What Is Anger? Anger is an emotional state that occurs when unexpected things happen to you, or around you, that you don't like. The feelings you have can be as mild as annoyance, and as extreme as fury and rage. The American Heritage dictionary describes anger as "a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility," and explains that the word itself is rooted in a Middle English word "anger," that meant sorrow.
What Causes Anger? The emotion of anger can be set off by both internal and external triggers. Internal triggers may include reactions to things you may already be sensitive about, like being teased. External triggers are things beyond your control that don't happen in the way they should. Certain situations can make you angry – particularly when you feel like you have no control over circumstances (you show up for a doctor's appointment you’ve been waiting to go to for more than a month, and when you get there, the doctor has been called away to surgery). People can make you angry. Even memories can make you angry.
Anger is a very subjective emotion. What makes one person angry may not bother another person at all. There are three basic types of anger that psychologists recognize as being different emotional states. The first is a defense mechanism that occurs when we feel threatened or trapped. The second form of anger exists as a reaction to the interpretation of events in which we believe that we are deliberately being harmed or being treated unfairly. The last type of anger is the irritable, sullen anger more closely associated to personality than to emotion.
Anger is a normal, natural emotion, and without it we would be less able to defend ourselves when needed. However, our physical reaction to anger and the way we express anger can become a problem for some. Anger management helps people learn how to recognize and control their reactions to anger.
Anger is an emotion that elicits responses from three areas. There is a psychological response to anger, causing a heightened sense of power, but a lack of reason, clarity, and judgment; a physiological response that causes a surge of adrenaline, an increased heart rate, and other physical manifestations; and a cognitive response, where you either express or repress your anger, or calm yourself.