Anger is a natural emotion that we all experience. Mild forms of anger may include displeasure, irritation or dislike. When we react to criticism, threat or frustration we may become angry - and usually this is a healthy response. Anger may be a secondary response to feeling sad, lonely or frightened.
When anger becomes a full-blown rage our judgment and thinking can become impaired and we are more likely to do and say unreasonable and irrational things.
What is anger?
According to the American Psychological Association, "Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion." However, when it gets out of control it can become destructive. Uncontrollable anger can lead to serious problems at work and in personal relationships, and may undermine the individual's overall quality of life.
Anger is not just a mental state of mind. It triggers an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Anger has survival benefits, and forms part of our fight or flight brain response to a perceived threat or harm.
When a human or animal decides to take action to stop or confront a threat, anger usually becomes the predominant feeling and takes over our behavior, cognition and physiology.
In many cases humans and other animals express anger by making loud sounds, baring teeth, staring and adopting postures as a warning to perceived aggressors to stop their threatening behaviors.
It is unusual for a physical attack to occur without these signs of anger appearing first. If a stranger approaches a litter of newborn puppy-dogs, the mother will most likely growl, bare her teeth and adopt a defensive or ready-to-attack posture, rather than silently attack without any warning.
If you trespass into the private land of a farmer in a remote area, his approach may be similar; his voice will be hostile, as may his body language, and posture. Instinctively, anger may surge in humans and other animals to protect territory, offspring and family members, secure mating privileges, prevent loss of possessions or food, and many other perceived threats.
The Mental Health Foundation, a UK charity, says that anger is one of the most basic human emotions. Experts say anger is a primary, natural emotion with functional survival value, which we all experience from time to time. The raised heart rate, blood pressure, and release of hormones prepare us physically for remedial action - which is either to fight or run away at top speed (fight or flight).
What makes people angry?
The most common factors that make people angry are:
Grief - losing a loved one
Withdrawal from drugs or some medications
Some physical conditions, such as pre-menstrual syndrome
Alcohol, some drugs, alcohol abuse, drug abuse
Being teased or bullied
Being told you have a serious illness.
The Counseling Center, California State University Bakersfield, explains that underlying anger is caused by a "perceived loss of control over factors affecting important values." The values may be related to pride, love, money, justice, etc.