“The Rage Within”

“The Rage Within”

Guidelines For Managing Anger

We can agree that most of us have experienced anger.  Some of us have cringed under the rage in our families when growing up, struggled with it in ourselves, or felt it toward our friends.  Some have shocked others with volcanoes of anger.  However, rage is not just a personal enemy.  Evidence abounds that we live in a mad, mad, mad, mad world today!   Research on anger within the United States (Hoy & Griffin, 2012) indicates that:

  • 23% admit they openly express their anger
  • 39% say the hold anger in or hide it
  • 23% say they walk away from the situation
  • 23% confess to having hit someone in anger
  • 17% admit they have destroyed the property of someone who made them mad

What is Anger?

Anger is defined as an aversive emotional state, a mood or trait that ranges from annoyance to rage.  Dr. Raymond Novaco (1994), professor of psychology and longtime researcher at the University of California-Irvine, defined anger as “a negatively –toned emotion, subjectively experienced as an aroused state of antagonism toward someone or something perceived  to be a source of an aversive event” (p.330). Rage, on the other hand, is a violent, explosive, and uncontrollable type of anger.  Violence is an extreme form of aggression, such as assault, rape or murder.

7K0A0796So what are some causes for anger- especially uncontrollable anger leading to violence? Researchers have demonstrated key areas of anger provoking stimuli: interruption of goal-directed behavior; experiencing personal degradation; being treated unfairly; being the object of dishonesty or broken promises; having one’s authority or feelings being disregarded; being ignored or treated badly; and being the object of verbal or physical assault.

Perception of a threatening/activating event can lead to heightened anxiety and fear.  Extreme, rigid or biased appraisals of events frequently prime the individual for overreaction.  Anger, combined with a hostile attitude and hot self-talk, frequently results in aggression and violence.   Hostile people are ready for a fight, often stubborn, impatient, hotheaded or have an “attitude”.

The List of Triggers For Anger Is Voluminous

Anger is an emotional response to a perceived or tangible threat.  Many triggers are external, but some originate as internal cognitive messages.  Precipitating factors include: stress, conflict, negative self-talk and self-evaluations, irrational beliefs (entitlement, conditional assumptions, and control), skill deficits, cognitive distortions, impulsivity, substance use/abuse, diet, hormones, disrespect, injustice, brain injury, physical conditions, mental health and personality disorders, having a criminal mind-set, and more.

Once anger is triggered, there is a physiological response.  When the brain judges an event as potentially threatening, this activates the fight/flight response which heightens breathing, heart rate, pupil dilation, and muscle tone- all occurring within seconds.

Then an adrenaline-fueled  hormonal surge kicks in lasting approximately  30 minutes, where calm reasoning is often compromised because these messages bypass the cerebral cortex (thinking part of the brain) and move straight to the limbic system (feeling part of the brain).  This process needs to be interrupted in order for anger arousal to be curtailed (Hoy & Griffin, 2012).

What Forms Can Anger Take?

Anger can be expressed in either harmful or helpful ways.  The news is replete with stories of how anger causes workplace violence, battering, abuse, road rage, “going postal”, verbal outbursts, aggression, assault and more.  As one adolescent put it,” The only thing they’ll understand is a fist in the face.”  Often, people believe aggressive force is the only option that has any meaningful effect.  Violence, then, becomes a common way of settling disputes.

People with hidden anger can explode, become depressed or self-destructive… as one person wrote: “My father was a very violent man; in turn, my brother is.  The thing about me is that I am incredibly angry and violent toward myself.”

Anger can be seen as an early warning signal that something is wrong or about to go wrong.  It can provide the energy to resist emotional or physical threats, mobilize resources to set appropriate limits and boundaries, and help one overcome the fear of asserting needs and facing conflict.  Anger, when managed appropriately, can be a powerful force for good. The principle here is that people can choose how to express their anger (Hoy& Griffin, 2012).

If you are still struggling to manage the anger within and want more guidance than call us today at 407-622-1770! Call to book an individual counseling session with our expert therapist or to register for our anger management workshop. It is possible to be free from the anger within!



DiGiuseppe, R.  & Tafrate, R.C. (2007). Understanding Anger Disorders.  New York: Oxford University Press.

Hoy, L. & Griffin T. (2012).  What’s good about Anger?  Putting Your Anger to work for Good. Oak Brook, IL: CounselCare Connection, P.C.

Mizell, L., Joint, M., & Connell, D. (1996). Aggressive Driving: Three Studies.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  Retrieved March 19, 2013 from https://www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/agdr3study.pdf.

Novaco, R.W. (1994).  Anger as a Risk Factor for Violence among the Mentally Disordered.  In  J. Monahan & H. Steadman (Eds.), Violence and Mental Disorder: Developments in Risk Assessments.   University of Chicago Press.

Pritchard, R. (2012). Keep Believing Ministries.  “Anger- A Warning for Hotheads.” Retrieved March 19, 2013 from http://www.keepbelieving.com/articles/2012-07-30-the ABCs-of-Wisdom-Building-Character-with Solomon-ANger/.



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  1. Hello

    Can you please let me know what are the schedules for 8 hour anger management class for this month and next month.

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