All emotions help us navigate our way through life. Anger is no different. When expressed in a constructive, non-hostile manner, anger can lead to positive outcomes. For example, it has been shown that anger can motivate volunteers as much as sympathy. Similarly, it has been shown that expressing anger is linked with better health in some cultures.
Dahlen and Martin (2005) stated that “it appears that the tendency to suppress one’s anger may be more damaging to social support than aggressive anger expression”. Which again suggests that it is not helpful to push the feelings of anger aside.
We can conclude that anger protects us. It warns us that our rights are being violated, and/or there is something we need to address in our lives. It moves us to express important feelings, identify problems and redress concerns.
However, When expressed in a hostile and aggressive way or when one is angry all the time, anger can have problematic consequences, such as for a Korean Air Executive who lost her job. It can be associated with health issues, problems with wounds healing and reduced self-esteem, educational and occupational difficulties, and dysfunctional interpersonal and family relationships. 1 4.
Aggression, extreme hostility and violence do not work; you damage relationships and hurt yourself. Dealing with anger constructively, managing anger, not supressing it is important.
Eric Dahlen and Ryan Martin of The University of Southern Mississippi found in their 2005 study that attempts to relax, calm down, and reduce angry feelings before they get out of control were associated with increased perception of social support. Similarly, they reported that anger suppression was associated with perceptions of reduced social support, availability of material aid, supportive others with whom to discuss one’s problems, and potential persons with whom to share activities.
Neuroeconomist Jordan Silberman describes a simple visual feedback system that allows people to exercise and improve their everyday ability to exact self-control. . This may be useful to implement skills to manage angry feelings and increase your feelings of social support, helping you to feel better.
Jerry Deffenbacher of Colorado State University 3 states that the best way to treat anger is by using cognitive behavioural therapy methods. These include: Becoming aware of your thoughts and altering unhelpful thoughts, practicing relaxation, and specific behavioural change strategies. Similarly, a 2004 meta analysis by Tamara Del Vecchio and Daniel O’Leary 4 of Stony Brook University, found that altering unhelpful thoughts (a cognitive technique) was the most helpful technique to mange anxiety.
The Centre for Clinical Interventions has some self-help documentation based on cognitive behavioural therapy methods that may help you to deal with anger.
Talking to a counsellor about difficulties with anger and treatments available may help.
To manage an immediate difficulty with anger a number of services are available via telephone. There are also a number of websites with furhter information
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Mensline 1300 78 99 78
- Directline 1800 888 236 (if Drug & alcohol related anger)
The American Psychological Association (APA) webpage Controlling Anger – Before It Controls You
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) Managing your anger tip sheet
Reach Out All about Anger webpage
Reach Out Anger Management webpage
No To Violence, Male Family Violence Prevention Association website.
The Men’s Referral Service (MRS) provides anonymous and confidential telephone counselling, information and referrals to men to help them take action to stop using violent and controlling behaviour.
- Anger motivates volunteers as much as sympathy
- Expressing anger linked with better health in some cultures
- People who suppress anger are more likely to become violent when drunk
- Outbursts of anger linked to greater risk of heart attacks and strokes
- The Influence of Anger Expression on Wound Healing
1 Dahlen, E.R & Martin, R, (2005) The experience, expression, and control of anger in perceived social support. Personality and Individual Differences, 39 (2), 391-401.
2 Deffenbacher, J.L; Oetting, E. & DiGiuseppe, R. (2002). Principles of empirically supported interventions applied to anger management. The Counseling Psychologist . 30, 262-280, doi:10.1177/0011000002302004
3 Deffenbacher, J.L. (2011). Cognitive-behavioral conceptualization and treatment of anger. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 18 (2), 212-221, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpra.2009.12.004.
4 Del Vecchio, T. & O'Leary, K.D. (2004) Effectiveness of anger treatments for specific anger problems: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 24 (1), 15–34.
Van Kleef, G.A.; Côté, S. (2007). Expressing anger in conflict: When it helps and when it hurts. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(6), Nov 2007, 1557-1569. http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1037/0021-9010.92.6.1557
Wright, S., Day, A.D., Howells, K. (2009). Mindfulness and the treatment of anger problems. Aggression and Violent Behavior. 14 (5), 396-401.