I have been asked, “Can anger be addictive?” After working with individuals one-on-one in counseling and in groups, I have to say it absolutely can be. It is important to know what type of anger you tend to experience—the the types those around you may experience—in order to deal with anger efficiently and, dare I say, wisely.
The twelve types of anger are very distinct, but some do have overlapping commonalities and qualities that make them appear similar. To break them down into their common components, here is a look at each anger type.
1. Resistant and passive anger:
These individuals believe that all anger is wrong or bad. They avoid conflict like the plague. They were told as children (or taught through actions) that all anger is unacceptable. These people bottle up their emotions and keep everything inside. They are prone to physical and mental illness.
2. Internet/tech rage:
Have you ever noticed that some people are especially prone to respond strongly to slow Internet speed or social media interactions? They may even go online seeking quarrels. Interestingly, this is also common in texting addictions which often also lead to anger issues.
3. Addictive anger:
Anger becomes addictive when it involves significant adrenaline rushes, which the individual comes to depend upon, psychologically and/or physically. This type of anger provides a sense of strength and courage. Interestingly, individuals who possess this anger type are often interested in—or engage in—violent media (TV, movies, video games and sports).
4. Petrified anger:
This anger is largely based on holding grudges and refusing to forgive. Individuals are reluctant to let their anger go. Instead they keep vendettas against others.
5. Compressive anger:
Individuals with this type of anger are walking time bombs. They have a hairline trigger, waiting to be ignited and set off. Once angry, it spirals out of control and they cannot contain it.
This type of anger stems from childhood. It is largely based on abandonment and loss, often times parental divorce, or feeling a sense of rejection. One’s anger evolves to the need to possess—and even own others—This can lead to "stalking."
7. Road rage:
Did you know that one of the main factors in road rage is speeding? It is often caused by traffic congestion and feeling trapped. Interestingly, people who feel "disrespected" while driving (others following too close, cutting one off or making unplanned road changes) can develop this rage.
8. Conflictual anger:
Individuals with this anger type continually look to create strife, cause disagreements or argue. They prepare and plan in advance to disagree with others. They often lack self-esteem, and may possess what is called an inflamed ego.
9. Habitual anger:
With this type, individuals come to need the feeling of anger as a release. Anger is extremely normal to them and they embrace it! They do not know any other way for feeling and dealing with things. Interestingly, there is a long line of "anger" in their family lineage.
10. Passive aggression:
This anger type is largely based on the premise, “I don’t get mad, I get even!” People with this kind of anger are sneaky about it. They lack social skills and problem-solving abilities. They almost never get what they want in life.
11. Moralistic anger:
This anger is largely based on extremism and fundamentalism, even a sense of "entitlement." These individuals need to be right and powerful and superior to others. It is a hallmark of racism, prejudice, sexism and hatred.
12. Manipulative anger:
These people use their anger to manipulate others. They use childish power plays such as threats, crying, pouting or screaming.
So, what can you do about it?
To first understand, identify and work with one’s own anger, or the anger of another, one has to own the feeling, “What are you truly feeling?”
Next you need to ask, “Why are you feeling this way?” This means uncovering the underlying thoughts that are leading to these feelings.
There are a host of wonderful methods for changing how you express your own anger, or dealing with others around you who are anger that I discuss in my book. Several of the most accessible methods are these:
1. Try The Big Adios:
Learn when and how to walk away from a potentially bad situation. Remember, you could do more harm than good if you choose to remain in your current situation. If you are the explosive or aggressive type, if your anger lands you in trouble with the law, your boss or your family, then “exit stage left” is probably the best option for you.
2. Create permanent reminders:
Keep constant reminders, both visual and verbal. I encourage you to write down on one side of paper your fears (in regard to anger), and on the other side something which makes you feel good (a loved one/child), or something spiritually motivating, and have it laminated on a card. Remember, for this to work it has to be something which touches your heart and mind. It has to motivate you.
3. Shift your perspective:
Learn how to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It can change the dynamics of a situation or relationship for the better very quickly. Reflective listening skills are at the heart of perspective and can often de-escalate conflict and confrontations before they get out of hand. This approach works in anger-management because when you focus on the intention of words spoken, your mind no longer has time to dwell on confrontational and aggressive responses
4. Own your feelings:
Taking ownership and feeling in control can make a world of difference. If you choose to own your emotions, no one can control you. In fact, you start to gain better control over your own thought process.
5. Stay present:
You need to learn that you can only control the here and now. Keeping your emotions in the present state is paramount when you are involved with people who have wronged you in the past. Reliving the affronting situation in your mind only gets the juices flowing, the pulse racing and the angry thoughts recurring all over again. You need to stop this if you are ever going to move on.
6. Try parroting:
This is a fun and sneaky way to take a harsh situation and lighten it, even making others laugh instead of getting angrier. Parroting works just as it suggests. You repeat the same thing over and over again until you get what you want. You are not hurting, harming or threatening anyone. In fact, you are basically asserting your intention on the other person and leaving it up to them to respond. This approach works remarkably well if you are a parent having difficulty getting your kids to listen to you.
The key thing to always remember is that no one can make you angry unless you allow them. You are in control of your emotions—even when it doesn't feel like it.
Peter Andrew Sacco, PhD, is the author of many books and more than 800 magazine articles, Sacco is an award-winning lecturer at universities in both the USA and Canada, specializing in relationships, criminal psychology, addictions, and mental health. He is also a frequent resident expert on several television programs and appears regularly as a guest expert on many news talk radio shows in the USA (FOX, ABC, CBS, Iheart, Coast To Coast, etc.), as well as hosting the weekly radio show “Matters of the Mind: Managing Relationships and Mental Health.” He is also an award-winning executive producer and host of documentaries on relationships, psychological issues and child issues. You can learn more about him, or download free books at www.petersacco.com or www.bullyingisforthebirds.com.