Anger vs. Aggression

anger man7Many people mistakenly believe that someone with anger management problems is physically violent.  Actually, many people who have never been physically aggressive have anger management problems.  Any anger problem can benefit from anger management classes. It is the cost of anger to yourself and others that will determine your need for help.

Keep in mind that since anger is an emotion, it is not necessarily problematic in itself.  However, anger does occur along a continuum of feeling that can be mild, moderate or severe. It is important to decide where your anger fits on that continuum.   Additionally, the frequency of anger is an important factor in considering whether anger is problematic or not. It is the level of stress you experience, your ability to do effective stress management and the consequences of poor stress management that determine whether anger management classes are appropriate for you.

Culturally, we have many ways to describe anger management problems that can confuse the issue when you are trying to decide if anger management classes are appropriate.  For example, you might think about your current situation as “feeling upset”, “irritated”, “overwhelmed” or “frustrated”.  You might believe that if others would change or be more reasonable, you would feel better.  You might think a change in environment is the solution.  Focusing on the environment and others may be confusing the issue, too.

Many people with anger problems do not want to think of themselves as having problematic anger.  Often, again, this is because many equate anger problems with “being out of control”, being violent and harming others in serious and physical ways.   However, chronic feelings of anger are problematic in themselves.  Chronic anger, however “mild” is often directed toward others in verbal outbursts, sarcasm, criticism, and communication styles that are ineffective.  Nonphysical anger can sabotage employment and relationships and create health problems.

Verbal anger is typically experienced by others as verbal abuse and can cause mental, emotional and psychological harm.  In the workplace, verbal anger can be viewed as harassment and/or creating a toxic work environment.  In fact, verbal anger alone can be considered a form of mental, emotional and psychological violence.  Individuals with chronic feelings of anger are likely to interact with others in ways that are mentally, emotionally and psychologically abusive.  Even passivity, or avoidance, can impact others in abusive ways.  Passive aggression in relationships, for example, punishes others without obvious displays of verbal or physical aggression.  Passive expressions of anger can also be harassing such as the intentional failure to fulfill commitments and job responsibilities, for example. Such behavior is considered problematic workplace anger.

Problematic anger can cover a wide range of behavior.  However it is manifested, however, it remains problematic—for others who are involved with the person who has anger management issues as well as for the individual who has them.

For additional information about anger control skills visit or call 713-477-9105.

Gregory A. Kyles, LPC, CEAP, PHR, CAMF
Anger Management & Domestic Violence Institute of Texas

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