views updated May 18 2018


A strong feeling of vexation, an antagonistic emotion usually aroused by a sense of injury. In animals this biological response serves the useful purpose of preservation. Among humans, anger is usually considered as capable of having an ethical rating inasmuch as it can lead to vengeful actions that are disproportionate to the injury suffered or simply unlawful, e.g., murdering a man for an insulting remark. From this point of view an excessive experience of wrath, the misguided discharge of vengeance, or the objectionable damage done in rage to persons or property could result in sins that would be seriously opposed to charity and justice.

Obviously, the forementioned expressions of resentment might be of such inconsequential proportions as to be merely slightly sinful, or even not sinful at all if the subject has not yet reached an age at which the habitual control of his emotions is to be expected as part of human maturity. Even the most violent and disproportionate discharges of anger can be considered to be of little or no ethical import from the subjective point of view, if the outrageous assault is normally beyond ordinary human endurance, or if the psychological reaction is of such abrupt emergence that rational control becomes humanly improbable. Even in those who are of an age when emotional maturity is fairly well established, it is not uncommon that intense feelings of indignation will be experienced on the sense level, without in any way being made externally manifest in serious violations of justice and charity. Even from the most cautious and critical point of view, such feelings ought to be considered as of slight moral consequence.

Many vexations and the resultant expressions of emotion are entirely without moral objection, or are even morally laudable. Such a situation may occur when only a vigorous display of emotion will secure attention and obedience. Sometimes, as in the classical case of Jesus' driving the buyers and sellers from the Temple, deliberately achieved and discharged rage can be virtuous and worthy of praise.

Different personality types experience anger differently. Some find that the emotion arises quickly and subsides with equal rapidity; others find that anger is more slowly stimulated and only with difficulty dissipated. Accordingly, there are different approaches to the rational control of this human emotion. Granted that psychological understanding of self and others is a basic factor in conditioning one to bear vexations with tranquillity of spirit, various vicarious discharges of energy, e.g., golf or rail-splitting, frequently assist in the dissipation of pent-up rage. Some forms of entertainment that include a degree of violence also serve this same wholesome purpose.

Ancient Christian moralists incorporated anger along with the other six in their list of capital sins. This classification indicates merely that anger is related causally to other sins, and does not imply that it is per se grievous. The anger that St. Paul describes as excluding one from the kingdom of heaven would of necessity have to be seriously sinful.

See Also: anger (in the bible); emotion (moral aspect); deadly sins.

Bibliography: thomas aquinas, Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 74.3; 2a2ae, 157158. d. m. prÜmmer, Manuale theologiae moralis, ed. e. m. mÜnch (Freiburg-Barcelona 1955) 2:709710.

[j. d. fearon]


views updated May 23 2018


One of the primordial emotions, along with fear, grief, pain, and joy.

Anger is usually caused by the frustration of attempts to attain a goal, or by hostile or disturbing actions such as insults, injuries, or threats that do not come from a feared source. The sources of anger are different for people at different periods in their lives. The most common cause of anger in infants, for example, is restraint of activity. Children commonly become angry due to restrictive rules or demands, lack of attention , or failure to accomplish a task. As children reach adolescence and adulthood, the primary sources of anger shift from physical constraints and frustrations to social ones. In adults, the basis of anger include disapproval, deprivation, exploitation, manipulation, betrayal, and humiliation, and the responses to it become less physical and more social with age. The tantrums, fighting, and screaming typical of childhood give way to more verbal and indirect expressions such as swearing and sarcasm. Physical violence does occur in adults, but in most situations it is avoided in deference to social pressures.

Like fear , anger is a basic emotion that provides a primitive mechanism for physical survival. The physiological changes that accompany anger and fear are very similar and include increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, and muscle tension. However, anger produces more muscle tension, higher blood pressure, and a lower heart rate, while fear induces rapid breathing. Unlike the adrenalin-produced "fight or flight" response that characterizes fear, anger is attributed to the secretion of both adrenalin and another hormone, noradrenalin. Other physical signs of anger include scowling, teeth grinding, glaring, clenched fists, chills and shuddering, twitching, choking, flushing or paling, and numbness.

People use a number of defense mechanisms to deal with anger. They may practice denial, refusing to recognize that they are angry. Such repressed anger often finds another outlet, such as a physical symptom. Another way of circumventing anger is through passive aggression , in which anger is expressed covertly in a way that prevents retaliation. Both sarcasm and chronic lateness are forms of passive aggression. In the classroom, a passive aggressive student will display behavior that is subtly uncooperative or disrespectful but which provides no concrete basis for disciplinary action. Passive aggressive acts may even appear in the guise of a service or favor, when in fact the sentiments expressed are those of hostility rather than altruism. Some of the more extreme defenses against anger are paranoia , in which anger is essentially projected onto others, and bigotry, in which such a projection is targeted at members of a specific racial, religious, or ethnic group.

See also Aggression

Further Reading

Carter, William Lee. The Angry Teenager. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995.

Dentemaro, Christine. Straight Talk About Anger. New York: Facts on File, 1995.

Ellis, Albert. Anger: How to Live With and Without It. New York: Citadel Press, 1977.

Letting Go of Anger: The 10 Most Common Anger Styles and What To Do About Them. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 1995.

Licata, Renora. Everything You Need to Know About Anger. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 1994.

Luhn, Rebecca R. Managing Anger: Methods for a Happier and Healthier Life. Los Altos, CA: Crisp Publications, 1992.


views updated Jun 27 2018


Anger is the experience of extreme displeasure. It is a basic emotion that first appears when infants are three to four months old. Anger among infants is characterized by a facial expression involving eyebrows that are lowered and drawn together, eyes that are narrowed, and a mouth that is opened and angular. Angry infants also engage in an angry cry in which excess air is forced through the vocal cords. Anger during early infancy occurs when parents fail to meet infants' needs. Parents who are inconsistent in responding to infants foster feelings of infant anger. Developmentalists tend to agree that parents should quickly and consistently respond to infant cries, and that an infant cannot be spoiled during the first year of life. In fact, quick, consistent response to infant distress (regardless of whether the distress is due to a physiological status or being unable to exert control over an object or event) facilitates a secure parent-infant attachment. Securely attached infants are more likely to develop skillful emotional self-regulatory behavior because they have been taught that their negative emotions will be soothed (Cassidy and Berlin, 1994).

During the toddler period, anger arises from frustration over children's unsuccessful attempts to control objects or events. Emotional regulation first begins in toddlerhood and involves the suppression or appropriate expression of anger. There are three ways that parents can influence children's development of emotional anger regulation. First, parents cause frustration by barring children's control over objects or events, which leads to children's feelings and expression of anger. Second, parents model expressions of anger and its management. Third, parents directly instruct children in how to recognize when and why they feel angry and offer ways to cope with anger. Effective regulation of anger, or anger management, is related to children's positive relationships with peers throughout childhood and adolescence. Ineffective regulation of anger may result in poor peer relationships, behavior problems, bullying, and deviancy throughout childhood and adolescence. Children who are ineffective at regulating anger may benefit from training in anger management.



Cassidy, Jude, and Lisa Berline. "The Insecure/Ambivalent Pattern of Attachment: Theory and Research." Child Development 65, no. 4 (1994):971-991.

DeBaryshe, Barbara, and Dale Fryxell. "A Developmental Perspective on Anger: Family and Peer Contexts."Psychology in the Schools 35, no. 3 (1998):205-216.

Izzard, Carroll, Christina Fantauzzo, Janine Castle, et al. "The Ontogeny and Significance of Infants' Facial Expressions in the First Nine Months of Life." Developmental Psychology 31, no. 6 (1995):997-1013.

Zeman, Janice, and Kimberly Shipman. "Social-Contextual Influences on Expectancies for Managing Anger and Sadness: The Transition from Middle Childhood to Adolescence." Developmental Psychology 33, no. 6 (1997):917-924.

Mary ElizabethCurtner-Smith


views updated Jun 11 2018

20. Anger (See also Exasperation, Irascibility, Ranting.)

  1. Allecto one of the three Furies, vengeful deities who punish evil-doers. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 274]
  2. Almeira scorned woman like whom hell hath no fury. [Br. Drama: The Mourning Bride ]
  3. Belinda furious over loss of lock of hair. [Br. Lit.: Rape of the Lock ]
  4. Bernardo enraged that member of a rival street-gang is making advances to his sister. [Am. Musical: West Side Story ]
  5. Brunhild furiously vengeful concerning Kriemhilds accusations of promiscuity. [Ger. Lit.: Nibelungenlied ]
  6. Erinyes (the Furies ) angry and avenging deities who pursue evil-doers. [Gk. Myth.: Leach, 347]
  7. Fudd, Elmer hapless man seethes over Bugs Bunnys antics. [Comics: Bugs Bunny in Horn, 140]
  8. Hera (Rom. Juno ) angry at Zeuss illicit sexual pleasure. [Gk. Myth.: Leach, 563]
  9. Herod angry at wise mens disobedience, orders slaughter of male infants. [N.T.: Matthew 2:1617]
  10. Hulk, the character whose anger transforms him into monster. [Comics: Horn, 324325]
  11. Megaera one of the three Furies, vengeful deities who punish evil-doers. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 274]
  12. Nemesis goddess of vengeance. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 173]
  13. Oronte takes offense at Alcestes criticism of sonnet. [Fr. Lit.: The Misanthrope ]
  14. Othello smothers wife, Desdemona, in paroxysm of rage over her suspected adultery. [Br. Lit.: Othello ]
  15. Rumpelstiltskin stamps ground in rage over lasss discovery of his name. [Ger. Fairy Tale: Rumpelstiltskin ]
  16. Tisiphone one of the three Furies, vengeful deities who punish evil-doers. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 274]
  17. Volumnia in anger, Junolike. [Br. Lit.: Coriolanus ]
  18. whin indicates fury. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 178]


views updated May 11 2018

an·ger / ˈanggər/ • n. a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility: the colonel's anger at his daughter's disobedience.• v. [tr.] (often be angered) fill (someone) with such a feeling; provoke anger in: she was angered by his terse answer.


views updated May 09 2018

anger look back in anger reflect on the past with indignation and resentment; with allusion to John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger (see angry young man).

See also never let the sun go down on your anger.


views updated May 23 2018

anger †distress, vex XII; excite to wrath XIV. — ON. angra, f. angr grief, f. base *aŋng- narrow, repr. also by ON. ǫngr, Goth. aggwus, and OE. enġe, OS., OHG. engi (Du., G. eng) narrow; rel. to L. angere (see ANGUISH).
Hence anger sb. XIII; whence angry XIV.