ANGER (Part 1): Definition and the general cause.

Do you get angry? To say NO is an insult to yourself.
Anger is simply defined as an emotional response related to one’s psychological interpretation of having been threatened ( While this definition takes anger from the dimension of emotions only, anger can also be an instinct. An instinct is defined by The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s dictionary as the way people or animals naturally react or behave, without having to think or learnt about it. Therefore, if anger is instinctive too, it means that it can be without first thinking about it, learning it or developing it by training. According Girma Lemma (Ethiopia), Emotions are feelings such as happiness, despair, and sorrow that generally have both physiological and cognitive elements influencing behavior. While motives are internally caused, emotions are responses to an external stimulus. It is helpful to note here that emotions are strong feelings compared to instincts.
According to James-Lange’s theory of emotions, an emotional experience is a reaction to instinctive bodily events that occur as a response to some situation or event in the environment. We feel sorry because we cry. We feel angry because we strike. We feel afraid because we tremble. Whatever the case of definition, we are sure that anger can be an instinct or emotional or both. James and Lange proposed that human beings experience emotions as a result of Physiological changes that produce specific sensations. The brain interprets the sensations as particular kinds of emotional experiences. While this is true, we all know that sometimes we get angry even before the brain gets involved. According to Girma Lemma, for emotional feelings to occur physiological changes have to be perceived instantaneously. But emotional experiences frequently occur even before there is time for certain physiological changes to be manifested outwardly.

What are we saying in simple terms? We are saying that at times we deliberately become angry because the situation demands it so (emotional) and at other times we just find ourselves angry without knowing when it even started (instinctual). There are other cases when the two dimensions are combined (for example, instinctually getting angry at a situation or a person and then intensify this same anger after thinking about it more as observed when we lose a beloved person or a person who mistreated us yet he wasn’t even the supposed-to-be-in-the-position to torture us). Also, the above two dimensions make it clear that anger is both natural and artificial. We can develop or intensify it, but it is naturally imbedded in animal’s DNA just as most of all other emotions. According to Darwin, human beings are not the only species that has emotions. Animals too, show fear, rage, and possibly love.

Psychologists identify anger in 3 types: The first form of anger, hasty and sudden anger, suggested by an 18th century psychologist Joseph Butler. This type is connected to the impulse for self preservation and is shared between human and non-human animals and occurs when tormented or trapped. The second form of anger, settled and deliberate anger. This is a reaction to perceived deliberate harm or unfair treatment by others. The third form of anger, dis-positional anger. This is related to character traits than to instincts or cognition. Irritability, sullenness are examples of this kind.

So What Causes Us To Get Angry?
From the above definitions and meanings of anger, then it visible even to the naked eyes that the causes of anger are vast covering both natural and artificial, internal and external, scientific, psychological, social, cultural, and other streams of life. However, we can summarize all the above causes in this way: Anger is caused by the body’s response to situations. These responses may be under our control or not. What is clear is that we end up being angry. According to James-Lange’s theory of emotions, we can fill in that anger is as a result of our body’s reaction to the input from senses. So do we know how senses work? Simply senses work by picking information (the stimulus), interpret the stimulus and then send their message to target areas.

From the above simple illustration of how senses work, then it is clear that what the senses perceive as unpleasant, the body will receive it so, and what is perceived by the senses as pleasant will be received as the same by our body. From there, the body will respond to the two dimensions accordingly making us show signs and symptoms of anger or the opposite or neutral. Alter the stimuli, you will produce a change. Alter the perception and a change in the whole system will be observed, Alter the body set up and you will realize changes too. I know this is confusing but as we go on with this topic we will get it.

 Once again, anger is caused by our body’s response to situations. Our body’s response may be instinctual or emotional (natural or artificial). Situations could either be natural or artificial and internal or external and scientific or non-scientific. We will understand this when we are looking at the value of anger, its disadvantages, how to deal with it, the various ways to minimize our getting angry and triggers or predisposes to anger, and the religious view or teaching about anger. Just stay close. Thank you

The Complete You Project


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