In my next novel, I’ve got characters who are angry. I did some research about anger to help me understand them better. I’ve learned a lot about it, especially from this reference, and I thought I’d share some of it.
- Anger is learned behavior. Hostile and angry people are that way because they saw it play out somewhere. They learned that people bully, belittle, and argue with each other and that this gains respect. The hostile environment can be at home but school and the workplace are also places where people learn that anger works.
- The true emotions behind anger are frustration, hurt, disappointment, and threat/fear.
- Angry people want others to feel the way that they do. If they are hurt, they want others to hurt, if they are ashamed, they want others to be ashamed.
- The average adult will be angry once a day.
- People who use emotion rather than logic to guide their reasoning tend to be more angry. Emotional reasoning can lead people to misunderstand social cues.
- Stress causes low frustration levels and can make the stressed out person see threats that don’t exist or have unreasonable expectations.
- Labeling and derogatory perceptions of other groups of people —people rating–causes anger. If we look at the recent mass killers in the US most are misogynists and supremacists.
- Physical pain, drugs, and alcohol can exacerbate anger and frustration. Even a spate of minor irritations can build up and cause anger.
- Anger is not always bad. It can be motivating if used as a positive catalyst for change.
- Physically, anger causes a release of both glucose and stress hormones. It creates strain on the heart and pancreas. Eventually it will affect the brain, creating a hyperactive amygdala (the seat of fear in the brain) and dampening reaction in the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls reasoning and social behavior.)
- Anger can be dealt with easily by most individuals. The amygdala quickly returns to normal. Crying can help bring the brain back to normal.
- Ironically, people who are taught to suppress emotions such as sorrow are more likely to became angry or depressed (the passive form of anger.) Boys who have been shamed for showing pain or sorrow often find that anger is the only socially acceptable emotion they have.
- Type A people are often rewarded for their drive and determination. They can give others the impression that they are best able to respond to threats. They are more likely to be angry and focus on the weaknesses of others and in turn, make themselves sick.Angry people are more likely to have colds, skin problems, and arthritis. Being Type A is hard on the immune system. The stress of anger causes other problems such as weight gain, ulcers and acid reflux.
- Since anger produces cortisol, angry people suffer from hormone imbalances and the result can be thyroid problems and decreased bone density.
- Angry people are poor communicators and even worse listeners. They are often impatient and in a hurry.
- Angry folks will clench their teeth, sweat, pace, get sarcastic, rub their heads, reach for a drink, and might shake or tremble.
According to the Mayo Clinic, ways to control your anger are to
- Express yourself and be calmly assertive
- Be cautious.
- Develop positive social relationships.
- Change your environment
- Understand your anger’s cause
- Laugh! Laughter and joy can drive anger away. Try to find humor in your situation.
- Don’t place blame. Focus on yourself and what you can do, not on someone else.
- Write in a journal.
- Listen to music.
- Get therapy.
Ways to deal with an angry person include:
- Giving them space or getting away from them if they are dangerous. Recognize the danger signs of eminent physical assault.
- Don’t get angry back.
- Work with others to resolve the situation.
- Calmly address the situation and identify the problem. Have empathy. Apologize.
- Distract with laugher but be careful, this could make them more angry. Angry people lose their sense of humor.
- Be respectful but assertive.
- Be rational.
Although life is in many ways better than it has ever been for humans, people are more angry. Anger has been a way of life in the United States and people vote for angry politicians. Spanking can cause anger as can lack of social progress and being poor.(frustration!). Western countries tend to be more angry while Asians are less angry. However, at the bottom of the anger ladder are the Danes and Scandinavians. Danish people claim to get angry less than once a week. Since these countries value emotional suppression, the reason for their lack of anger is presumed to be their society. It might be worth reading up on it for the sake of us all. Meanwhile, I understand my angry characters–and their society–much better now. And I’m going to do my best not to be angry myself.