Anger Management


Swati Y. Bhave & Sunil Saini

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    I dedicate this book to my husband Yashwant Bhave … living with him for last 35 years I learnt from his day to day behavior that it is possible to control your anger even under grave provocation. Living with a person who does not get angry gives a lot of peace and happiness. Over the years I have also managed to harness my anger to a great extent and hence was motivated to write this book

    Swati Y. Bhave

    The book is dedicated to my parents

    Sunil Saini


    Anger is an emotional response when we face an obstruction in reaching our target. Everyday life is filled with many such examples when we do not get what we desire and get frustrated and angry. The anger management book is written to help laymen to understand these everyday conflicting situations leading to anger and related problems, and how to manage these effectively. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other health specialists are working on many psychological problems like stress, depression, aggression, and other conduct problems. Despite all this, there is still a lack of work on anger management for the layman. The present book is concerned with how anger develops in everyday life situation of laymen, and how they experience, express anger, and develop health problems.

    Many books have been written on anger and related problems in different parts of the world. No single book is perfect. There is no good book on anger management for the layman especially in India. In the present book, we have tried our best to make it reader-friendly for every layman to reconstruct their negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to mange their everyday anger problem, so that we can have a better home, school or workplace, and mental peace at an individual level can be created for the betterment of society and world peace.

    We often see that most of the everyday conflicts like parent-child aggression, marital discard, poor school performance, school bullying, teacher–child violence, frustration due to workload, unachievable targets, and personal problems like stress, depression, aggression, road rage, are rooted in one common problem ‘Anger’. Therefore, a layman is confounded with anger coming from different sources. Keeping this in mind, we planned to write this book.

    The first section of the book examines how anger develops in everyday life, how we experience it, express or suppress it, and control it. The most important feature of our book is that all these have been explained with illustrations which would help a layman to understand how anger develops in everyday life and how to manage it. This section also contains important information regarding anger assessment tools.

    The second section of the book discusses the effects of anger, how long it lasts, why does it occur, what happens to your body when anger occurs, and how does it progress in physiological problems (like hypertension, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, obesity, and physical pain), psychological problems (like depression, stress, eating disorders, body dissatisfaction, and suicidal ideation), and behavioral problems (like aggression, dating violence, marital conflict, road rage, alcohol and drug abuse, sensation seeking, and impulsivity). Researches have shown that anger and its associates, hostility and aggression, collectively called the AHA-Syndrome have been related with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. We have written a book intitled AHA Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease, which will be published in August 2009.

    The third section of the book is focused on anger management tips for the self, and at family, school, and workplace. These A to Z tips for anger management are also expressed with line cartoons. These are so simple and illustrative that if one would go through these tips, he/she would surely have anger reduced. At a clinical level, we have provided some very important and effective therapies to deal with chronic anger.

    An appendix has been provided to list the various definitions of anger starting from Plato, Aristotle to the present researchers like Spielberger, Novaco, and Deffenbacher. The appendix aims at helping the layman understand better the concept of anger and how different researchers have defined it.

    We hope that after having read this book every layman would decide to keep it as a permanent part of his library or collection of books.


    We would like to acknowledge the important contribution of Dr Manoj Chhabra, a national level cartoonist, who has drawn excellent cartoons based on our specifications, which have made this book more interesting to read.

    We thank Dr Sugata Ghosh, Leela Kirloskar, and Reema Singhal of SAGE Publications for accepting the manuscript with great interest.

    Swati Y.Bhave

    I am very grateful to Dr Swati Bhave for having faith, and encouragement in our second joint effort and for making all the figures apart from the cartoons for this book. I am especially thankful to Mr Mukesh Kumar, Incharge, UCIC, and his staff members at GJUS&T, Hisar, for their continuous support for all things. Finally, special thanks go to Neelam Goyal who helped me a lot in my other assignments simultaneously.


    Key Concepts and Terms

    AddictionAddiction is the compulsive need to use a habit-forming substance, or an irresistible urge to engage in a behavior.
    AdolescenceThe period of transition from childhood to adulthood (the WHO definition is from 10–19 years of age.)
    AggressionAggression is the intentional harming of others physically, psychologically, and socially.
    AHA-Syndrome AnnoyanceThe triad of anger, hostility, and aggression. Annoyance is an unpleasant mental state that is characterized by such effects as irritation and distraction from one's conscious thinking and leads to anger.
    Anorexia nervosaAnorexia nervosa is a condition characterized by an inadequate and unhealthy pattern of eating and excessive concern with the control of body weight and shape.
    AnxietyA state of apprehension, tension, and worry.
    Behavior therapyA method of psychotherapy based on learning principles.
    Body dissatisfactionBody dissatisfaction is negative evaluation of one's figure and body parts.
    Bulimia nervosaBulimia nervosa is a condition of eating disorder characterized by overeating and then purging to get rid of the calories consumed.
    Child abuseIntentional actions that result in harm to a child's physical or psychological well-being.
    Cognitive behavior therapyA therapy that attempts to help people identify the kind of stressful situations that produce their physiological or emotional symptoms and alter the way they cope with these situation.
    Cognitive restructuringA cognitive behavior modification procedure in which the client learns to identify thoughts that are distressing and then learns to get rid of those thoughts or to replace them with more desirable thoughts.
    CompassionCompassion is an understanding of the emotional state of another or oneself.
    Corporal punishmentCorporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain and suffering intended to change a person's behavior or to punish them.
    DepressionDepression is a mood disorder characterized by intense feelings of loss, sadness, hopelessness, failure, and rejection. The two major types of mood disorder are unipolar disorder, also called major depression, and bipolar disorder, whose sufferers are termed manic-depressive.
    DisappointmentDisappointment is the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations to manifest.
    DisplacementThe redirection of feelings toward an object, person or situation that is less threatening than the actual source of the feelings.
    Eating disorderSevere disturbance in eating behavior characterized by preoccupation with weight and unhealthy efforts to control weight.
    EmpathyEmpathy is the ability to understand the situation of others.
    EmotionPowerful, largely uncontrollable feelings accompanied by physiological changes.
    Emotional intelligenceEmotional intelligence (EI) is defined as an ability, capacity, or skill to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of one's self, of others, and of groups.
    FearFear is an intense aversion to or apprehension of a person, place, activity, event, or object that causes emotional distress and often avoidance behavior.
    FrustrationThe feeling that occurs in any situation in which our goal is thwarted.
    Frustration toleranceFrustration tolerance is the ability of a person on a task when frustration occurs due to setbacks and difficulty.
    HostilityHostility is an attitude that involves disliking others and evaluating them negatively.
    HumorHumor is the ability of people, objects, situations or words to evoke feelings of amusement or happiness in people. A sense of humor is the ability to experience humor.
    HypnosisHypnosis is a dream like state that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject.
    ImpulsivityImpulsivity is the failure to resist an impulse, drive, or temptation to perform an act that is harmful to others.
    Intelligence quotientAn intelligence quotient or IQ is a score derived from one of the several different standardized tests attempting to measure intelligence.
    JealousyJealousy typically refers to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that occur when a person believes a valued relationship is being threatened by a rival.
    Learning disabilityLearning disability is a group of disorders manifested by significant differences in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical skill.
    MigraineHeadache characterized by recurrent attacks of severe pain, usually on one side of the head. It may be preceded by flashes or spots before the eyes or ringing in the ears, and accompanied by double vision, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness.
    MindfulnessMindfulness is a skill which enables to pay attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way.
    ObesityObesity is the condition characterized by increased body weight due to excessive accumulation of fat.
    OptimismOptimism is an outlook on life such that one maintains a view of the world as a positive place.
    Peer pressurePeer pressure is the influence of a social group (same age group friends) on an individual.
    PersonalityThe distinctive and characteristic pattern of thoughts, emotions and behavior that define an individual's personal style of interacting with others.
    PessimismPessimism is the decision to evaluate something as negative when it is uncommon to do so.
    PrejudicePrejudice is the premature judgment or positive/negative attitude toward a person or group of people which is not based on objective facts.
    Rational-emotive therapyAn approach that focuses on altering client's pattern of irrational thinking to reduce maladaptive emotions and behavior.
    Road rageRoad rage is a term used to refer to violent behavior by a driver of an automobile, which thus causes accidents or incidents on roadways. It can be thought of as an extreme case of aggressive driving.
    ResentmentUnresolved anger over a negative event which occurred in the past.
    RevengeRevenge consists primarily of retaliation against a person or group in response to a perceived wrongdoing.
    Self-efficacySelf-efficacy is one's belief about one's ability to perform behavior that should lead to expected outcome.
    Sensation seekingSensation seeking is characterized as the need for varied, novel, complex, and intense sensations and experiences, and the willingness to take physical, social, legal, and financial risks for the sake of such experiences.
    State angerState anger is situation specific and is defined as a psychobiological emotional state or condition marked by subjective feelings that vary in intensity from mild irritation or annoyance to intense fury and rage.
    StressExperiencing an event that is perceived as endangering one's physical or psychological well-being.
    StrokeA stroke, also called a cerebral vascular accident (CVA), is the sudden death of cells in a specific area of the brain due to inadequate blood flow.
    Suicidal ideationSuicidal ideation is a common medical term for thoughts about suicide, which may be as detailed as a formulated plan, without the suicidal act itself.
    Systematic desensitizationA behavior therapy used to reduce clients anxiety responses through counterbalancing.
    TantrumA tantrum is an emotional outburst wherein the higher brain functions are unable to stop the emotional expression of the lower (emotional and physical) brain functions. It can be categorized by an irrational fit of crying, screaming, defiance, and a resistance to every attempt at pacification in which even physical control is lost.
    TemperamentTemperament is a typical style of behavior such as emotional, intense, persistence, introvert, extrovert, impulsive, slow and fast.
    TherapyTherapy is the attempted remediation of a health problem, usually following a diagnosis.
    Trait angerTrait anger is the stable personality trait and defined as individual difference in the disposition to perceive a wide range of situations as annoying or frustrating.
  • Appendix: Definitions of Anger

    Different Philosophers and Psychologists Have Defined Anger Differently
    • Plato viewed anger as basically an animal ‘passion,’ but one in proximity to reason. He arrived at this by dividing the psyche into three parts:
      • The animal part, filled with irrational passions, or emotions, reside in the trunk of the body.
      • The immortal, rational part, reside in the head.
      • A third part, reserved just for anger, reside in and around the chest and neck, and belong both to passions and to reason.

      He viewed anger as a mixed blessing, sometimes good, when rightly provoked, but often a great danger to the state if it caused the individual irrationally to defy the state's authority.

    • Aristotle on the other hand, believed that anger was based on judgment, hence, was closely aligned with reason. He held that anger was a natural response to painful situations, and that it involved both the body and the soul.

      Anger was valuable, according to him, and a virtuous person was one who could ‘feel anger at the right time, toward the right people, for the right motive’ (Aristotle, 1991).

    • St. Augustine defined anger as judgment by which punishment is inflicted on sin.
    • Anderson (1978) said that anger may be a defense to avoid painful feelings; it may be associated with failure, low self-esteem, and feelings of isolation; or it may be related to anxiety about situations over which the child has no control.
    • Spielberger (1985) has defined anger as an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. He felt anger can be expressed in a variety of ways and this is assessed with State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI-2), Spielberger, 1999.

      Spielberger's famous scale, ‘The State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory’, has distinguished between the following:

      • State-anger: situation specific and not stable.
      • Trait-anger: stable personality trait that leads to angry reactions.
      • Anger-in: anger withheld and suppressed. This is a characteristic of individuals who have anxiety and depression.
      • Anger-out: anger expressed openly physically, verbally or toward the source of irritation.
      • Anger-control/out: controlling angry feelings by preventing the expression of anger toward other persons or objects.
      • Anger-control/in: controlling suppressed angry feelings by calming down or cooling off.
    • Shaver et al., (1987) say that anger often involves a wide variety of feelings, labeled as irritation, annoyance, disgust, resentment, and fury.
    • Luhn (1992) says that anger is made up of different reactions that cause us to be irritated, annoyed, furious, frustrated, enraged, and even hurt. Our response to anger involves our body, our behavior, and our thought process. He argues that it is not the event that causes us to feel angry, but it is how we view the event and provocations that cause us to respond in a specific way.
    • Deffenbacher et al., in 1996 said that anger is a common and universally experienced emotion, which occurs on a continuum from mild annoyance to rage or fury. In 2002, Deffenbacher et al. stated that anger is a complex emotion and occurs as a result of an interaction between one or more eliciting events, the individual's pre-anger state, appraisals of the eliciting events, and available coping resources.
    • Chicago Bible Students (1996) observed that anger is a strong emotion that expresses displeasure or dislike and can be either constructive or destructive.
    • Barrett (1997) described it as the emotion that is the fight for life. It is an important aspect that humans need to survive and live healthy.
    • Humphrey (1997) described it as ‘primal emotions’ or an emotion that is innately rooted as a means of survival.
    • Evans & Yazdpour (1997) gave the most important definition of anger i.e., it is a temporary emotional state that is caused by frustration.
    • Warren (1990) stated, ‘Anger is a physical state of readiness. When we are angry, we are prepared to act’ (p. 77).
    • Marion (1997) described anger as having three components: the emotional state; the expression; and the understanding of anger, or the interpreting and evaluating.
    • Capozzoli and McVey (2000) stated anger is ‘A feeling of indignation and hostility that involves complex emotions and depends on how we evaluate events and/or situations’.
    • Novaco (2000) stated anger is a negatively toned (unpleasant) emotion and an internal occurrence, which is subjectively experienced as a highly aroused, agitated, and antagonistic state of mind.

      Novaco in 1975 had defined anger as having four distinct components: physiological, affective, behavioural, and cognitive.

      • The affective component of anger relates to the strength of emotional responses toward anger-provoking situations.
      • The behavioural component refers to coping mechanisms, which may be positive or destructive, that people use to express anger.
      • The cognitive component reflects the types of negative beliefs, or hostility that people have about the world, and in particular, refers to the negative attributions they hold toward others or places.
    • Murphy and Oberlin (2001) stated that anger is ‘A powerful response, triggered by another negative emotion that results in an attack of variable intensity that is not always appropriate.’ According to them anger is not a pure emotion. There is a broad range of negative emotions that trigger anger—pain, frustration, oneliness, boredom, fear, rejection, jealousy, disappointment, embarrassment, depression, and humiliation, to name just a few'.
    • Sisco (1991) stated, ‘Sometimes other emotions such as fear, hurt, guilt, shame, sadness, jealousy, frustration, loneliness, even joy, will trigger anger in us. Then anger can become a way of covering up or defending ourselves from these other emotions.’
    • Warren (1990) stated that anger places an individual in a state of readiness therefore, one should use that energy immediately so that your body can relax and get back effectively to baseline. If you maintain the state of anger for too long, it may result in considerable physical damage.
    • Horn and Towl (1997) stated that anger can occur when a person feels powerless or threatened.
    • In the American Heritage College Dictionary, (1993) anger is defined as ‘a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility’.
    The American Heritage College Dictionary (
    3rd ed.
    ). (1993). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.
    Anderson, L S. (1978). The Aggressive Child. Pediatric Development and Behavior, 1. Retrieved March 10, 2002, online at (downloaded in December 2007).
    Aristotle (1991). The Nichomachean Ethics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Barrett, B. (1997). Staff Writings: Anger-the Fight for Life. PCEC: Anger-The Fight for Life.
    Capozzoli, T. K., and McVey, R. S. (2000). Kids Killing Kids: Managing Violence and Gangs in Schools. Boca Raton, FL: St. Lucie Press.
    Chicago Bible Students test pages (May 20, 1996). Anger and Love. Online at (downloaded in January 2007).
    Deffenbacher, J. L., Oetting, E. R., Thwaites, G. R., Lynch, R. S., Baker, D. A., Thaker, S., and Eisworth-Cox, L. (1996). State-trait Anger Theory and the Utility of the Trait Anger Scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 43(2): 131–48.
    Horn, R., and Towl, G. (1997). Anger Management for Women Prisoners. Issues in Criminological and Legal Psychology, 29: 57–62.
    Humphrey, C. (Fall 1997). Anger Management: An Interview with Mark too Good. Father Times, 6. on-line: F.R.C. Home Page/Father Times/F.R.C. Programs.
    Luhn, R. R. (1992). Managing Anger: Methods for a Happier and Healthier Life. United States of America: Crisp Publications, Inc.
    Marion, M. (1997). Helping Young Children Deal with Anger. (Report No. EDO-PS-97- 24). Champaign, IL: Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED414077).
    Murphy, T., and Oberlin, L. H. (2001). The Angry Child: Regaining Control When Your Child is Out of Control. New York, NY: Clarkson Potter/Publisher.
    Novaco, R. W. (1975). Anger Control: The Development and Evaluation of an Experimental Treatment. Lexington, MA: Academic Press.
    Novaco, R. W. (2000). ‘Anger’, in A. E.Kazdin (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Psychology (pp. 170–74). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association and Oxford University Press.
    Shaver, P., Schwartz, J., Kirson, D., and O'Connor, C. (1987). ‘Emotion Knowledge: Further Exploration of a Prototype Approach’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52: 1061–86.
    Spielberger, C. D. (1985). ‘Anxiety, Cognition and Affect. A State-trait Perspective’, in A. H.Tuma and J. D.Maser (eds.), Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders (pp. 109–30). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    Spielberger, C. D. (1999). State-Trait Anger Expression-2. Professional Manual. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
    Warren, N. C. (1990). Make Anger Your Ally: Harnessing One of Your Most Powerful Emotions. Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Inc.

    About the Authors

    Swati Y. Bhave, Visiting Consultant, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, is an internationally known pediatrician and adolescent specialist. She is Executive Director of an NGO—Association of Adolescent and Child Care in India (AACCI). She has been the President of Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) in 2000 and presently holds the post of coordinator in the International Pediatric Association (IPA). She is also a member of the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) of the child and adolescent section of WHO, Geneva. She is a former Professor of Pediatrics in BJ Medical College, Pune and Associate Professor in Grant Medical College, Mumbai. She has also worked as a Senior Consultant and PG teacher at the Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences. She has many medical books to her credit specially in adolescent health and her current interest is adolescent mental health. She has also written books for the layman and participated in many shows on TV and given radio talks. She was Editor of the Asian Journal of Pediatric Practice from 1994–2008.

    Sunil Saini is doing research work in the Department of Applied Psychology, GJUS&T, Hisar, Haryana, and has a lot of research experience on anger and anger related problems. He has published about 40 research papers in national and international journals and has edited a book with Dr Swati Bhave. He is currently Associate Executive Editor of the journal Indian Psychologist.

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