Anger is a term for the emotional aspect of aggression, as a basic aspect of the stress response in animals whereby a perceived aggravating stimulus "provokes" a counterresponse which is likewise aggravating and threatening of violence. Very mild types of anger are typically described as "distaste," "displeasure", or "irritation," while "rage" refers to an extreme degree of anger associated with a loss of calmness or discipline (in the case of human conduct).
Often based in a sensation or perception of threat, anger can be considered an emotional component in the increased threat response (part of the broader "stress response") whereby the charged emotional state produces physiological effects (increased adrenaline, cortisol), thereby producing behavioural effect of heightened stress and aggression.
Anger may be "provoked" (or triggered) by perceived threats, like conflict, or by abstract concepts such as injustice. There are many physical conditions that increase the potential for one to become angry. Common contributors to irritability include fatigue, hunger, being in pain, sexual frustration, recovery from an illness, or the use of certain drugs. Other causes are hormonal changes, such as those associated with PMS, giving birth, and menopause, physical withdrawal, and bipolar disorder. Research also shows that some individuals can be genetically predisposed to higher levels of anger.
There are some positive aspects of anger. The first aspect is self-protection, where our bodies are aroused into a state where they can respond with maximum physical energy for our defence in response to potential hurt. This is often referred to as the 'fight component of the fight-or-flight response. The second is decompression, where our bodies are given a chance to release pent-up physical tension caused by overexposure to frustration. The safe physical ventilation of anger is an effective way of helping our autonomic nervous system to switch back to its normal relaxed functioning state, which is commonly referred to as the calm after the storm.
At the end of the 19th century, Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, argued that individuals are born with an innate aggressive instinct, and when this is blocked, they have a natural urge to become hostile or angry. A century later, this view was deprecated by the American Psychological Association and the American Anthropological Association, who in 1988 reviewed the available research and concluded that people are not genetically predisposed to violence, and that violence can not be scientifically related to natural evolutionary processes. At the beginning of the 21st century, the consensus is reversing again, as recent research, conducted with the benefit of the fully-mapped human genome, has begun to pinpoint specific genes that increase the risk of socially harmful behavior such as aggressiveness, anti-social behavior, suicide, etc.
· In response to an electrical stimulation to the hypothalamus area of the brain, production of the hormone adrenaline is increased.
· Respiration deepens.
· The heart beats more rapidly and may palpitate. Blood pressure rises.
· The sympathetic nervous system diverts blood from the skin, liver, stomach and intestines to the heart, central nervous system and muscles.
· The digestive processes are suspended.
· Glucose is freed from reserves in the liver.
· Cortisol production is increased in order to depress the immune system.
· The spleen contracts and discharges its content of concentrated corpuscles.
· Men have an increased supply of the hormone testosterone.
· Involvement of amygadala.
More noticeable effects of anger include:
· More acute senses.
· Desire to yell or to move quickly and forcefully.
· The eyes are open wider than usual and the pupils are dilated.
· The face reddens, but then may turn pale.
· Increased physical strength.
· Speech and motion are faster and more intense.
· Tense muscles.
Buddhism presents a quite different view on emotions like anger. Anger is defined here as: "being unable to bear the object, or the intention to cause harm to the object". Anger is seen as aversion with a stronger exaggeration, and is listed as one of the five hindrances. "Righteous anger" does not exist in Buddhism, instead, one may need to behave wrathful in some instances, however, this should actually be done while remaining emotionally calm inside - like a good actor so to speak.
In Christianity, causeless, excessive, or protracted anger is sinful (Matt. 5:22; Col. 3:8), and unbridled wrath is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The Bible warns "do not let the sun go down on your anger" (Eph. 4:26), that is, do not let feelings of anger last so long as to become sinful. There is, however, what is commonly referred to as "righteous anger," as demonstrated by Jesus when he made a whip and cleared out the merchants in the Temple (John 2:13-16).