Category Archives: Anger

Traumatic Victimization In Childhood And The ‘Cascade Of Impairment.’

We have already seen from numerous other articles that I have published on this site that if, as children, we experienced traumatic victimization, particularly chronic victimization (e.g. physical abuse or being exposed to domestic violence) by a parent or significant other responsible for our care and protection we may develop long-lasting problems that (without effective therapy) may extend well into adulthood (e.g. in the form of complex PTSD, addictions, relationship problems, anxiety, depression, suicidality and inability to control emotions – this last example is sometimes referred to as ‘emotional dysregulation‘).

It may also lead to the development of conditions that may manifest themselves in childhood such as oppositional defiant disorder, difficulties controlling aggressive impulses and severe emotional disturbance.

Some children suffering in this way may sometimes appear callous and unconcerned about the feelings of others though this can often be explained by the necessary defence mechanisms they have unconsciously developed, such as emotional numbing and detachment, to protect themselves from being completely psychologically crushed.


According to Patterson (1993) children who develop oppositional defiant disorder (which can be marked by symptoms such as open hostility, overt aggression, extreme negativity, defiance, suspicious resentment and chronic indifference) and other problems controlling intense aggressive impulses can inadvertently trigger a CASCADE OF IMPAIRMENT for themselves that can potentially ruin their lives (one worst-case scenario is getting in serious trouble with the law in late adolescence or adulthood).

The ‘cascade of impairment’ refers to a vicious circle whereby the child’s defiance and aggressive behaviour has the effect of alienating others and increasing the likelihood that they will avoid the child or act negatively towards him in other ways. This, in turn, is likely to increase the child’s view of himself as being unlovable / disliked/rejected/ostracized / ‘intrinsically bad.’

This negative self-view may well then cause the child to feel yet more emotional hurt and distress, and, not understanding or being able to articulate the true source of his problems, he is liable to express this mental anguish through even more intense outbursts of anger and aggression. (Indeed, it is theorized that one function of anger is to ease emotional pain).

Furthermore, feeling rejected by society, he may well start to identify with peers who also perceive themselves to have become ‘social pariahs’ and, together, they may form what effectively come to be seen as a ‘gang of social outcasts’ who reinforce one another’s negative views, start rebelling against ‘mainstream society’ and begin indulging in delinquent behaviour which can quickly escalate to serious levels; such behaviour then becomes ‘normalized’ within their group, thus lowering further their remaining inhibitions about behaving in such a way and leading to further trouble for both themselves and for others.

Furthermore, once the child is firmly ensconced within such a group of rebels his problems may be further increased by a lack of appropriate supervision and also of positive social role-models.

Patterson’s (1993) research identified boys who, by the time that they reached grade 4, had developed serious problems in relation to their school studies and their interpersonal relationships with peers.

These same boys were followed up over a 5 year period and were found to develop a cascade of problems (as referred to above) relating to social, emotional and behavioural aspects of their lives, including the following :

  • lack of adult supervision
  • failure to abide by ‘curfews
  • severe depression
  • problems with the law
  • becoming part of ‘delinquent gangs’
  • truancy

Whilst the above research focused on boys, girls who develop oppositional defiant disorder have been found to be more likely to internalize (as opposed to externalize, as boys are more likely to do) their accompanying psychological problems leading to conditions such as anxiety, depression, irritability, somatization, eating disorders, self-devaluation, suicidal ideation, truancy and avoidance of parents and teachers.


Therapies for young people suffering from serious problems such as those referred to above include :

  1. EMDR
  2. Trauma-Focused Treatment Groups
  3. Cognitive Processing Therapy
  4. Motivation-Adaptive-Skills-Trauma-Resolution (MASTR).



eBook :


Above eBook now available for instant download from Amazon. Click here to view further details.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).


BPD And Resolving Conflict With Others

If we suffered severe and chronic childhood trauma, particularly if, as a result, we have gone on to develop borderline personality disorder, it is likely that, without appropriate therapy, we frequently find ourselves in heated conflict with others, especially those others to whom we are emotionally attached such as partners or family members.

Indeed, one of the hallmarks symptoms of BPD is the experiencing of difficulties with interpersonal relationships.

We may have relationship problems for a variety of reasons that include :

And, when a relationship ends, sufferers of BPD are liable to take it particularly hard, especially if rejected in such a way as to trigger reminders of childhood rejection (on either a conscious or unconscious level). Indeed, the emotional pain of such rejection can be as excruciating as severe physical pain.

Because of the frequent ‘love-hate’ relationships BPD sufferers are prone to creating, the nature of the conflict between the sufferer and his / her partner tends to be cyclical and the first step is to become aware of the cycle and recognize its futility and destructiveness.

We also need to recognize the damage it is doing to our relationship ; conflict leaves both us and the person with whom we are in conflict feeling bad. Indeed, following outbursts of anger and rage, BPD sufferers tend to experience overwhelming feelings of profound shame. So, in essence, everyone loses and the relationship is undermined (and is likely to collapse altogether in the absence of effective, remedial action being taken).

Once we have become aware of this destructive cycle, we next need to make a definite commitment to trying our best to break it.

Obviously, though, if one has had a long history of getting into high conflict situations with others, the process of change is likely to take time and cannot, of course, be expected to work instantaneously ; one needs to learn and practice new social skills until they, in an ideal situation, become ‘second-nature’ and there will inevitably be setbacks along the way, paricularly when one is under intense stress, is deliberately provoked or is facing rejection.

Of course, each individual will have their own set of personal triggers which put them at high risk of entering into conflict with another so the next step is to try to IDENTIFY SUCH TRIGGERS.

Not letting potential triggers set off undesirable behaviors also entails controlling impulsivity ; you can read my previously published article entitled : Control Impulsive Behavior by clicking here. Also, you may wish to read my articles : Impulse Control : Study Showing Its Vital Importance and Childhood Trauma And The Development Of Impulse Control Disorders.

Once triggers have been identified, the next step is to rehearse in the mind how one will respond in such a way as not to create conflict or in a way that de-escalates any conflict that already exists. Using visualization techniques to aid mental rehearsal of one’s new, positive ways of dealing with situations that would have previously led to conflict can be particularly effective.

In his excellent book : The High Conflict Couple : A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide To Finding Peace, Intimacy And Validation (see image below to view on Amazon), Fruzzetti PhD endorses the above techniques and suggests using the acronym SET to help us to remember more constructive ways of dealing with conflict than we may used in the past ; SET stands for utilizing sympathy, empathy and truthfulness.

Assertiveness training can also help to ensure that a gentler approach to dealing with potential conflict does not lead to being taken advantage of.


Fruzzetti PhD’s Book :

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma And Its Link To Adult Chronic Pain.


The rehabilitation specialist, Dr John Sarno (Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University, theorized that a significant amount of chronic pain reported to doctors is connected to repressed rage, often stemming from a traumatic childhood. In other words, he believed that, often, pain is a physical manifestation of underlying, deeply rooted emotional and psychological problems (it is also theorized that pent up anger and rage towards one’s parents, and then redirected inwardly against oneself, is sometimes a predominant cause of depression).

He also believed that the way to treat such pain was to explain to the patient and get him/her to understand and acceptt its genuine origin.

In particular, Sarno believed that individuals who were at especially high risk of developing this kind of psychosomatic chronic pain (N.B. just because some pain is psychosomatic, as opposed to being caused by, say, physical injury, does not imply its debilitating effects upon the individual are less serious) were adults who were prone to ‘perfectionism‘ and ‘workaholism’ due to their dysfunctional, unpredictable childhoods over which they were forever striving to gain a semblance of control.


Based on this theory, Sarno was able to successfully treat many patients who suffered from chronic back pain. However, it should be noted that these successfully treated patients were pre-assessed to ascertain that they were suitable candidates for treatment. Sarno’s treatment method consisted of him giving his patients three lectures about what he believed to be the psychological causes of their condition.

Sarno is credited by some contemporary pain specialists (Sarno’s work dates all the way back to the 1960s) as being as an important figure in as far as he encouraged further research into the mind-body connection which has led to the much greater understanding we have of its authenticity today.


Other research shows that those who suffer from depression also often suffer from chronic, physical pain as well and it has been hypothesized that this is no mere coincidence, but can be explained in terms of the brain sharing circuitry which processes both physical pain and psychological/social pain. It is further hypothesized that this neurological circuitry can become damaged in a way that causes pain, whether due to physical injury or socially-related psychological factors such as rejection and abandonment, to continue long after its initial cause has passed. and become chronic. 

Both types of pain (i.e. physical and social/psychological) are associated with systemic inflammation and both are also associated with childhood abuse and childhood neglect, although genes and temperament may also be relevant.





David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Depression : Anger Towards Parents Turned Inward?

The idea that depression is the result of our anger towards others (such as our parents) who have hurt and betrayed being turned inwards towards ourselves is usually thought to originate from the theories of Sigmund Freud, 1856 -1939 (who discussed the concept in his paper entitled ‘Mourning And Melancholia‘), although it is more likely to derive from the work of the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) who, a few decades earlier during the 1880s, wrote that ‘no one blames themselves without the secret wish for vengeance’.

And, more recently, Horney (1885 – 1852) proposed that depression originates from having parents who lack warmth or are hostile, inconsistent and preoccupied with their own needs rather than with those of their children. This negative parental treatment leads to the child developing feelings of anger and resentment towards the parent. However, because the child is dependent upon his / her parents, s/he cannot risk expressing these angry and resentful feelings and so represses them (this repression may also be driven by feelings of guilt about resenting his / her parents, by fear of the consequences of openly expressing anger towards them, or by conflicting feelings of love for them – in relation to the latter, you may wish to read my previously published article : Why Children Idealize Their Parents). This process takes place on a largely unconscious level, of course.

However, rather than dissipate away, these feeling of anger and resentment are REDIRECTED TOWARDS THE SELF. This negative energy then combines with the child’s feelings of his / her own impotence, the negative attitude of his / her parents towards him / her, and a sense of his / her own feelings of hostility, to cause the young person to create a self-concept of being someone to be ‘despised’ (in relation to this you may wish to read my previously published articles : Childhood Trauma Leading To Self-Hatred And Intense Self-Criticism’ and How The Child’s View Of View Of Their Own ‘Badness’ Is Perpetuated.’)

According to Horney, however, at the same time, the child simultaneously develops the compensatory concept of an ‘idealized’ self which is unrealistic and unobtainable, no matter how hard the child / later adult attempts to realize it.

However, in a desperate need to compensate for the ‘despised’ self, the child / later adult develops an insatiable and all-consuming, neurotic need to achieve this ideal state, even though s / he is not consciously aware of the origins of this need. This intense, neurotic need may manifest itself in various ways including perfectionism, an overwhelming need to be loved and admired by everyone (e.g. by becoming famous), or to be omnipotent.

Needless to say, living up to these standards is impossible and the inevitable failure to do so, according to Horney, generates feelings of self-hate. Indeed, the anger associated with these feelings may become so deeply entrenched and buried within the body that the result is psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches and back ache, representing an unconscious, masochistic need to punish oneself.

Anger turned inwards against the self and self-hatred clearly suggests an utter absence of self-compassion which is why compassion-focused therapy may be helpful for some who find themselves trapped in this self-lacerating, masochistic frame of mind, whilst Horney recommended psychoanalytic psychotherapy.


Develop Self Compassion | Self Hypnosis Downloads

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Theories Of Cause Of Anger And Borderline Personality Disorder

causes of anger

As we have seen from numerous other articles that I have published on this site, those who suffered significant and chronic childhood trauma are at much-increased risk of developing borderline personality disorder (BPD) in their adult lives compared to those who were fortunate enough to grow up in relatively stable, non-threatening, loving and nurturing families.

And, as we have also seen, one of the most common and predominant features of BPD is intense feelings of rage and anger which are difficult to control, particularly in stressful situations (even situations which others may perceive as non-stressful or only very mildly stressful).


Theories Relating To Anger :

There are various theories which seek to cast light upon the origins of such feelings of aggression; four main such theories are as follows :

  • psychoanalytic theory
  • behavioural theory
  • cognitive theory
  • neurobiological theory

Let’s briefly look at each of these in turn :



Early psychoanalytic theorists attributed the source of anger in the child to deep feelings of frustration caused by not having their fundamental needs met (including unsatisfactory breast-feeding).


The psychoanalyst, Otto Kernberg (b. 1929), who carried out important early research into the borderline personality, was one of the first to suggest that temperament (individual differences in personal traits that are biologically / genetically based and relatively independent of the influence of learning) may play a significant role in the development of the adult BPD sufferer’s propensity to be easily moved to feelings and expressions of intense anger. Kernberg referred to those with such temperaments as possessing ‘an excessive nature of primary aggression.’



Linehan, an expert in borderline personality disorder (BPD) who devised the therapy for the condition known as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), proposes the idea that aggression in BPD sufferers has its roots in the individual growing up in an ‘emotionally withholding environment‘ thus thwarting the child’s need to have his/her fundamental emotional needs met.



According to cognitive theory, one of the main functions of anger is to operate as a defense (a defence which has been unconsciously learned in early life to protect one in a threatening environment) against real or imagined exploitation (e.g. because a parent has used,,  taken advantage of  and manipulated the individual as a child).



PET (positron emission tomography) scans have revealed that those individuals who have significant problems in connection with their feelings of anger and have histories of aggressive behavior can show abnormalities in the brain region known as the LIMBIC SYSTEM, or, more specifically, in the amygdala and hypothalamus (these are both sub-components of the limbic system) as well as abnormalities in the brain’s prefrontal cortex).


Various research studies have also revealed that impulsive aggressiveness in individuals with BPD is associated with abnormally low levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in the brain.


Anger Management Hypnosis | Self Hypnosis Downloads

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Why A ‘Love-Hate’ Relationship Develops Between The Abusive Parent And The Child


If we were significantly maltreated by our parent/s when we were children, we may well, as a psychological defence against the intolerable dilemma this put us in, have unconsciously developed a ‘love-hate’ relationship with them.

In such cases, feelings of love and hate for the parent are compartmentalised/separated because the state of mind required to both love and hate the parent simultaneously is an impossible, contradictory and paradoxical concept that the child does not have the emotional resources to materialise.

Therefore, to allow an emotional attachment with the parent develop that will allow his/her (i.e. the child’s) psychological survival, the child has no choice but to hold the feelings of love and hate for the parent in ‘separate mental compartments’). This leads the child to perceive his parents in terms of black and white’ rather than in ‘shades of grey’. Indeed, this was a psychological defence I unconsciously developed as a result of my own childhood experiences, vacillating between idealizing my parents and demonising them. It is only now that I understand more completely why this occurred that I am able, I hope, to hold a somewhat more balanced view (although, admittedly, I still don’t always succeed in this; however, the psychological warfare, borne of profound, emotional conflict, that rages on is, these days, restricted to the confines of my still grievously injured, but recovering, mind).


Anger Turned Inwards :

Often, the anger and hatred that the child feels towards the parent may, as another psychological defence, be turned INWARDS, leading to the child experiencing self-hatred and self-loathing ; this defence mechanism occurs when the child perceives (on a conscious or unconscious level) that feelings and expressions of anger and hatred towards the parent would lead to the him/her (i.e. the child) being put in danger (e.g. liable to incur severe psychological and/or physical damage). And, as Freud pointed out, anger turned inwards may lead to severe depression (as well as numerous other undesirable psychological conditions).

Goal Of Therapy :

According to this theory, in order to help the individual overcome his/her love-hate conflict, it is necessary for the therapist to help him/her to integrate the two ‘separate compartments’ of his/her mind (i.e. the ‘compartment’ that holds feelings of love for the parent needs to be combined with the ‘compartment’ that holds feelings of hatred for, and resentment of, the parent) so that s/he may start to see his/her parent, more realistically, in ‘shades of grey’ rather than in terms of either ‘black’ or ‘white'(See above). Individuals, too, are likely to require help with understanding how and why their negative feelings towards the parent have arisen and why such feelings may have been hitherto largely repressed/dissociated.

This is usually a long process and often does not occur until near the end of the course of therapy.

eBook :








Above eBook now available on Amazon. Click here for details. (Other titles available).

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).


How To Get Unwanted Emotions Under Control



‘I don’t want to be at the mercy of mt emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.’

Oscar Wilde

Emotional Dysregulation

We have seen that significant, protracted childhood trauma, particularly if it leads us to develop borderline personality disorder or complex post-traumatic stress disorder, can result in us having extreme difficulty knowing how to control emotions, such as anger and anxiety, as adults : in psychological terms, we are at risk of developing emotional dysregulation.

Sometimes, intense emotions become so painful that, as a defence mechanism, we shut our these feelings down (we may do this deliberately by using alcohol and drugs, or it might happen automatically – in the latter case we are said to be dissociating).


Some people try to keep their emotions ‘buried’ (suppressed). There can be several reasons for this, including:

– growing up in a household in which any display of emotions and feelings was considered a sign of weakness or ‘not the done thing.’

– being in an occupation in which exhibitions of emotions are not encouraged e.g.police, military

– fear of losing respect

– fear of losing control


However, keeping feelings and emotions buried takes up large amounts of mental energy and means they tend to be kept simmering beneath the surface, building up pressure and ready to explode.

And, very often, the emotion of anger is the one that is nearest to the surface, and therefore the one that is most frequently experienced and expressed.

HOWEVER, anger very often conceals, and has its primary roots in, the fundamental emotions of FEAR and HURT.

So, very often, when we express anger, what we are really expressing is this fear and hurt; to put it concisely :


Acknowledging Our True, Authentic Feelings And Having The Courage To Express Them:

It is therefore necessary to become aware of the real feelings behind our anger, feelings that are likely to be intensely painful and that we have preferred not to acknowledge (or even not allowed ourselves to become consciously aware of) and to start the process of expressing them, understanding their origins, working through them and resolving them (ideally with a highly trained, professional therapist).

By getting in touch with our feelings beneath our anger, and working through them therapeutically, we can reduce or overcome outbursts of rage, self-destructive behaviour and bodily complaints such as fatigue.

If we do not get in touch with feelings such as hurt and fear (completely normal emotions that everyone experiences to one degree or another), but instead keep them ‘locked out’ and ‘buried’, we pay the very high price of not being able to get in touch with, experience or express positive emotions, such as happiness and joy, too. We aim to feel comfortable with all our feelings and to channel them constructively.

How To Control Emotions :

To control our emotions, we can apply specific skills, such as:

– learning to identify what we are feeling and linguistically label our emotions, e.g. ‘anger’, ‘fear’ etc – when we verbally name our feelings and describe them in spoken (or, indeed, written) language we are more likely to be able to control them and are less likely to act them out.

– acknowledge and accept emotions nonjudgmentally (as taught through mindfulness).

– change our thinking. Our feelings are connected to our thinking processes – consider trying cognitive therapy which can help retrain our thinking style and which, in turn, can lead to much improved emotional experiences.

Control Anger Pack (Download or CD). Click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)