Anger Outbursts


My wife and I have been having problems due to my
anger outbursts. Is there anything I can do about this?


Yes there is! The first thing to realize is that
experiencing anger is not in itself problematic. The
problem lies in the way anger is expressed. Anger is an
emotion that often is good-directed with its origins in
the social environment and it is aimed at the correction
of an appraised wrongdoing. Anger can be accompanied
by certain cognitive errors, such as
attributing hostile intent when there is not one (or
when the situation is ambiguous),
failing to account for all the fads in a situation,
failing to consider all possible solutions to a
not considering all of the consequences, and
choosing an inappropriate (often aggressive)
Anger also is associated with physiological changes,
such as muscle tension, which can be used in the
detection of anger. Anger can be a defense against
It is important to differentiate anger from aggression
and hostility. Aggression is a motor or verbal behavior
with the goal of contact and the intent of harm. Often
when a spouse or other person complains of angry
outbursts, what they are complaining about are
aggressive behaviors. Anger is not a necessary
component of aggression, but it does make it easier to
act aggressively.
Finally, hostility is a chronic, decidedly negative attitude
toward one or more people. It is easy to see how a hostileĀ 
person can become angry easily and can choose
to enact an aggressive response. Often people choose
to manage their anger by suppressing it, or by "bottling
it up inside." While this may help wit problems due to
aggressive behavior, unexpressed anger has been
associated with such medical problems as cardiac
So does this mean we are stuck in the proverbial Catch
22? Either one expresses one's anger and act
inappropriately or one suppresses one's anger and
experience medical problems? Fortunately, the answer
is no. It is possible to express anger in a productive,
appropriate way.

To learn more about expressing anger, contact The Rice Clinic.

Answered by: Dr. Julie Howard, Ph.D.