Symptoms of Anger Problems–Part I

Symptoms of Anger Problems–Part I
In my capacity as an outpatient psychologist, I run
across the same problems every day. Anger management
is one of those “conditions” that, if left untreated,
contaminates all the other problems.
This is Part I of a two-part series of articles. Please
read this one before reading the next.
What are the symptoms of anger problems? The usual
ones include jumping too quickly into anger, having a temper,
turning red-faced, yelling, hitting or physically acting out,
or worse. 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, like adrenaline and its nasty
normetabolites (the chemicals adrenaline is broken down into
as the body detoxifies itself). Stress hormones skyrocket.
Here’s a more thorough list of symptoms by category:
1) Physical symptoms. Flushing, increased animation, talking
or gesturing with intensity or rapidity, overreacting, verbal
pressure (talking too fast or too intensely and not letting
anyone “get in a word edgewise”), mock disapproval gestures,
agitation (inability to sit still or increased motor response).
Some very angry people destroy things in their rage.
2) Emotional symptoms. Intense feelings, emotional pressure
(dominating the emotional landscape in a conversation), urge
to say or do things inappropriately or too soon acting to
retaliate. This includes rationalizing your feelings after the
3) Behavioral symptoms. Physical aggression, increased volume
in speech, increased word count, word or speech tone (sarcasm),
retaliation, passive-aggressive behaviors, “getting even”
thinking or hostile fantasies, acting out, resistance to cooperate,
intolerance, verbal assault and vulgar hand gestures, domestic
abuse, road rage, workplace violence.
If you are like most people, when you get angry, probably
the last thing you want to do is act nicely. At this moment, the
last thing you want to do is give something to someone (in a
positive way). The last thing you want is to forgive them for
their transgressions. Likely, your first impulse is to say
something sarcastic, stare at someone or something or generally
“amp up” in preparation for confrontation. At this moment, you
don’t want to cooperate. You want to vent or get even. You
want to do or say something to make the person who made you angry,
also feel anger. Misery doesn’t just love company–it loves
miserable company.
Anger unincorporated into intellect causes disruptions.
Some of the areas of life most notably influenced are: sexuality,
employment performance, communication with intimates, athletic
performance and reacting appropriately in a crisis. Not
coincidentally, unmanaged anger contaminates (read “trashes”)
relationships of all kinds, predisposes you to greater use of
“calming” substances (alcohol, drugs), sets you up to need
counseling or legal advice if taken too far, gradually erodes
you health and costs you potentially more money than you know.
You can override some of this by using your forebrain, not
your mid-brain. In other words, if you have your wits about you,
your intelligence can once again reign, but it may take a moment
for that part of your brain to re-establish dominance. Failing
this, you might hold onto your anger for a long time, to your
detriment. Go to Part II for more discussion on this thread…

-Dr. Griggs

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