Psychological or Internal Sources of Anger
Our internal sources of anger come from our irrational perceptions of reality. Four types of thinking that contribute to anger.
People who reason emotionally misinterpret normal events and things that other people say as being directly threatening to their needs and goals. People who use emotional reasoning tend to become irritated at something innocent that other people tell them because they perceive it as an attack on themselves. Emotional reasoning can lead to dysfunctional anger in the long run.
Low frustration tolerance
All people at some point have experienced a time where our tolerance for frustration was low. Stress-related anxiety can lowers people’s tolerance for frustration. People can also begin to perceive normal things as threats to their well-being or ego.
When people make demands, they see things as how they should be and not as they really are. This lowers their frustration tolerance because people who have unreasonable expectations expect others to act a certain way, or for uncontrollable events to behave in a predictable manner. When these things do not go their way, then anger and frustration set in.
People-rating is an anger-causing type of thinking where the person applies a derogatory label on someone else. Rating someone this way dehumanises them and makes it easier to focus anger on them.
(Adapted from Loo, 2011)
Some people develop an antisocial orientation, using anger to fuel aggressive behaviour for the purposes of intimidating others and manipulating situations for their own benefit. When this behaviour has the desired effect the perpetrator is reinforced and rewarded. For example, people who bully someone once and then find others respecting or fearing them more for their aggressive actions can become quite motivated to continue bullying. Aggression then gets used more and more because the perpetrator might find it helps raise their social status and position. The sense of power a person might derive by from using aggression and threats to get their way might also cover deep-seated insecurities and a sense of vulnerability.
Alternatively, some young people who have been victims of perpetrators of aggressive acts can develop a strong desire for revenge that can cause anger problems. Mills (2005) suggests that abused or wounded people may overgeneralise and seek revenge against an entire group of people, only some of who may have actually harmed them. To illustrate this revenge principle, Mills points to the sometimes aggressive prejudiced responses directed towards immigrants of Islamic faith by some in the broader Australian community.
Sociocultural or external sources
Increased frustration can be the result when people do not have sufficient resources to meet their basic needs and to fulfill their goals. Insufficient income and insecure housing, for example puts people under more stress and pressure, creating reasons to become irritated and frustrated. Some young people seeking help from AOD services can be prone to anger if they have difficulty accessing care in a timely way. In a different way, people in demanding jobs who are ‘time poor’ and struggling to keep on top of their responsibilities can become easily irritated and develop ongoing anger-related problems.
Anger can result from misunderstandings or poor communication between people. For example, arguments that provoke angry feelings can arise because a person’s values, goals, needs or opinions may conflict with those of someone else, or a person might not agree with, or understand what other people are saying or doing. People often feel that their anger is totally justified but this can clash with the views of others who have their own right to their view of the world. This can lead to conflict that fuels anger, particularly when a person has and an inability to find a balance between their own personal needs & the needs of others.
Unresolved arguments can lead to:
- Confusion and feelings of resentment
- Stress and tension
- Family breakdowns or poor relationships
- Aggression or violence.