Anger : a descriptive analysis of the definition, dynamics, physiology, maladaptive characteristics and educational applications
Murray, Ted Hugo
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Anger is a subject which is seldom discussed independently of other topics. Because of this there appears to exist no work which would enable helping professionals to understand and deal specifically with anger related problems. The purpose of this study is to define the basic dynamics of anger and to suggest a method by which educationally oriented helping professionals may deal with the emotion. Anger is defined as experiential emotional state which is characterized by a physiological arousal state. The arousal state is accompanied by cognitive desires to inflict harm (verbal or physical) on another person or object. Anger is seen as having six different causes which, the author defines as six different types of anger. The types of anger are: (1) Instinctive anger: A biological adaptive anger which stems from a well defined threat to one's property, life, or family; (2) Frustration anger: Anger which is the result of the frustration of an organism's goal oriented response; (3) Classically conditioned anger: Anger which is learned as a result of the classical conditioning process; (4) Operantly conditioned anger: Anger which is learned as a result of the organisms being reinforced for displays of anger; (5) Phenomenological anger: That anger which stems from a threat to the organization and maintenance of the phenomenal self; and (6) Existential anger: That anger which, arises as a result of the nonfulfillment of man's need to have his existence and worth in the world recognized by that world. Anger is examined as a maladaptive response in human interaction and functioning. Any behavior which prevents or interferes with the actualization of a person's potential as a human being is defined as maladaptive. Anger is seen as a primarily defensive reaction to a stress producing stimulus. The defensive nature of anger is viewed as maladaptive in the following respects: (a) the defensive nature of anger blocks communication; (b) it prevents conflict resolution; (c) it promotes destructive relationships; and (d) it establishes a potential for violence. Anger is also viewed as maladaptive in that the response does not deal with the factors which precipitate it. Rather, it focuses on eliminating the originator of the stimulus, thus creating a situation in which the anger will occur each time the stimulus is present. A methodology is suggested to aid the reader in coping with his anger and the anger of peers, clients, and students. The methodology for dealing with anger utilizes a descriptive process designed to bring about awareness of an individual's functioning in relation to anger.