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Top 3 Causes of Anger

Learn about the top three causes of anger from anger management expert Dr. J. Ryan Fuller in this Howcast video.


I'm Ryan Fuller. I'm a clinical psychologist. I've done anger research and I treat a lot of angry clients in New York city. I'll talk to you a little bit about the top causes of anger. So often times when we're talking about the causes of anger we refer to them as anger triggers. And frequently triggers are the external events, usually other people, that in fact precede an anger episode. So usually this revolves around a perceived injustice or a violation of our standard. Or we have a particular goal that's been blocked by another person. Now what's quite interesting about the people who in fact end up angering us is that most likely they are the people that are closest to us. So oftentimes I think when we imagine anger scenarios we're really thinking about the stranger on the street. Some anonymous person.

But really it's our closest loved ones that seem to cause the highest frequencies and intensities of anger. That probably has to do with one, we spend more time with them. But also it has to do with the cognitive component of anger. We have a tendency to expect more from our loved ones. So our expectations might be really unrealistic as to the kind of behavior they're going to give us. The other issue is there's a high value placed on those relationships. And so it's much easier, easy for us to become anger in response to being hurt by someone we really care about. And so the first type of trigger are those external ones. And that's often times peoples behavior. But one of the things that sets up the tendency to become angry is our, our pre-state. So these biophysical, sort of the background context for anger, are things like being overly tired. Possibly having low blood sugar. Being immune compromised. Even things as simple as high temperatures or low temperatures or being in physical pain lowers our threshold to become angry and aggressive. And so we have this combination of the biophysical factors setting the stage and then these perceived violations of our standards. Or these threats to our ego. Or our status or something like that. So those are really the two kinds of triggers you want to pay most attention to.

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