John R Rifkin, Ph.D.
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Helpful Articles on Anger

Anger Styles: Red Hot or Aggressive Anger

While all forms of anger are appropriate to use in some circumstances, the more extreme kinds can be problematic if they form a style, or a typical kind of response to injury. Mental health is about having a full range of options, knowing when particular type of response is likely to be most effective and being able to use your anger appropriately.

Aggressive anger is one of the more destructive interpersonal styles. This is what people think about when they normally use the word anger. Aggressive anger is characterized by angry outbursts and what is known as having a bad temper. People who have difficulty containing their anger get into trouble, in their marriages, at work and out in the world as well. It is destructive to intimate relationships, since partners of people who have aggressive anger as their style, intimidate others. Frequently you will intimidate others even when you don't mean to. It's hard for the people who love you to feel safe. If you have children, you are probably in danger of damaging them through your angry style.

The good news is that there's nothing wrong with your anger. The problem is what you are doing with it. Anger is meant to fix what is hurting you, and if you are overwhelmed by your anger, you probably don't understand that it is likely that you have an accumulation of injuries. If your response to a relatively minor injury results in an outburst, likely you've got old injuries from the past, adding to the pain you experience from the more minor upsetting events day to day.

Another possibility is that you may be suffering from a mood disorder. Both Major Depression and Bipolar Disorder can cause irritability. Also, another problem to be aware of is alcohol. If you have a problem with alcohol, it can cause irritability as well. If you think you are suffering from any of these problems, I recommend that you seek professional help as soon as possible.

Lets go back to the good news, which is that nothing is wrong with your anger. You will need to learn to be able to work to bring it under control. You need to learn what is hurting you and causing you to have so much anger. There are ways to release and ventilate anger that will not hurt you, or anyone else. The more you can learn to use the energy from you anger to empower you, to nurture you and attend to the injuries that are causing it, the more the angry outbursts will recede. The pressure will come off, but it may take a concerted effort. Don't give up. It's difficult to change your anger style, but the energy of your anger is meant to fix what is hurting you. Keep trying!

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