn management techniques to help their children cope with this disorder. Children may also have to learn a variety of other control measures, such as social skills, relaxation techniques, and problem solving to help manage their anger and aggression (Nelson, Finch, & Hart, 2006, p. 163). In severe cases like these, anger management is simply not effective, and other, stronger measures have to come into play. However, for most cases of inappropriate anger and aggression, anger management can help solve the problem.
Anger is not a modern emotion, either. Throughout the Bible, the people consistently arouse God’s anger, which alters their lives and how God sees them, and anger leads to many confrontations, such as the situation with brothers Cain and Abel. Anger is the source of many problems in the Bible, and Jesus urges other ways of handling anger, such as when he admonishes the crowd not to stone the woman victim unless they are without sin (John 8:7). Jesus did not condone anger, and today, anger leads to just as many problems, confrontations, and killings as it did in the Bible, indicating humankind has still not dealt with learning how to manage their anger.
Anger management is one way of dealing with anger, and helping control out of control anger. Anger management can take many forms. Some people can calm themselves simply by breathing deeply, thinking about happy or calming thoughts, or by visualizing themselves in another peaceful location. Thinking of spiritual thoughts or Bible readings can help some people manage their anger, as well. Others may require some kind of anger management training, or even psychotherapy to help them gain more control over their anger and aggression. Some people even promote yoga and other forms of gentle exercise to promote anger management and a calmer demeanor. Using the techniques of deep breathing, meditation, and calming poses, yoga helps a person become more aware of themselves and what triggers their anger, and helps them manage it more effectively (Mooney, 2003). However, in many cases, anger management must be more aggressive to be helpful to the individual, and it may include the training of other family members, as well, so they know how to react to the subject’s anger, (or not to react to it to exacerbate the situation).
There are other forms of anger management besides relaxation techniques such as yoga. “Cognitive Restructuring” is a form of anger management where the person rationally looks at the situation instead of instantly becoming angry. Quite simply, it is changing the way a person thinks and reacts to situations, and it can be as simple as rationalizing that a situation is upsetting, but getting angry about it is not going to change it (such as the example of rush hour traffic). Often, this restructuring can lead a person to become calmer instead of angrier, and this technique works with many different situations (Editors, 2008).
Problem solving is also an effective means of anger management, because it again uses rational thoughts to solve the problem rather than resorting to angry behavior that can be much more destructive. Often, children with anger issues are taught problem-solving skills to help them manage and control their anger. These problem-solving skills can lead to reducing irrational thoughts and ideas, which can lead to frustration and anger, and replace them with more rational and appropriate thoughts and ideas that help reduce anger, frustration, and aggression, as well (Levinson, 2006).
In conclusion, anger is a common emotion, and it is good to “blow off steam” occasionally instead of keeping it inside where it can create all types of mental and physical problems. Anger can lead to health problems, but as some cases show, it can also lead to lifelong issues with anger, frustration and aggression. Anger can get out of control, and that can lead to violent or dangerous situations in some cases. Learning to control anger is a valuable tool for everyone, and it can lead to feelings of peace, spirituality, and kindness that are much more healthy and acceptable than bouts of violent anger.
Finally, the follow up original research project for this topic would be a comparison of anger between males and females. Which gender is angrier in general, and which gender copes better with anger. This project would help create a deeper understanding of how the sexes relate and react to anger, and would help people understand and manage their anger according to their gender. There may have been studies like this conducted in the past, but it seems that a new study, perhaps centering on teens or young adult men and women would be extremely valuable to understand this behavior. If it centered on gangs and their anger, it might shed light on what causes people to join gangs, the difference between girls and boys’ gangs, and who is the angrier and has the potential for violence.
Author Unavailable. (No Date). King James version of the Holy Bible. Public Domain.
Editors. (2008). Controlling anger — Before it controls you. Retrieved 9 Aug. 2008 from the American Psychological Association Web site: http://www.apa.org/topics/controlanger.html.
Laursen, E.K., & Lok, J. (2008). He had her by the throat — a red flag reclaiming intervention. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 16(4), 13+.
Levinson, M.H. (2006). Anger management and violence prevention: A holistic solution. ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, 63(2), 187+.
Mooney, S. (2003). An ayurvedic perspective on anger management. International Journal of Humanities and Peace, 19(1), 99+.
Nelson, W.M., Finch, a.J., & Hart, K.J. (Eds.). (2006). Conduct disorders: A practitioner’s guide to comparative treatments. New York: Springer.
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