Anger is a normal human emotion however it can be the most destructive when it is not understood or managed. The fundamental question is why is that some people can be angry and not aggressive while others have difficulty remaining calm in the face of minor frustrations?
Anger is part of the fight or flight response that is hard wired into human beings. It provides us with a means of dealing with threats and pushes us through emotions of fear to deal with these perceived threats to our physical safety. Like other emotions anger is accompanied by physiological changes such as raised heart rate and blood pressure, increased levels of energy hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline that allow us to defend ourselves against these perceived threats. Social restrictions on just how far we can act on our anger provides a check to this emotion and this emotion becomes controlled. Uncontrolled anger is not part of this system. It lives outside the usually socially accepted means of the expression of anger.
Some researchers in the field of Psychology suggest that those individuals who display uncontrolled behaviours in response to anger have a low tolerance for frustration. They can't experience annoyance, frustration, inconvenience in a way that lets them flow with the emotion without acting on it. They instead turn it into explosive outbursts, verbal rants, destructive behaviours or sulking, brooding behaviour that can last several days.
It is suggested by these same researchers that these behaviours in these individuals could be a result of home environments (chaotic and lack skills in the appropriate expression of emotions) or possibly that the expression of anger may have been poorly managed in the home environment or possibly other environments (school for instance) that produced repressed anger. It is suggested that as adults these deep seated frustrations trigger current events and as there are no longer sanctions which forbid the expression of the anger due to them no longer being youngsters (adults would provide consequences) the anger comes in outbursts based on years of pent up hostility.
Other Psychologists have suggested that uncontrolled anger is based on a sense of entitlement. A kind of narcissistic tendency that suggests that the individual's uncontrolled anger is based on strong expectations that things should turn out the way that they have expected them to and that any deviation from that expectation meets with rage. The release of the rage is a means of dealing with the anxiety, shame, embarrassment that came from the failure of the event but is masked by the uncontrolled anger.
Perception also plays a significant role in the expression of uncontrolled anger. If the individual perceives the situation or person as a representation of a previously experienced frustrating event then the uncontrolled anger will be triggered and the individual will explode. It is very common for friends of these individuals to see them as "walking time bombs".
Lastly, why is that after a "melt down" that these individuals show remorse even shame for their behaviour but the behaviour continues? Some of the issues suggested above come into play but there is a very powerful reinforcing element to uncontrolled anger. It works!!! But only in very specific area's. If the triggering event is a person then it is likely that the expression of uncontrolled anger will cause fear in that person causing them to modify their behaviour to accommodate the person demonstrating the out of control anger. This is called secondary gain and although the individual demonstrating the out of control behaviour may not be totally aware of the impact of their behaviour at first, it is likely that they will over time. Any human behaviour that is reinforced with a positive outcome is likely to repeat.
Anger Management at IPS
Because uncontrolled anger is part of the fight or flight system and causes physiological changes that can be observed the use of Biofeedback represents the starting point in helping the individual understand the physical aspects to their uncontrolled anger. Once the individual has learnt how to manage the physiological aspects of their anger CBT is used to identify the psychological triggers associated with their uncontrolled anger. In addition to the identification and etiology (origins) of these triggers faulty cognitions associated with the triggering events must be dismantled.
If you are interested in receiving treatment for anger management, please make and appointment with IPS.