The Physiology of ‘ANGER State’ of ANGER
by Mario Bekes
When a person is in a state of ANGER, it can be mighty hard to relax and just snap out of the angry response or reaction. The adrenaline-caused arousal, this was released from the brain, response now impacted throughout the body which in many people can create the emotion of anger. This adrenaline-caused arousal may last many hours or even days. Or within this time frame, lowering our overall threshold, to flow further anger outbursts.
Throughout this adrenaline-caused arousal it can be easier for people to continue to gain the emotion of anger and be triggered by a wider range of triggers, this may repeat even again later. Eventually a person will calm down, this can take a rather long time to completely, return to our neutral or resting state.
One idea; can be exploring the ‘venting of anger’ a thought that venting anger can help reduce arousal? Venting verbally over areas that have made me feel anger in the past, will only restir and build that anger back to resurfacing. Out loud venting verbally, only fuels the physiological arousal response, increase to the heart rate, blood pressure rises. I only found it personally, to increase the arousal if using verbal venting methodologies.
To sit within neutral or resting state to keep calm, I found huge results to reduce the arousal; if I wrote down on paper what was creating the anger, that I held inside. And they all stated less arousal responses or reaction, through art therapies, painting, drawing, poetry and or writing. These areas created a wave of calmness, neutral and resting zone. When we occur moderate arousal levels to our brain, this will stimulate learning, enhance our memory, concentration and further our performance.
If we hit our optimum level of arousal, we go beyond this point pushing past normal limits (past the healthy range) now exceeding over arousal, it is more difficult for new memories to be formed. Our learning has slowed or stopped, concentration is rather poor or not existent, and performance has stopped. The arousal that creates the emotion of anger that provokes an immediate, response of a reaction, to a triggering of situational factors or events that have occurred.
Some of the problems with all arousal theories are that not all people are within the same categories.
Example one: A person with Dementia, having impairment to their thinking and memories, feeling frightened, confused, and overwhelmed.
Example two: A person affected from drugs or alcohol or both. Judgement and little self-control while these substances are in their system.
Example three: A victim of sexual assault or child abuse may hold deep rooted anger; from not feeling safe, not receiving any form of accountability and or justice. So, the arousal-loop is on a repeat cycle.
Compare and Contrast!
Theories of emotion, which have attempted to address how we experience ANGER…
- Averill’s theory basically states we experience emotions to fit our social constructs. That through social norms & social roles we have physiological reactions. Furthermore, stating emotions are ‘transitory social’ roles. Currently within Australia from our highest point of politics we have many crying out for change, out of anger to create new updated social norms. That within our social roles, various situations arise, that no situation is indefinitely locked into place. This enables a various range of actions occurring in our social norm and that will continue to evolve. Again, within Australia we review through Royal Commissions to create new laws and create new social norms to keep Human Rights in check, everything as we currently know it, is always evolving. Averill argued, that in everyday use of terminology that someone would not just state “I am going to hurt you”. As it is breaking all our social norms. However, if someone is angry, social norms may no longer apply. I dare you to just go and research some of the signs for the ‘March 4 JUSTICE’ that was in Melbourne on the 15th of March 2021. For many that attended this march 4 justice, there was pain and past suffering and anger, that was resurfacing. Some of the language on the signs were representation of held anger. Social norms were shifting as many in their masses over Australia were fighting for their Human Rights. Averill, believed that as a society we hold values and a way of thinking to distance ourselves from our emotions, to shirk responsibilities for our action. I view this methodology as outdated thinking and putting up the blinkers or looking the other way to shirk and hold little or no responsibilities or duty of care, therefore no bloody dam ACTION. This may have worked in the past to have less drama, less reporting and everyone trying to comply and keep their emotions in check, as that was the social norms. Through our social roles, and we have a huge shift in our social roles with gender equality, same sex marriages and LGBTIQ+ communities. Our emotions are acted to the arousal we can occur, this also is shown through facial expressions, but experienced through acting out our social roles.
- Lazarus’s Appraised Theory, a three-stage theory of emotion. One, covered an individual appraising a situation a need to decide whether there is a threat or not? Understanding if you answer yes, the arousal will heighten the response for action ‘fight or flight’. Two, they then employ a copping action to deal with the treat, this could be physiological, cognitive or both. This action may be unconscious and could include any of various defense mechanism, such a ‘fight, freeze or flight’ response. This is the greatest and most important sentence. The power to be able to identify, your emotions that you are experiencing and the power to know why? Unpacking emotions within your experiences and to understanding why you felt that emotion. The key to being able to let anger flow to the neutral or resting state. Averill’s theory I believe is now outdated while we watch social norms, spin on its head. Social conformity, acting as expected we have people in their influxes fighting against the once social norms. Lazarus’s Appraised Theory, I believe is pure gold. Factual, and timeless theory that can apply to past, current, and future generations.