We have seen from other articles published on this site that many forms of childhood abuse/trauma can put as at an increased risk of developing problems controlling our anger as adults, particularly if the abuse/trauma that we have suffered has been serious enough to result in us developing a serious psychological condition such as borderline personality disorder or complex posttraumatic stress disorder.
Steven Stosny, author of the excellent book Treating Attachment Disorder, proposes that the act of getting angry may function, at times, to reduce the level of psychological pain we are feeling (it is known that borderline personality disorder can cause intense mental suffering, even agony).
How Can Anger Alleviate Mental Suffering?
According to Stosny, anger may lessen mental suffering by the chemical changes it produces in the brain, in particular by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter called norepinephrine.
Stosny further states that the mental pain our anger may help to soothe is pain that is linked to our ‘core hurts‘ ; these are the painful feelings that we carry around with us that are linked to our childhood trauma / abuse and may include those of :
– powerlessness / helplessness (see my article about LEARNED HELPLESSNESS).
– being ‘unlovable‘
– being an ‘outcast’
Anger As A Kind Of Addictive Drug :
If, then, as Stosny suggests, the act of getting angry, by producing chemical changes in the brain that serve as a psychological analgesic (i.e. pain-killer / self-soothing agent), it is possible that, just as we can become addicted to other pain-killing drugs (such as morphine), some of us may become addicted to anger as a means of coping with unbearable mental anguish.
Any Benefit Of Anger Likely To Be Short-Term :
However, the possible analgesic effect of anger are likely to be ephemeral. This is because, after the initial boost of norepinephrine, we are likely to regret, and feel guilty about, our behavior and find that, in the longer term, it has merely served to compound our already not inconsiderable problems.
RELATED ARTICLE : THE EFFECT OF ANGER ON THE BRAIN AND BODY.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).