Anger is a secondary emotion and it covers up hurt, fear, or shame. Or all three at once.

The angrier a person feels the more he/she is covering up. This is incongruent, as often the anger seems out of proportion to the event. When a person explodes in anger it is rarely the spontaneous event it appears, it is usually that many small things have added up and the stress of being 'nice' has reached its capacity.

Many men don't realize how angry they are toward women. Starting with mothers and teachers who ask impossible things of them, and did not give them the support and appreciation they needed to become fully functioning males with robust self-esteem. The less self-worth a man has the more violent he becomes when angry.

Men often to say to women in exasperation "what do you want from me?" when the real question should be "what do I want from you?"

Most anger, especially the anger that is the same argument over and over between people, is in effect a power struggle with neither side listening to the other. When winning the argument or gaining power is the main goal, people will fall back on some very destructive ways to get their point across.

Men (or women) who haven't learned the fine art of expressing anger in a healthy or good way will use crude four letter words designed to get attention and express raw frustration. It is like using a sledge hammer to kill a bug. Raw frustration that comes out in rancid, foul language kills the spirit of everyone who hears it regardless of whether they are the target of it or not. Children who grew up in homes where adults talked to each other with violent, nasty expressions filled with contempt and disdain take this into their adult lives and pass it on to their own families. Having been emotionally deadened early in life, they have no comprehension of the effect they are having on the people around them. In fact, they talk to themselves in the same degrading manner. This kind of discrediting self-talk leads to shame and humiliation that is passed off to others and sometimes projected on others.

Anger is handled in many harmful ways because people as a rule are not taught that it is a necessary and healthy emotion. Many people have such an injunction against being angry themselves, that they have learned how to make other people act out their anger. They then get to be the 'nice' one, or the innocent one, which leads to victimhood.

Most anger is a power struggle. The less power a person feels he has, the more aggressive he will be. The need to control and dominate people is a deep-seated need to make people predictable, and stems from a need to survive free-floating fear and anxiety, based on early childhood abuse when nothing was predictable or certain.

All adults are made of several different personalities, a mom, a dad, a child, a mature adult; the strongest personality pops out when anger occurs and runs the show.

In a paradoxical fashion angry people are often exploitive and their hostility comes from feeling exploited.


Evelyn Leite has spent over 25 years working with her clients to deal with grief and loss, anxiety, and other feelings that underlie anger. She founded Living with Solutions in 1989 to help people learn how to help themselves.