Anger is a normal human emotion. Aggression is a behavior, not an emotion. Aggressive behaviors can include throwing fists, objects, yelling, threatening, pounding tables, etc. Aggression can include other behaviors such as glaring at a person, pointing a finger at someone when speaking, rolling one’s eyes or audibly sighing when the other is speaking. Any of these behaviors can becoming harmful habits that can lead to problematic confrontations.
Anger usually emerges when individuals are dealing with uncomfortable feelings such as fear, shame, hurt, sadness, embarrassment, etc. It can become chronic and rooted in the belief that we are not understood, appreciated, loved or respected. Aggression can be a mask that conceals these uncomfortable feelings. Many individuals who struggle with aggression grew up in a home in which aggression was rewarded and accepted. For others, aggression may provide a sense of control, a rush of energy, or attention. It may allow individuals to get their needs meet temporarily. It can also be a way to manipulate others.
Aggressive behavior is not genetic. It is a learned behavior that can be unlearned. The longer individuals engage in aggressive behavior, the more ingrained it becomes. Unfortunately, aggressiveness can feel good. The adrenaline rush may release tension.
There are many negative consequences to aggressive behavior. Individuals who engage in chronically aggressive behavior alienate family and friends. Individuals with aggressive behavior burn bridges with people who no longer want to provide an audience to the problematic behavior. When the aggressive behavior is taken to an extreme, people may end up in jail, injure self or others, lose important relationships, are terminated from their jobs, etc. Emotional consequences can include guilt and shame, decreasing self-esteem that has been eroded. In addition, aggression can have physical ramifications. The fight or flight response evoked can wreak havoc by creating heart disease and hypertension.
Preventing relapse to aggressive behavior is as critical as preventing a relapse to drug use. Individuals should identify triggers to relapse, avoid high risk situations and learn new coping mechanisms.
A.C.T. will provide free resource information for individuals and families to help promote education. For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at Dr.Drecun@a4ct.com or (858) 792-3541. You may also visit us online at www.a4ct.com. ACT serves the Del Mar 92014 and Carmel Valley 92130 area.