Frontiers | Anger as a Basic Emotion and Its Role in Personality Building and Pathological Growth: The Neuroscientific, Developmental and Clinical Perspectives
As widely discussed by the Editors of this volume, the basic emotions theory (BET) has undergone a series of important criticisms that question their prominent role in human affective experience. In this paper, it will be argued that the new framework of motivational systems allows to acknowledge some aspects of the criticisms to BET, while bolstering its role in the understanding of personality building and psychological functioning. The general arguments in support of BET as a core aspect of motivational processes will be further illustrated through the presentation of some clinical phenomena in which the alterations of the mental processing of anger as a basic emotional signal play a pivotal role. As a beginning, the criticisms of the notion of BET could be summarized into the four following points.
(a) The description of everyday human mental life shows that the variety of affective experience can hardly be reduced to the activation of the single units of analysis described by BET. Emotional experiences seem more nuanced, fluid, cognitively sophisticated and not so discontinuously compartmentalized as BET seems to presuppose (Stern, 1985).
(b) BET falls short in explaining the role of experiences of learning and sociocultural influences on shaping the modes of expression, variety of meanings and possible functions of affective experiences. For instance, although the emotions of hate, jealousy or envy can be labeled as negative experiences potentially leading to aggressive intentions toward co-specifics and possibly including the basic emotion of anger, they can be hardly considered as primary, universally spread emotions (Solomon, 1984; Harrè, 1986). The contents of such emotions are more easily understood as a product of cultural conceptions concerning the notions of identity, guilt, property, sexual and sentimental interactions. Research as well as anecdotic evidence highlighted the diverse intensity and diffusion of such emotions between different social contexts, thus confirming the influence played by culture in generating such mental experiences (Rosado, 1984).
(c) While BET is founded upon the phylogenetic roots of basic emotions (namely, cross-species analogies of the emotional manifestations), some authors have recently questioned the fact that the cross-species schemes of activation commonly referred to as basic emotions can be labeled as emotions at all. For instance, LeDoux (2016) argues that these primary systems of response do not enter the domain of emotional experience until they are secondarily represented by higher cognitive systems. In this sense, the specific content of emotional experience cannot be directly regarded as the simple product of the activation of the basic schemes of response. Furthermore, the real survival meaning of basic emotions is highly reduced in an environment in which external threats are decreased and adaptation is more and more dependent upon group interactions and highly sophisticated cognitive operations. Human emotional experience is pervasive and not limited to moments of external changes, but most often it originates from inner contents such as fantasies, imagination, memories.
(d) Contrary to what required by BET, developmental as well as psychophysiological research data do not support the view of the existence of neatly distinguishable categorical expressions and manifestations of emotions. Some emotions such as fear are undoubtedly evident from the first year of life, but this is not the case for other emotional categories, such as, for instance, shame, or anger (Sroufe, 1995; Ekman, 1999). Individual differences in the expression of emotions show how some people hardly exhibit the entire gamut of categorical emotions considered by BET. For instance, children exhibiting very cautious and coy attitude do not engage in episodes of rage at their peers or parents (Natsuaki et al., 2013). Moreover, some of the basic emotions more easily detectable in the early phases of development cannot be observed in later stages of life. Research data often failed to evidence the existence of specific patterns of psychophysiological modifications supposedly underlying BET (Scarpa and Raine, 1997; Scarpa et al., 2010).
In this paper, it will be argued that, although correct, some of the criticisms aimed at BET can be overcome by reframing the evolutionary meaning of BET within the broader notion of motivational systems. In particular, the convergence of developmental, psychodynamic and neuroscientific view of emotion and motivation affords a new perspective in which not only the notion of basic emotions results scientifically viable, but it also shows its central function for the understanding of human emotional life.
The Communicative and Behavioral Approaches to Basic Emotions
Since Darwin’s pioneering investigations (Darwin, 1872), universal emotional heritage of the human species has been conceived in terms of its value for survival. In their original interpretation, etholigists understood the maintenance of some basic schemes of automatic response named emotions as a way to increase survival by facilitating the communication between co-specifics (Ekman, 1992). The ritualization of instinctive behaviors into fixed patterns of facial expressions, postures, and gestures was thus believed to serve as a message signaling to other members of the group one’s own behavioral intentions or reactions evoked by an unknown environmental condition (Ekman, 1999). For instance, the display of teeth originally precedes an attack, but its ritualized version contained in smile, in fact, indicates the freezing of an aggressive intent and, therefore, the manifestation of a friendly overture (Lorenz, 1978). In a following theoretical interpretation of the survival functions of basic emotions, the stress was placed on their preparatory role within instinctive schemes of response highly necessary for quick adjustment to an unpredictable and quickly modifying environment. The activation of the behavioral and psychophysiological modifications observed during emotional experiences was considered as a part of an automatic response (selectively elicited by specific environmental cues) prompting and preparing the whole organism to the most suitable adaptive behavior. The need to promptly react to threats to survival or sudden environmental changes was, of course, not limited to inferior species, but it was considered a fundamental adaptive prerequisite also for superior mammalians, of which brains would be capable of much subtler analyses of the stimuli. This justifies the persistence of such rough level of response in our species and its complex interactions with the most recently evolved and more sophisticated information processing modes of our brain. Such view of emotions as parts of wider schemes of automatic, unconscious, and fast adaptive systems of response is now spread to the whole psychological field as well as to current neuroscientific literature (Gazzaniga, 2008). Despite this progressive modification of BET, many authors would consider the key critical points presented in the introduction still true for these new evolutionary views of human emotional life.
Reframing the Basic Emotions Theory in Motivational Systems Approach
A general reconsideration of the meaning of basic emotions has been recently proposed within a motivational perspective drawing on contributions from the study of animal instinctive behavior and the psychodynamic perspective. The contributions coming from modern ethology was used to review the psychodynamic view of human development and placed basic emotions at the core of motivated behavior. Modern ethology relied on cybernetics to reinterpret instincts in terms of goal corrected behavioral plans that flexibly (unlike the fixed behavioral sequence previously meant to characterize instincts) employ inborn or acquired motor patterns in order to achieve an expected outcome enhancing individual fitness (Hinde, 1974). In its original formulation the notion of behavioral system helped reshaping the theory of human motivation, coherently with the Darwinian perspective on the inborn tendencies ruling intentional behaviors (Rosenblatt and Thickstun, 1977). Bowlby fully drew on this new ethological framework to propose the existence of an innate goal for human infants (as well as other primates) to establish and maintain optimal proximity to the caregiver, which is, the attachment behavioral system (Bowlby, 1969). However, Bowlby’s perspective only secondarily considered the role of affective experience (separation anxiety) in regulating goal corrected behaviors.
From the Behavioral Systems to the Motivational Systems: The Contribution of Psychodynamic Theory to Basic Emotions
A more recent proposal deriving from ethological and developmental literature was introduced within the psychodynamic perspective by Lichtenberg (1989). Lichtenberg proposed to modify the construct of behavioral systems into the notion of motivational systems. Any motivational system, just like any behavioral system, is goal directed (evidently any goal of each motivational system is fixed by evolution yielding some important gain for individual and species survival). More specifically, however, motivational systems are not meant to mechanically work as a plan of behavior unfolding through a constant perceptive feedback that matches the actual behavior with the set goal. Any motivational system is regulated by a single affect, the associated representations, memories and plans of behavior. Lichtenberg (1989) argued that each motivational system originally possessed a specific affective signal that is able to orientate the human behaviors toward the set goal easily observable from the first months of life. It should be observed that in its original proposal Lichtenberg did non-explicitly referred to the basic emotions traditionally studied by the BET. However, he included some of the classic basic emotions, such as fear and anger, among the ones regulating his five motivational systems. The specific affect is responsible for (a) the activation of the motivational system, (b) the retrieval of the relevant representations guiding the behavioral plan, (c) signaling the eventual achievement or failure of the expected outcome. Interestingly, the avoidance or maintenance of each specific affective state becomes the inherent goal of the motivational system.
In order to achieve the affective goal of the motivational system, the set of stored representations concerning past experiences related to any specific affective state is activated, and current behavior is planned consistently with those representations. In the course of development, interpersonal experiences, cognitive development and cultural meanings can intervene to modify the early interactive representations pertaining each motivational systems, but their affective core remains unchanged (Lichtenberg et al. , 2011) The actualization of representations of past events in the present context of experience constitutes the motive defining the content and aims of current behaviors and perceptions (Lichtenberg, 1989). Therefore, specific affective states, by creating single motives, represent the linkage between the goals fixed by the species’ evolutionary history and the individual’s actual mental experience. In this perspective, basic emotions are what, in fact, connect evolutionary set goals to individual motives leading behaviors and creating personal meanings in everyday lives. In this complex architecture of motivated behavior, basic emotions can easily account for the variety and plasticity of performances through which humans achieve their basic evolutionary goals. Furthermore, the leading role of affects renders motivational processes open to learning, cognitive refinement and cultural contributions to individual biological adaptation.
Affective Neurosciences and the Survival Systems
Notwithstanding some important theoretical differences, neuroscientific approaches are basically resonant with psychodynamic notion of motivational systems and provide further implications for the role of basic emotions in human behaviors. In the first place, current neuroscientific approaches evidenced that decision-making and motivated behaviors are supported by activation of neuroanatomical structures that are devoted to the detection of specific signals relevant for individual survival (MacLean, 1990; Panksepp, 1998). Such sub-cortical structures are responsible for fast responses that have maintained an important adaptive role, despite the emergence in the evolutionary history of more refined ways of stimulus analysis and behavioral adaptation. In particular, each neuroanatomical structure is held responsible for responses to conditions that involve organismic homeostatic needs and reproductive functions. Furthermore, in the course of evolution these systems of fast adjustment gradually included social behaviors that have a direct impact on survival through group interactions (e.g., attachment, friend/foe reactions, empathy).
A second important contribution from neuroscientific research evidenced that the neuroanatomical sites of basic emotions virtually coincide with the ones of the more ancient schemes of behavioral adaptation (Panksepp, 1998). This evidence led many researchers to incorporate basic emotions into the so-called survival systems, basic behavioral response systems that guarantee the preservation of individual integrity in the face of sudden changes in the internal and external milieu of adaptation (LeDoux, 2016). Basic emotions such as anxiety, anger, fear can thus be regarded as fragments of a wider pattern of behavior leading to an immediate adaptive response to environmental conditions that represent a threat/opportunity for individual survival. This view substantially equals the classic theory of basic emotions as systems prompting fast adaptive behavioral reactions. However, a more complex analysis of the survival systems of which basic emotions are now part, allows researchers to provide a more nuanced picture of the motivational processes underlying human behaviors.
Indeed, a third important contribution coming from recent neuroscience of motivation sees basic emotions not only as a part of the innate quick responses to threat to survival. The evolution of more recent cortical brain structures created the opportunity to overcome and, possibly, improve the strategies of behavioral adaptation of the more ancient survival systems. This improvement was pursued by evolution via the amelioration of the specificity of perceptive analysis of stimuli (including symbolic and linguistic categorization), the comparison of present conditions with previous experiences (new memory systems), the higher specialization and refinement of behavioral responses and, what is particularly true for human beings, the role of learning and cultural transmission (LeDoux, 2016). Differently from what it may appears, however, the role of more basic systems of response is neither discarded nor diminished by this achieved complexity (Panksepp and Biven, 2012). Although the presence of basic affective responses may be only a part of our subjective experience, the basic emotions linked to the survival systems are the raw material which the more sophisticated analyses carried out by superior centers of the brain are founded upon. This motivational view goes actually beyond the traditional communicative and behavioral interpretation of basic emotions, stressing the evaluation and informational role basic emotions play in complex decision making processes. Of course, the interpretation of such signals is not carried out automatically and does not lead to a simple and self-evident translation of what is going on within our bodies.
As both psychodynamic theory and neuroscientific approaches evidenced, the basic emotional responses are dynamically interwoven, fluidly change and, to some extent, may be employed by different motivational systems. Furthermore, the interpretation of the bodily cues that we rely on to interpret the outside world much depends on the nature and modes of storing of previous experiences and, through development, is gradually influenced by interpersonal and cultural processes. It is this complex “working through” of internal bodily experiences that creates the multicolored and multifaceted nature of our emotional experience. In this sense, the old version of BET is correctly criticized for its reductionist approach to human affective experience seems totally shareable. However, it should be remembered that there would not be a conscious experience of oneself without the interpretation of the basic affective traces. The building of personal meaning as well as the experience of being a subject (a “person”) could not be accomplished in the absence of the deciphering and interpretation of the bodily signals pertaining the survival systems (Modell, 2003; Northoff et al., 2011). More importantly, the way evolution has allowed us to establish and maintain a strong connection between our mental functioning and our basic organismic and social needs is through the processing and elaboration of basic emotions. Surely, it is not possible to state anymore that we are “driven” by basic emotions and instinctual forces in the old psychoanalytic or ethological sense. Similarly, it may be argued that even if the motor and autonomic components of basic emotions often represent the recognizable final pathway of expression our affective experience, our adaptation does not depend as much on these basic emotional responses as on more complex and more rational behavioral strategies, social interactions and cultural cooperation. Anyway, it should be considered that our perception of the world as well as our behaviors would be meaningless without a constant and adequate work of interpretation of our basic emotional experience. Psychodynamic thinking has recently paid much attention to the bridge to be built between the instant raw metaphors created by the fragmented emobodied representations of the interpersonal world, and the imaginative interpretation, mediated by the symbolic processes, that confer a new and transformative meaning to such experiences (Modell, 2003). This new perspective allowed to reframe the problem of abnormal personality development in terms of failures and collapses of the representational systems designated to elaborate emotional and motivational signals (Fonagy et al., 2002). The analysis of some clinical phenomena related to the activation of the experience of anger and failures in its interpretation will hopefully shed some more light as to the relevance of this new model of BET.
The Basic Emotion of Anger
Anger has always been included in the repertoire of basic emotions, mainly given its distinct and universally recognizable pattern of facial expression (Ekman, 1999). Research has nonetheless evidenced some critical points that question the universal biological meaning of the emotion of anger and, therefore, the general relevance of BET in explaining the affective states possibly connected to this emotional state. First of all, the data indicating a specific psychophysiological profile of activation for anger seem still controversial. Psychophysiological parameters of anger are common to other emotional conditions, such as, for instance, a general condition of stress or fear or predatory behaviors (Scarpa et al., 2010). Researchers have found it difficult to find a specific place within the general categorization of positive and negative emotions (Watson et al., 2016). Anger entails a negative activation that leads the individual to resolve the tension through active behaviors. At the same time, behaviors sustained by anger can result in approaching behaviors usually sustained by positive emotions (Scarpa and Raine, 1997). Unlike other basic emotions, the environmental conditions expected to elicit anger are not invariably distinguishable as BET would require (Ekman, 1992). Anger can appear as a reaction to a condition of bodily distress, as a way to protect oneself to an attack from a predator (in this sense, anger is a possible consequence of fear; Wilkowsky and Robinson, 2010), as an emotion supporting goal-directed behavior when a circumstance in the outside world prevents the desired goal to be fulfilled, causing frustration (Panksepp, 1998). Another cardinal aspect of BET, which is, the social impact of the display emotion on other people is also controversial in the case of anger. Facial expression of anger can be interpreted as a sign of aggression, inducing reactions of fears or proneness to engage in a conflict, or can otherwise elicit enlivening feelings of sharing in other subjects, depending on the evaluation of the context (Emde, 1984). Critics of BET also highlighted that the expression of anger is virtually totally inhibited in some cultural contexts (Rosado, 1984). In a similar vein, it is stressed that some affective or motivational states conceivably connected to anger, such as envy, jealousy, hate or the aggressive pursuit of a specific goal are not accompanied by the display or subjective experience of anger nor rage, as if these negative feelings and sentiments were culturally built (Harrè, 1986).
Overall, these controversial points do not rule out the possibility to consider anger as a basic emotion and to assign it a central role in our affective life. Again, a motivational analysis based on phylogenetic and ontogenetic considerations can improve our understanding of the relevance of anger as a basic emotional signal in our affective life. The analysis of the neuroanatomical structures implied in the expression of anger place its phylogenetic origin in a basic reaction to a condition of distress. Probably such reactions evolved as a response to a condition of physical constriction as an ultimate way for the individual to free itself from a predator or to an external condition causing pain or irritation. This basic scheme of response is located at a very deep level in the brain [the Peri Acqueductal Gray (PAG)] where other centers coordinating homeostatic responses are also situated (Panksepp and Biven, 2012). According to neuroscientific accounts, such basic protective role of the reaction of anger gradually evolved into a more complex sequence of response activated by the perception of a threat in the outer world and useful to initiate and support the fight-flight response. The integration of such complex response was guaranteed in the course of evolution by the interaction of centers that are placed in the amygdala (Panksepp and Biven, 2012). A further step in the evolution of anger is characterized by the recruitment of such basic reaction by the motivational system of goal attainment. The general circuit regulating the approaching behaviors toward a goal is regulated by the reward system. The motivation to achieve an objective is flexible and is able to adjust the behavioral plans according to the possible external obstacles as well as the internal sources of error. The psychophysiological activation typical of the reaction of anger can be called into play to help the organism overcoming the obstacles more vigorously and enduring the attempts at reaching the desired goal. The ancient reaction of anger is, therefore, recruited by several motivational systems through neuroanatomical connection that evolved later in evolution and define different possible fixed patterns of response resulting in the final emergence of anger. This instance of evolutionary expectation can clearly account for the variety of sources possibly eliciting anger reactions and highlights how such emotional response is a fundamental part of the adaptive repertoire shown by human beings.
The Ontogenesis of Anger
The ontogenesis of anger reactions can further explain how such basic emotion becomes a necessary aspect of the sophisticated emotional life of the individual. Developmental researchers showed that a proper expression of anger does not appear until the last months of the first year of life (Sroufe, 1995). Before then, only a less specific reaction of distress and irritability can be observed, hardly distinguishable from other negative reaction such as crying, hunger, pain. The reaction of distress appearing in the first months of life is regarded as a basic response emerging in the presence of a sharp accumulation of psychophysiological activation, whether the source of this sudden increase in arousal is due to endogenous fluctuations of the nervous system or to the outside stimulation. The precursor of the reaction of anger is thus elicited by the specific psychophysiological parameters. It is only when, at the end of the first year, the infant becomes able to differentiate between means and ends of her behavior and to perceive distinctly that her intentional action is blocked, that a proper reaction of anger emerges. Notably, the emotion of anger makes its appearance when the child is able to attribute a psychological meaning to the stimulation (“there’s an obstacle hindering the achievement of a goal”). The psychological meaning attributed to the situation induces the same psychophysiological parameters able to elicit the previous reaction of distress (sharp increase in internal arousal). Subsequently, cognitive development and learning enable the child to anticipate the sources of frustration and to link her capacity to explore the environment to the capacity (possibly sustained by anger) to overcome the obstacles (Lichtenberg, 1991). As self-awareness and social awareness come to dominate the child’s psychological judgments, anger is finally directed at other people or at herself, finally acquiring the form of what is commonly acknowledged as rage (Sroufe, 1995). Through further cognitive and social growth, the psychological meaning of rage is, of course, more and more molded by interpersonal experience and shared cultural notions becoming a central aspect of interpersonal conflict negotiations. Anger and rage are then transformed into feelings of hate, competition, subtle resentment, sadism, contempt, envy, jealousy, possessiveness. This variety of sentiments are initiated by the appearance of rage, but they become more and more differentiated and partially detached from this basic emotion (Parens, 2008). Of course, as we shall see in the next paragraph, the degree to which rage become a part of the individual way to exert one’s control upon the external world, conflict management and social assertiveness is much influenced by the actual social experience and interpretations that the caregivers offer to the child’s behaviors as well as by the wider social context of social norms and established meaning. It is noteworthy, that these ontogenetic advancements, no matter how complex the expression of anger may result, could not take place without the recruiting of the basic schemes of response gradually evolving in the first 2 years of life.
Personality Building and the Metabolism of Anger/Rage
Recent developmental as well as clinical accounts highlighted the importance of anger and rage for normal and abnormal aspects of personality growth. The expression of anger is regarded as a prerequisite in the acquisition of exploration of the environment (Mahler et al., 1975; Sroufe, 1995), achievement of goals and behavioral plans (Stechler and Halton, 1987), establishment of the sense of personal control over one’s own actions, conflict negotiation (Lichtenberg, 1989), defense of personal integrity (Modell, 1993), differentiation of personal vs. other’s personal motives and points of view (Parens, 2008). As discussed in this paper, it is evidenced that in the first years of life the basic emotion of anger, regardless of its phylogenetic origin and its previous ontogenetic precursors, is recruited in the service of the wider motivation to achieve a desired goal. Therefore, the possibility to resort to anger or rage is seen as a basic step (though not the only one, of course) to assert one’s own autonomy and a sense of mastery of the self and counterbalance feelings of shame and vulnerability, what psychoanalysts define as “healthy narcissism” (Ronningstam, 2005). Anger and rage are thus considered as necessary instruments to reestablish a feeling of personal consistency and autonomy or to endure in a goal pursuit when a failure is experienced (Mahler et al., 1975; Kohut, 1977). Naturally, assertiveness and the sense of autonomy and mastery of the self should not wholly be considered coincident with the expressions of anger and rage. Many other affective, cognitive and social acquisitions are the necessary underpinnings of the evolving sense of autonomy and narcissistic integrity. Furthermore, the healthy manifestations of anger should be tamed by feelings of empathy for the others, acknowledgment of their point of view and full appreciation of the nature of the affective relationship with them, as well as the respect of the ethical and social norms unavoidably constraining individual assertiveness and achievements. As a consequence, normal expressions of anger and rage should be distinguished from arrogance, special sense of entitlement, sadistic control, interpersonal exploitation, affective manipulation, and violence. Clinical literature evidenced that when proper limitations of the manifestations of anger systematically fail to occur we are in the face of personal abnormal development and risk of antisocial conducts. We shall now see how these distortions in personality growth are mainly due to two conditions implying the metabolism of the affective signal of anger: (a) the wrong and recurring processing of other motivational cues implying the normal recourse to anger or rage (e.g., fear, frustration, wound to personal integrity) leads the individual to repeated or exaggerated expressions of this basic emotional manifestations; (b) the individual has learnt to confuse the internal signal of anger and the behavioral manifestations of rage with her own self-assertion, affirmation of autonomy, sense of personal control and integrity.
Hyperactivation of the Anger/Rage Signals in Borderline Personality Disorders and Psychopathy
Diagnostic approaches (Kernberg, 1984; Gunderson, 2001; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013) always identified unrestrained and frequent bouts of rage as one of the key clinical features of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Most often these intense feelings of rage can also give rise to dramatic self-harming behaviors, possibly hesitating in suicide attempts. The dysphoric background characterized by irritability and anger is also held responsible for the affective instability and fragmented sense of identity characterizing BPD patients (Gunderson, 2010). In order to maintain at least a form of positive relatedness with the meaningful others and a sense of personal worthiness and autonomy, the BPD patients are supposed to split the angry and raging aspects of their personality from their self-representation and from the experience of their relationship with outer world (Kernberg, 1975). BPD patients are reported to experience such an unbearable amount of anger given their proneness to perceive personal threats in the outside world, mainly in close relationships, owing to both temperamental factors (New et al., 2008; Gunderson, 2010) and early traumatic experience in the attachment matrix (Chiesa et al., 2016). As a result, anger reactions are easily elicited as a basic defensive (flight-fight) response to the feeling of being attacked. At the same, time the fragile sense of self and extreme dependency from the meaningful other in which the BPD patients feel entrapped, often lead these patients to transform outward manifestations of rage into self-harming or passive aggressive conducts (Kernberg, 1975). Another example of mistaken processing of environmental or motivational clues resulting in overly recourse to anger is represented by the clinical phenomenon of psychopathy. Anger and rage do not characterize the core of this rare and extreme condition, although expressions of anger and rage may be frequently associated to it Blair (2009) and Glenn and Raine (2014). The emergence of anger and rage in psychopathic patients has been recently explained through a peculiar failure in the processing of negative reinforcement (Blair, 2009). Psychopathic patients show a deficit of functioning in the area of the brain designated to the detection of failure of behavioral plans. When the execution of any behavioral plan does not obtain the expected result the anterior cingulate cortex signals the pre-frontal cortex to adjust the behavioral plan in order to achieve the goal. If the cingulate cortex is not activated by the negative outcome, as happens in the case of psychopathic patients, the original behavioral plan is carried out over and over again. Quite opposite to BPD patients, individuals with psychopathic traits are reported to underestimate the impact of negative emotions (Masi et al., 2014). Since reactions of rage and anger are unavoidably engendered any time the execution of the behavioral plan fail to achieve its goal, psychopathic individual are over-exposed to thy stipe of angry reactions. In this latter case, therefore, the basic emotions of anger are sustained by the reward system and are expressed in their purest form because this system is not adequately supported by the emotional information processing of the negative outcomes of the subject’s behavior. This inadequate processing is responsible for both the perseverance of behavioral efforts, neglecting the interpersonal consequences, and the associated angry reactions.
The Role of Anger/Rage Signals in Narcissistic Personality
The case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder affords a different view of an inappropriate recourse to anger and rage affective expressions. According to Kernberg (1975) the core of narcissistic personality pathology is represented by the fusion between the attempts at establishing a primitive grandiose sense of self and the expression of anger. In a few words, the narcissistic individual mistake her self-assertiveness and sense of personal worth with the aggressive control of the meaningful other’s appreciation and mirroring. The arrogance and exaggerated sense entitlement, the intense reaction of rage to any perceived threat to their self-esteem or to the frequent feelings of shame, exploitative or even sadistic behaviors portraying the most recognizable forms of narcissistic personality are the result of this basic confusion: to assert oneself and to protect a vulnerable self-esteem, it is necessary to be feeling enraged and in aggressive control of the relationship. When such attempts at control fail, the narcissistic patient tries to protect herself from the ensuing intense feeling of shame through rage (Kohut, 1977; Ronningstam, 2005). Clinical literature showed how the narcissistic patients’ personal history is often sprinkled with interpersonal relationships that denied a full and deep recognition of the patients’ early sense of autonomy and personal differentiated existence. Most frequently, as a child, the narcissistic patient was humiliatingly treated as an extension of her own parents or was recognized only for her superficial appearance or talents (Fernando, 1998), developing only a scarce capacity for emotional self-recognition and self-regulation. In some other cases, a particular temperamental endowment, namely, an overly need for reward and affective gratifications exposed these patients to extreme feelings of shame and personal failure. The diverse manifestations observed in the widely acknowledged distinction between the Vulnerable and Grandiose forms of narcissistic pathology (Pincus and Lukowitsky, 2010) seem to shed a clear light on the importance of the processing of anger and rage in this area of personality pathology. In the Grandiose variant, the narcissistic patient has learnt that anger and aggressive control over his interpersonal environment is the equivalent of personal empowerment, autonomy and internal consistency. A general strategy of regulation of self-esteem and self-enhancement stems from this equation, that leads to manifestations of entitlement, arrogance, manipulativeness and interpersonal explotativeness, direct sadistic or aggressive attempts to exert a control on others’ states of mind and behaviors. The key importance of the basic emotion of anger in narcissistic personality is also testified to by the vulnerable variant of this pathology of character that, explicitly, is dominated by a pervasive sense of shame, inadequacy and personal failure (Pincus and Lukowitsky, 2010). These otherwise called covert or shy (Ronningstam, 2005) forms of narcissistic pathology are reported to be very wary of any manifestations of anger and rage. When these affective reactions take place, the covert narcissist may fail to acknowledge it or the reasons why they occurred to them. These patients, in fact, prefer to stave off any feeling connected to personal assertiveness in order to hide their grandiose expectations and avoid possible subsequent frustrations and feelings of shame (Pincus and Lukowitsky, 2010). However, empirical and clinical evidence showed that the vulnerable narcissistic patients may be even more prone to resort to aggressive acts or antisocial conducts (Fossati et al., 2014). Indeed, when the more vulnerable patients are overpowered by emotions that prevent them from understanding their frustrated needs for assertiveness and the ensuing aggressive feelings, they become less able to modulate their behavior and understand its impact on other’s well-being (Baskin-Sommers et al., 2014; Lee-Rowland et al., 2017). In these two forms of narcissistic pathology, thus, the hyper-estimate and hypo-estimate of feelings of anger are two basic processes around which the peculiar strategies of this personality pathology revolve around. A final aspect to be taken into account with regard to narcissistic functioning and the processing of anger and rage, is represented by suicide. As a matter of facts, the clinical understanding of the narcissistic background for suicidal ideation and suicide highlighted the pivotal role of affective states imbued with feelings of hatred, sado-masochistic dynamics and revenge (Ronningstam et al., 2008). In this regard, one key step leading to suicide in narcissistic personalities is thought to be the denial of aggressive feelings engendered by narcissistic injuries. Strong defenses, often of a dissociative nature, against such aggressive and domineering attitudes toward meaningful others and the outer world in general, take place to hide and avoid threats to the personal sense of omnipotence and self-esteem. However, when such defenses fail this purpose owing to serious life events, the split-off angry and rageful feelings sustaining the sense of control and power are exacerbated and press the individual to action. The attack against the self escalating in suicidal conducts is the way such needs for aggressive control are expressed out of personal awareness, allowing for the restoration of the sense of mastery through the disguised fantasy of retaliation against the others who will remain alive.
The many attempts to get rid of BET face a basic obstacle. In its purest form BET was a way to conceive of the influence of the evolutionary heritage and survival needs on human mind. No matter how convincing and effective the criticisms are to the single aspects of BET, its original message cannot be overestimated. In this paper, it was proposed that a new motivational framework for basic emotions allows to expand their role in affective experience and decision making processes. Neuroscientific, developmental and psychodynamic approaches all seem to point to an interpretation of basic emotions as systems of evaluation that work as internal signals orienting and giving meaning to our intentions and subjective experience. The introduction of a motivational point of view for basic emotions seems necessary, in order to consider how these basic systems of response can be transformed by more refined cognitive operations into diversified emotional contents. Furthermore, the motivational approach affords a new view in which basic emotions disclose its importance for human beings through interpersonal and cultural experiences.
RW is entirely responsible for the development of the ideas and theoretical research contained in this paper. The author is also entirely responsible for the realization and revision of the draft of the manuscript.
Conflict of Interest Statement
The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
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File:47-aspetti di vita quotidiana,ira,Taccuino Sanitatis, Casana. jpg
Rage, Tacuinum Sanitatis casanatensis (14th century).
Rage (often called fury or wrath) is a feeling of intense or growing anger. It is associated with the Fight-or-flight response and can be activated in response to frustration or emotional conflict or external cues, such as the murder of a loved one or some other kind of serious offense. The phrase, ‘thrown into a fit of rage,’ expresses the immediate nature of rage that occurs before deliberation. If left unchecked rage may lead to aggression and violence. Depression and anxiety lead to an increased susceptibility to rage and there are modern treatments for this emotional pattern.
Old French raige, rage (French: rage), from Medieval Latin rabia, from Latin rabies (“anger fury”). akin to Sanskrit rabhas violence
Symptoms and effects
Rage can sometimes lead to a state of mind where the individual experiencing it believes, and often is capable of doing things that may normally seem physically impossible. Those experiencing rage usually feel the effects of high adrenaline levels in the body. This increase in adrenal output raises the physical strength and endurance levels of the person and sharpens their senses, while dulling the sensation of pain. Temporal perspective is also affected: people in a rage have described experiencing events in slow-motion. An explanation of this “time dilation” effect is that instead of actually slowing our perception of time, high levels of adrenaline increase our ability to recall specific minutiae of an event after it occurs. Since humans gauge time based on the amount of things they can remember, high-adrenaline events such as those experienced during periods of rage seem to unfold more slowly.
A person in a state of rage may also lose much of his or her capacity for rational thought and reasoning, and may act, usually violently, on his or her impulses to the point that they may attack until they themselves have been incapacitated or the source of their rage has been destroyed.
A person in rage may also experience tunnel vision, muffled hearing, increased heart rate and hyperventilation. They often focus only on the source of their anger. The large amounts of adrenaline and oxygen in the bloodstream may cause a person’s extremities to shake.
Psychiatrists consider Rage to be at one end of the spectrum of anger, and annoyance to be at the other side.
Rage occurs when oxytocin, vasopressin, and corticotropin-releasing hormone are rapidly released from the hypothalamus. This results in the pituitary gland producing and releasing large amounts of the adrenocorticotropic hormone, which causes the adrenal cortex to release corticosteroids. This chain reaction occurs when faced with a threatening situation.
Some research suggests that an individual is more susceptible to having feelings of depression and anxiety if he or she experiences rage on a frequent basis. Health complications become much worse if an individual represses feelings of rage. Dr. John E. Sarno believes that repressed rage in the subconscious leads to physical ailments. Cardiac stress and hypertension are other health complications that will occur when rage is experienced on a regular basis. Psycho-pathological conditions such as depression increase the chances of experiencing feelings of rage.
Types of therapy
Evidence has shown that behavioral and cognitive therapy techniques have assisted individuals that have difficulties controlling their anger or rage. Role playing and social skills traing are helpful in anger management therapy. Role playing is utilized by angering an individual to the point of rage and then showing them how to control it. .
Multi-modal cognitive therapy is another treatment used to help individuals cope with anger. This therapy teaches individuals relaxation techniques, problem solving skills, and techniques on response disruption. This type of therapy has proven to be effective for individuals that are highly stressed and are prone to rage.
fMRI scans of people who practice compassion meditation show that they have changed their brains in ways that make them more compassionate and less prone to negative emotions such as rage.
MBSR programs have also been scientifically demonstrated to produce more frequent and strong feelings of love and happiness and less feelings of rage, anger, stress and depression. See Mindfulness (psychology) for more on this topic.
The psychology of rage
According to psychologists, rage is a form of aggressive behavior that all can exhibits in some form. Rage is often used to denote hostile/affective/reactive aggression (as distinct from predatory/instrumental/proactive aggression, which by contrast is motivated by a desire to obtain some goal by use of aggression. It denotes aggression where there is anger present, that is motivated by causing some harm to others, and that is characterized by impulsive thinking and a lack of planning.
Some psychologists, however, such as Bushman and Anderson, argue that the hostile/predatory dichotomy that is commonly employed in psychology fails to define rage fully, since it is possible for anger to motivate aggression, provoking vengeful behavior, without incorporating the impulsive thinking that is characteristic of rage. They point to individuals or groups such as Seung-Hui Cho in the Virginia Tech massacre or Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the Columbine High School massacre all of whom clearly experienced intense anger and hate, but whose planning (sometimes over periods of years), forethought, and lack of impulsive behavior is readily observable.
Rage stems from anger, in that, in certain cases where there is anger present, the ultimate push will create an outrageous occurrence. Many of the effects that stem from anger and how a person reaches the point of expressing rage is a fine line associated with these behavioral tendencies. Much of the behavior experienced from anger has been studied extensively, but most do not know what causes the next step, rage, or why some people go the extra emotional mile. Rage is considered to be an emergency reaction, in which we as humans are pre-wired to possess. Rage tends to be expressed when a person faces a threat to their pride, position, status or dignity.
Expression of rage can be very intense, often distinguished by distorted facial expressions and by threat (or execution) of physical attack. Rage is associated with individuals who experience psycho-pathological issues. This can lead to physical violence resulting in serious injury or death.
Self-esteem is another factor of one feeling rage; evidence has shown that individuals that suffer from low self-esteem may compensate by inflicting physical harm onto others. Some psychologists have seen rage as being internally focused, constituting an attack on one’s self rather than on others. They believe this leads to rage being more intense, less focused and longer lasting. They also believe this ‘self-inflicted’ rage is a narcissistic response to one’s past injuries. Rage, under this set of theories, is caused from built up anger from past traumas. These accumulated dispositions are stored in our mind.
Rage can also be released in the wake of a traumatic event. In people who witness the killing of a loved one, many will often enter or “go into a rage”, attempting to kill the perpetrator. This can sometimes be the most violent and reluctant type of rage and will usually end only after the killer or they themselves have been killed.
The Cannon-Bard theory
Whether or not actions arise from the emotional state of rage is the subject of controversy in cognitive study. Cannon-Bard holds that a stimulus causes both the reaction and the emotion at once. Thus, a person would not first become enraged and then act, but do both simultaneously.
Various context for rage
- ↑ http://www2.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/mwdictfol?book=Dictionary&va=rage
- ↑ Eagleman, et. al., 2007
- ↑ DiGiuseppe & Tafrate., 2006.
- ↑ Jezova et al., 1995; Sapolsky, 1992.
- ↑ Begley, 1994.
- ↑ Painuly et al., 2005
- ↑ Willner et al., 2002; Lishman et al., 2008.
- ↑ Gerzina & Drummond, 2000.
- ↑ Study shows compassion meditation changes the brain March 25, 2008 by Dian Land http://www.news.wisc.edu/14944
- ↑ Fontaine, 2007
- ↑ DiGiuseppe & Tafrate, 2006.
- ↑ Anderson, 2001.
- ↑ Greene et al., 1994
- ↑ Walker & Bright, 2009
- ↑ King, R. 2007.
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Anger management: Your questions answered
Anger management: Your questions answered
Anger isn’t always bad, but it must be handled appropriately. Consider the purpose anger serves and the best approach to anger management.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Anger itself isn’t a problem — it’s how you handle it. Consider the nature of anger, as well as how to manage anger and what to do when you’re confronted by someone whose anger is out of control.
What is anger?
Anger is a natural response to perceived threats. It causes your body to release adrenaline, your muscles to tighten, and your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Your senses might feel more acute and your face and hands flushed.
However, anger becomes a problem only when you don’t manage it in a healthy way.
So it’s not ‘bad’ to feel angry?
Being angry isn’t always a bad thing. Being angry can help you share your concerns. It can prevent others from walking all over you. It can motivate you to do something positive. The key is managing your anger in a healthy way.
What causes people to get angry?
There are many common triggers for anger, such as losing your patience, feeling as if your opinion or efforts aren’t appreciated, and injustice. Other causes of anger include memories of traumatic or enraging events and worrying about personal problems.
You also have unique anger triggers, based on what you were taught to expect from yourself, others and the world around you. Your personal history feeds your reactions to anger, too. For example, if you weren’t taught how to express anger appropriately, your frustrations might simmer and make you miserable, or build up until you explode in an angry outburst.
Inherited tendencies, brain chemistry or underlying medical conditions also play a role in your tendency toward angry outburst.
What’s the best way to handle anger?
When you’re angry, you can deal with your feelings through:
- Expression. This is the act of conveying your anger. Expression ranges from a reasonable, rational discussion to a violent outburst.
- Suppression. This is an attempt to hold in your anger and possibly convert it into more constructive behavior. Suppressing anger, however, can cause you to turn your anger inward on yourself or express your anger through passive-aggressive behavior.
- Calming down. This is when you control your outward behavior and your internal responses by calming yourself and letting your feelings subside.
Ideally, you’ll choose constructive expression — stating your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
Can anger harm your health?
Some research suggests that inappropriately expressing anger — such as keeping anger pent up — can be harmful to your health. Suppressing anger appears to make chronic pain worse, while expressing anger reduces pain.
There’s also evidence that anger and hostility is linked with heart disease, high blood pressure, peptic ulcers and stroke.
When is professional help needed?
Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret, hurts those around you or is taking a toll on your personal relationships.
March 05, 2020
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- Controlling anger before it controls you. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx. Accessed Jan 18, 2017.
- Shivkumar K, et al. Clinical neurocardiology defining the value of neuroscience-based cardiovascular therapeutics. The Journal of Physiology. 2016;594:3911.
- McMahon SB, et al., eds. Psychiatric Pain-Associated Comorbidities. In: Wall & Melzack’s Textbook of Pain. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
- Coccaro E, et al. Intermittent explosive disorder in adults: Epidemiology, clinical features, assessment, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan 18, 2017.
See more In-depth
What It’s Trying to Tell You| Pine Rest Blog
Anger is a universal emotion—everyone feels it at different times and to varying degrees. Anger arises in many contexts and the experience ranges from mild irritation (often referred to as “frustration” by women since culture doesn’t like angry women) to all-consuming rage. Even boredom is a mild form of anger which represents dissatisfaction with whatever is currently happening.
Feeling anger is a natural part of life, but is not necessarily an emotion we are comfortable with or have been taught to manage skillfully. While anger is often seen as “bad” or “un-Christian,” it is as important to our health as a fever is. A fever is essential because it tells us that something is wrong and is also the body’s way of beginning to deal with the infection creating problems. Anger is the body’s way of signaling something is wrong and creating energy to help begin addressing the problem.
However, too many of us simply act upon our anger rather than seeing it as a symptom signaling a problem. Doing this is similar to taking an aspirin to deal with a fever while never looking for the underlying infection. When the aspirin wears off, the fever is back and often worse than it was at first because the infection has spread unaddressed.
The same is true with anger. When anger is avoided or simply acted upon, the underlying issue goes unaddressed, and the anger often reoccurs at inopportune times with increased intensity.
Anger is a secondary emotion
Typically, we experience a primary emotion like fear, loss, or sadness first. Because these emotions create feelings of vulnerability and loss of control, they make us uncomfortable. One way of attempting to deal with these feelings is by subconsciously shifting into anger.
Unlike fear and sadness, anger provides a surge of energy and makes us feel powerful and in charge rather than vulnerable and helpless. We have all seen this happen. Think about a hungry infant. The infant’s first cry is a cry of distress because the child legitimately needs to eat and has no capacity to fulfill this need unless someone helps. If this need is not addressed, the infant’s cry switches from a cry of distress to an angry cry. When the feeling of hunger, vulnerability, and powerlessness becomes too distressing, the child becomes angry to distance from these feelings and to signal there is a problem. Until the underlying issues of both hunger and vulnerability are attended to, the anger will remain.
It is easy to identify the function of anger when it plays out with infants, but we often struggle to identify its function in our own lives. When I begin to feel anger toward my spouse, it is much easier to go with my anger and say things like, “You always sit there watching TV and avoid doing any of the housework,” than to figure out what is under the anger and address the underlying issue. It’s also easier for parents to yell about how irresponsible their teenage son is when he arrives home after curfew than to own how scared their son’s lateness made them.
How to work with anger
The next time you are feeling anger—whether mild or strong—instead of “taking the aspirin” of stuffing or simply acting upon the anger, consider deciphering anger. Suspend your desire to act upon your anger. No matter how intense your experience of anger, acting upon this emotion without identifying why it is present may feel good for a moment or two, but often causes us to behave in ways we regret later and seldom helps to address the underlying issue fueling the anger.
1. Take a time out. Pause whatever it is you are doing and check to see if you can identify the primary emotion driving the anger. It is important to STOP and deliberately think this through as it is usually very difficult to identify anything other than anger initially.
2. Check what’s underneath your anger. Ask yourself the question, “If anger was like the congealed fat on the top of the roast in my refrigerator and I could skim it off, what would be underneath?” This gives you a way to begin exploring the thoughts which are fueling anger. The shift from the primary emotions of fear, sadness, or loss happens rapidly so it takes deliberate thought to identify what lies beneath the anger.
3. Think about how you can address what’s underneath. Once you have identified the underlying primary emotion, ask yourself, “What would help me address this emotion effectively?” If I am angry with my spouse for sitting on the couch while I clean, the underlying emotion might be fear…fear the relationship is always going to be off-balance in this way…fear my partner does not value me and sees me as a servant…fear my need for down-time won’t be met. By identifying the fear, I can decide how to talk about this with my partner rather than simply blowing up about not having help cleaning.
4. Give yourself space to calm down. The emotion of anger releases chemicals within the body preparing you to flee, fight, or freeze so you won’t be hurt. It takes a bit for these chemicals to dissipate and you can’t think clearly until they do. By deliberately taking time to calm down, you give your brain time to move out of the instinctual “protective” mode and into problem solving mode.
5. Work the problem. Anger tells you a problem exists. Taking time to work out a solution to the problem, eliminates the need for anger just like taking an antibiotic kills an ear infection and eliminates the need for the fever. It is easy to avoid working through issues but until the underlying issues are resolved, you will continue to find anger popping up to tell you there is a problem you need to address.
Anger is a valuable emotion that alerts you to problems in your life so you can effectively solve them and build the sort of life you desire.
Jean Holthaus, LMSW, LISW has been providing outpatient therapy services since 1995 when she earned her Masters of Social work degree from the University of Iowa and has worked for Pine Rest since 1997. She currently serves as manager of the Telehealth Clinic and the Hastings Clinic and is also a Pine Rest Outpatient Regional Director. She is trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), interpersonal therapy, and narrative therapy. She is deeply invested in walking with individuals struggling to find meaning an purpose in the mist of the struggles of life. She is also passionate about providing educational services which equip individuals to proactively address mental health issues. Jean started her career as a teacher after earning her BA in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Iowa in 1985. She was an elementary and junior high teacher for 10 years prior to beginning her career as a therapist.
Jean’s professional experience includes working with children, adolescents, individuals, couples and families within a therapist setting. She has also worked as a dialysis social worker in a hospital setting. Jean enjoys working with adolescents and adults dealing with abuse, depression, marital issues, divorce, spiritual issues, changes of life, parenting, and family issues. She participates with Faith Community Outreach, an initiative within Pine Rest that seeks to connect area clergy, churches, and ministries to services from Pine Rest as well as develop new services specifically designed to benefit the faith community.
Anger – IResearchNet
The term anger has multiple meanings in everyday language. People refer to anger as an experience or feeling, a set of physiological reactions, an attitude toward others, a drive leading to aggression, or an overt assault upon some target. In social psychology, anger refers to a particular set of feelings. The feelings usually labeled as “anger” range in intensity from being irritated or annoyed to being furious or enraged. These feelings stem, to a large degree, from the internal physiological reactions and involuntary emotional expressions produced by an offense or mistreatment.
Visual features include facial changes, like frowning eyebrows and dilated nostrils, and motor reactions, such as clenching fists. These feelings are simultaneously influenced by thoughts and memories (i.e., appraisals) that arise. All of these sensory inputs are combined in a person’s mind to form the experience of anger. This experience is not aimed at achieving a goal; nor does it serve any useful purpose for the individual in that particular situation.
Anger Distinction from Other Concepts
The terms anger, hostility, and aggressiveness are often used interchangeably in everyday life. Social psychologists define hostility as a negative attitude toward one or more people that is reflected in a decidedly unfavorable judgment of the target. To differentiate, aggressiveness is any form of behavior directed toward the goal of harming a target. In other words, aggressiveness can also be seen as a disposition toward becoming aggressive. In sum, anger as an experience does not directly activate aggressiveness.
Physiological Reactions in Anger
A large body of early research has investigated the mental representations of bodily reactions in anger. Across different investigations, individuals experienced increases in cardiovascular (e.g., higher blood pressure) and muscular (e.g., heightened bodily tension) activity, accompanied by the face feeling hot. This latter observation is consistent with the widespread characterization of anger as a “hot” emotion.
Appraisal Conceptions of Anger
Several contemporary researchers started to extend the focus from the internal physiological aspects to interpretations of external features having an impact on affective states. This so-called appraisal-based view of anger contends that anger exists only when external events are interpreted in a specific manner, that is, when individuals give meaning (i.e., appraise) to the specific situation they are in. More specifically, appraisal researchers argue that the precipitating incident has to be interpreted as an offense or mistreatment. Furthermore, whether individuals see themselves or another person responsible, or whether they blame themselves or another person (i.e., appraisal of agency), for the mistreatment triggers either anger experienced toward the self (i.e., self-directed anger) or the other person (i.e., other-directed anger).
There are several theoretical claims of appraisal formulations that emphasize a different appraisal structure and appraisal process. Much research has been dedicated to test these different formulations against one another. Despite these different formulations, what can be derived from this research is that appraisal formulations can indeed account for the experience of anger.
Anger and Behavior
If an individual is angry with someone else, the desire to act feeds into a “moving against” tendency. The phrase “moving against” characterizes the behavioral impulses activated in the state of anger. Research has shown that anger can trigger action tendencies like striking out or attacking the perpetrator responsible for the elicitation of anger. They are expressed, for example, by verbally or even physically attacking a target.
Anger and Health
Besides triggering action tendencies in the short run, anger has been shown to lead to health problems in the long run. This line of research suggests that the experience of anger, which is accompanied by the cardiovascular (e.g., higher blood pressure) and muscular (e.g., heightened bodily tension) activity, is a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Recognition of Anger
So how do we come to associate specific movements and gestures of someone else with a specific emotional state? Several researchers have proposed different processes of emotional contagion and/or simulation that provide the means by which we come to know what others are feeling. The idea of emotional contagion implies that a visual representation of another’s expression leads us to experience what the other person is feeling, which in turn allows us to infer that person’s emotional state. Furthermore, research has indicated that participants exposed to angry faces show increased activity in specific facial muscles (e.g., by frowning their eyebrows). Thus, these data suggest that emotional faces generally induce their mirror images in their observers.
Anger is often measured as a dependent variable. In this large body of research, individuals are asked to indicate their level of anger. This self-report measure has one main problem: The measure is influenced by the respondent’s perception. Over the years, the focus on investigating emotions has changed, and several assessments have been developed to study different aspects of emotions. There are three main ways to assess the basic processes of anger. First, the physiological arousal (in other words, the excitement of anger) is often measured by heart rate, muscle tension, or skin conductance. Second, the affective state that represents the feelings and signs of anger is assessed by facial coding of the expression. Finally, the external consideration concerning the cause of the affective state put forward by appraisal theorists is measured by asking individuals directly for their interpretations of the current situation.
- Berkowitz, L. (1999). Anger. In T. Dalgleish & M. J. Power (Eds.), Handbook of cognition and emotion (pp. 411-428). New York: Wiley.
- Feldman Barrett, L., Niedenthal, P. M., & Winkielman, P. (Eds.). (2005). Emotion and consciousness. New York: Guilford Press.
Anger as an evolved bargaining system: Empirical Tests
Researchers at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology have been investigating the design and evolved function of the emotion of anger, both theoretically and empirically. They consider anger to be a behavior-regulating program that was built into the neural architecture of the human species over evolutionary time. The key question is, why?
The new model—the recalibrational theory of anger—proposes that anger (as an emotion program) was designed by natural selection to nonconsciously orchestrate the individual’s responses to interpersonal conflicts of interest so that the individual bargains effectively. The functional product of the anger (if successful) is the recalibration upwards of the other person’s tendency to place weight on the angry person’s welfare. The two bargaining tools humans have is the ability to confer or withhold benefits, and the ability to inflict costs. The greater the benefits an individual controls, or the greater the costs the individual can inflict, the greater the bargaining position he or she has. The theory predicts, and these studies find, that stronger men and more attractive women are more anger-prone, feel more entitled to better treatment, and prevail more in conflicts of interest. They also more strongly endorse the use of force to resolve conflicts. These results undermine theories that attribute anger and aggression primarily to frustration, a history of negative treatment, or a desire for equity. According to this theory, strength and beauty are not unique: anything that increases the social bargaining power of an individual should increase her or his anger-proneness and feeling of entitlement.
The paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first in a series on anger:
Formidability and the logic of human anger by Aaron Sell, John Tooby & Leda Cosmides, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences August 2009.
ABSTRACT: Eleven predictions derived from the recalibrational theory of anger were tested. This theory proposes that anger is produced by a neurocognitive program engineered by natural selection to use bargaining tactics to resolve conflicts of interest in favor of the angry individual. The program is designed to orchestrate two interpersonal negotiating tactics (conditionally inflicting costs or conditionally withholding benefits) to incentivize the target of the anger to place greater weight on the welfare of the angry individual. Individuals with enhanced abilities to inflict costs (e.g., stronger individuals) or to confer benefits (e.g., attractive individuals) have a better bargaining position in conflicts; hence, it was predicted that such individuals will be more prone to anger, prevail more in conflicts of interest, and consider themselves entitled to better treatment. These predictions were confirmed. Consistent with an evolutionary analysis, the effect of strength on anger was greater for men and the effect of attractiveness on anger was greater for women. Also as predicted, stronger men had a greater history of fighting than weaker men, and more strongly endorsed the efficacy of force to resolve conflicts—both in interpersonal and international conflicts. The fact that stronger men favored greater use of military force in international conflicts provides evidence that the internal logic of the anger program reflects the ancestral payoffs characteristic of a small-scale social world rather than rational assessments of modern payoffs in large populations.
UCSB’s press release can be found here
Supplemental information here
New! The Sunday Times of London recently published a piece claiming that researchers at the CEP found a link between blonde hair in women and anger, entitlement and “warlike” behavior. No such research was done, and we believe the claims of the article are false. As can be seen by a search in our original publication (here) the words “blonde” or even “hair” never appear. Nevertheless, the story spread rapidly throughout the blogosphere and the mainstream news. We are working to correct the story. Click here to read our letter to the Times.
What we did do was research on the evolved function of anger, and its relationship to variables such as strength and attractiveness (much more interesting, and with facts behind it!).
Update! Accurate accounts of the story are now being reported here and here.
(1) provides a brief introduction to a new theory of anger: the recalibrational theory of anger. It characterizes the evolved function of anger and describes how some of the design features of the anger program carry out this evolved function.
(2) tests eleven predictions derived from the theory, including a functional explanation for individual differences in anger-proneness.
(3) provides evidence that upper body strength is linked to beliefs and attitudes about the use of the military in international conflicts, indicating that at least some of our attitudes are set nonrationally.
Earlier, related work provides evidence that humans have an evolved specialization for assessing fighting ability—formidability: See Human adaptations for the visual assessment of strength and fighting ability from the body and face by Aaron Sell, Leda Cosmides, John Tooby, Daniel Sznycer, Christopher von Rueden, and Michael Gurven in Proceedings of the Royal Society London, (Biological Sciences), October 2008. Click here for more
These papers are part of a more encompassing research initiative that is intended to place the study of emotion and motivation on a new, more rigorous foundation. The goal of this research is to produce detailed maps of the circuit logic of emotions and motivational systems, showing how the details of their problem-solving characteristics match the recurrent adaptive problems our ancestors faced. This program formed the core of the joint proposal Leda Cosmides and John Tooby made to the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award program. Discussions of this research program can be found in:
Tooby, J., Cosmides, L., Sell, A., Lieberman, D. & Sznycer, D. (2008). Internal regulatory variables and the design of human motivation: A computational and evolutionary approach. In Andrew J. Elliot (Ed.) Handbook of approach and avoidance motivation. pp. 251-271. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Tooby, J. & Cosmides, L. (2008). The evolutionary psychology of the emotions and their relationship to internal regulatory variables. In M. Lewis, J. M. Haviland-Jones & L. F. Barrett (Eds.), Handbook of Emotions, 3rd Ed. (pp. 114-137.) NY: Guilford. This paper also summarizes the evolutionary psychological framework for analyzing emotions as circuits or programs.
This page is intended to provide background on these studies for anyone who is curious about the research. When the page is completed, it will also sketch out connections and implications for evolutionary biologists, emotion researchers, economists, cognitive neuroscientists, behavioral ecologists, evolutionary psychologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and others in the behavioral sciences.
The role of regulatory variables in motivation
An evolutionary psychological approach to emotion
Relevance to different fields. (under construction)
The study of motivation:
Why Am I Always Angry?
Anger is an emotion that many people repress because they don’t want to express it, or maybe they don’t know how to express it healthily.
We all feel anger at different times, to varying degrees. Anger is an emotion that is part of the human experience. Feelings of anger can arise in many different contexts and often for underlying reasons that we have yet to understand. Maybe we are burying past emotions and experiences, and one little trigger will result in an angry outburst.
Experiencing unfair treatment, hearing criticism, or simply not getting what you want are but a few of the potential triggers. The experience of anger can range from mild irritation to frustration, all the way up to seething rage. Boredom can often be viewed as a mild version of anger in the form of dissatisfaction with what is happening.
The article covers how anger affects the brain, signs of anger, and how anger impacts behavior.
Anger and the Brain
The cortex is the working part of our brain where logic and judgment reside. The cortex can be described as the strategy and control center of the brain. The limbic center is the emotional center of our brain and is known as the more primitive part of our brain. Within the limbic system is a small structure called the amygdala, a storehouse for emotional memories, which is also the area of the brain responsible for our “fight or flight” reactions aka our natural survival instincts. When we feel and express anger, we are using the limbic center of our brain.
When someone is experiencing and expressing anger, they are not using the thinking (cortex) part of the brain, but primarily, the limbic center of the brain.
When we become angry, our “fight or flight” response is triggered, releasing a flood of hormones that cause physical and emotional alarm. This anger is then carried out to yelling, impatience, frustration, and hurtful words.
Why Someone May Feel Angry
Anger is an emotion that can be triggered by many different causes. Some of these causes are deep underlying unresolved conflicts that have not been addressed, whereas other reasons include the following:
- Being disrespected or treated unfairly
- Feeling threatened or violated
- Being physically harmed
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling powerless
- High levels of stress or anxiety
Identify problems in your past that could contribute to your anger. Were you abused or harshly punished in your past? Do you have difficulty controlling your temper and your emotions? Do you lack a sense of inner peace? Identify present scenarios that make you angry, such as dissatisfaction at your job, spouse, self, or child.
Signs of Anger
- Shouting and yelling
- Swearing, name-calling, and making threats
- A physical expression such as hitting people, animals, or objects
- Becoming withdrawn and distant
- Inflicting self-harm
Suppose you are dealing with a stressful situation or are experiencing bullying or negative life circumstances. In that case, it is normal to experience anger and frustration, especially when dealing with chronic feelings of stress, isolation, and anxiety.
As a child or a young adult, you may have been raised around unhealthy and nonproductive ways to experience anger. Maybe your parents, caretakers, or elderly family members did not express their emotions in a healthy manner, which overflowed and carried into adulthood.
Recognizing that you did not learn healthy ways to manage your anger in childhood is the first step to understanding why your anger boils over into unhealthy emotions and circumstances in adulthood.
If you have experienced past traumatic events, it can be normal to feel residual anger as traumatic events can have a lasting effect on your psyche.
A licensed therapist or mental health counselor can help you work through your past trauma, present stressful situations, and underlying childhood conflicts in hopes of offering you guidance and healing.
Anger and Acting out
Anger is an emotion that does not always have to be acted upon. For example, we can become angry but not express our anger outwardly. Acting out our aggression often goes hand in hand with anger; however, not everyone who is angry will be aggressive, and not every aggressive behavior is fueled by anger.
Can Anger Be a Positive Emotion?
Our society views anger as a negative emotion. Therefore, we often do not want to address it or feel guilty addressing it, but can anger become a healthy outlet when addressed appropriately?
Anger becomes harmful when you don’t regard it as a signal to correct the underlying problem. You let the anger fester until you dislike your feelings, yourself, and the person who caused you to feel this way.
It bubbles to the surface in the form of aggression. Unaddressed anger can fester and create more significant problems such as depression, anxiety, aggression, and broken relationships. Emotions, even anger, serve a purpose.
Healthy anger forces you to fix the problem initially because you’re not going to let your behavior go uncorrected. Secondly, because you don’t want your anger to turn into aggression, this is helpful anger.
Recognizing your anger and addressing the underlying triggers are the first steps to working through your anger and resolving any negative feelings and thoughts associated with the anger.
Anger can potentially be a positive emotion when we use it to solve problems and recognize conflicts. It is important to accept our anger as a normal emotion, and instead of acting on it in negative ways, we learn to express it in healthy manners, so we do not have to carry it around like a heavyweight.
Expressing our anger in healthy manners means that we take time to breathe, work through our emotions, and develop healthy solutions.
This may mean writing down our thoughts, setting boundaries and limits before becoming angry, recognizing any unresolved conflict or underlying ideas, forming a plan, talking to friends and family about our emotions, and going to therapy.
Get Advice From the The Verywell Mind Podcast
Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how you can learn to tolerate uncomfortable emotions.
Think Before We Act
Despite the popular idea that we need to “express” our anger so that it doesn’t eat away at us, we need to be cautious about “expressing” anger “at” another individual.
Expressing our anger at another person is not constructive. Expressing our anger while angry makes us angrier and can make the other person hurt and afraid, so they get angrier, and this does not help anyone.
Instead of solving anything, this deepens the rift in the relationship. Therefore, the answer is always to calm down first. Then consider the more profound “message” of the anger before making decisions about what to say and do.
90,000 Anger is normal (but you still have to work with it)
Psychoanalytically oriented psychologists are sure that our relationship with anger comes from childhood. All adults were once young, they experienced anger and somehow learned to cope with it, and then … However, let’s start in order.
Let’s say a baby is born. He is surrounded by love, care and is in symbiosis with his mother. The first six months is the state when he actually considers his mother to be his continuation. A very close bond is essential for the infant to survive.
Having matured a little, the child is still convinced: the mother exists only to feed, warm, and entertain. But is it? Of course not. Over time, the needs of the mother become more and more vividly, who needs to go to the toilet, wash her hair, go to the store, and sometimes just sit with a cup of tea. Sometimes a mother is not ready to give her child love and care because she is tired, and this is completely normal.
Alas, at this moment the child is frustrated. He feels that his needs are not being met in the way he is used to and begins to get angry.At the peak of his emotions, the child realizes the presence of a third person and understands that his mother is actually not his, but his own and his father’s. The kid is very worried about the inability to be with his mother entirely. This anger often remains unexpressed because “being angry is bad.”
The opposite situation also happens, but it also generates anger. If the family revolves around the child, he at the same time feels insanely important and very sick, that is, unable to take care of himself, inept, such that he needs to be monitored, controlled, and helped all the time.This situation is also subject to aggression.
All this happens between the ages of 4 and 6. At the same time, the child has fantasies and fears: a monster is hiding under the bed, witches fly outside the window, the darkness is just waiting to pounce from behind the cabinet door … During this period, the child may begin to masturbate to cope with anxiety, or becomes aggressive in the nursery garden. All his activity is aimed at coping with emotions. It is quite difficult, and as a result, children’s feelings are forced into a symbolic “basement”, are placed under lock and key by the psyche.This means that in most cases the child ceases to remember them: childhood amnesia sets in.
And now a person grows up, builds a family, he has his own children – and his own feelings are still repressed, forgotten. However, it is with them that he and his partner have to deal.
Anger – Psychologist
Film “Anger Management”
Anger is targeted aggression through open direct pressure on a partner.The world is hostile.
Anger is usually expressed with an energetic powerful cry.
- Indignation – a burst of energy expressing strong feelings, active discontent, indignation and intense emotional protest. Outrage is surprise and rage. People use the word “indignation” to denote a variety of experiences: resentment and anger, envy and jealousy …
- Anger is a state when you want to kill everyone, ruin everything, destroy, destroy, take revenge.More politely, this is called anger.
- Resentment is an alternation of protest, blame, aggression and feelings of suffering, used to attract attention and pressure on a partner.
- Rage – An advanced degree of anger, an extreme form of anger.
What are we angry with?
Anger is triggered by a wide range of situations – those that a person evaluates as outrageous, ugly, terrible, inappropriate.
Meaning of Anger
Anger is done to induce fear, shame and submission.Anger tends to create negative motivation in the target person. At the same time, anger worsens the relationship.
How anger is done
Mimicry and plastic: an angry person is aggressive. The eyebrows are lowered and pulled together, there are vertical folds between the eyebrows. The upper eyelids are tense, the lower eyelids tense and raised. The mouth is closed, the lips are compressed. The jaw is bent forward, the movements are sharp, in order to capture space. The eyebrows are drawn together, the voice is usually raised or, on the contrary, ostentatiously quiet.
Internal text: Why are they all freaks scoffing! (option: this is unfair!)
Picture situation: The world is evil, but not very strong – it is not scary to fight with it. People are evil and disgusting.
Containment and release of anger
Is controlling anger harmful? Rather, yes, although not very harmful. See Emotion Suppression
Psychologist Carol Tavris, who wrote an entire book about anger, argues that venting our anger – something that many other psychologists call for – we usually only make the situation worse.In her rather thorough review of the literature, she argues that suppressed anger “does not lead in any predictable or consistent way to depression, stomach ulcers or high blood pressure, does not provoke” seizure “or heart attacks … what medical consequences if we feel in control of a situation that triggers anger, if we interpret anger as an expression of resentment that needs to be corrected, rather than an emotion that needs to be closed in ourselves if we feel loyalty to the work and people in our life “.
Is splashing anger harmful? It can be very harmful if you throw it out on those who caused your anger.
Dealing with anger
Anger is energy, and in some cases this energy can be used to benefit.
If anger is inappropriate and destructive, it is advisable to throw it out in a safe direction and breathe it out. There are many other ways to deal with anger. See Working with Anger
90,000 Where does anger come from and why is it needed?
Anger, anger and aggression are emotions that are very difficult to deal with.They are not approved in society, but no one can get rid of them. Very often these emotions turn out to be destructive both for the person himself and for those around him.
What happens when we get angry? Where does this feeling come from and what does it tell us? Any emotions experienced by a person arise for a reason, there is always something behind them and they signal a certain situation. What does anger tell us? To figure this out, we’ll take a look at Emotion Pitcher .
Outward manifestations of aggression such as fights, screaming, tears, tantrums, insults, etc. pour out of this jug. Underneath these outward manifestations are emotions of anger, anger and aggression. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Feelings such as pain, resentment and fear heat up these emotions. Why exactly are they? It’s very simple: anger arises in a situation of threat, biologically, anger is a defensive reaction. If the threat is real, physical, then fear arises. When the threat is subjective and directed not at the physical state of a person, but at his personality, resentment and pain arise.
Let’s take an example : the husband does not return from work for a long time and the wife starts to get angry with him. What’s behind her anger? It may be resentment or fear for the husband, or it may be fear for the relationship (if she suspects him of infidelity). Or another example: an older brother attacks a younger brother, whom, as he thinks, his parents love more. For him, the threat is to lose the love of his parents, because of this, he has feelings such as fear and resentment, which he expresses in aggression directed at his younger brother.
But fear, resentment and pain are also not the root cause of anger. Let’s take a deeper look: where do these emotions come from? Similar feelings arise when one or more of a person’s needs are not being met. There are many of these needs: the need for love, acceptance, respect, affection, freedom, self-realization, etc. If one or more needs are blocked, we experience pain, fear, and resentment.
Let’s look at a wife who is waiting for her husband from work and is angry. What needs are blocked from her? It can be assumed that these are needs for respect, love, attention.You can also refer to the situation of the older brother, his unfulfilled needs are the needs for affection, attention, love, care.
In fact, unfulfilled needs are behind ANY manifestation of aggression. One can argue with this, but if you analyze any situation in life, you will see that it is so.
But even behind these needs lies another layer – these are the basic needs of any person. We have these needs from the very beginning of life, any baby has them, and these needs sound like this: “I am Good”, “I am Loved”, “I can” and the most important one is “I AM!”.These needs lie behind everyone else, their satisfaction or dissatisfaction has a huge impact on the human psyche: on his self-esteem, self-acceptance, his fears, blocks, his attitude to other people and the world as a whole. The basic need “I AM!” can be deciphered as the need to acknowledge that I am alive, I exist – it is this need that makes the baby cry when he is left alone. We constantly need confirmation that we are alive. The most destructive behavior is not screaming or anger, as is commonly believed, but ignoring.Because it is ignorance that blocks the need “I AM!” While the parent is yelling at his child, he sees him. But when the parent starts to ignore him, the child perceives it as that he is not there for the parent and it is difficult to imagine what could be worse than that.
Let’s now turn to our examples. For a wife who is waiting for her husband from work, the basic need is blocked: “I AM!”. Without warning his wife that he will be late and not taking into account her feelings, he ignores her as a person – and this is where anger begins.The older brother, who was the only child in the family before the younger, now receives less attention from the parents – and this also blocks his basic need. It can be assumed that there are situations in the family when parents are completely carried away by their younger brother (due to another prank or illness) and do not pay attention to the older child, thereby ignoring him and not satisfying the need “I AM!”
So behind any manifestation of aggression, anger and anger is actually an ignored need “I AM!”
I have a little more prablima,.I grab a knife and buy
Emotional intelligence: how to learn to understand your own and other people’s emotions
Emotional intelligence is twice as important as hard skills and IQ for career success. Together with Viktoria Shimanskaya, Doctor of Psychology, we will tell you where emotions come from, how to manage them and better understand other people
About the expert: Viktoria Shimanskaya – Doctor of Psychology, lecturer at MGIMO, MIP, expert on the development of emotional intelligence.Author of the book “Communication” for adolescents, co-founder of the flexible skills development project SKILLFOLIO. The author of the first Russian patented method for the development of emotional intelligence.
What is emotional intelligence and why is it important
Emotional Intelligence (or Emotional Quotient) is the ability to recognize and manage emotions, intentions, motivation, desires for oneself and others. The skill helps to solve practical problems and achieve the set goals in life and at work.People with developed emotional intelligence are able to negotiate with other people, make decisions and respond correctly to negative situations.
Through emotions we react to events, words and circumstances. If they are not understood, what is happening will be distorted. For example, at work you were reprimanded, and you began to argue and conflict. As a result, this will lead to neuroses, apathy and other depressive conditions. At the same time, depression does not go away quickly: in 15-39% of people, it lasts more than a year.
An emotionally intelligent person responds to causes, not actions or emotions. This helps him to correctly perceive criticism, understand other people and respond to them with an adequate response.
What is emotional intelligence and how it will help your career
The concept of emotional intelligence became popular after the publication of the book of the same name by science journalist Daniel Goleman in 1995.According to Goleman’s research, people with higher emotional intelligence have better mental health, work efficiency, and leadership skills. At the same time, 67% of leadership abilities are attributed to emotional intelligence. It is twice as important as technical knowledge and IQ.
This is confirmed by a study by Egon Zehnder. They analyzed 515 senior executives and found that people with high emotional intelligence were more likely to succeed. Carnegie Institute of Technology reported that 85% of our financial success is related to emotional intelligence, leadership, and communication.Only 15% depend on technical knowledge. Flexible human skills, closely related to emotional intelligence, are the most important skills in the present and in the future.
How emotional intelligence works
Let’s analyze the model presented by the EQ-factor laboratory under the leadership of Nicholas Corot and Victoria Shimanskaya in 2014. It clearly shows the coefficients that form the intellectual-emotional profile of a person – IEPP.
Emotional intelligence does not exist separately from intelligence, it is not its opposite.Emotional IQ and IQ cannot be separated from each other. Moreover, if the EQ is not developed, the person will not have a high IQ.
To develop emotional intelligence, you need to focus on four drivers: mindfulness, self-esteem, motivation, and adaptability. The development of each of the drivers forms the development of the corresponding emotional-intellectual strategy.
- Awareness. Includes awareness of your thoughts, feelings and behavior.Develops the “Philosophers” strategy. Philosophers learn quickly and accumulate knowledge, but they find it difficult to move from theory to practice and translate knowledge into real skills.
- Self-assessment. Includes acceptance, the ability to be independent of external judgments and opinions, a positive perception of the world, and decisiveness. Helps to master the “Stars” strategy. Such people are confident, but tend to speak to impress. Stars run the risk of staying at the “experience” level if they don’t pump the drivers of awareness and motivation.
- Motivation. Includes openness to new things, goal-setting, the experience of failure, the desire for self-actualization. Helps to master the strategy of “Heroes”. The heroes enjoy self-development and achievements, therefore they are constantly improving and I can lead people. Heroes run the risk of burnout quickly if they don’t understand the reasons for their work.
- Adaptability. Includes empathy, stress tolerance, decision making and communication skills. Develops the “Leaders” strategy.Such people are stress-resistant, empathic and hardworking, but they are prone to impostor syndrome. This is a cognitive bias, when a person considers himself to be a cheater and does not attribute achievements to his qualities and skills.
Emotional intelligence is a kind of base of the personality pyramid. The larger the volume of this pyramid, the more opportunities and influence a person can have on his life, the life of other people and the world as a whole.
All four profiles have the same perspective. To build an effective life strategy, you need to understand your strong drivers and pay attention to the weak. In conjunction with the vector of intelligence IQ, emotional intelligence forms the life strategy of the “Creators”. It helps to realize a person’s potential and reach the highest level of self-realization.
How to develop emotional intelligence
Honesty and correct assessment of one’s behavior are key factors for the development of EQ, says Viktoria Shimanskaya, Doctor of Psychology and an expert on the development of emotional intelligence.
Honesty. To test your honesty, do a simple exercise – write down three personality traits on paper that you don’t like about yourself. For example, I wake up late, I am lazy and I get annoyed easily. According to the first principle of the concept of emotional intelligence, there is a positive intention in every action we take. Think about why you wake up late and what kind of positive intention lies behind this action. For example, because you get very tired at work and worry about a new project.
Psychologist and author of Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goleman is trying to figure out why we don’t show compassion more often and how it will change our lives
Behavior Assessment. It is difficult to answer the question of why we behave this way in a particular situation. But the honest answer comes from reaction on three levels: meaning, body, and emotion – this is the second paradigm in the concept of emotional intelligence. If you change the reaction at one of these levels, the rest will change. For example, you’re doing a good job, but you’ve realized that customers don’t come back because you don’t know how to communicate with them. Because of this, you are annoyed, but the awareness of this thing will give a state of insight at the level of meaning.At the level of the body, there will be relaxation and the feeling “as if a mountain fell from the shoulders.” At the level of emotions, it will become easier. You have found the true cause of the anger and irritation, even though it is difficult to admit.
Tools for the development of emotional intelligence
There are four components to the development of emotional intelligence. Self-awareness and self-control help to work with oneself, and social competence and relationship management build strong relationships with others.
The development of emotional intelligence should begin with the awareness of what is happening to you.You need to learn to separate yourself and emotions, imagine them as a separate phenomenon and look at it from the outside. Emotions are your reaction to what is happening around you. They change along with changes in external circumstances, so remember: you are your emotions. The ability to separate emotion from yourself will help you assess the situation, make a decision and respond correctly.
For example, at the edge of a cliff, you realize that you are scared and will move away. In this case, fear will save your life. But in negotiations with an important client, he will interfere with collecting thoughts and focusing on the result.Having realized this, you need to push fear aside and move on.
Mark Williams and Denny Penman define emotions in their book Mindfulness: “They are bundles of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and impulses.All elements interact with each other and can enhance or inhibit the overall mood. ”
Any emotion can be accepted or rejected. At the same time, you cannot suppress emotions. This will lead to neuroses and dissatisfaction with life.
Practice: Draw a scale from 0 to 10 on paper. Mark the level of fear on it, for example, 7 bars. Now increase the level to 9 and then decrease to 5. Try to understand your feelings and experience the emotion. Reduce fear by 2 or 3 more divisions, and get down to the business you feared.This is the essence of emotion management.
If you are aware of and know how to separate the emotion from yourself, you will be able to control and correctly manifest it. This skill is especially important for leaders. To control an emotion, it must be expressed and spoken out loud.
Practice: Learn to speak the language of emotions. Use a three-part phrase:
I feel …
I would like to…
For example, I’m upset and angry because I didn’t have time to prepare a presentation for a new client. I would like us to make it together, because the client is important to the company. Formulate some negative and positive emotions using this formula.
Nonviolent communication methods can help you learn to express your feelings. Exercise, over time it will become a habit. You will change your speech and reaction to many events.
- Social competence
Social competence helps to see the essence and reason of what is happening and not get involved in emotional battles.Make more accurate and balanced decisions. To do this, you need to learn to understand what is behind the behavior of another person. This will prevent 90% of conflicts.
Your own or another person’s reaction can be decomposed into meaning, action and intention.This will help to correctly interpret emotions and react to them.
Your own or another person’s reaction can be decomposed into meaning, action and intention.This will help to correctly interpret emotions and react to them.
In dealing with people, do not react to actions and words, but the intentions and reasons that lie behind them. Any reaction and behavior can be decomposed into three components:
Intention – meaning, true reason. A person may or may not be aware of his intention, but it will always be positive.For example, a manager yelled at you because he was worried about the results of the project.
Action is how a person realizes a reason. It can be positive and constructive or negative and destructive. For example, you may insult a man in response to inappropriate behavior, or explain your attitude and offer to behave differently.
The value is how you give meaning to the action. It can be positive or negative.For example, you asked a colleague a question and he did not answer. Positive meaning – the colleague did not hear the question, negative – he does not respect you.
Practice: Recall a few conflict situations and try to decompose them according to this formula. Find positive intentions in your meanings and actions.
- Relationship Management
The quadrant of emotions will help you to define the emotional state, use it or change it.It is a coordinate system from 0 to 10 along each axis. Below is the level of mood and pleasure – gray and green squares. Above are the level of energy and physical well-being – orange and yellow squares.
The Emotions Quadrant helps you determine which emotional state is dominant in you or your employees in order to channel energy and mood for good.
The Emotions Quadrant helps you determine which emotional state is dominant in you or your employees in order to channel energy and mood for good.
How it works.For example, you haven’t made a presentation for a new client and you are worried about it. Rate the mood level at 3 points. At the same time, you still have a lot of strength, so the energy level will be 7 points. This puts you in the red “worried” square. In this state, it is better to engage in active work that does not require an emotional mood: cleaning the house, taking out the trash, preparing food.
In the green square, you are in a good mood, but low on energy. In this case, learn new things: immerse yourself in a project or task, gather information.Do things that don’t require physical activity.
In the yellow square, mood and energy are at their maximum. This is a good brainstorming opportunity. Come up with new ideas and projects, mix formats and look for other solutions to common problems.
The blue square has little energy and no mood. Here you should look for errors and shortcomings. Analyze how you can improve your daily routine and think about what else you can work on.
The Quadrant of Emotions will help you direct free resources to the right tasks.You will be able to correctly prioritize and give clear instructions to employees.
How to determine the level of development of emotional intelligence?
The author of the book “Emotional Intelligence in Practice” Justin Bariso identifies 13 criteria for a developed EQ:
Become aware of your feelings and emotions.
Pause before speaking or acting.
Strive to control your thoughts and reactions to emotions.
Use criticism as an opportunity to improve.
Stick to your values and principles.
Know how to sympathize.
Praise and inspire others.
Provide useful feedback.
Apologize and acknowledge mistakes.
Forgiving and forgetting.
Meeting your commitments.
Protecting yourself from emotional sabotage.
Victoria Shimanskaya adds one universal, but subjective criterion – the degree of satisfaction with one’s own life. In EQ, your own feeling is more important than the indicator of skill development. If you have been unable to ask for a raise for several years or are terribly angry when you clean your apartment – take a closer look at work with your emotions.
How to deal with difficulties and apply it in life
The hardest part of developing emotional intelligence is getting started. It is not clear at what point the experience appears, which allows you to further develop your EQ skills. Begin to listen carefully to yourself and catch emotion: to call, to be aware, to reflect, to listen to your feelings. Without this exercise, no books will get you any closer to feeling happiness, overcoming fears, curbing anger, and other challenges we want to accomplish through managing our emotions.
Emotional intelligence lives at the junction of meanings and the body. Only by linking knowledge with physical sensations, you can turn it on and adjust your emotional apparatus. This means that our way is to work out the bundle of body and consciousness. To do – to fix, to feel – to comprehend.
To develop emotional intelligence
- Learn to be aware of your emotions and name them. Say out loud how you feel.
- Accept emotions and try to live them without harming yourself and others.
- Learn to separate emotions from yourself. You are always more than one emotion.
- Look for and understand the cause of the emotion.
- Align your emotions with your current life purpose. Think about how they can help you and use them to your advantage.
- Try applying the EQ instruments to other people.
- Undergo special diagnostics to determine the level of development of emotional intelligence. Choose trainings, courses, books that will help you better pump your skill.
90,000 A psychological support service for men has been launched in Russia
“… If you do not have the strength to constantly struggle with financial difficulties, if you find it difficult to control your aggression, if you feel constant anger or anger, a desire to hit another person, call us .. . “. The first free psychological assistance service for men has been launched in Russia. The authors of the project, the founders of the “TyNeOdna” Women’s Mutual Aid Network, are sure that the stronger sex can also count on the support of specialists.
On the first day, the men’s hotline received only two calls.
But the organizers hope that the men will overcome themselves and dare to tell the professionals about their problems.
Natalia Shchankina, psychologist, head of the project “Not Hot Lines” told “RG” that initially the project “TyNeOdna” was created for women victims of abuse.
“But the problem of violence is a common problem,” Natalya is sure. “By helping women and children, we cannot exclude the men with whom they live.Men often experience psychological violence from women, not to mention bullying in the army, harassment, bullying at work, etc. And all these men have nowhere to turn. There are no specialized centers for psychological assistance for men in Russia.
Evgeny Loshak, co-founder of the network of mutual assistance for women “TyNeOdna”, admits that at school age the psychologist seemed to him and his classmates something terrible.
“At the same time, I never understood: why some people (for example, girls) should show their feelings in one way, and other people (for example, boys) do it differently,” he says.Evgeny had to seek professional help at a mature age and this decision, according to him, was the most correct one.
– Talking about your emotions and problems is not a shame for a man either, – Evgeny is convinced.
According to Natalia Shchankina, during the pandemic it became obvious that people need psychological help more than ever. So, in addition to the hotline for women, a support service for men appeared. According to the organizers, two psychologists are currently working on the men’s hotline.You can throw out the painful one in one call, but, if necessary, specialists will provide regular assistance. You can also call one specific psychologist-specialist so that he better understands the situation.
Do we need a male helpline?
Andrey Yurevich, psychologist, deputy director of the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences:
– Of course, you need it. Unfortunately, our society is characterized by a “closed” psychological culture. It is generally accepted in our country that only weaklings have psychological problems, and a real man should not have them; if such problems do arise, they should be solved with the help of friends and strong drinks, and not with the help of psychologists, who are only suitable for abnormal ones; etc.All these idiotic stereotypes apply more to men than women. Despite all these idiotic stereotypes, a man in modern society has no less psychological burden, and there are specific male psychological problems. It is customary to conduct conversations on this topic from the standpoint of protecting a woman – they say that she is fragile, defenseless, especially sensitive to psychological stress, etc. But all this is largely characteristic of men. However, I also belong to the male sex, and my eulogy to men, for sure, will be perceived by someone as male chauvinism.We often say that the aggressor in the family is a man. But this “aggressor” exists among other aggressors – in the person of his boss, and often his subordinates, as regrettable as it may seem, his wife or other woman, and this places a heavy burden on his nervous system. There are plenty of other examples showing that the male psychological service is needed and will be in great demand. It is only important that this service is staffed with real professionals.
If you need help
The psychological support service for men works from 9:00 to 21:00 Moscow time, phone: 8 800 101 65 47.
What is passive aggression, how to recognize it and what to do
“I could have guessed for myself”, “Everything is all right, nothing happened”, “Now everything is clear to me” – everyone has heard harmless phrases that sound like a reproach. Afisha Daily asked a psychologist what passive aggression is and whether it can be resisted.
psychologist, instagram @lovetrening
What is passive aggression?
Passive aggression is a tendency to indirectly express hostility through actions such as implicit insults, sullen behavior, stubbornness, or refusal to comply with requests. In Western practice, this behavior is also called toxic .
The term “passive aggression” was coined by the military psychiatrist and US Colonel William Menninger during World War II. He was faced with the fact that the soldiers refused to follow orders, were suppressed and often offended, but he attributed this to nervousness and military routine.
Aggression was actively studied by psychologist Sigmund Freud and Frederick Perls – the founder of the popular gestalt therapy today. Freud believed that passive aggression is the result of the fact that consciousness displaces anger as a bad emotion into the unconscious.And Perls compared this process to digestion: in order to internalize new emotions and experiences, we need to “process” them as food. That is, to show aggression. And if you suppress it, it will negatively affect the human psyche.
Perhaps this comparison is too controversial, but modern psychology agrees: if it is forbidden to show aggression openly, most likely, a person will do it passively . This is why passive aggression most often manifests itself in working relationships, because a person cannot express complaints to his superiors.And he just starts to sabotage the work. This behavior is often found in interpersonal relationships, when one of the partners is an authoritarian figure, and it is difficult to argue with her.
Most often at the beginning you will not even suspect that you are communicating with a passive aggressor. Such a person will never tell you directly that something is wrong, but will harass you for a long time and slowly: “My dear, good, guess yourself.” How, you haven’t learned to read his mind yet ?! Well, yes, of course, he knew that no one gave a damn about how he felt.
And if you react with anger, it will only cause the passive-aggressive person to defend themselves, make excuses, or deny any responsibility. He may repeatedly declare that he is fine, even when in fact he is not. By denying what he is feeling and refusing to be emotionally open, such a person often stops further communication and refuses to discuss the problem.
How to understand that a person is showing latent aggression?
There are many classifications.From personal practice, I can distinguish the following signs of passive-aggressive behavior.
Passive aggressors cannot refuse you and do not openly go into conflict. If such a person does not like something, he will never admit it. Otherwise, he will no longer be able to justify his behavior. He will agree with everything, but will do exactly the opposite. And leave you hidden signs so that you can guess yourself that you are misbehaving.Say something like: “Do this, you know everything better than anyone else, but you don’t pay attention to my interests …” a real monster. Therefore, he keeps everything to himself.
They hide their feelings. If you ask such a person what happened, most likely he will answer that everything is in order, excellent and delightful, and in such a voice that it will immediately become clear: the person is in trouble.But getting through to him is very difficult.
The passive aggressor likes to play silent. You yourself have to suffer and guess what you did wrong. The aggressor can completely ignore you, refuse to answer any question, not even acknowledge your presence.
He also wants you to lose your temper. Then he will say with a clear conscience: “Do as you know” – and accuses you of provoking a conflict.
A passive-aggressive person often leaves work incomplete or nearly complete. He is often late and is adept at sabotaging others when he disagrees with his role in a company or romantic relationship.
He also likes to “accidentally” insult. For example, you are submitting a report to your boss. He reads it and tells you that you did a good job (compliment), but then adds that the report was “almost as good as Lena’s” (mild insult).
The passive aggressor likes to be gloomy. For example, a person might respond to your innocent comment with a sharp negative. A sullen person won’t smile even when a coworker is joking and everyone else in the office laughs out loud.
He is stubborn. A person is stubborn only because he knows it will annoy you or someone else.
A Guide to Emotional Intelligence in the Real World by human resources specialist Justin Bariso shows the behavior patterns of passive aggressors. Here’s how they get it:
Avoid you. By agreeing with you, such a person avoids you as much as possible.
Offended. We’ve all seen this behavior in children, but many adults do it too. When a person does not achieve his goal, he suddenly becomes sad and bitter, immediately “sucking” joy from any room he enters.
Allegedly forget about you. Such people may claim to have “forgotten” the request when in fact they weren’t even going to help you.
Do something by half. Instead of not doing the task at all, the person does it, but does it casually or effortlessly.
They say taunts all the time. A person very often uses sarcasm and inappropriate humor to undermine your sense of self-confidence.
Separately, it should be said about the relationship between parents and children. Parents can also boycott their children as punishment, and this is a very harmful practice. The child may not even guess what he did wrong, but mom or dad meet him from school with an angry face, are rude, do not pay attention.
The child is looking for what he did wrong, loses contact with his parents. If grandparents, sisters and brothers join the boycott, things will get even worse.One of the options for this behavior is to talk to the child, but vividly ignore the other parent. In this case, the child’s basic concepts of the family are violated.
Guide to trauma: how unpleasant events from childhood spoil adult life
Trauma guide: how unpleasant childhood events spoil adulthood
Why do people behave passively aggressively?
Psychologists and psychiatrists still do not understand whether passive aggression can be considered a permanent property of character or is it just a reaction to some kind of stimulus, and we all behave like that from time to time.In the American Diagnostic Directory of Mental Disorders, passive aggression is listed as a “disorder requiring further study.”
Recent research suggests that there are several major factors that can cause passive-aggressive behavior.
Situation. When a person falls into a framework where the manifestation of aggression is unacceptable from a social point of view, he can become a passive aggressor.For example, in business or family relationships.
Selection. Everything is simple here: it is easier to behave this way than to be assertive and emotionally open. When standing up for yourself is difficult or even scary, passive aggression may seem like an easier way to deal with your emotions without facing the source of your anger directly.
Education. Researchers cite childhood as the most common cause of passive-aggressive behavior. Aggressors often grow up in families where direct expression of emotions is discouraged or prohibited. For any objection, the child is told that he did not deserve what he has, does not understand what he is talking about, and so on. They make it clear in every possible way that he is bad. The child trusts his parents and grows up with a sincere conviction that he is wrong. And he begins to subconsciously sabotage relationships with parents, colleagues or partners, while remaining white and fluffy in appearance.
How to resist passive aggression?
Recent research shows that there are effective ways to counter passive aggression. But this is not easy to do.
The reality is that a passive aggressor is more likely to deny his anger. If that’s the case, a good strategy is to take a step back and give the person some time to sort out their feelings. And then try to help him. This is exactly the recommendation given by American psychologists in the book Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-Aggressive Behavior in the Family, School, and Work.
To do this, be sure to clearly state your feelings and expectations. If you suspect you know a specific reason for the aggression, ask if this is what bothers the person, as if you were talking to a child, “Are you mad at me for asking you to clean up your office?” If he denies, agree, but proceed carefully with the discussion. Take the initiative, apologize if you understand that you have offended the person, and ask what you can do to improve the situation.
The most important thing is not to try to respond to the aggressor with the same methods.This will only irritate him. Do exactly what he is most afraid of – talk about your feelings. Do not deceive yourself that everything is normal and that this behavior of another person is an accident. Tell him bluntly and clearly that this is unacceptable for you, and in return, offer a respectful format of relations where you can express anger, but more carefully.
What if I recognized myself in this text?
First of all, you need to recognize the problem. This is the first step towards awareness.And then – practice. Here are some guidelines:
Allow yourself to get angry. Even if you get into an open conflict, sometimes it is better than accumulating anger in yourself for a long time.
Talk about your grievances. Saving them is not an option. To expect that everything will return to normal by itself – too.Yes, let you tell your husband about dirty socks in the bathroom for the thousandth time, but if you don’t talk about it at all, nothing will ever change.
Honestly answer the question what exactly pisses you off. At first glance, your partner just didn’t take out the trash, but in reality, you cannot forgive him of his past relationship. Passive-aggressive behavior sometimes occurs because you don’t understand why you are upset or how you feel.Start paying attention to how you react to different people and situations.
Do not cheat yourself and do not mix conflicts. A quarrel with a child is one thing, but accusing his father of neglect right there is quite another. Consider each situation that triggered your anger separately.
Give yourself time. Recognizing that you are acting like a passive bully is a good first step to change. But changing behavior is not easy, and it will definitely take some time.
Practice expressing emotions. Tell the coffee seller that it looks good. Laugh out loud in the movies. Dance at your friends’ wedding. Understanding your emotions and being able to properly express your feelings is an important step towards ending passive-aggressive behavior.
90,000 What is anger?
“Anger is a bestial passion in mood, capable of repeating itself often, cruel and unyielding in strength, serving as the cause of murder, an ally of misfortune, an accomplice of harm and dishonor,” the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle described one of the fundamental human emotions. And after all, a really angry person, being in a state of passion, can do anything: harm, maim and even kill.True, this aggression quickly fades away, and the body regains balance. But why does anger arise, and how to deal with it? Read on in today’s article.
“Murder of working girls”
It all happened on a hot August afternoon in 1963. On this day, Richard Robles, heroin lover and robber by vocation, recently released from prison where he was serving his sentence for more than a hundred burglaries , in the end I decided on one more.
Robles chose an apartment in New York’s wealthy Upper East Side, which was home to two young women: Janice Wiley, who collected materials for Newsweek magazine, and Emily Hoffert, who worked as an elementary school teacher.By the way, one was 21 years old, and the other – 23. The robber was sure that no one was at home, but he was mistaken, at that moment Janice was in the apartment. Threatening with a knife, Robles tied her up. As he was about to leave, Emily returned home. To get away without hindrance, the attacker had to tie her up too. While Robles tied Emily up, Janice threatened him that he would not get away with this crime, because she remembered his face and would definitely help the police track him down and catch him.
Then something terrible happened …
It turns out that before the crime the robber swore to himself that it would be the last in his life.This time, he desperately needed money for his girlfriend and their three-year-old daughter. Therefore, hearing Janice’s threats, the man got scared, panicked and lost control of himself. In a rage, he grabbed a bottle of soda and began to beat the woman until she lost consciousness, and then, unconscious of rage and fear, he slashed them both with a kitchen knife. Twenty years later, already in prison for the double murder, which became known as the “murder of working girls,” Robles ruefully declared: “It was as if I was blown away then, I was just like insane.”
Why does anger arise? A Scientific Explanation by an American Psychologist
“These emotional outbursts represent an explosion of gangsterism from the nerves. At such moments, obviously, some center in the limbic system of the brain (responsible for pleasure, addiction and behavior – approx. Ed. ) declares a state of emergency, mobilizing the rest of the brain to solve its pressing issues, “- this is how the American psychologist explained the emergence of anger , author of the book “Emotional Intelligence” Daniel Goleman.
This “certain center” in the limbic system of the brain is called the amygdala, and similar “gangster attacks of nerves” originate in it.
By the way, humans have two amygdala: one on each side of the brain. First of all, they are great experts in the field of emotions, in particular, if the amygdala is disconnected from the rest of the brain systems, then the individual loses the ability to assess the emotional significance of events – experts call this phenomenon affective, or emotional blindness.
It turns out that the amygdala is to blame for the fact that we are sometimes “blown away”?
So yes. In Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman describes an incident in Boston. The young woman raced for two hours in a car to see her lover and spend the day with him. When they finally met in a cafe, he gave her a long-awaited gift – a hard-to-find art engraving brought from Spain. Her enthusiasm vanished immediately after the guy refused to go with her to the cinema after dinner, saying that he had other plans for that day.The insulted girl immediately ran out of the cafe and, succumbing to an instant impulse, threw the engraving into the trash bin. After some time, she admitted that she regretted not parting with the young man, but about the loss of the engraving.
The “gangster attack of the nerves” described by Goleman does happen instantly. At this moment, a person cannot do anything with himself. However, once this crazy surge of emotions passes, the one who seemed possessed cannot understand what happened to him.In such situations, feel free to blame your amygdala, it is it that gives the impulsive feeling to suppress the voice of reason.
“The amygdala has an extensive network of neural connections at its disposal that allows it – in the event of an emotional breakdown – to capture and activate most of the rest of the brain, including the rational mind,” says the psychologist, drawing on research from a neurologist at the Center for Neurology New -York University Joseph Ledoux.
The amygdala, as a psychological sentry, is always on guard.It reacts to any alarming situation and, like a nerve wiring, telegraphs a message about a critical moment to all parts of the brain.
Can anger be managed?
Anger, like all other human emotions, will never disappear from our lives. But it is possible to learn how to manage a “gangster attack of nerves”. There are several simple ways that psychologists and psychotherapists have developed that can help protect yourself from sudden outbursts of rage.
The first method is to learn to listen to yourself.Anger never just arises. As a rule, he always has a harbinger. They may be in a bad mood or feeling well. If you’re having a bad day and are not in the mood for normal communication, it’s best not to start conversations at all. And if, nevertheless, the dialogue cannot be avoided, and the feeling of inner seething and anger towards the interlocutor increases, then in this case there are several options for the development of events:
– a change of topic, perhaps it is it that awakens negative emotions;
– even easier, end the conversation.
The second way to deal with anger is to rest. Unfortunately, the modern pace of life rarely leaves time to sleep. However, find an extra hour or two a week for this. Fatigue can also trigger an outburst.
Another interesting option for controlling anger is recommended by psychologists. So, you managed to restrain yourself and not break into the interlocutor. Now you need to urgently retire, take a piece of paper and write a letter to the person who caused a violent negative reaction in you.Write whatever you feel. According to experts, the more rage there is on paper, the calmer it will be in the soul. Then this letter simply needs to be burned.
And, of course, physical activity is considered to be truly the best method that will help to cope with anger. It has been proven many times that sports have a great effect on the nervous system. Yoga, fitness, or any other physical activity is best calming.
Sometimes there is no time left for sports.