Understanding the Emotion of Anger

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The emotion anger, also known as wrath or rage, is an intense emotional state. It involves a strong uncomfortable and hostile response to a perceived provocation, hurt or threat. A person experiencing anger will often experience physical conditions, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Some view anger as an emotion which triggers part of the fight or flight brain response. Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically when a person makes the conscious choice to take action to immediately stop the threatening behavior of another outside force. The English term originally comes from the term anger of Old Norse language.

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Anger can have many physical and mental consequences. The external expression of anger can be found in facial expressions, body language, physiological responses, and at times public acts of aggression. Facial expressions can range from inward angling of the eyebrows to a full frown. While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of ‘what has happened to them,’ psychologists point out that an angry person can very well be mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability. Modern psychologists view anger as a primary, natural, and mature emotion experienced by virtually all humans at times, and as something that has functional value for survival. Uncontrolled anger can, however, negatively affect personal or social well-being and impact negatively on those around them. While many philosophers and writers have warned against the spontaneous and uncontrolled fits of anger, there has been disagreement over the intrinsic value of anger.Anger can potentially mobilize psychological resources and boost determination toward correction of wrong behaviors, promotion of social justice, communication of negative sentiment, and redress of grievances. It can also facilitate patience. In contrast, anger can be destructive when it does not find its appropriate outlet in expression.

Anger, in its strong form, impairs one’s ability to process information and to exert cognitive control over their behavior. An angry person may lose his/her objectivity, empathy, prudence or thoughtfulness and may cause harm to themselves or others. There is a sharp distinction between anger and aggression even though they mutually influence each other. While anger can activate aggression or increase its probability or intensity, it is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for aggression. Raymond Novaco of University of California Irvine, who since 1975 has published a plethora of literature on the subject, stratified anger into three modalities: cognitive, somatic-affective, and behavioral . The words annoyance and rage are often imagined to be at opposite ends of an emotional continuum: mild irritation and annoyance at the low end and fury or murderous rage at the high end. Rage problems are conceptualized as ‘the inability to process emotions or life’s experiences’ either because the capacity to regulate emotion has never been sufficiently developed or because it has been temporarily lost due to more recent trauma. Rage is understood as raw, undifferentiated emotions, that spill out when another life event that cannot be processed, no matter how trivial, puts more stress on the organism than it can bear. Anger, when viewed as a protective response or instinct to a perceived threat, is considered as positive. The negative expression of this state is known as aggression. Acting on this misplaced state is rage due to possible potential errors in perception and judgment. 

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Understanding the Emotion of Anger. (2021, Mar 22). Retrieved November 29, 2022 , from
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