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Emotion of Anger: the Role of Anger Management

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Abstract

This paper examines the Anger and its role in our life. Anger is described as an intense feeling in response to feeling frustrated, hurt, disappointed, or threatened. We all feel the emotion of anger, and that’s entirely normal. Anger fuels actions that can be beneficial or harmful; in this sense, you can either control anger or it controls you. Understanding anger is important to humans because failure to recognize and deal with it appropriately can lead to real problems.

Introduction

Anger is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong. As defined by Spielberger (2009), Anger is a major indicator of psychological distress and well-being that requires careful assessment. Measuring these psychological vital signs is of critical importance in diagnosis, and can facilitate treatment by directly linking intense emotions to the events that give rise to them (Spielberger & Reheiser, 2009). This paper will examine the fundamental emotion of anger and how it can affect our lives.

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Literature Review

Anger is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage (Speilberger, 2009). We experience the feeling of anger when we think we have been mistreated, injured or when we are faced with problems that keep us from getting what we want or attaining our personal goals. This feeling triggers the release the hormones; cortisol, and norepinephrine into the brain. Cortisol decreases the concentration of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that makes you happy, and causes the person to feel angry. Norepinephrine increases heart rate and blood pressure. This is a fight or flight response the body makes in response to a stimulus or trigger. There are individuals who anger very easily and then there are those who rarely display anger. Some people are conscious of their anger and know how to control it and deal with it (Hendricks, Bore, Aslinia & Morriss, 2013).

According to Dr. Harry Mills (2005), we are not born with this emotion of anger but we rather learn it as we grow. As children, we learn by copying the behavior of people around us. When a child grows up in an environment with explosive anger situations, the child may develop an anger problem such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder and may be unaware of it. These children may grow up to be aggressive and hostile towards their peers and others. This learned behavior may lead to a child becoming a bully (Hendricks et al, 2013). Conversely, if you grew up in a family that suppressed anger and your parents taught you that anger is on a list of emotions you aren’t supposed to feel, you suppress it and become passive-aggressive (Brandt, 2017).

The average adult experiences anger about once a day and becomes annoyed or peeved about three times a day (Mills, 2005). According to Loo (2005), there are two sources of anger; an Internal Source that stems from irrational perceptions of reality and low frustration point, and an External Source, which depends on the person’s tolerance level. According to Hendricks et al (2013), there are 4 factors that lower such tolerance levels of an individual. These are Stress/ Anxiety, Pain- both physical and emotional, Drugs/ Alcohol, and recent irritations like “having a bad day”.

Experiencing anger is not entirely a bad thing. It is one of the most earliest defense mechanisms we have. The effects of anger can be positive and negative. It alleviates and protects us from being taken advantage of or mistreated(Hendricks et al, 2013). An example can be likened to a student who receives a bad grade and uses the anger derived from it, as motivation to work harder in order to get a better grade and restore his/her pride. In some cases, the anger gets a better part of us we use it to harm others and/ or ourselves. By being aware and being able to recognize the physiological signs of anger, we can take hold of our emotions before our level of anger gets out of control (Loo, 2005). This means not just controlling your outward behavior, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside. As Dr. Spielberger (2009) notes, ‘when none of these techniques work, that’s when someone—or something—is going to get hurt.’ An outburst of anger or aggressive behavior towards your employer can get you fired at work. Chasing after the driver who cut you off in traffic can lead to serious consequences which include jail time or lead to someone being physically hurt (Hendricks et al, 2013)

Anger isn’t something we should take lightly or suppress. Numerous studies have been conducted on how anger impacts us physiologically and psychologically. These studies all revealed that before anger affects any part of our body, it has to affect our brain first. Studies show that repressed anger can be harmful to our bodies and to our minds. Not everyone knows how to manage their anger or how to express it. Holding back anger can lead to mental illnesses including depression. One way of looking at depression as anger turned inward. Studies indicate that angry and aggressive behavior that goes unchecked can eventually cause changes to the brain that will decrease the production of serotonin and increase the chances of angry and aggressive behavior (Society for Neuroscience, 2007). Holding in our anger can be just as bad as lashing out with our anger. Both can lead to serious consequences such as heart attacks, hardening of the arteries, strokes, hypertension, and metabolism and muscle and respiratory problems (“Anger,” n.d.).

Anger can be both harmful and beneficial. Some minor measures can make a significant impact on managing anger before it gets out of control. These include changing your environment, knowing why you feel angry, letting go of what is beyond your control, and expressing yourself by being assertive, not aggressive. Another course of action in helping to control anger is laughing. Studies have found that laughter minimizes the effect of anger on the brain by releasing health-protecting hormones that lessen the effects of hormones causing anger (Hendricks et al, 2013). Being cautious of alcohol and drug intake could also help. People with anger issues should consider Anger Management classes and seek therapy before their anger spirals them into a situation where there’s no coming back from.

Conclusion

Anger, as a survival tool and a source of energy, can be both beneficial or unhealthy. Suppression of anger and lashing out can negatively impact significant relationships and result in bad health, (Duncan, 2009). Accepting that you are angry, seeking to understand what your anger is entirely about, and creating an action plan prevents repressed anger to turn into a rage which leads to a complete loss of self. Repressed anger is also an underlying cause of both anxiety and depression (Platt, 2005). Managing anger effectively stimulate individuals to adopt effective assertive skills and leads to an increase in life expectancy. 

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