Anger is a fundamental human emotion that all people have. It is usually triggered when we have felt attacked or mistreated or perhaps when our values and beliefs have been challenged. It is experienced both emotionally and physically and is often felt as a surge of energy through the body as the adrenal glands release chemicals such as adrenalin to heighten awareness, make us alert and get us ready to respond to a potentially threatening situation. This process of becoming primed to ‘fight’ or ‘flee’ from a perceived threat is both inborn and automatic and is often known as the ‘fight or flight’ response.

The purpose of anger as with any other feeling or emotion is to give us information about what is happening to us at any given time. In the case of anger, its primary purpose is to inform us that there is a problem and to supply the energy to motivate us to take the necessary steps to resolve the situation.

People’s experience of anger varies tremendously. Some people find it extremely difficult to feel their anger at all and may experience themselves as the victim of other people’s aggressive behaviour, whilst others will struggle to control it and may find themselves intimidating those around them.

Whilst some people experience anger as constructive, others will experience it as threatening and destructive. The way a person thinks about and experiences anger both in themselves and in others will usually be determined by what they have come to believe about anger so far in their lives, beginning in their childhood.

Anger is both necessary and useful and at its best can be an appropriately assertive response to certain life situations. It can support a healthy refusal to be treated badly and be a protective instinct towards ones family and loved ones. However, if managed badly it can be destructive. When it is suppressed, people can feel vulnerable and left open to abuse and attack. When it is out of control, it can damage relationships with loved ones and work colleagues, lead to intimidating and violent behaviour and a range of health problems.

When working with anger the purpose is to find the most creative and positive use for it in situations where it can be appropriately employed and to address those situations where the purpose of anger gets lost and it becomes a more negative and destructive influence.